The Deliverator – Wannabee

So open minded, my thoughts fell out…

Proper Projector Mounting

Posted by Deliverator on November 1st, 2007

I spent some quality time today shuffling between a ladder, Vetco Surplus and numerous hardware stores on an epic quest to mount my Optoma HD 70 projector on the ceiling. Until today, the projector has been sitting on a somewhat wobbly TV tray directly in front of the couch. This adhoc setup has interfered with the number of people that can comfortably watch the screen at the same time and has lead to lots of minor accidental bumping of the projector and necessary repositioning and refocusing. It has also made it somewhat awkward to play movement heavy games on my Wii, as players have needed to stand to the side so as not to interrupt the projector’s beam and moderate their swings so as not to kill my beautiful projector. After a 26 hour 100% completion of Metroid Prime lead to a serious crick in my neck, I resolved to ceiling mount the projector at any cost.

My first thought was to just build a shelf mounted high on the wall or rigidly suspended from the ceiling, but I quickly nixed that idea for two reasons. The first is that the wall is too far away for the ideal throw of the HD 70’s lens and secondly, the projector casts it’s image upwards from where it sits. The projector needs to be mounted upside-down on the ceiling and put into a special vertical flip mode for ceiling mounting, so a simple shelf/platform wouldn’t do. I checked Optoma’s website and they sell an optional ceiling mount bracket which attaches to the projector via 3 small screw holes on the bottom of the projector. It looks like it would do the job nicely, but at $215 it left me reconsidering my “must mount projector at any cost” statement. I started looking into 3rd party alternatives and quickly came up with an inexpensive 3rd party mounting bracket from a company called Atdec for $45 at Amazon. No-longer-patented one click ordering accomplished, I spent a few days mulling over how best to pump video from my myriad devices into the projector.

Flinging video and audio about through circuitous paths without loosing fidelity is  one of the eternal geek problems. I wish I had the money for a nice remotely controlable switchbox or the time and Arduino-Foo prowess to coble one together.  For now, I have decided to leave that problem (fiscal and otherwise) for another day and just work with what I got as much as possible.  That said, I ended up spending $170 at Vetco acquiring longer cables and connectors so as to be able to hook up 1 HDMI source and 3 component sources with a minimum of fuss.  I have to manually flip a switch to change component sources, but the fully remote controlled alternative would have cost me considerably more, so I consider the occasional need to leave the sofa a small price to pay…and I could use the exercise.

The lion’s share of the work in getting the projector mounted was in figuring out the directions, assembling the mounting bracket, finding studs in the ceiling and a fair amount of drilling. Thankfully, my father who is far more mechanically inclined than I was willing to help me with the drilling and figuring. While he handled the majority of that task, I headed to 3 hardware stores in a subquest to find m3 type metric screws with which to secure the mounting bracket to the projector. The bracket came with a fair selection of mounting hardware for most projectors, but the smallest screw in the included selection was m4, the next size up. I was lucky to finally find a couple m3 screws at Lowe’s, which had a marginally better selection of hardware than the other places at which I stopped. m3 is an exceedingly small shaft size for a screw and I really have to fault Optoma for using such a mechanically poor fastener for hanging a rather expensive and fairly heavy device upside down. I managed to torque the head off one of these screws just trying to tighten it. I have to conclude that they used such a non-standard and hard to find screw as a dis-incentive to the use of generic 3rd party brackets.

I did eventually get the bracket attached and mounted to both the projector and the ceiling and got all the cables run and messes picked up and have been happily spending the remainder of my All Hallow’s Eve watching Vincent Price horror movies. Getting the projector properly ceiling mounted was somewhat frustrating but I think the result will be well worth the effort.