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Backyard Theater - Outdoor Movies

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Author Topic: Finally finished. What do you think?  (Read 115458 times)
DigiMark
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« on: May 21, 2006, 12:47:13 pm »

It was a long haul but we finally got the screen built in time for our first screening last night.

Here are the pictures I know you'll want to see:

http://gallery.digimark.net/v/og/backyard-drive-in/

The screen size is 8' by 14' and is made with 1" square aluminum tubing that has a channel along the outside edge. (More on that in a moment.)

We buried two 4"x4" square aluminum sleeves 2 1/2' down in concrete to support the 14' 4"x4" wooden posts. The posts have galvanized "Z" brackets to hold and secure the screen. The posts are topped with solar-powered post lights. I did this partly for the look but mostly because it provides a ready excuse to the local HOA board why there are 12' posts mounted in my backyard. (We needed the lights for safety reasons, yeah.)

If you recall from a previous post I have a friend who builds billboards and awnings for a living. He arranged for an aluminum welder friend of his to cut and weld (2) 4'x14' frames and then, on a subsequent pass, to weld (2) 6' piano hinges between them, so the screen can fold out to its full height. (If we hadn't done this it would have been impossible to move, store and use it -- too big.)

Once the frame was complete, my friend used a commercial stapler and PVC zipstrip hammer to secure a "sandwich" of Dazian projection material and (also Dazian) blackout cloth to the screen. See http://www.steelstitch.com/Stapleinsystem.htm to view a diagram.

Last night we had our first event of the year. It was combined with my older son's 7th birthday, and in addition to cake and ice cream, we had hotdogs with chili, nachos and cheese sauce, chips,  popcorn, candy, soda and water. The weather was clear but windy, with 10-15 mph gusts. I was really worried about that, but it turns out I shouldn't have, because we *way* overbuilt the screen. It didn't even flex in the wind. I cracked the base of the left solar light when we were putting the screen up, so I will have to re-secure it today.

We watched Warner Brothers cartoons and then "Sky High" with Kurt Russell. The movie was fun, if predictable.

What do you think? -Gary
« Last Edit: April 22, 2007, 03:03:25 pm by DigiMark » Logged


cheftom
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« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2006, 01:13:48 pm »

Looks cool, a great place to watch a movie!
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« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2006, 01:36:19 pm »

Congrats, Gary.  Wow, your screen came out great!

Looks like the kids are having a ball.

Drop a couple of your favorite pics in here if you want and I'll add you to the main page.  I plan to do a few of those soon.

Really nice work.  Have fun!

Randy
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"Instead of cursing the darkness, light a candle for where we're going.  There's something ahead worth looking for." -- Neil Young


hiredpower
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« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2006, 09:21:52 pm »

Gary,

  Very Cool! I like how that steel stitch system works. The whole project looks very professional. You should be very proud of your accomplishment. I wish I had a dad like you when I was seven.

I would like to make a suggestion as it pertains to your Eons. Put them on stands(don't skimp on the brand here, I recommend the K&M 21300). I could get into a long explanation of sound theory, but the gist is this: sound should come from above the audience's head.

You could build two boxes that follow the contour of you landscape on the bottom and be level on the top. Be sure to allow for the footprint of the stand in determining the top surface area.

Because the Eon10G2's tend to be a little "tinny" an Eon Sub would also be the perfect compliment to your set-up.  

You've got a great place to show movies!
« Last Edit: May 21, 2006, 09:51:05 pm by hiredpower » Logged
DigiMark
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« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2006, 10:00:50 pm »

Thank you, I will ASAP. (Add some pictures for the front page...)

A few more notes:

I'm having a canvas bag stitched with a velcro closure ($275) to protect the screen and keep it clean when not in use.

Including the bag, the total cost for this project was just under $1500 -- $500 for the welder to source, make and hinge the frame, $180 for the Dazian Trapeze and blackout cloth, $80 for the two 6' hinges, $65 for the two posts and concrete mix (5 bags), some amount for the (3) square aluminum sleeves (we ended up using two instead of three), and an unknown amount that I didn't pay for lag bolts, Z brackets, staples, PVC stripping, etc. Plus (2) 1GB memory stick cards for my friend's PSP playing kids, several lunches and soda/beer, but that was just being friendly! Oh yeah, and the solar lights were $22 each at Lowe's.

If you don't have a friend to do the hard work, you'd have to add a bunch for someone to attach the screen to the frame.

The two frames are piano-hinged in the middle. The blackout cloth is stretched individually over each frame half and secured with staples. Then the Trapeze materal was stretched over both frames and secured to the outside edges. Since the frame folds in half, and I didn't want to see the hinge on the screen side when open -- I had to have the hinge on the backside, which means the Trapeze material has to stretch over the hinge when folded. I was worried that it would rip this way, but this is where the stretchiness of the fabric helped.

Maybe this should be the subject of a second post, but since hiredpower mentioned it...

I'm using a Behringer UB802 mixer to feed iPod/mic/PowerBook output to the speakers. (I use an InFocus X2 projector and a 12" PowerBook G4 for the movies). I have 25' balanced 1/4" phone cables going to the speakers (they're not long enough either) and I'm running heavy gauge 25' power extension cords to the speakers. All the power cords come back to a powerstrip near the source equipment and the powerstrip runs to wall power through a heavy gauge 50' extension cord.

