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For Folks on the DIY Screen Fence: My $64 free-floating build...

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
First-time PJ owner here who needed a TAUT/rigid screen to hang in front of my existing 60" Kuro until I have my new dedicated space. After looking at the budget-minded $100 to $300 commercial offerings, I decided two things:

1. None of them seemed guaranteed to offer me the frame rigidity/screen uniformity I demanded.

2. Your mileage may vary of course, but most of them seemed slightly to very overpriced for their build quality/performance (yes, even at ~$150).

Looking at the cost/performance ratio of DIY screens, I knew I had to at least give it a try.

My goal here is not to reinvent the wheel with the construction, per se, just provide some feedback re my experience and results. Please ask questions or provide commentary as I'd appreciate the input.


VERY well-illuminated 15x14 living room with ample southern-exposed windows. As I said above, until I have a dedicated space, I need a screen that can hang in front of my existing display. This also limits the sheer size of what I can take on, as the both the screen itself and screen border (even if I went with the acoustically transparent route) would cause sonic issues. It took a bit of brain (and leg) work, but I rearranged this (all iphone pics, sorry you'll have to suffer):

like this:

to accommodate a larger screen. I now could fabricate an ~85" screen which is, handily, almost exactly TWICE the size of my 60". wink.gif

PJ: Panasonic PT-AR100u. PLENTY of lumens and 5 star reviews all over the place.


22' of 1" x 3" $26 (but free for me, already laying around, lol)
4' x 8' sheet of hard board: $11
Quart of Flat SW 7071: $15
22' 3/4" trim: $20
25' of velvet adhesive tape: $10
roller/hanging hardware: $8

Call it ~$90 for joe six-pack.

Since I wanted a rigid screen that looked decent NOT hanging on or mounted directly to a wall, it seemed like a 1x3/4 constructed frame and a hardy board screen was mandatory, so that's the route I took.

With a "smaller" screen I deemed 1x3 with suitable corner and center bracing to be more than adequate. Sorry I do not have pic of my frame-job, my dum-ass deleted it off my phone. But after affixing the scuffed front-side hardboard, I was looking at this:

I then propped it like so to take the SW 7071:

I lightly hit the surface with some 320G before applying the 7071 with a quality foam-roller. Rolling off the surface and back-stepping just a single column, I can tell you to expect EXCELLENT results on this surface, with this roller, and this paint. There is nary an imperfection to be found. It is true, fantastically even and uniform. I'm not saying this to beat my chest, I'm simply relaying it for those who are interested in (or timid about) getting superb results. Just take your time, be mindful of the paint you're putting on (and applying) off the roller, and I'm certain you'll enjoy comparable results.

Pictures of which I'll post later as I have to go for now...

thanks all,

Edited by mastermaybe - 2/17/13 at 3:43am
post #2 of 26
Thread Starter 
Really couldn't ask for things to go any better. So pleased I went this route...


post #3 of 26
Thread Starter 
Border on.


post #4 of 26
Thread Starter 
Half of the border trim on. Should have the second half on tomorrow and ready for hanging!

post #5 of 26
Thread Starter 

I have a white ceiling...no I cannot paint it, lol.

What you do think regarding hanging the screen?

Use white eyelets at the top of the screen (really no easy way to hide them) and white hooks (into joists) from the ceiling (like these: http://www.amazon.com/Panacea-86202-Ceiling-Hook-White/dp/B001B42CT6)

Or use white hooks with black eyelets? My feeling is that white on white may be less noticeable...even if the white eyelets look a bit goofy in the top of a black screen, straightaway. I suppose I could titebond a couple of small mounting blocks to the rear of the plywood corner braces a bit lower than the top of the screen to hide the eyelets (that would be great!), but then I think the weight won't be centered when hung and the bottom of the screen will want to tip in (read: away from the viewers). ???

I do have pretty easy access to my attic and I've considered using 50lb test fishing line- allowing two loops to hang from tiny holes (which hooks in the top of the screen frame would hang on) in the ceiling and then anchoring the line somehow in the attic- but I just anticipate that being a real PITA as far as adjusting to ensure the screen is level/tying it off just so.

Other options?


Edited by mastermaybe - 2/19/13 at 7:26am
post #6 of 26
I went back and forth with hanging a screen before deciding to mount it.

Of the options you gave I would suggest using the fishing line with the white hooks. No need to get into the attic, easy on/off. As for leveling just use the test pattern to make sure everything is straight before you tie off the line. Once its tied off, it shouldn't wiggle. From my experience, and based on the number of speakers in that room eek.gif you'll need to adjust your PJ every now and then from lense shift.

