Lumenlab projector build


A couple days ago we mentioned that Lumenlab had released their top secret plans for building an LCD based projector. Hack-A-Day reader [Brad O'Connor] sent along his experiences using the Lumenlab plans. Like most people, he says that the $20 price of admission is worth it. The system uses a 400Watt metal halide lamp as a light source. A fresnel lens straightens the light before it passes through a consumer LCD panel. A second fresnel lens directs the light to the final focusing lens. You can grab a torrent of the plans here. Brad is currently working on motorizing his 120″ screen.


  1. I wanted to do this wicked bad until it occurred to me that I don’t have an LCD to tear apart. Rats. Maybe I can do it in 10 years when LCDs with busted backlights are getting chucked in the dumpster like busted CRTs are now.

    I checked into the legality of that torrent, apparently it’s 100% legit, the company just decided to stop selling its product in lieu of giving it away for nothing. Ad revenue, anybody?

  2. aomapes says:

    Well, why should you pay to get plans when you just can get the equivalent, legally, just by surfing on foreign websites.
    Just a few examples:

  3. hooooooooly shit, brad from wsu! this is justin, if you ever read this. nice project man. hats off.

  4. Justin says:

    The 120V 400w Electronic Ballast seems to be the most expensive part of these plans.

    Is there anywhere to pick up any of these parts in surplus or used?

  5. vbrtrmn says:

    Looks like both /. & hackaday have been turned into advertisers for Lumenlab :( Lumenlab charges $19.99 for access to thier “premium content” which is free elsewhere!

    How about some real links

  6. CYRIX says:

    i paid the 20 bucks for it and its well worth it

  7. Andy says:

    $550 for a DIY project? That’s a touch pricey, but if it is truly capable of those resolutions that’s nearly half the cost of the commercial equivalent. If it’s not, however, I’d sooner go with a commercial projector that’s:
    – less than $100 more
    – half the size
    – a fourth again the weight
    – doesn’t heat the house
    – covered by a warranty

  8. Alex says:

    Maybe you should sooner not compare DIY projects with commercial products. You’re totally missing the point.

  9. Philip says:

    Yeah… not to mention the fact that a commercial projector bulb will run you ~$300+ and only last for a couple thousand hours, where the lumenlab bulb will run for 10K+ hours and cost you $40.

    Also, you have the option of building a 1080p projector for around $1200, and couldn’t get anywhere close to that on a commercial 1080p.

  10. machs_fuel says:

    i managed to get a free overhead projector to salvage a light source and fresnels; the 380W projector bulb isn’t as bright as a MH but with a good first surface mirror and a triplet lense i’ve gotten some rather good results. Going to change the to a bulb type with a built in reflector adventually.

  11. Edz says:

    Does anyone know the source of the LCD panel he used? I’ve never heard of any 1080p capable 15″ panels, and a google of the serial number he provides turns up nothing.

  12. pretorious says:

    I must say, it really is worth the $20 if only for the forums. yeah, it /should/ be free. but note none of the free links posted here really don’t have forums that compare to lumenlabs. also, I think the fee keeps out people who are not serious abot building one of these.

    also, the free .pdf is a basic guide, with your membership you get a /much/ more extensive guide.

  13. cokebottle tuque says:

    dam this comes out the day after I ordered my over head projector. meh its still good info and maybe I can use the parts from the over head anyways.

  14. Josh says:

    ok, I’m very wierded out that noone posted this link yet:

    Just like lumen labs: parts (at cost to cost), design, forums, but no cost for “premium content” or any information.
    They even improve on the lumen design by reducing space with a mirror; fractionally more difficult, but the box is alot less…. conspicuous ;)

  15. Brad says:

    Justin whats up!!! This is Brad from WSU.

    The price you are paying is actually for the fourm acess and a much better guide. There is so much information on the web site it will save you well over that in mistakes. Also Lumenlab had all the parts mad for this project, so they are excellent quality. YOu could easily find all the parts from other sources, but I found that these prices are very fair. The quality of my projector is amazing. The pictures on my site hardly do it any justice. another great feature is I runn this thing constantly. I would have probablty already used up 2 commercial bulbes. If you want to make the screen look even better you could drop some cash on a nice screen. I am building one you can take a look on the website. I only have pictures up there now.



  16. ed3 says:

    How about a link to a site where someone is building these things for sale??

    Otherwise, the rest of us will probably have to wait for the next commercial projector deal on Woot. See the one where some guy got a 61″ DLP TV for $8??

