Cinemas all over the world have become no-go zones with COVID-19 around, but watching the latest blockbuster on the small screen at home is simply not the same. You could bring the big screen home, but buying a quality projector is going to set you back a small pile of cash. Fortunately [Matt] from [DIY Perks] has an alternative for us, demonstrating how to build your own true 4K projector with parts bought off eBay, for a fraction of the price.
The core of the projector is a small 4K LCD panel, which is from a modified Sony smartphone. [Matt] disassembled the phone, removed the backlight from the LCD, which leaves it semi-transparent, and mounted it at a right angle to the rest of the phone body. The battery was also replaced with a voltage regulator to simulate a full battery. To create a practical projector, a much brighter backlight is needed. [Matt] used a 100W 10 mm diameter LED for this purpose. The LED needs some serious cooling to prevent it from burning itself out, and a large CPU cooler does the job perfectly. Two Fresnel lenses in series are used to turn the diverging light from the LED into a converging light source to pass through the LCD. An old 135 mm large format camera lens is placed at the focal point of light to act as a projection lens. The entire assembly is mounted on a vertical frame of threaded rods, nuts, and aluminium plates. [Matt] also used these threaded rods with GT2 pulleys to create a simple but effective moving platform for the projection lens that allows the focus of the projected image to be adjusted. The frame is topped off by a 45-degree mirror to project the image against a wall instead of the roof, and the frame is covered with aluminium panels.
The video after the break goes into incredible detail on how projector functions and how to build your own down. It definitely looks like a doable build for most hackers. [Matt] will also be releasing a complete PDF build guide in the next few weeks.
Compared side by side, the DIY projector beats a $2000 commercial 4K projector in terms of image sharpness and colour. The DIY version only falls short in terms of brightness, because it uses a lower output light source. It requires a very dark room to see the projected image, but it also means that less active cooling is needed, making it quieter than the commercial projector.
We’ve featured [Matt’s] work before, including a dual-screen laptop and flexible LED panels. His videos are always easy to watch and packed with technical detail, and we’re looking forward to seeing what he comes up with next.