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Backyard Theater - Outdoor Movies

Backyard Theater - Outdoor Movies  

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Author Topic: wow, where were you guys 2 years ago?  (Read 116090 times)
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« on: May 11, 2006, 04:09:33 pm »

June '04, got the idea to use my LCD projector for a backyard drive-in. Could find very little on the web then (except for a couple of examples I see in this forum now). The two main examples were using EMT pipe and some kind of white cloth/plastic, or a painted wood structure. Both were more costly than I wanted to put into it.

I decided to use a 12' x 16' white canvas dropcloth from Home Depot, a bunch of chain link fence pipe and connectors/hardware, some bungees. I also wanted surround sound.

I didn't want guy wires going into the yard, so I used cement anchored short pipes in my bushes, and then a stiff back leg setup to stabilize the screen. All of it is bolted together, and goes up in about 30-45 minutes, down in about 20-30 minutes.

Had 51 folks at our most attended event.

'04 did - Finding Nemo, Home on the Range, Wizard of Oz (Halloween weekend)
'05 did - The Incredibles, Racing Stripes, Shrek 3D mini movie + Shrek 2
'06 (upcoming 5/19, raindate 5/20), either Chicken Little, Madagascar, or Hoodwinked

Here's a look,  thanks for having this forum!

Moving Target in NC

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« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2006, 09:39:21 pm »

Hey Moving Target, welcome to the forums.  Glad you found us!!

Nice looking setup you built.  I did the concrete/tube standards too.  It's worked out great.  We're in our sixth season.  Great idea putting them in the bushes!

Looks like everyone is having a blast!!



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

« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2006, 04:45:19 am »

Moving Target,


Thanks for sharing your setup with us. It looks like you have a great place for showing movies.

What model projector do you have? Sound components?

Keep coming back.


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« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2006, 08:12:21 am »


Nice setup! Agreed, VERY nice yard for showing outdoor movies. Wish I had that much room!.

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« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2006, 06:35:14 pm »

Welcome to the nut house, we are all a little twisted with our hobby.

Nice setup, tell and show us more,

Tom (also)

When Excellence is Available, Good is Not Enough
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« Reply #5 on: May 17, 2006, 12:37:47 pm »

Dang, this weekend's movie postponed (now one of the two next weekends). And, about the nutty hobby, I'm just a yard guy, I love doing things in the yard. My other obsession is Christmas lights, stepped up to a whole new level this past year with the popularity of animated to music Christmas lighting. But that's another forum...

A run-down on my setup:

A Proxima DP2000s projector that I obtained used for next to nothing because it was not working.. they were almost correct. It will not display VGA or Composite inputs, but will display S-Video. Gee, my DVD puts out S-Video just fine.

I intially got the projector to display on the angled ceiling in the bedroom to have the capability of watching 'big-screen' TV there without a huge TV. The thought of using it in the yard just came to me one day when I was reading about the resurrection of a Drive-In in Durham, NC where the screen structure was destroyed in a fire.

(a couple pictures of the projector results in the bedroom at the bottom)

My requirements:

Temporary (relatively easy to tear-down and store)
Large (wanted it big enough to be seen comfortably from up to 50' away... I moved further out from the city to be in a neighborhood with 3/4 acre lots)
Relatively inexpensive (targeted $200.00, spent about $350.00 for everything)

What I ended up using:

Chain Link Fence top rail is 10.5 feet long, with the last 6" or so tapered to fit into the next rail. Chain link gates are made of top rail and corner brackets. I basically made a huge fence gate. Where the tapered ends fit in together, I drilled a hole and put a bolt through it to keep it from sliding apart. I gave it legs by using 2 of the 10.5' rails offset by 3 feet and clamped on using another chain link fence component for clamping 2 rails side-by-side. This also gave the legs more strength (the top rail will bend under a moderate amount of pressure). I gave the longer horizontal runs for top and bottom of frame the same treatment by clamping another rail offset to the joint. I can quickly unbolt the corners, and store the whole frame behind my shed. (Met the requirement of temporary).

