Okay, first things first. Do you want an acoustically transparent screen RIGHT NOW???
Without the hassle of actually having to do any REAL WORK
or spend ANY REAL MONEY???
Friends, have you come to the right
Grab a sheet in your house ( I'm assuming you have sheets in your house, if not, there are some things even the Impatient Lazy Man can not help you with ). Preferably white or gray and the bigger the better. If your wife or significant other says: "Where are you taking my 100-percent Egyptian Cotton Flannel king size sheet?" Just say: "What sheet?" and keep going. Tack one end of that sucker onto the ceiling in a straight line, creating a kind of cotton wall. Put your front speakers behind it. If you want to get really
fancy, and your sheet is long enough to actually touch the floor, put some books on that end to stretch it out a little flatter.
Now turn out the lights, throw an image, and ... Say hello to your fabulous new AT screen!
Now is this a great
AT screen? Well, no, not exactly.
What it is
, is an excellent way to get some idea of what things will look like, what you want to aim
for, without spending any real time or investment. Where should your screen go? How big do you want it to be? How far away from the projector? How much space do you need to reserve behind the screen for your speakers? Etc.
Making the "screen sheet" described above really helped me wrap my head around the possibilities an AT screen could provide. It's a cliche, but the more experimenting and measuring you can do, before you commit to actually building something, the better prepared you will be. Best to run into issues before you start drilling holes and cutting lumber. (And to be honest, my sheet screen, actually didn't look that
With that out of the way, here is my tortured journey toward a slightly more permanent solution.
I needed a way to mount the screen in front of my speakers. But, being an Impatient Lazy Man, I didn't want to build a whole false wall. Too much time and effort. We had a bunch of scrap lumber lying around in the garage so I grabbed several long boards--I'd guess they were 2x3s--and screwed one to the ceiling in a horizontal line where I wanted the screen to hang. It didn't run the entire width of the ceiling--I left a few feet of space on either end. Then I lay a matching board on the ground beneath it and screwed two boards vertically to connect the ends of the floor and ceiling boards, ending up with a giant open square frame, wedged into place. When my wife saw this monstrosity, she said "That'll
never hold," and "Is that my 100-percent Egyptian Cotton Flannel king size sheet?"
(If you don't even want to build a rudimentary support frame, one thing you could consider, is to just hang your framed screen with eye hooks and wire or even strong fishing line attached to the ceiling. Might look kind of cool, just floating there in space.)
Okay. Time to really get down to business. Buckle up. This ride is going to get wild.
Step one. Figure out how big you want your screen to be (If you used the "sheet screen" method, you can just measure your ideal image directly off the sheet, which is what I did.) Mine is going to be about 112 inches diagonal.
Step two. Buy some cheap pine 1x2s and some brackets and start screwing the 1x2s together (after drilling the appropriate holes, of course).
Get pissed when the cheap pine splits.
Step three. Replace the splintered piece of cheap pine with another piece of cheap pine (I actually bought enough to make two screens, because that was my initial plan).
Stare blankly into space when the replacement piece also
cracks. Wish that you had bought poplar, as had been suggested. Express surprise at the fact that, even though cracked, the second piece of pine is actually holding firm. Continue building the frame.
Here's one of the L brackets screwed into place. I also put in a much longer screw lengthwise at the top of the screen on either end to give it a little more stability, which is how the second board cracked (but still held firm)
Most people quite sensibly tell you to brace your screen with two boards spaced evenly in the center or diagonally or whatever---but who has time for that? You're an Impatient Lazy Man, remember! Screw that noise!
Besides, by using just the four pieces of 2x1, your frame will be super light weight, which makes it easier to "mount" or reposition (I didn't actually mount
mine--more like hung it from two screws).
Here's the completed screen frame, with the square mounting structure I mentioned earlier behind it. Those speaker stands you see behind the frame are a custom design I built myself. If you want to special order some I'm willing to make more and sell them at a reasonable price, but I should tell you that the shipping costs are somewhat prohibitive. My old drywall screen is still mounted behind them. I really should take that down. That's my daughter holding up the screen frame to show you how light it is, by the way. Isn't she ADORABLE!!!!!!!
Here's the frame hanging on the mount.
