Projector calibration on uneven surfaces made easy

projector-calibrator

If you are thinking of building your own flight/racing sim setup at home, you might want to check this out. [Alex] from the Garoa Hackerspace in Säo Paulo, Brazil put together a slick setup that makes projector image calibration a breeze.

When building a wraparound screen for such a simulator, you are likely to run into problems with both overlapping images and distortion from the curved projection. There are projectors that can easily adjust themselves to work in this sort of setup, but they are often very expensive, so [Alex] thought he would build a solution himself.

After studying a paper written by [Johnny Chung Lee] in 2004, he built a prototype display calibrator last year that used similar, though slightly tweaked methods to get the job done. This time around, [Alex] has improved his calibrator, making the process more precise and a bit quicker.

Light sensors and an Arduino are attached to the back of the projection medium, and a large broad scan of the screen is performed by the projector. His code then triggers an additional sweep of each corner to better estimate the exact edges of his projection surface. Since the video is tweaked in software rather than relying on the projector hardware to handle the task, the result is cheap and very accurate.

Don’t take our word for it though, check out [Alex’s] video demonstration below to see his calibrator in action.

[Read more...]

Projection screen using latex paint and sand blasting beads

This method of building your own projection screen is new to us. [Sean Michael Ragan] ran across some sand blasting material made up of minuscule glass beads at Harbor Freight and inspiration struck. He purchased a fifty-pound bag and set out to see if it could be used with regular latex paint to create a projection screen. The answer is an absolute yes, but results are dependent on how you apply it.

Now there is paint you can buy which will turn your wall into a projector screen, but it’s expensive. [Sean's] hack isn’t a direct replacement as he found the results of just mixing the beads with paint and applying them to a vertical surface weren’t up to the standards he’s looking for. But if you build a screen to hang on the wall you can let gravity work for you. He laid the screen flat and applied a heavy coat of paint to the surface. He then sprinkled a heavy coat of the glass bead over the wet paint and let it dry. Finally he cleaned off the material which didn’t stick and hung it on the wall.

Don’t have a projector to use with this hack? No problem, just build your own.

[Thanks Skuhl]

Projector project bears no fruit but it was a fun ride

No matter how good the intentions or how strong your hack-fu may be, sometimes you just can’t cross the finish line with every project. Here’s one that we hate to see go unfinished, but it’s obvious that a ton of work already went into reclaiming these smart white-board projectors and it’s time to cut the losses.

The hardware is a Smartboard Unifi 35″ computer with a projector mounted on a telescoping rod. It was manufactured for use with a touch-sensitive white board which the guys at the Milwaukee Makerspace don’t have. The projector works, but all it will display is a message instructing the user to connect the computer to the white board. Since they’ve got a couple of these projectors, it would be nice to salvage the functionality.

The first attempt was to replace the video signal to the projector. A few test boards were etched to experiment with DVI input. This included several logic sniffing runs to see what the computer is pushing to get the warning message to display. Alas, the group was not able to get the device to respond. But this opens up a great opportunity for you to play Monday morning hacker. Take a look at the data they’ve posted in the link above and let us know how you would’ve done it in the comments.

Full color laser TV

Back in 2001, [Helmar] made an awesome monochrome video display out of a red laser pointer and a spinning 18-sided mirror. Blue and green lasers are much less expensive than they were a decade ago, so [Helmar] decided to go full color with his laser projector. (In German, so fire up Chrome or get the Google translation)

The ancient website for [Helmar]‘s green-only projector goes over the principles of operation. A single laser shines onto a multi-faceted polygonal mirror. This is reflected onto another mirror that provides the reflection for each line in a frame of video. Earlier this year, [Helmar] hacked up a red and blue laser to complement the preexisting green laser. The end result is an RGB projector powered by friggin’ lasers.

As far as we can tell, the projector only has composite input; the attached DVD player provides all the signaling for that. Amazingly, [Helmar] didn’t use a microcontroller for the circuitry. All the electronics are simple logic gates. Really amazing if you ask us.

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Ghostly images appear thanks to projections on fog

This wire-frame cube appears to be floating in mid-air because it actually is. This is a project which [Tom] calls a Laminar Flow Fog Screen. He built a device that puts out a faint amount of fog, which the intense light from a projector is able to illuminate. The real trick here is to get a uniformed fog wall, which is where the laminar part comes in. Laminar Flow is a phenomenon where fluids flow in a perfectly parallel stream, not allowing errant portions to introduce turbulence. This is a favorite trick with water.

[Tom's] fog screen starts off with a PC fan to move the air. This airflow is smoothed and guided by a combination of a sponge, and multiple drinking straws. This apparatus is responsible for establishing the laminar flow, as the air picks up fog from an ultrasonic fogger along the way.

The only real problem here is that you want the projector shooting off into infinity. Otherwise, the projection goes right through the fog and displays on the wall, ruining the effect. Outdoor applications are great for this, as long as there’s no air movement to mess with your carefully established fog screen.

You can find a short test clip embedded after the break but there are other videos at the link above.

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RGB laser projector is a jaw-dropping build

We can think of no better way to describe this laser projector project than Epic. [C4r0] is a student at Gdansk University of Technology and he’s been working on this projector for at least a couple of years. It uses several different laser diodes pulled out of DVD burners, Blu-Ray drives, and entertainment equipment (the green diode is from a disco laser).

In order to direct the beams he built a series of brackets that hold dichroic filters which reflect some wavelengths of light while allowing others to pass straight through. Each diode also needs a driver, most of which he built from scratch. And once the hardware has been designed and tested, what does one do with it? If you’re [C4r0] you build it into a money case with professional-looking results.

Don’t miss the video demo after the break. And make sure you have a rag ready to wipe up the drool before you look at his forum post linked above.

[Read more...]

Old-school projector turned digital

Who hasn’t thought about turning a 1950s slide projector into a digital projector? [Matt] did, but unlike most of us, he actually did it.

[Matt]‘s friend [Angus] found an old, single-slide, sans-carousel slide projector in the trash. It’s a wonderful piece of ancient technology with a fabric insulated power cord and bakelite lamp socket. This projector was upcycled to the 21st century by adding a 10 Watt LED and a Nokia 1200 LCD.

For the electronics, [Matt] used an ATmega88 microcontroller. There’s an infrared receiver so the remote from an in-car CD player can be used to advance the slides and turn the projector on and off. The LCD is controlled by a bit of bit-banging from the Mega88, using hard-coded images of Che Guevara, Hendrix, Space Invaders and some old-school Macintosh/Lisa icons. Unlike the screen printed t-shirts at American Apparel, Che is the only authentic image in this project; this projector might have been made after Guevara came to prominence.

With a 10 Watt LED, it’s not the brightest projector on the planet and the picture is a little washed out in a bright room. With dim lighting, it’s a very good project even if the images are static.

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