Home Theater: Screen Build

I have a few projects coming up that I hope to start blogging about, but to kick the series off I am going to document an older build (~5 years old). I have always wanted a “proper” home theater with a decent projector, nice screen, and immersive sound. That has, of course, taken a back seat to so many other priorities but I at least I have a screen to show for it.

The Design

I went for something I thought was straight forward: a wood frame and cloth screen. What I ended up with was something that was probably over-engineered/overkill for my use case but something I am happy with either way. It started with a couple drawings in my project notebook with an emphasis on preventing any sagging in the screen over time. The screen had to be supported from the sides due to a double-wide window being located behind the screen.

Screen Drawing from Notebook | © 2018 Winston R. Milling

I decided on a 128" screen early on, mostly because the projector I was looking at supported the size and it looked like it would fill the wall well. All in, it probably cost around $250 to build, including all the extra hardware bits I could probably do without.

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Raspberry Pi Laptop Version 2

Some time after the first iteration of the Raspberry Pi Laptop, the Raspberry Pi Foundation suddenly released the Raspberry Pi 2, a backwards compatible quad-core upgrade to the original Raspberry Pi. I knew, just by the specs alone, I had to get one and use it as part of my lapdock setup. I believed it would solve all the issues I had with the original RPi model B. See below for the final build and read on for how it came together.

Raspberry Pi Laptop Version 2 - Back View

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Raspberry Pi Laptop: Version 1

Somewhere around four years ago I had an unfortunate accident with my old HP 510 laptop which resulted in a thumb going through the LCD screen. This left me without a laptop, which was not too bad as I still had a perfectly fine desktop and an iPad. The only problem with this setup is that the desktop isn’t really portable and the iPad leaves a little to be desired in applications and multitasking. I did try sporadically for a while to get by with the iPad alone, following in the footsteps of people like Mark O’Connor, but it really just didn’t work well for me.

I had it in my head for a while during this time to try to do something interesting with the Raspberry Pi as all I had previously done was make it into another media center. I thought a laptop built around it would be great, but really didn’t find any good and cheap ways to achieve it. That was until I found the Lapdock series of netbook-like devices normally powered by smartphones. The lucky part to me is that the lapdock was a commercial flop leaving a lot of stock in the secondary market for cheap. I found a couple examples of people successfully using them with the RPi and figured, why not. I started doing some research and built the parts list for my own build.

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Disclaimer: Any and all opinions presented here are my own and not representitve of my employer(s); past, present, and future.