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My homebuilt blackout screen with pics (LONG)  

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Ok - I'm really PO'd because I just typed this whole thing in, and then I clicked on a jpg to check it and it overwrote this entry screen and so I'm doing it all over again...

Here is my screen building experience. Overall I rate it a 4.5/5. That breaks down to 5/5 for cost 4.5/5 fun factor, 4/5 end result with lights on, 5/5 end result during viewing.

Thanks to all who came before me who helped in building this forum and thus in building my screen.

First some backgound - I moved recently from a large house with a dedicated HT room, fully treated and custom install. Dalite screen pearlescent with a Barcographics CRT install. New home is 1/2 the size, no dedicated HT room and much smaller. Also much less budget, thus the need/desire to build my own.

Basically I decided to build a 52/92" screen to be watched from about 11 feet. This is for my plus UP1100 projector. I decided to use a wood frame and place screen (i.e. porch)holding cleats around the frame to hold the screen material. This was suggested here and is a GREAT idea - makes getting the screen flush and flat very easy. Initially I had planned to use black felt for the border, but this did not work, thus I ended up just using the caps that came with the screen mounting cleats - for some reason these didn't come in black (even though the bottom section where the screen is held in was black) so I just spray painted them flat black.

Well, lets look at a few pics. First here is the overall frame. Notice a couple things. First the big mess, small space. This is not a fancy shop, to say the least. Second, the work surface - not exactly high tech but my point is this is really not hard to do. Third, notice the clamps - I'll discuss this below.


The cross braces in the above picture were put in to try to minimize/eliminate any bow created in the frame by stretching the fabric. I think probably 1 in the middle rather than the 3 I did would be adequate, but I was having fun with my new tool - a biscuit jointer, so I put 3 in.

Yes, one of my rules is that if I'm doing a project to "save money" I invest part of that money into a tool that I'll then have for the next project. In this case I spent around $180 on a dewalt biscuit jointer which basically allows you to make very easy, very strong joints. Highly recommended:


I had already bought before a miter saw when I framed in a basement before, and this made the project much easier, but of course is not needed:


The reason you see the clamps on notches in the frame is that my corner clamps wouldn't fit on the wide boards that I was using (1x4)so rather than buy a bunch of big clamps I notched the corners and then used the clamps I had. This worked great. One note: the wood was not all exactly the same depth. I referenced my biscuit joints from the top surface of all sides and thus the top is flat - the back edge is not exactly but who cares? If you had a planer, this would not be a problem, but that's a purchase for my next project http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif

Here is how I notched those corners:


post #2 of 10
Thread Starter 
Now that you see that, go back up to look at the clamps again. You will also see that I screwed some scrap wood into the middle support in order to clamp the middle section - again lack of long clamps necessitated some modification, but it worked very well.

Well, once the frame had been glued I attached the screen holding cleats. These I bought at lowes in the door department. This stuff is used to attach screen material to back porches and has a bottom section which the spline rolls into and a top cover which covers it up. For some reason the backing was available in black, but not the top part - thus I just spray painted the top part flat black.

Here is a close-up of these two parts, first the back then the front:



Once these were cut and screwed into the frame it was simply a matter of stretching the fabric into it and rolling in the spline. This part took 2 people.


Almost forgot to mention - the fabric was "curtain blackout fabric" bought from Jo-Ann fabric. Bought enough to make 2 screens for less than $20. Just walk in and ask for it like you know what you're talking about http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif It does have a somewhat shiny side and a flat side. I used the flat side. Others have suggested there is not much difference in appearance, but given I have a 1000 lumen DLP I wanted uniformity more than a possible increase in gain.

Once the fabric was stretched the covers just snap on. Here is the only place I"m not 100% satisfied - it was very difficult to cut these exactly to the size I wanted as the cover extends beyond the base a little bit so it's hard to know exactly how to measure. If I did it again, I'd take these measurements before attaching the base and do it a bit more exact. If you look at the corners you can see the top pieces extend a bit beyond the edge. A small detail, but it's not perfect. The problem is once they are snapped it, its tough to take them out again and I was afraid if I did I might damage the screen, so I just left it how it was.


post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
Well here is the final picture - please note that my center channel will not fit under the screen (before I had enough room to run all upright, those are Hales Revelation 3's). I am deciding on whether to build a small speaker stand or to get a smaller center channel speaker. Also please note that I haven't gotten any good speaker cable yet - left my awesome stuff in the walls of my old house http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/frown.gif What you see is walmart brand 16 gauge. NOT recommended ;( The other problem is that I don't have enough room to get those speakers out away from the walls like they should be, but again, that's the limitations of my space for now. Walls will be tubetrapped.


