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1  Backyard Theater discussions / Screen specific / Re: Testing out my new FlexiWhite Screen from Carls' on: July 24, 2014, 10:50:06 pm
Careful... we've got a BIG farm house!  Cheesy

Careful... I'll take that as a challenge!

I hear you on the busy schedule though, so just let me know when you're ready to take the FlexiWhite challenge and I'll get working on it. Maybe for the next Spargefest? ;-)

I think we're going to have ActionJax all squared away in the next few days, so I'll leave it up to him to have you over to show off the finished product. Let me know when you guys are getting together and I'll order a barrel of beer for the occasion. Or maybe something more manageable. You know, like a half barrel.

Just an observation on Carl.........

Oh stop, you're making me blush... Seriously though, thank you to all for the kind words posted.  And like cecilb, if anyone is in the area (Milton, WI) and wants to drop by to pick up a screen or just say hello, we would be happy to show you around. Carl's Place wouldn't be where it is without the amazingly creative people like the ones on this forum, and it's absolutely my goal to contribute positively to not only this community but to the general spread of backyard theaters everywhere.

By the way, cecilb, I've always enjoyed your signature.  It always makes me think of the times I've had just a small handful of people sitting in front of a huge 200+ inch screen, thinking to myself how good it felt to be so ridiculous...
2  Backyard Theater discussions / Screen specific / Re: Testing out my new FlexiWhite Screen from Carls' on: July 23, 2014, 11:39:50 pm
Hey guys -

Hope you don't mind if I join in the conversation here, but after seeing the pictures and reading the discussion I thought I could add some value.

Hmm... this is not what any decent screen should look like...

That was my thought exactly.  That third picture from the original post is what really struck me and something is definitely wrong there. 

What Sparge said about the difference in stretch between the screen material and the reinforced vinyl edge is definitely true. There's a tradeoff to be made between thoroughly reinforcing  the edge and keeping the stretch uniform enough to wind up with a straight edge after mounting it. We have always leaned to the side of a very strong border, because when the wind picks up we want our grommets to hold strong. What's nice about bungees on a pipe frame, though, is that if everything is configured just right, the bungees sort of equalize the difference in "stretchability" across the screen and you wind up with something that's pretty darn straight.  Any bulge you see should be quite minor and really not noticeable - just like on the picture of the BOC screen and frame that was posted.

In this case, though, I think it's clear that the configuration was certainly not right and I agree with the conclusion that it got overstretched. This phenomena is honestly not something we have seen much of (and believe me, we've seen it all).  I can think of one other screen that was returned where we looked at it and were quite surprised at the dimensions it held, and I suspect now that it was a similar situation to this.

If I over stretched it...that's on me.

Now that I disagree with.  When you call us to tell us you want a screen that fits your frame, it's our job to make sure you're getting one that is appropriately sized, and that didn't happen here.  I am going to be discussing with my staff the importance of having relatively exact dimensions for custom-sized screens, especially in the case where that frame does not allow for adjustments here and there to modify the tension being applied to the screen. That's one thing I love, by the way, about EMT frames. If you plan ahead and leave empty space in each fitting, you're able to add or remove a fair amount of tension for fine tuning your screen.

So please do give us a call or shoot me an e-mail at and we'll get you fixed up one way or another. Meanwhile, we're going to review our literature and practices for sizing screens to custom frames to hopefully keep something like this from happening in the future.

While I think FlexiWhite is a superior screen surface material in terms of image quality, I no longer believe it's suitable for border and grommet tension frame designs.

I don't blame you, Sparge, for your conclusions based on your experience thus far, but I think I can win you over yet. The picture produced by FlexiWhite and the hardiness of the material is just too good to write off for these types of installations, even if it takes a little more finesse than BOC to get right.  If you're up for it, I'd like to send you a FlexiWhite screen to fit your old 10x20 EMT frame (full height, by the way), and I am convinced that you'll start using it over your old BOC version.  If I'm right, I'll be more than happy with a Sparge-issued thumbs up to FlexiWhite, and if I'm wrong, we'll make you a BOC screen big enough to wrap around your house.  Or maybe something a little smaller if you prefer. You just name it...
3  Backyard Theater discussions / General discussion / Re: Coax to RCA splitter/switch question on: November 15, 2010, 12:13:33 am
If adding/fixing wiring in the wall is out of the question, I would use a different DVD player as a switch.  It would probably be easier and maybe cheaper to find a DVD player that has coax in and out.  (I'm thinking there are probably tons on eBay for next to nothing?) As long as the DVD player is powered off, the DTV box works as usual.  When the DVD player powers on it takes control. 

