Dudes & Dudettes;
There have been some major changes to the Great East Coast Blend Laboratory (aka the HT version 4.3) since ya'll have frequented these here parts. To wit:
1) The right projector, formerly known as the right Marquee 9500LC has had the rest of its innards upgraded to Ultra status, and is now a real genuine MP mod'd Marquee 9500LC Ultra. This projector used to be Mike's reference 9500, so it has special MP mods that few other Marquees anywhere in the world possess. MP & I did this final conversion the week of Thanksgiving, last Fall.
2) The left projector, formerly known as the left Marquee 9000LC was replaced in its entirety with the projector formerly known as MP's lowly lowly 8500AC Ultra. Mike and I swapped the 9" CRTs (plus housings & mounting plates) from the Marquee 9000 into the Marquee 8500AC Ultra, converting it to a Marquee 9500LC Ultra. The lowly lowly 8500AC Ultra was Mike's reference 8" CRT projector and also had special MP mods that few other Marquees anywhere in the world possess. Of course, the MP mod'd video chain (neckboards + VIM) were moved from the Marquee 9000LC to the 9500 Ultra, fully converting it to a real genuine MP mod'd Marquee 9500LC Ultra. MP & I did this last year between Christmas & New Years Day. For the first time I had matched MP mod'd Marquee 9500LC Ultras mounted on the ceiling!!!
3) An unexpected added benefit of fully converting each projector to an Ultra was that the light output of each projector increased noticeably. I turned the contrast setting down from 70 to 60 on each projector, and still had a brighter image than before.
4) Last Fall an opportunity presented itself to acquire an 80 yard roll of Flockstar light absorbing material. This material is used on the inside of telescopes to prevent stray light from reaching the detector. It is the blackest material I have ever seen, other than the material Ruben uses on the frame of his SmX screens. I sold 50 yards of the material to other forum members, and used the remaining 30 yards in my own HT. The material is 30" wide. I covered the walls and ceiling with the Flockstar, starting from the front wall, and working my way back towards the audience. 90" later, the whole front third of the HT is now a bat cave. The image on the screen looks like it is suspended in air, with nothing but black surrounding it!!! This work was done last Fall, during the week of Thanksgiving. It was a family project, involving my youngest son, and both of his grandparents. First time I have ever hung black wallpaper.
5) Last Christmas, my lovely young wife surprised me with a set of 3 black Berkline powered recliner seats. They replaced the 2 burgundy Lazy-boy swiveling rocker recliners on the rear (riser) platform, and are now the prime seats in the HT. Good wife!!! (I hope to add a second set of matching Berklines for the front row, before the Fall Meet.) Then, for the first time, I will have 6 comfy places for Meet attendees to park their butts during audio/video demos.
6) After both projectors were fully upgraded, this past January I completed the geometry setup, convergence setup, and grayscale calibration. The resulting image was better than anything I have ever seen in the HT, and far better than anything ya'll have seen in past East Coast Blendzilla Meets. The blendzone just completely disappears, in 99.99% of all cases, without any blendzone correction applied by the Blendzilla.
A special treat is in store for those who make the journey to Middleburg, this Fall (assuming that I have electricity, of course. If I don't have electricity, ya'll will just have to be satisfied with the exceptional seeing that results in the country when all the lights have faded to black.)
Since upgrading both Marquees to full Ultra status, I have taken a break from upgradeitis, and just sat back and enjoyed the chit out of the resulting image.
Most recently, I have been watching my beloved Pittsburgh Penguins kick the living crap out of first, the Philadelphia Flyers, then second, the Washington Capitals, and most recently, the Carolina Hurricanes. Hurricane season is just about over. My my, it is an experience watching a hockey game, and being able to see the puck, at all times, without any artificial enhancement (of the puck).
7) Except for, I took advantage of Chris Johnson's Marquee exterior sheet metal sale this past spring, and ordered 2 complete sets of black exterior covers. After installing the covers, the now black projectors fade into the dark gray/black background during movies/sporting events, just like good projectors should............................
8) And, after a short discussion with Scott (TSE) of VDC, then a somewhat longer discussion with VDC parts, I was able to talk VDC into sending me a pair of free VDC 9500 Ultra rear heat sink cover badges. They are proudly displayed on the brand new black Chris Johnson rear heat sink cover of each projector, right side up with the projector mounted on the ceiling (where all projectors should be mounted.)
9) MP is about to increase the quality of the image yet again, by adding some special neckboard sauce to the neckboards of both projectors.
This, and a couple of other changes are going to make the blend look like Mike's new reference 9500LC Ultra, on display on Curt's site, in the Mike Parker Products forum, in the "Barco 909 Focus Coils in a Marquee 9500LC Ultra" thread. If Mike wants to chime in and elaborate on the neckboard special sauce, he is welcome to.
William (and Mike)
PS: Watch this space for future work coming up between now and the October Meet. Amazing things is gonna happen.....