And last, just for fun - here is me having a ball building this. I really enjoyed doing it and I love to sit down and watch this screen. It really does look better than the commercial one I had before (but not a fair comparison as it was a high gain screen) and knowing that I built it and saved a ton of money makes it all the more fun! I have NO complaints about the image - it is superb.

Please note I am wearing hearing protection and eye protection - do the same if you decide to join the home built screen club!

I would be happy to answer any questions you might have for me. I hope this in some way helps give back some of what I've taken from this forum.

post #4 of 10
How heavy would you estimate the finished screen?

Sony: SAT-B3, STR-DA777ES Receiver
Toshiba: SD-3109 DVD
Proscan 27" TV
B&W: DM601, CC6, DS6B, 800ASW speakers
post #5 of 10
Hi Pap

Thanks for doing the nice post on the screen construction. It sure looks like a contender for bang-for-the-buck award.

post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
As to the weight, I would guess probably 5-10 lbs. Can pick it up easily with one hand. It is hanging on the wall with 2 simple drywall screws put into the studs. The lumber used was 1x4 pine (lightweight). Some have suggested aluminum, etc, but for me that was too much work.

As to the bang for the buck - I think so. The whole thing under $100, and could be done for 1/2 that if you used some other way to attach the screen to the frame (i.e. wrap and staple).

I liked the screen attachment idea however, because if this grey-screen thing ever works out I can take it down and change material. Of course, I may just build another one for fun http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/wink.gif
post #7 of 10
Great job,

I've completed a similar screen with a little bit of a twist. I'll see if I can't get pictures up by monday or so. Here is a description until then.

For the frame, I also used a wooden structure. Instead of 1x6 (I believe) I ended up using the deck baluster or staircase baluster railing as the frame. If you've ever seen this stuff, its approx 2x3" and along the three inch side it has been routed to accept the vertical balusters. This route extends the full length of the board cut and the other side is without this routed channel. I put this routed channel outwards on all four sides of the frame and stained it a very dark brown.

My original intention was to place fibre optic in this route, but I'm looking into rope light instead. Its 54x96" and uses the same plastic track screening that PAP used.

BTW this stuff comes in two widths, I chose the 2" width because it would fit along 2" side of the board. When attaching this stuff I placed it behind the frame so there was a shadowbox effect, even if it was only 3" deep. I also had it overlap the boards to create a 1/4" black mat around the image. Just make sure you peel the upc stickers off the strips because the back side of the strap will be facing the viewer.

Currently I've got a high gloss fabric with the white waterproofing agent used on concrete block in basements as the backing. It stops light, but it has soaked through the fabric and caused some problems with the look of the screen. My next step will be to go to the light blocking material that everyone is talking about and end my quest...

Another benefit of having the frame in front of the screen is that I've created masking blocks that fit perfectly between the top and bottom of the screen for 4x3 viewing... That was made from a 2" piece of flat styrofoam that has been wrapped in black velvet. Squish it in place and everything's ready for 4x3.

post #8 of 10
Just thought I would bump this oldie but goodie to the top for the new LT150 owners.

Jeff Streitz
Iowa City, IA
post #9 of 10

I built one like this too and I want to offer a tip. When you go to JoAnn's to pick up the fabric bring a mailing tube or something to wrap the fabric around or ask for something while you're there. If you fold the fabric you'll have crease marks. The crease marks in mine haven't come out yet.

post #10 of 10
Originally posted by Brian Hampton:

I built one like this too and I want to offer a tip. When you go to JoAnn's to pick up the fabric bring a mailing tube or something to wrap the fabric around or ask for something while you're there. If you fold the fabric you'll have crease marks. The crease marks in mine haven't come out yet.


If you haven't painted it, a tumble in the clothes dryer, or a low temp iron should get out the creases with no problem. If it's mounted, try Downy wrinkle remover

Darren Rogers

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