There's got to be an easier way to manage all these cables. Kids are tripping over them. I was thinking of wrapping together 2 sets of 50' balanced speaker cable and power cord, so that they would unroll as one piece. Is it just a given that it takes a while to setup and takedown each night we do this?

Also, I was thinking of getting some Ultimate TS80B or TS90B stands ($80-100 each, rather than the JBL SS2BK stands which are $160 each!). Can I put speakers & stands on grass, or are the stands for hard surfaces only? I'd also like to get the subwoofer. Thanks for giving me more justification for buying it! Of course that will be two more cables to manage... 8-)

It's almost a letdown that the project is done. I know we'll enjoy it, but it was fun to plan and build it too. -Gary
« Last Edit: May 21, 2006, 10:21:26 pm by digimark » Logged


hiredpower
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« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2006, 10:30:13 pm »

Maybe this should be the subject of a second post, but since hiredpower mentioned it...

I have 25' balanced 1/4" phone cables going to the speakers (they're not long enough either) and I'm running heavy gauge 25' power extension cords to the speakers. All the power cords come back to a powerstrip near the source equipment and the powerstrip runs to wall power through a heavy gauge 50' extension cord.

There's got to be an easier way to manage all these cables. Kids are tripping over them. I was thinking of wrapping together 2 sets of 50' balanced speaker cable and power cord, so that they would unroll as one piece. Is it just a given that it takes a while to setup and takedown each night we do this?


Gary,

  I wouldn't be taping these together, this will cause AC hum.

There is a solution, but it's not cheap.

Go here: http://www.csnl.com/

Scroll down on the left in blue to new products and click. Scroll down a ways...it's called the CSL XLR Cable System 
You need the 50' cables and there $129 each. Then just get some yellow plastic tent stakes and no more tripping hazard.


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hiredpower
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« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2006, 10:45:48 pm »

Also, I was thinking of getting some Ultimate TS80B or TS90B stands ($80-100 each, rather than the JBL SS2BK stands which are $160 each!). Can I put speakers & stands on grass, or are the stands for hard surfaces only? I'd also like to get the subwoofer. Thanks for giving me more justification for buying it! Of course that will be two more cables to manage... 8-)

I have been in the DJ business for 9 years and have purchased stands by several manufacturers. After having to buy new ones every couple of years, I found the "ultimate" stand. These are steel, not aluminum and will last you a lifetime. This is precision German engineering at it's finest.

http://www.ultimatesupport.com/s.nl/sc.14/category.78/it.A/id.418/.f

I paid $180 each with free shipping just two weeks ago. I had previously bought my first pair two years ago and decided to replace my other failing aluminum backup stands recently.

If your yard was flat you could put them on grass, but since it's not, I would recommend the box idea.
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Cherry Hills
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« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2006, 01:46:02 am »

Man, that is a sweet screen!

Regarding the sound cables, I would suggest just running one wire from your Powerbook to the amp situated under the screen. Then, you just have a couple of 8-foot lengths of zip cord to the speakers. I do this with a 20-foot shielded cable with 1/8" plugs and an 1/8"-to-twin-RCA splitter on the amp end. A cart, storage box or black drape will make the amp disappear, once you've done the sound check and don't need to see the lights on it.
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DigiMark
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« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2006, 09:38:07 pm »

HiredPower -- thanks for the additional information. Those CSNL cables look like the perfect solution, if they weren't so expensive...

Also thank you for the advice about the speaker stands. I'll get one or the other in place for next movie night. -Gary
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rrg
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« Reply #9 on: May 24, 2006, 11:48:58 am »

Digimark,
What was your idea behind the floating solar lights? Do you have low flying planes? (he, he)

I admit they do look cool. But don't they pull your eye away from the screen?

Just wondering.

I also have wire tripping issues. I am looking into using something like this.
http://www.cable-safe.com/products/covers_hide.htm

My cables run on the driveway in the back yard.
« Last Edit: May 24, 2006, 11:53:01 am by rrg » Logged

MY SETUP| Screen: Regular Trapeze  - Frame: 10'x20' EMT stand - Projector: BenQ mp720p - DVD: LG 511 - Sound: 5.1 Yamaha Reciever
Emperor PalpaTim
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« Reply #10 on: May 24, 2006, 03:15:57 pm »

I used to have the same problem. All of my audio cables run through a system of 1/2" plastic conduit that I fold up.   The whole system covers a 60' x 50' area and has connections for 18 surround sound speakers. 
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cheftom
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« Reply #11 on: May 24, 2006, 03:39:12 pm »

When I run my cables if they are on a floor, sidewalk or driveway, I use duct tape and tape then down really good, if I am on grass, I run them straight to the sub and if it ends up being a high traffic area, I have some cable staples that I found that are a cross between a tent peg and a u-bolt. this keeps the wires from getting pulled up into a trip hazard.
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Pass_The_Off
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« Reply #12 on: May 25, 2006, 02:09:47 pm »

Nice work

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Cherry Hills
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« Reply #13 on: May 25, 2006, 03:05:04 pm »

Tom, where do you get the cable staples? Thanks!
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Cherry Hills Drive-way Theater
cheftom
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« Reply #14 on: May 25, 2006, 05:11:17 pm »

The phone company came and re-ran the line into my house a couple of years ago and the technicians don't bury the wire, that is someone elses job, so they stapled them down, when the guy came to bury it I asked him for them and he gave them to me. 
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