  17. Jim says:

    The 20bux was well spent. I had been watching the project for a while, but the premium membership really gives you a base of people that are a little more serious about making this thing work for a good price. The plans are pretty good and the experiences of everyone in the forum give some great ideas to build a design from.

  18. I’ve built 2 projectors based on the Lumenlab design. When I first started as a noob, the plans and the help available on their forums was great. My first pj was done over a single weekend and the results were mindblowing. At the time, commercial projectors were still more expensive than the DIY option, but even now that they are so low in price, the DIY option is still valid because there is no getting around that fact that the bulb replacement cost of any commercial pj is just crazy. My current DIY projector is in constant daily use. Replacement bulbs are around $50 or so and have a rated life of 20,000 hours.

  19. andy says:

    Are there any UK sites that sell the necessary parts?

  20. jif_pup says:

    The torrent file is at BEST a basic guide, and is mostly an advertisement for the Lumenlabs Premium membership. I ain’t saying this’ a bad thing..

    I plan on getting the premium. I’ve looked at the sites offering “free” info, and most are just repeated in the torrent file..

  21. Pistolen08 says:

    I just finished building my 15″ projector from lumenlab a couple of months ago. I am extremely satisfied with the results. I could have easily just gone and bought a commercial projector, but when I thought about the cost difference, I don’t think I could have afforded the bulb replacement (like $300 per 1k hours). The total cost for my project was ~$400, and I really enjoyed the experiance. The people on the forums are a lot of help. I would highly recommend paying the $20 and help support lumenlab. I plan to start building a WUXGA one soon.

  22. If you choose to sing up for the membership please try and follow the link on my webpage or the one below.

    Since I came up with the idea to get the site on /. and Hackaday I might be able to get a pro lens kit. If I am able to do this I can add that build to my website so you guys can see the difference in the basic kit and pro kit. If you choose not to use my link thats fine I mainly posted this website to better the DIY projector community. So many great ideas are coming out of this project.

  23. jeh says:

    there are no 15″ LCD panels that will do 1080 lines. I’m guessing his setup isn’t HD at all, probably 1024×768

  24. philip says:

    A hard to find item is a 1280×768 monitor (Staples used to carry a Proview) can do 720p. There is a 15.4″ panel that does 1920×1200 at although the group buy is closed. It would do 1080p without a problem.

    Either of those will do HD.

  25. Doggy says:

    Releaseing an advert like that onto torrent sites will only backfire, Hopwfully someone will make a copy of all the information on there and seed a REAL lumenlab torrent ;)

  26. again the real value is in the forum not the manual.

  27. Jel says:

    why not buy a commercial projector and replace the bulb unit for a metal halide/halogen?

    dont get me wrong i LOVE science projects.

  28. adrian says:

    I concur,

    The 20 dollars for the forum access is WELL worth it. Those free places and forums you find on google are full of people who don’t always know what they’re talking about. At lumenlab everyone who’s registered most probably will or has already built the projector – and the knowledge and advice you get from other members is absolutely excellent.

  29. kman says:

    i posted this on check it out!

  30. kman says:

    here’s the url:

    diggh the story, I’d like to make front page!

  31. whacko says:

    no problem man, hope you make it

  32. aname says:

    I built simplified version of this with an overhead projector and a 15″ LCD monitor, results were awesome and total cost is about $200. Lumenlab is a very nice design, and their forum is well worth the 19.99 they are asking. This is one project everyone should build, you will get hooked on having a 10.5′ x 10’5′ screen.

  33. Fritz says:

    I paid the 20 bucks for it also, and I only read it once, the general idea, of paying the $20 is NOT for the plans, it’s to access the lumenlabs premium forums, in which I believe, is absolutely 100% priceless..
    Your wasting your time downloading the torrent for the plans, and stop whinging about the cost..
    the premium access to the forums will give you access to VERY well knowledged diy projector builders who have been doing this for a LONG time.. WELL WELL WELL worth the $20
    (oh and no i don’t work for lumenlab, I just an enlightened customer)

  34. nomad705 says:

    It amazes me how some of you whine about 20 bucks for a premium forum. The information on lumenlab site is worth thousands. Look at the cost of just one school course in comparison. Those that gripe about stuff like that are the kind that if you give them free money they would fuss about not having somehting to carry it in.

  35. Mikyd1954 says:

    hey, lumenlab is totally free now…..

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