I’m calling the projector project itself officially finished. I’m really pleased with how the whole project turned out, especially for the price paid. Here’s a listing of everything I’ve gotten to make complete this project.

Projector: $380
Ceiling mount: $17
Blackout cloth: $40 (three pieces, two for window coverings and one for the actual screen)
Wood for the frame: Free, previous owner of the house left it here
Cabling: $85 (50′ VGA to md1, 50′ component, component cables for Wii)
ATSC HDTV card for computer: $25
Other misc parts including outlet box, plates etc: $10

Total: about $555

For under $600 I now essentially have a 90″ EDTV, not exactly HDTV but very close. I’m able to view over the air HDTV of all of the local stations, play DVDs and Wii on a fairly large screen. The HDTV content looks very good despite the projector only having a native resolution of 854×480.

Click here for an screenshot.

This weekend, among other projects, I managed to get some wire pulled for the projector which is now mounted on the ceiling. The wires pulled include component, VGA/USB and romex for power to the projector. The last thing I need to get is get the new outlets in the ceiling tapped into an existing circuit and I can call my home theater project done for now.

The component cable is hooked into an old mechanical A/V switch and allows me to switch between my Wii and DVD player. The VGA cable is, of course, for hooking up to a computer. I ran this cable because I wanted a way to play downloaded video, pictures and because my laptop makes a better DVD player than our stand alone DVD player.

When everything is all said and done I’ll have some new pics posted to my gallery.

Made some great progress towards finishing up the home theater last night by building the frame for my screen. I based my screen frame around a howto located at this site. My frame does not use any support bracing to help save on the weight and honestly the wood could be straighter. Measuring 79×45, I’ll be able to get an absolute maximum size of 90″ diagonal when viewing “widescreen” formatted material. This also gives me a maximum of 74″ diagonal for regular 4:3 content. Not bad for a total project cost of about $600.

Read on for pics and other info.

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Well I have the projector in my possession and now I’m working out how to setup a screen. Once in a while I’d bring home a projector from work and just project onto a white shade from our basement. I’d like to create a larger and more permanent screen rather than pull down the shade each time we want to use the projector. While the shade works, I’m limited in how wide I can go.

Over on avsforum.com I read about what they call BOC or black out cloth. It’s actually some cloth that goes behind drapes to cut out light. It has decent properties for acting as a projector screen, though it has hardly any gain and can dull up the image some. So far, despite what my wife thinks, I have minimal cash invested into my screen so far. I’d like to avoid having to buy a “real” screen because DIY is just more fun.

The problem I’m running into is that BOC doesn’t appear to roll up well, and I’d prefer being able to roll up the screen between uses. So it looks like I’ll need to create a rigid frame to put the BOC onto which is going to create a storage issue. I guess I should have thought of all this before I got the projector!

Here’s something I don’t like but I see it everywhere. Widescreen TV’s (particularly flat panels) that stretch 4:3 content so the aspect ratio is off. I understand people want to “get the most out of their set” but it’s funny to me they picked up a nice hi-def TV only to display standard def content at an incorrect aspect ratio. One wonders if they got the TV for their improved picture quality or status.

I’m not much of a TV watcher yet I appreciate devices like the TiVO and DVRs and have always wanted one. The problem is, sometimes I’m really cheap, I don’t want to pay for a TiVO and I really don’t want to pay a recurring fee just to get a program guide. Being the techie geek I am I also want to be able to watch recorded TV shows on other devices and again, pay nothing for it.

MythTV to the rescue. (http://mythtv.org)

MythTV has existed for a number of years now and I’ve given it a try multiple times. Each time I gave up on it any one of a few reasons and it usually could have been resolved by throwing more money at the project. I usually hit two snags with my MythTV setup. One of the reasons was, where do I put a loud computer that isn’t too far away to hook up to the TV (for those times when I *did* want to watch a show on the TV) but most of the time it was because I didn’t have enough computing power to do transcoding, better known as, the ability to pause live TV. This was a real bummer to me because it’s one of the key features of any DVR, any VCR can record a TV show, but only a DVR can pause live TV.

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