Alright. Time to get a'staplin'. I ordered three yards of matte silver milliskin and three yards of white matte milliskin and specified that I wanted them on rolls, so I wouldn't have to deal with creases. SpandexWorld sent them to me in a little square cardboard box and I freaked out, but after I hung them up on the frame for a couple of hours I was surprised to see that the creases just ... went away. So maybe don't worry so much about ordering them on a roll. Anyway, I was going with silver over white, so here's white, the first layer, laid out on my carpet. I just put the frame on top of it and started tugging on the spandex all the way around to get any remaining creases and wrinkles out. Surprisingly easy. That's my helper holding down the spandex on the other side of the frame, the only helper I had on this project ( my daughter was a big disappointment when it came to accurate use of the Band saw, electric drill, etc.). I call my real
helper "Mr. Cinder." We go back a long way.
Okay, getting late. That's it for now. What disaster shall strike next? Part two tomorrow!
PART TWO: The Staple-pocolypse is upon us!
The Stapleman's creed
This is my staple gun. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My staple gun is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. My staple gun, without me, is useless. Without my staple gun, I am useless. I must fire my staple gun true. I must shoot straighter than my enemy who is trying to kill me. I must shoot him before he shoots me.
Never owned a staple gun before. Never had a reason to use one. Now I carry it with me everywhere I go. No one is going to take my staple gun away from me. So many things just need a good stapling. I'll staple them now, and god can sort them out later.
See the staple gun in the picture below? If it were legal to marry a staple gun, this is the one I would marry. I also think this is the only good picture I took for the entire thread. I didn't know it would come out this "dramatic." Must be my love for my staple gun, shining through.
Alright. Enough manly talk. Here we go. See how many staples I'm using to attach my spandex in the picture below? I'm really going to regret that decision later. I'm also stapling it in an odd place--the thin outer edge of the frame, instead of the wider part of the frame on the inside. It makes it really hard to get that outer edge smooth, because the staples make little visible bumps when you pull the second layer over them. ANYTHING under spandex will make a visible bump. I chose this method deliberately however--my idea was to make a two sided screen
--silver over white on one side, flip it around and you have white over silver. This actually works, sort of, but it's more trouble than its worth IMO and can lead to other issues. I did it because I wanted the brighter white side for watching 3D movies, and the darker silver side for regular viewing, but in the end I decided to convert it back into a single-sided screen.
And here's the silver going in over the white. See how much darker the white looks already with the silver behind it? I actually ran into a little problem here. To do the first layer, I just put the white spandex down, as shown in a few pictures back, smoothed out as much as I could, put the frame down on top of it, then pulled out along the edges of the fabric to get out all the remaining wrinkles, and stapled it home. Not hard at all. But when you use that method with the second
layer, you can't really see what you're doing, because with the screen facing down, the second layer is of course hidden beneath the first
layer. Not sure how other people get around this, if they just staple both layers at the same time, or what, but I wasn't going to take the time to look it up. So I stapled one side of the silver using the original method, then I leaned the whole thing up against the mounting frame, so I could look at the front while I stapled, but still get my hand around the back of the frame to work the stapler.
There are probably easier and better ways to do this.
And here she is, the moment of truth--my silver over white screen, finally hung in place. I have to say, I really liked seeing that big, wide, perfectly even expanse of silver. It gave me that "This is just like a real movie theater!" feeling, which i haven't had in a long time. But take a good look, because the screen isn't going to remain like this for very long. That's black burlap around the screen, by the way. I originally bought it to make acoustic panels and ended up with way more than I needed ... It was just lying around, so ... why not use it? It looks kind of baggy in this picture. Not quite that bad in real life. Still I need to run some more framing under there to have something to attach it to and flatten it out better ... and I should probably just replace it with some nicer material. Burlap is great for letting sound through, but it's also pretty coarse looking. I ended up putting my acoustic panels entirely behind the screen, as seen several pictures above. I thought I should have them on the side walls for first reflections, but they actually sound better behind the screen only. Go figure.
Look Ma! No Border!
Tomorrow ... The Odyssey Continues! With Actual Screenshots! But They're Terrible! Plus ... The Great Un-Stapling!
Try to withstand the suspense.