Need a simple DIY screen for high ambient light - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 3 Old 04-03-2012, 05:33 PM - Thread Starter
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I am working at a summer camp and we are thinking of getting a new projector for watching movies in the evening. The projector is going to be set up under a building which is partially on stilts (there is a wall behind the screen and the ceiling extends probably 20 feet in each direction from the projector but it is open on the sides). The movies will be started just after sunset when it is still fairly light out. The area will of course get darker as the evening progresses. It will never be pitch black however because directly behind the projector is the snack bar. The snack bar doesn't put out too much light (you couldn't read a paper in the seats) but it does of course put out some light which will come in from the worst possible position.

Before you lecture me, I am well aware that this is a challenging setup for a projector. I was thinking that a bright projector with a dark grey screen might be the best solution.

The Panasonic pt-ar100u looks like it might be ideal since it is very bright and will adjust the picture in response to changing lighting conditions. I believe I will be able to get it but due to budget I may be forced to step down to a Viewsonic Pro8200 or an Optoma HD66. We will be ceiling mounting whatever we get so throw distance should not be an issue.

To save money I was thinking about a DIY screen. My ideal size would be 115"-120" but I would be happy with a 100" screen. I know that a smaller screen will allow for a brighter image and also that materials tend to come in 4x8 sheets. While the silver fire screen might be awesome I am looking for a screen that is dead simple to put together. That means right now I am pretty much looking at a screen painted with one paint color (no fancy mixing or anything) or possibly a wilsonart laminate that will probably be glued to a sheet of plywood and then attached directly to the wall behind it.

If you guys have a dead simple mix that you think will DRAMATICALLY improve the picture over a simple paint mix that might work. However you should understand that this will be a work order and I'll be lucky if I can convince the rangers to use a 3/16 nap roller. (that may be a slight exaggeration but you get my point)

One other thing, the screen cannot be delicate, it will most likely get abused in some way just sitting on the wall. That is why I discounted just going the super simple route and getting an ultra cheap manual pulldown.

What are your thoughts on the setup as a whole?

BTW the current setup we have is an Epson Powerlite S5 (an 800*600 data projector with terrible picture) projected onto a gray painted tongue and groove wood wall with obvious wood grain and sizable gaps between the planks. Almost anything would be an improvement.
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post #2 of 3 Old 04-03-2012, 08:18 PM
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OK... so I'm going to give you a suggestion that's not a DIY screen -- which is what you asked for... (warning... warning)

A widescreen projector doesn't "throw away" lumens in the top and bottom black bars. Translation, a 4:3 3000 lumen projector and a 16:10 2500 lumen projector are about the same foot lumens....

Next, 120" is dirt cheap for a manufactured pull down screen. If that's all the bigger you are thinking...

Last, when contrast is truly compromised by light, LCD rules vs DLP in my experience. If your real contrast ratio is double digits.... a 5000:1 high contrast DLP doesn't help you any. The sharper more distinct image from the LCD, and higher saturated colors makes the perceived contrast work "better" with the LCD.

Your stated environment doesn't sound drywall friendly... which is where most DIY paints get laid down...

Last -- I was at bestbuy and saw an epson 705HD on sale for $427.... That's 2500 lumens of widescreen LCD with variable iris.... That should leave enough in your pocket for whatever kind of screen you want.
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post #3 of 3 Old 04-04-2012, 08:34 AM
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My thoughts on all this are contained in the links in my signature.

I am personally the last living fan of a 4:3 projector (business) and screen for such endeavors for some of the reasons mentioned above. I like the DLP light cannons and a simple neutral gray screen with a controlled sheen.

My home screen is 120” and is tolerant of quite a bit of ambient light from behind the viewer. Lumens for me is the key with a good CR spec. a super high CR spec will just get eaten up by the ambient light IMHO. Ambient light has a harder time eating into high lumens and a dark screen.

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