Where do you plan on storing the screen when not in use? I was thinking of painting the back of the screen/frame with ceiling white and just folding it up when not in use by attaching two round eyelets screwed into the bottom of the frame, attached to hooks on the ceiling when folded.
post #7 of 26
Thread Starter 
^ Yes, good point about the fishing line from the screen, not the ceiling...duh, lol. That was my original plan and then I fell in love with the "nothing in the ceiling" look.

This whole thing prolly sounds goofy to people, but I really want it to look as clean as possible.

I think I'll anchor the hooks, paint them white (or buy white ones if I can find them) and simply figure out a good way to fasten the line to the screen. I wish I could find VERY strong, thick (read: not very stretchy), clear rubber bands, I'd bet they'd work great.

Edited by mastermaybe - 2/20/13 at 6:23am
post #8 of 26
Thread Starter 
Got the shelf I built mounted, wish the PJ was black, but it looks alright with the lighter "toasted gray" wall/shelf and white ceiling:

Now, just the screen!

post #9 of 26
A White Panny? Why? They come in Black too.
post #10 of 26
For hanging the screen, try using french cleats. They are low profile and can hold way more than what your screen weighs.
post #11 of 26
Thread Starter 
^ Thanks for the tip.

Here's what I ended up doing (pics later)...

I sunk a pair of robust eyelets into the top of the frame...then was proceeded to be completely baffled by the sheer lack of narrow, long hooks. Long (~3 1/2"), narrow, eyelets EVERYWHERE, of course.

Why did I need real long narrow hooks? Well, the former owners had the brilliance of adding a 1/2" layer of drywall over an old chipboard ceiling (about a 1/2" +) and then another layer of 1/2" drywall, so I needed a very long shaft if I was going to be able to have the hook get through all of that, hit a rafter, and still protrude far enough away from the ceiling to be usable.

Well again that hook doesn't exist. Trips to (3) hardware stores and an online search made it rather clear. 2 different clerks laughed right along with me.

So what did I do? I bought one of the long, narrow eyes of course, and used a channel lock to bend the loop into a hook. Looks decent, but I'm going to pick up a pair of stainless jobs and simply cut the loop with a hacksaw for a much cleaner look.

I have to say I was literally blown away by the fact I simply could not walk in and buy the hook, but this will work in the end...should be easy on and off with absolute certain holding strength.

One of those times you just laugh at when it's all over.

post #12 of 26
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by MississippiMan View Post

A White Panny? Why? They come in Black too.

Not aware of the AR 100 being available in black and the AE7000 was out of my budget. It's completely out of sight while viewing though and actually prolly looks better with the lighter shelf, walls, and ceiling anyway.

The GIGANTIC black rear surround speakers on the other hand...

Edited by mastermaybe - 2/22/13 at 8:16am
post #13 of 26
Originally Posted by MississippiMan View Post

A White Panny? Why? They come in Black too.

Never seen a white AR100 either.

Unless I am seriously underestimating the guage of eyelet you'll be using, it will almost surely be easier to cut the eyelet ring with the cutter in a pair of linesman pliers, I'd imagine it will be difficult to use a hacksaw on something so small?
post #14 of 26
Thread Starter 
It's (the eyelet) pretty thick my man, trust me. I'll post a pic later. I'll tap it into a piece of wood and cut it in 30 seconds.

Re the AR 100...are we talking about the same projector? I'd LOVE to get it in black: http://panasonic.net/avc/projector/products/ar100/

Perhaps you two are thinking of another model as I've NEVER seen a black AR-100.

post #15 of 26
Thread Starter 
Well it's finished and I'm extremely pleased...I'll post better pics, this was the best I could do with my iphone. It really looks much better than I thought it would, even with a very good amount of ambient light.

Seems nearly impossible to get decent pics of it with my iphone at dusk/darkness, but I'll try. My regular camera is MIA right now.

post #16 of 26
That looks really good.

I goofed earlier...In my exitement over a possible black ar100 I mistyped. I have never seen a black ar100 either.

You never mentioned where you plan on storing the screen when not in use. Are you going to just leave it covering your Kuro? Any issues with it being unbalanced or swaying? Its also dang close to the ceiling...any issues with reflection?
post #17 of 26
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the compliment. I'm a bit shocked that there's not a bigger issue with reflections actually...it's a VERY white ceiling, but at least it's matte so that prolly helps. Still, I get them, but not really enough to be bothered terribly.

