ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Building your own DIY projector

Updated on March 24, 2014

Why build your own projector?

I wanted a projector for many years , there was just one problem. Even the cheaper ones are expensive to use the way I wanted to use them. The reason being is that the bulbs in projectors last from 2000-4000 hours . Sounds like a lot until you consider I wanted to use it for tv, movies, videogames and as a computer monitor. Then consider that the bulbs are about half the cost of the projector usually between $200-$400. Projectors you buy are intended to be used for presentations or the occasional movie not as your primary viewing screen.

Then I discovered DIY projectors through Lumenlab. Turns out you can build your own projector for around $250-$400. To top that the bulb lasts 20,000 hours and costs $45 to replace. It has a resolution of 1024 x 768(480p) and about 1700 lumen's. That's just the basic model you can spend a little more and get full 1080p HD and more lumen's. I can tell you the number one reason to do this for me was, it was a lot of fun and I ended up with something I built myself that people cant believe. Anyone who can use a few simple tools can do this.

So to recap why you should do this

1. Its less expensive

2. It Lasts longer

3. Its a lot of fun

4. you end up with something you will use and feel proud of

What you will need for your projector

This project can be as simple or complex as you want it to be. I am not going to explain all aspects of these DIY projectors. I will outline what's involved and share my experience with you. If you really want to delve into everything that's possible in a DIY projector i suggest you browse around the Lumenlab forums. They also have a store that sells a lot of the lenses and electrical parts you will need. It's a little more costly to buy everything from them, but you pay for the convenience. Most everything else you can buy strait from your local hardware store.

You will need access to some basic hand and power tools. Including screwdrivers, saw, drill, skill saw, hole saw, tape measure, and a Dremel tool is handy. You will also need a can of compressed air ,and optical cleaner for glasses ,or LCD screens. To keep all your Lenses and your LCD nice and clean.

Remove the LCD

LCD removed from monitor
LCD removed from monitor

15 inch LCD Monitor

The basic design of a simple DIY projector is based around a 15" LCD monitor. You can find a selection of them on E-Bay for around $50 or you might have one laying around. There is a list of monitors here that will tell the specs of the monitor you are thinking of using and if it has FFC(flat flexible cable). If it has FFC it can add some extra work to the project. Keep in mind that the list is ongoing so it doesn't have all monitors on it. The best monitors for this project have 16 ms or less response time and the higher the contrast ratio the better. You need the actual LCD from inside the monitor which is transparent once you remove the back light and is what makes this project possible. You must be very careful with the LCD as they can be very delicate once removed. You will also need to keep the electronics that are connected to the LCD.

Keep these clean

triplet and fresnel lenses
triplet and fresnel lenses

Projector lenses

You will need three lenses.Two frensel lenses the same size or slightly bigger than the monitor and a triplet lens the correct FL(focal length) for the size of screen and distance from the screen. The focal length of the triplet for the basic projector is 320fl. The focal length of the fresnel lenses are 220fl for one and 330fl for the other. Keep the lenses as clean as possible at all times. avoid touching them with your fingers.

The basic mechanics of it works like this. The light projects out of the bulb in a cone , hits the first fresnel lens which bends all the light straight through the LCD screen. It then hits the second fresnel lens which bends it back into a cone and focuses it on the triplet lens. Which in turn refocuses the image into the proper size and shaped cone to make a clear image the size you require on the wall or screen.

bulb and socket
bulb and socket
HLC-1 shut off module
HLC-1 shut off module
fan and power supply
fan and power supply

Bulb and ballast

The light source for you projector will come from a 400 watt medal halide bulb and a ballast to power it. There are many different types of bulbs. What is important is its color spectrum. The best color spectrum for a projector is around the 6500k. The Coralvue 400w e39 6500k is perfect for this. You can purchase the bulb and ballast from Lumenlabs or you can also find them at aquarium supply stores. Don't forget a mogul socket to mount your bulb to.

Cooling and safety

The lighting system can get very hot and you are going to want some kind of safety device that will cut power to the ballast if things get too hot. This is to prevent any fires from unattended projectors. Also to protect your fresnel lens and LCD which will crack if exposed to temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. A Thermostat assembly from an attic fan will work for this if the ballest is placed inside the projector. A grow light overheat shut off module will also work if you are placing the ballast outside the projector in a remote location, but is more expensive.

You are also going to want a piece of heat resistant lexan, or tempered glass to put in front of the first fresnel lens. This also keeps the fresnel and LCD from Getting over heated and protects them from the UV light coming from the bulb. Also you need some sheet metal to protect the inside of the box where the bulb is.

In order to keep the lighting system from getting hot to begin with you are going to need a fan or two, and a 12 volt power supply to run it. You can find 12 volt fans at computer supply stores and there are plenty of 12 volt power supplies to be had at second hand stores or your local Radioshack. Once again all this is available from the Lumenlab store.

