Monday, July 30, 2012

my cheap backyard movie theater diy style

Here is a post from one of the biggest of the boys my dear hubby 

Five years ago , we planned the biggest best vacation for our kids: Disney. All the sites, The Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Star Wars weekend  and all. What do you think they remembered most? Our hotel played movies by the pool during the evening hours. Splashing around with their new vacation friends while watching Disney movies is their fondest recollection of the trip. 

So I got to thinking, in my twisted way, how can I bring the magic of Disney home without spending $10K? Hmmm. How about a backyard theatre overlooking our above ground pool.   I am one of the guys that likes to do projects myself. Drives the wife crazy sometimes but she is often thankful since I do save money. 

Amazon has Outdoor Cinema kits ranging from $500  to over $1,000 There are custom manufacturers that’ll build a pro grade one for $100K+. Make sure any kit you select has all the little doo-dads that you need  for your own outdoor theatre.  You’ll need good sound system and speakers, a tuner, an interface for whatever format you choose (DVD, Svideo, TV, etc) , a large screen and stand, and the projector and it’s stand and lastly a DVD player or laptop, maybe some cabling to connect the TV.

There’s a great resource for the Do it yourselfers  out there: .This is a huge depot of ideas, tips and sourcing for materials. You can shop around and cobble together an awesome custom system, piece by piece too. The downside here is: if you don’t know what you’re doing, a host of issues can crop up. The chief among them in my experience is compatibility of the equipment. A weak screen will make the images seem like ghosts in a cloud.  It took several tries and time and error to get this actually right over the years.  Too strong a speaker can vibrate the screen if it’s too close. A cheap sound system might not play certain files. That list can go on and on and on. 

One of the easiest things to build is the screen. Traditionally, a sheet strapped to 2x4’s has made up the most cost effective screen.   I was able to create on with PVC  pipes.
Here is what I did
  • get a 10 x 15 foot white tarp from lowes or home depot (about $40 dollars)  
  • create a frame out of pvc pipes that is slightly larger than the tarp with pvc going down the middle for added support.   leane it against the fence 
  • Add some tent stakes 
  • connect the tarp to the frame with bungee balls at each of the tarp's grommets
  • attach the screen to the deck with eye bolts    

I also lucked out on his sound system, projector and  interface. A local business was selling   old equipment and buying new.  ! Cheap  electronics. Compatibility of these components is the trickiest part of the whole DIY Home Theatre idea. 

We do take it down  each year and I have to buy a new tarp every couple of years . I bring over the cub scouts atleast once a year to have a movie and pool night. The kids love it! 

Please join us...

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