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Projector Enclosure

If you plan on running your show for a number of weeks as opposed to a one-time show, you are going to need some sort of enclosure for your projector.

There are some options out there for purchasing professionally manufactured outdoor-rated projector housings. These are quite expensive and not all of them have sufficient ventilation or come with a tripod or mount.

Then there is the DIY route…

DIY

Digital Pressworks has a box build guide with a list of materials and instructions.

But if you would rather design your own solution, these are your main considerations:

Adjustability

It’s important that your projector doesn’t move once everything is mapped, so this enclosure and mount needs to be stable and fixed but perhaps with some latitude for adjustment if the ground moves or settles.

Incorporating a projector mount or bracket in your design gives you the ability to adjust but also to lock off a fixed position.

One feature of short throw projectors is that they often have some lens shift which means they project an image that is offset upwards rather than perpendicular to the unit. 

What this means is that you usually need to tilt them forward to some extent to get coverage on the areas of the house that are at the same level as the projector.

A projector mount or bracket would help you do this, but alternatively you could use an adjustable laptop stand inside the enclosure.

Lens shift on a short throw projector often means the unit needs to be tilted forward

Weatherproofing

Depending on where you live, the enclosure might be at risk of rain so it needs to be weatherproof to some extent.

You can buy some kind of plastic box or container that will give you a good starting point for your enclosure. Things like a plastic tote or cooler would do the trick. 

Or you could make your box out of wood. If you are using wood, make sure to seal all the gaps and use a sealant on the wood to resist the elements. Also use screws and other fixtures and fittings that are for outdoor use so they don’t rust. 

Beyond regular wood sealant, tough protective coating like the stuff you use on a truck bed can give even more protection.

If you’re cutting your enclosure and running cables into it, you might want to consider using cable glands to keep the enclosure sealed and free of moisture.

You must take adverse weather into account when designing your projector enclosure

Port Glass

You will also need a hole for your projector’s light beam which will be covered with some kind of transparent material to let the light through.

You might be tempted to use a cheap material like plexiglass but be aware that this material interferes with the light beam and often reduces brightness.

From looking at home theatre forums, there are many recommendations for ‘home theatre’ glass, also sometimes called ‘projector porthole’ or ‘port’ glass or ‘water white’ glass. 

These products are a lot more expensive but they are anti-reflective and have high light transmission so the glass barely impacts the light passing through it.

Light transmission is an important factor when choosing glass for your enclosure

Portability

If you plan to bring your projector inside each night and during bad weather then you want to be able to do this as efficiently as possible whilst still being able to return it to its exact mapped position each night. 

You could do this using markers, fixings or just adjusting by eye each night. 

If you’re going to move the whole enclosure every evening you might benefit from fitting it with wheels or handles for lifting and carrying it.

Alternatively you can leave the enclosure in place and just remove the projector.

If you put some signage on your enclosure to let thieves know you remove the projector each night there is less chance of them destroying all your hard work only to find out there’s nothing inside.

Temperature

Projectors, especially short throws, are at risk of overheating if they don’t have good airflow around their fans. If this happens they will turn off and potentially sustain damage. 

So your enclosure needs good ventilation and to be large enough so air can circulate around the unit.

18” x 24” x 8” is generally large enough to provide good air circulation.

You should consider having at least 3 enclosure vents that won’t let in rain or bugs – 1 as an inlet and 2 as outlets, ideally corresponding to where the projector’s fans are located.

And although projectors are more intolerant to high temperatures, they also do not want to be too cold.

A projector will have a range of operating temperatures in its spec sheet which you want to keep within.

Some more sophisticated enclosure builds incorporate temperature monitors which can intelligently switch on heating devices like heated reptile mats or cooling systems like computer fans.

A projector is at risk of overheating if the enclosure does not have sufficient ventilation

Disguising

To make their enclosures less of an eye-sore, some people disguise them as tree stumps, boulders, tombstones and other creative things.

Even if you don’t want to give it a theatrical disguise, at least painting it black will help it blend into the yard and not glow with the light of the projector inside.

Mounting

As for mounting your enclosure, I’ve seen some that aren’t mounted at all and just sit on the ground. 

If you need a bit of height, you could mount it on a pole fixed in concrete or anchored into the lawn. 

You could investigate projector or laptop stands. You could also consider a heavy duty camera tripod or a construction tripod. 

I’ve seen someone recommend a sheet music stand.

Security is a concern when leaving a projector outside unattended

Security

What are your options if you are concerned about security?

You could stay with your projector or at least bring it in each night.

For while it is unattended, you want to make it as hard as possible for thieves to quickly access the projector so you want every part of your enclosure to be secure. 

People use ground anchors and bike locks for securing mounts and enclosures to the ground.

Then any access to the projector inside the enclosure would ideally be fitted with a lock.

You can then layer on other forms of security like alarms and motion sensitive security cameras and lights.

TIP

Use the shortcut Command + F1 twice and it will extend your display.

Plugging a USB into a media player

Kit List

See a list of suggested house projection mapping kit including projector, media player, computer, audio, cables, window covering & enclosure materials.

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

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