Basic projector plans

(click for larger view)
(click for larger view)

Construction of DIY projector (click to enlarge)

Click thumbnail to view full-size
view of lensesbulb and reflectorfan mountfinished with side offoptional temp gagefilter unitceiling mounted from behindceiling mounted from the front
view of lenses
view of lenses
bulb and reflector
bulb and reflector
fan mount
fan mount
finished with side off
finished with side off
optional temp gage
optional temp gage
filter unit
filter unit
ceiling mounted from behind
ceiling mounted from behind
ceiling mounted from the front
ceiling mounted from the front

Cooling diagram

(click to enlarge)
(click to enlarge)

Building the projector

These are the basic plans for a simple projector.The box is is made of wood with all inside surfaces painted flat black to cut down on reflection. Its important that everything is lined up on center. Also making everything adjustable fore and aft will save you some headaches if it doesn't come out right the first time. It is especially necessary that the triplet lens at the front is able to be adjusted for and aft. That is how you will focus the image. That can be accomplished by installing it in a tight fitting hole with a felt gasket for a small amount of adjustment, or you can make the whole front of the projector the triplet is attached to slide back and forth for a large amount of adjustment.

The box needs to be ventilated. That's what the fan is for, but it needs an inlet to work. The best way to cool your box is to make an opening in the top in between the first fresnel and the LCD screen. If you leave a gap between the bottom of the first fresnel and the bottom of the box, The air will then be pulled in between the first fresnel and the LCD. Then it will be pulled through the light area , across the bulb and finally out the back. If this is done correctly only one 120mm fan will be needed to cool your projector. You are going to need to create a filter to go across your inlet ,or your projector will get dirty inside real fast and they are not fun to clean out. A filter can be made out of static heating vent filters from your local hardware store.

There are a few other things you may want to look into. Including reflectors and AG(anti-glare) removal for more lumen's. Also a system for allowing the front fresnel to swing freely from the top , so it will automatically adjust the projection shape as you tilt the projector(keystoning).

In summery

This is just a short introduction to DIY projectors.There is a lot of information not included here that you can find for yourself. This is a great hobby and can become an obsession for some as there are many configurations and modifications that can be done to improve upon this basic design.

These projectors perform very well with a high quality image and are quite sturdy. Mine has been running nonstop for two years and I use it for everything including writing this hub. Here is a link to my Plog on lumenlab forums

Remember to be careful. Anytime you are working with power tools and high voltages you must take the necessary safety precautions.

Update 2014: wow this Hubpage is really popular still after 6 years. I have not been back on here for ages. As far as I know Lumenlabs closed down though I am sure you can still source all these parts pretty easily

I ran that projector 24/7 for 4 1/2 years. I changed the bulb one time. Then the Optima HD60 came out with 1080p 3D for a grand on sale. With an $80 replacement bulb.

So my DIY projector is still functional, but its has become obsolete.

Still a great project though. Always fun to build things yourself

Removing the LCD

Cool demo

Gaming on DIY projector


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • SamRemington profile image

      Samantha Remington 

      5 years ago from Florida

      That looks like a fun and awesome project. I just might build one of these.

    • profile image

      Henry Stringer 

      5 years ago

      Where can I get a 5 X 8 inch LCD to use in my projector as a replacement for a damage one in a VVME vo5 projector

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      WOW. This looks like a ton of work. Great hub. Voted up!

    • profile image

      Daniel Petersen 

      6 years ago

      Hi! Were you really able to get 1700 lumens from this setup with a 400w bulb? I'm very interested in putting a DIY projector together and it seems a common weakness is the light output is usually subpar.

    • Jake Archer profile image

      Jake Archer 

      6 years ago from Great Britain

      I've got a similar project on the boil(fricken halogen bulbs do that!) Starting from £10 OHP and a £10 15 inch monitor..I'm trying to get an LED light engine sourced for parts..and that is the really tricky part for me!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      you ok dennis if you are still in need of them this is there link

      and some info , there there most competitive in the game ,say mart give you there number

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I'm selling the Lumenlab Pro Triplet Lens. It's been sitting wrapped up in my closet, never used, for a few years.

    • Pinkchic18 profile image

      Sarah Carlsley 

      7 years ago from Minnesota

      Wow! This is too complicated for me, but props to you! That is an awesome project to know how to make. Very cool!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      How to build cheap LCD projector..soming sooon, stay tune!

    • twisteddman profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

      Slickfist - the dimensions both width and highth are determined by the dimensions of your lcd screen and mount.

      M. HD - thank you

    • profile image

      M. HD projector 

      10 years ago

      I read a similar article on ehow, any way good hub very detailed...

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      do you have the height dimension for the enclosure? thanks


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)