For keeping the frame standing in the air, I contructed long back-brace legs out of the same top rail (bolted together). I went into the bushes and cemented in two short left over pieces of top-rail (1 bag of cement each). I connect the top of the stand-off legs and the ground anchors to the back-braces using a bracket that connects two top-rail tubes together, but has a bolt in the middle to allow pivoting until tightened. This also makes it such that I didn't have to have front guy wires or supports.

The largest white cloth 'drop cloth' I found at Home Depot was 12 x 16 (20' diagonal screen - met my requirement of 'large'). They had larger sizes, but they were the brown burlap looking color, instead of white 'cotton'. Cheaper than sheets or specialty material, but I had to deal with the seams. In full darkness, the seams are only visible 'close up', and then only if you are looking for them.

To attach the material to the frame, I used small bungee cords and alligator clips. I used about 40 alligator clips. I install the screen while the frame lays across a couple of saw horses, then a helper and I walk the frame up into position. The helper holds it vertical while I climb a small step ladder and tighten the back-brace to let angle bolts, then do the same for the ground anchors.

In my previous house, I had a basement 'home theater', and had acquired a used Yamaha DSP 2070 surround sound processor/amp. This thing has line outs for every one of the 9 channels of output. Although this thing was pre-5.1 Dolby, it simulated surround stereo for rears, as well as estimated (quite well) field information for driving front surround channels. So the 9 channels are Center (L & R), Front Main (L & R), Front Surround (L & R), Rear Surround (L & R), Subwoofer.

I took the line-outs and bought a bunch of used Harmon Kardon self powered computer speakers. I soldered 1/8" mini jack female ends (combined the wires to make the stereo pair of speakers mono) and RCA male jack ends onto opposite sides of low voltage lighting wire cut to length. So each pair of speakers represents one channel of surround sound. I later split the line out for both right and left center to give 4 speakers each for those two channels, because that is where most of the movie sound comes from. The eight center speakers space nicely lined up under the frame, but mostly hidden in the lariope (monkey grass). With 20 speakers, and the right surround effect balance on the processor, plenty of sound is heard throughout the yard, without overbearing sound heard at the neighboring houses. I placed the amp under the house (to protect from dew/surpising rain), and ran the cords there, placing the speakers around the yard behind/between the lariope. I had to run extension cords from the shed and house concealed in the bushes to power the speakers via their standard tranformer plug-ins.

In order to get power to the center of the yard (for DVD player and projector), and sound from the dvd player to the amp under the house, I ran power and 'line' cords tacked down with landscape staples. I also mark the line with my son's out-of-bounds cones from his soccer set. In order to effectively drive line-out the distance I needed from DVD player to the house, I used 100' RG-6 cable TV cable with adapter ends to make male RCA connectors. Pre-show, I set up my families chairs (behind) and a little barricade using the step ladder (in front of) around the projector so the kids won' clobber it as they run wildly around, awaiting the dark.

As a finishing touch, I drop a line of Christmas lights (white mini's) around the perimeter against the lariope to light the edge of lawn versus landscape bushes (good for 'in-the-dark' lighting during and after the show.) We have a great neighborhood that really enjoys getting together to socialize and enjoy a drink or two while the kids play. The neighbors all come with their own coolers and snacks, as well as lawn chairs and/or blankets. For safety, I close the fence gates to the trampoline and play structure once the move starts. We also made up signs for inside the house pointing to where the bathroom is.

If you are in the area and want to see it standing, message me.

Moving Target (this is an old nickname from my real-time strategy gaming days)
Raleigh, NC

And another from "Finding Nemo" in 2004 with no flash, camera doing "nighttime mode"

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« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2006, 05:04:45 pm »


 What RTS did you game?

I enjoyed the Command and Conqure series.

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