Cairo Hackerspace Gets A $14 Projector

The Cairo hackerspace needed a projector for a few presentations during their Internet of Things build night, and of course Friday movie night. They couldn’t afford a real projector, but these are hackers. Of course they’ll be able to come up with something. They did. They found an old slide projector made in West Germany and turned it into something capable of displaying video.

The projector in question was a DIA projector that was at least forty years old. They found it during a trip to the Egyptian second-hand market. Other than the projector, the only other required parts were a 2.5″ TFT display from Adafruit and a Nokia smartphone.

All LCDs are actually transparent, and if you’ve ever had to deal with a display with a broken backlight, you’ll quickly realize that any backlight will work, like the one found in a slide projector. By carefully removing the back cover of the display, the folks at the Cairo hackerspace were able to get a small NTSC display that would easily fit inside their projector.

After that, it was simply a matter of putting the LCD inside the display, getting the focus right, and mounting everything securely. The presentations and movie night were saved, all from a scrap heap challenge.

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.