how to: using a projector for aiming

movie night

movie night

for a while now, we’ve had a computer projector. i got my first projector to show movies outside in the backyard while swimming. when belize was born, we started the tradition of projecting a movie on a sheet hung over our driveway for halloween. later, i built a bracket for the projector to show movies on our back patio. to store this monstrosity, i put similar brackets in the garage. i have seen several others who use laser pointers or laser levels (here for instance) but i figured seeing the exact design projected onto the platen would be very helpful, especially since i need to place the design in a different place each time depending on exactly what the tie dye pattern came out like.

projector housing

projector housing

i needed to create a housing for the projector that would keep it in a particular place and at a particular angle (pointed straight down). i also wanted it to be useful for pointing at the screen when watching movies in the backyard, so it had to pivot up and down. i tried to look around for such a mounting bracket, but not many folks want to point a projector straight down (though, i think this could be fun for something, like projecting board games onto the ground or maybe a shifting twister game or something… well, another day anyway!). so, since i have a table saw (and even still have all ten fingers) i decided to make it out of wood. basically, i used regular 1″ boards (really 3/4″) and built a box. i used my jig saw to cut out an area for the lens and used smaller boards on top to give access to the controls (though the thing does have a remote somewhere). i then hung two mounting brackets down from the main board to serve as supports. this has wing nuts on the side to allow me to pivot and then tighten the housing into place. the part i already had was a long board with two ceiling fan downrods mounted to it with pipe flanges. then i use the ball joint on the top to hook the whole thing into the ceiling. i have the mounts installed in the garage ceiling and on the patio so i can easily move the whole thing from place to place. i have some computer speakers on the board and a power strip.

projected image lined up with screen

projected image lined up with screen

when it comes time to print, i line the platen of my press right under the projector. i then position and zoom (i found that it works exactly right at 16.5%) my image over the platen to match where my screens are. i don’t use this for adjusting registration (i think the platen could get bumped to easily or whatever), i really only use it to visualize where on the shirt the artwork will go. i suppose a laser level would be a whole ton easier, but this is kind of fun and i can set it up very quickly. for jobs like the logo shirt in the pic, i will definitely use a laser level for the next one, but for jobs like the or the butterfly shirt or the unicorn shirt where i have to line it up to work with certain color patterns, i think this works very well. after lining up the shirt when i’m ready to scrape the ink, i usually put the lens cap on the projector. it gets all confusing seeing the color from the projector and the color from the screen.

projected image on platen

projected image on platen

lining up the shirt with the projected image

lining up the shirt with the projected image

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