I have another room a few steps away where I can store the screen by simply hanging it on the wall, but it's been working so well thus far that I've not even been inclined to take it down.

Re the swaying: since the eyelets are mounted near the rear of the top of the screen it wants to tip "in" towards the bottom (read: towards the front wall) so I simply placed a couple of decorative rocks behind it atop of the subs to keep it perfectly vertical...you can nearly make the left one out on the bottom of the screen if you look close (my floors not level so it's harder to see the one on the right wink.gif ).

If I do this again down the road and don't have this option I'll simply ensure that the eyelets are mounted in the middle of the frame, as it doesn't sway on its own when it's "centered".

Edited by mastermaybe - 2/27/13 at 10:12am
post #18 of 26
Very creative build. well done smile.gif

Do you use your Kuro at all? In other words, if I understand correctly, there is still a TV behind this screen. Does the screen in and out of place in case you want to watch the Kuro in bright light?
post #19 of 26
Thread Starter 

The kuro is seeing less and less time, for better and worse, lol. The fact of the matter is it's on very early- before the suns up- in the am, and by the time we're home at night it's pretty dark already so we really don't have to do much with the windows. Heck, even on the weekends the PJ has so much light that I really don't need to do much, but I can draw the drapes if I want.

Really, the kuro will likely be enjoying a bit of a vacation until we have a new home with a more dedicated space for the pj and the kuro can go in the living room...there are worse problems in the world I suppose.

Thankfully though, the screen is very easy and quick to remove...perhaps when I finally get my hooks up in the other room tomorrow I'll take it down a little more often...then again, maybe not.

Edited by mastermaybe - 4/8/13 at 12:38pm
post #20 of 26
Any chance we can see it in action? Even with ambient light I'd be curious as to how it looks with something running on the screen.

Aside from that, this is a Great Build! I'm planning to use this as a base for my DIY project. The day before you posted this I had run across a sheet of the hardboard you used at my local Lowes and I immediately came home and started scouring the web looking to see if anyone else had used this as a substrate. I came across your post and have been anxiously following the progress. Finally decided to sign up for the forums today and thought I'd drop in to give you kudos on the build.
post #21 of 26
Thread Starter 
^ thanks a lot...I will try to get some pics this afternoon, didn't mean to leave anyone hanging but being stuck with an iphone right now I'm really apprehensive about posting pics that simply do not do it justice, but I'll try in an hour or so.

In my ridiculously illuminated room I'd rate the whole set-up a B+/A- during the day. Just a slight draw of the curtains on the right works wonders. Completely watchable and of course it only gets better as the great orange ball moves further west.

post #22 of 26
I'm in a similar boat in needing to hang a screen in front of our regular viewing 65 panny plasma in our living room with lots of ambient light and thus needing the lumens of the ar100u and a grey screen. wasn't thrilled with the available choices of pull down screens so might be going this route. looks like I could go as big as a 98" screen out of a piece of 4x8 hard board.. this thread has given me hope smile.gif
post #23 of 26
Finally got a hold of a truck to haul the hardboard in this morning. Yay! Spent about 2 hours building a standalone pvc frame for my wood frame and substrate to attach to as I've got a little more room to work with for our home theater/ entertainment area. The hardboard is currently glued to the wooden portion of my frame and drying in my garage with a hefty piece of osb and cinder blocks sitting atop (overkill I'm sure but I didn't have clamps). Going to get it all put together tomorrow as I want to give it 24 hours to cure/dry with temperatures being a bit on the cool side where I live. But tomorrow *hopefully* I am going to start painting the substrate. Still looking forward to those pics should you get the chance to get some that you feel do the build justice. Again, thanks for detailed build plans and the inspiration. smile.gif
post #24 of 26
Thread Starter 
Ok, I promise I'll do the best I can tomorrow and post something. I just don't want anyone to get discouraged with my C- pics...my phone REALLY doesn't do it justice but ill give her a go. Found my camera but it needs a new battery.

post #25 of 26
Originally Posted by mastermaybe View Post

Ok, I promise I'll do the best I can tomorrow and post something. I just don't want anyone to get discouraged with my C- pics...my phone REALLY doesn't do it justice but ill give her a go. Found my camera but it needs a new battery.


Found it quick, eh? Good. get'ter charged up and go read your PM
post #26 of 26
Thread Starter 
Snapped a quick one of this moron yesterday afternoon. You have to understand that this room is just getting PUNISHED with light- the curtains are WIDE open at 3:30 in the afternoon- the screen is much more "contrasty" than it appears in this image. I'm still very much impressed with this PJ and screen combo.

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