I would still look in to adding wires in the wall though if at all possible.
4  Backyard Theater discussions / General discussion / Re: HDTV on Projector - Stand Alone Tuner Solution? on: September 23, 2010, 01:50:26 pm
There are many DVD recorders out there that are still being made (I think) that will do just what you want: tune OTA HD signals and record to DVD.  DVD R/W discs can be used to act more like a DVR you are used to. Some have hard drives included to increase capacity and act still more like a tivo.  There are also just standalone DVR units meant for OTA use but they're a little expensive.  Might be worth it if you're ditching cable though:

5  Backyard Theater discussions / General discussion / Re: HDTV on Projector - Stand Alone Tuner Solution? on: September 22, 2010, 12:10:02 am
I recently went through this issue with my brother-in-law.  I went over to his house for the NFL Kickoff day last week and he had to listen to me complain all day because he didn't warn me that he didn't have an HD tuner. I would have brought mine otherwise . . .

I am lucky enough to have one of these: -- they used to sell them at Circuit City for ~$130 and could be found online for about $100.  It's a fantastic unit but is unfortunately out of production now.

Solidsignal has some:

Here is another:

Here is a list on Wikipedia of digital tv converter boxes that were not coupon eligible as most were capable of HD:

Finally what my brother-in-law decided on was some old satellite tuner that included an HD tuner.  Apparently not all satellite boxes will work but it's not hard to find info on the ones that will -- he picked one up on eBay for something like $25.

If you have a laptop, there are oodles of USB HDTV tuners that would allow you to watch with Windows Media Center -- that's the route I would probably take now if I didn't have the samsung.

Hope that helps -- just had to pass on the results of the research we did while watching football last week . . .
6  Backyard Theater discussions / General discussion / Re: Low Volume Problems - Where to start? on: September 11, 2010, 12:53:27 pm
Good to hear!

Check out this link:

That tool is incredibly useful when diagnosing those types of problems.  Basically you point the software to the movie you want info on and it tells you all about what was used to encode the audio and video and what software you have on your PC that is able to play it back (or what you need if you don't have any).  Use that to see what your low-volume movies have in common and I'll bet you find the issue fairly soon after.
7  Backyard Theater discussions / General discussion / Re: Low Volume Problems - Where to start? on: September 11, 2010, 12:36:58 pm
I would investigate the audio codec used for the movie files.  I have seen this problem specifically with movies that use AC3 audio.  You can usually find an application in the control panel to adjust AC3 settings and, as I recall, one of them is playback volume.  The last time I messed with it was in Windows XP though, so it might be different in Vista.  If you don't have the problem with any other audio on the PC, I would be very surprised if that or something similar isn't the issue.

Are you also playing the music through Vista media center?
8  Backyard Theater discussions / General discussion / New Worlds Largest Screen . . . mine suddenly feels tiny . . . on: September 20, 2009, 11:35:17 pm
I was watching Sunday Night Football tonight and was very impressed by the huge new screen at the new Cowboys Stadium.

It's over 2000" diagonal, and I'm super jealous.  I made this picture to show the scale of the screen compared to a football field and compared to my outdoor screen, and I must say, I now feel completely inadequate.

Thanks a lot, Texas!

You can read about it on Wikipedia here:
9  Backyard Theater discussions / General discussion / Re: Packers - VS - Bears Sunday Night on: September 13, 2009, 11:08:59 pm
Fantastic way to open the season!
10  Backyard Theater discussions / General discussion / Re: Packers - VS - Bears Sunday Night on: September 11, 2009, 09:53:53 pm
Count me in for watching the game outside on Sunday night!  I have a few friends coming over and I'm very excited, as this will be the first night game I'll be able to watch with my outdoor theater (many scheduling issues in the past).

Go Pack!
11  Backyard Theater discussions / General discussion / Re: Tv on the big screen, via antenna... on: August 30, 2009, 07:39:49 pm
With Monday night football being on ESPN, you will need a cable feed.  Over the air signal will only work on the major networks and a few other stations.  A satelite dish should also work as long as you have the receiver box to go along with it and the subscription to the service.

