Movie Night At The Lake Cabin

[Andrew’s] family has a rustic lake cabin. There is a lot to do during the day, but since there’s no electricity your options are limited when the sun goes down. Sure there’s the traditional campfire, but lately they’ve been spicing things up with an outdoor movie viewing.

To get this up and running they needed to build a projection screen. He’s going for a 2.35:1 aspect ration, but the technique will work for any aspect if you do your own math. They had a couple of extruded aluminum channels from an old chalk board which work perfectly as the top and bottom rails of the frame. With the width set at fourteen feet he just needed to mount the cross pieces on uprights at 5.95 feet apart. This provides a 183″ viewing surface.

White bed sheets serve as the screen material. After it’s stretched into place they line the rails with binder clips to hold it in place. The projector is powered from two 12V batteries via an 800W inverter. During the day the batteries get topped off by a solar panel system.

19 thoughts on “Movie Night At The Lake Cabin

  1. Grammar Nazi Time:
    “aspect ration” should be “aspect ratio”.

    Also, your inch marks on 183 blend together in this font, I thought it said 183 foot, which makes no sense. Perhaps just spell the word out?

    1. The specific font the page renders with is determined by what’s available on your system. I can see the two ” marks just fine in whatever font is selected when using Chrome on OS X.

  2. Kids in this area do a home-made drive in movie thing where they all pull up to a local building with a white wall and put the projector on the roof. Sound is by a small FM transmitter so everyone can just tune in.

  3. Did something similar quite a few times, when showing the Jesus Film in Bolivia. I made a frame with 4 inch PVC pipes: light, sturdy, easy to attach the corners: just use an elbow joint. Pack the whole thing with a few rounds of elastic rope. The screen itself was the whitest fabric I could purchase locally that was also inexpensive and wide. I ended up with something like 14×10 foot screen, guy lines to lamposts or whatever handy. One big advantage: people could watch the presentation from either side!
    Biggest challenge was to find a neighbor close enough, and run an extension cord, and pray no one would trip on it and cause the bulb to burn (always worked).
    The worst challenge: trying to convince the USA Jesus Film folks to let us copy the movie, to give away free copies. That miracle did NOT happen. Copyright is copyright.

  4. Spice things up at the lake cabin? Why go then? What happened to enjoying the stars or sitting around that campfire. It’s like folks who go “camping” in a camper outfitted with more gadgets and appliances than a luxury home. Please …

    1. Those who don’t appreciate things like this never will, and will continue to be grumpy about others abandoning the ‘good old fashioned.’ if someone is so concerned about people bringing technology to their vacations then they should follow their own advice and go full rustic and camp in the backwoods in peace. /end rant

      It’s a really nice looking screen. Well done! Outdoor movies are great fun!

  5. I use BLACK OUT CLOTH for my projector setup in my living room. Its cheap (per yard at your local fabric store) and is a much better projection surface than a white sheet.

    A white sheet is a great surface to use at a LAN/console party, club, etc. When you want to show the image on both sides of the screen. And when the budget is VERY tight.

  6. I’ve always been tempted to build my own projector, researched all the Lcd screen hacks and sites.

    Then early this year out came a new class of projectors. 720p , LED , DLP , 3D , HDMI , only 500$.

    The Qumi was first but it’s parent company least out its basic design elements to the Acer K330, Optoma ML500, ViewSonic PLED-W500, NEC L50W, LG-3 versons? Same electronis , same optics , different I/O ports , different cases.

    Based on reviews I got the Acer K330 , for $500 , I get an unbelievable 132″ , 16:10 home theater. Best Money Ever Spent!

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