Cable isn't needed if you're in a home network of one of the teams playing.  Since Green Bay used to play a few games in Milwaukee every year, Milwaukee counts as a home network, and so they rebroadcast the games on local TV.  Last year they were all on ABC (channel 12), but I don't know what they'll be this year.  If you're in Sussex, your old rabbit ears will tune that in just fine.  Test it out by hooking them up to your converter box.  I can't imagine you won't be able to get the local channels with them.  At the most, you might have to go to wal-mart and get a $10 antenna.  I always get the cheapest RCA antenna I can find -- they've always worked best for me.  Remember, almost all digital TV is on UHF now, so the actual "ears" of rabbit ear antennas are useless.  What you need is the little wire loop.  So if you're trying to adjust your antenna, don't bother with the long parts -- just move around the loop.

I have lots of experience getting these games in over the air . . .

I used to live in Madison, which doesn't count as a home network for the Packers.  We didn't have cable, and since I didn't want to go to a bar to watch the game, I fell back on the good ol' Slingbox:

I have since moved to Milton, where getting reception from Milwaukee is at least possible and where getting high speed internet such that the slingbox will work is impossible, so I built a nice big antenna to put in the attic.  I used this as my inspiration:  But left off the reflector.  Using that antenna and one of these amps: I can now tune in Madison, Milwaukee, and Rockford all at once.  I even once got a channel from Cedar Rapids, IA and once from Green Bay.  They didn't stick, but still, I was impressed.

Have fun!

12  Backyard Theater discussions / Projector specific / Re: Newbie - Educate Me on: June 24, 2009, 03:29:33 pm
I agree with gsylvies that a laptop is a great solution to act as your media player (I use one myself), but it's not for everybody.  They're going to cost you more up-front, obviously, and you have to be pretty savvy to figure out some of the problems that pop up when using them for that.  They are, without a doubt, though, the most powerful choice. I love them because I keep the majority of my viewing on files on my PC inside, so using a laptop I can network out to my yard wirelessly and have my library all within the click of a mouse.

That said, if your main concern is DVD's and TV, I would suggest buying a newer DVD player with an HD tuner built in.  I've read that the Toshiba DR560 is a pretty good choice for that, and it's on eBay right now for about $150.

If you already have a DVD player that you could use, you could opt for one of these:

I bought one back when it was about the only standalone HD tuner you could buy, and I have sure loved it.  I'm not sure if it's still in production, but it's still easy to find on eBay, though it costs almost as much as one of those DVD players.

As far as projectors go, it really depends on whether you want HD or not.  If you are up for the expense, I highly recommend an HD projector for sports.  You'll never watch football the same after you watch it in HD on a huge outdoor screen. 

Tigerdirect has a great deal going right now on a 720p projector.  You can read how to get the best deal here:
13  Backyard Theater discussions / General discussion / Re: Halloween 2006- No holds barred this time!! on: September 15, 2006, 10:35:55 am
A friend of mine had an old, massive Sony CRT projector that he didn't know much about.  He watched a lot of TV and movies (and somehow even played a bunch of video games) with it stuck on rear projection mode.  Finally, one of his roommates went online and found a manual for it and figured out that all you have to do is flick a switch and it's back to normal.  Knowing the guy, though, I'm not surprised he let it go for so long.

I think I'd like to watch a little TV in mirror mode though . . . I think it would be mind blowing . . .
14  CLASSIFIED ADS -Items FOR SALE and wanted
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/ Home Theater (in general) -- for sale and wanted / Re: FS: 110" Blackout fabric
on: September 14, 2006, 06:03:08 pm
Officially, it's dry clean only, but it can be washed with a sponge or something similar.  Just don't throw it in the washing machine.  It has a rubberized coating (the coating that makes it a great surface for projection) that, if handled too rough, could come off. 

When I made my screens with it, I built a wooden frame and stretched and stapled it around the edge, much like a painter's canvas. Otherwise, you could add grommets and stretch it with bungees.
15  CLASSIFIED ADS -Items FOR SALE and wanted
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/ Home Theater (in general) -- for sale and wanted / Re: FS: 110" Blackout fabric
on: September 14, 2006, 12:02:13 pm
Update: I have now posted some screen sizes on eBay.  Check out my auctions if you're interested:

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