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How do I Take the Plunge into the World of Projectors II

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Hi all, I have decided to go into projectors after reading so much in this forum.  The plunge was also partly due to the fact that I would be moving to a new place and hence it is easier to start from scratch.


Please bear in mind I am totally a newbie and hence most of the decisions that I have made are based on what I find in the forum and some are common sense.  I just like to share some of my experience with others that are about to embark in the world of projectors and hopefully they will find this useful.  This is especially for HDB heartlanders as my setup in a 5 rm flat.


Since this is my first fling with it, I have decided to go for the cheapest solution I can find.  (solely no deep pockets)


Before I start, I had a few burning questions on top of my mind.


- What PJ should I go for?

- How to mount on a false ceiling?

- What throw distance can I have acheive?

- What screen should I go for?

- Should I go for 5.1 or 7.1 (at the time still dunno about DSX yet)

- What cost effective HDMI cable should I got for?

- Is it possible to have a celiing fan with PJ as well?

- Cat 6 cabling? (since I am doing from scratch)

- What projector mount can I go for?

- Can I install in the living room bearing in mind of the ambient lights?

- How to integrate my PJ screen and my Plasma TV together?

- How to integrate my music and HT system together?

- Cable management?

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What PJ should I go for?


As I am on a tight budget, I decided to go for the most value of money 1080p PJ I can find.  The Optoma HD20 came to my mind as it is only USD999.00.  So the question is should I take the risk and import it from Amazon?


I did and the risk is well paid off.  The package came in and it was surprisingly in a small box. It was well packed and custioned.  For more details about this PJ u can check on this link.






The total cost for me is about SGD 1700 including shipping and GST.  Just 2 days after I ordered from Amazon, I then came to know that local price is going for about SGD 2400 before discount.


So for the additional SGD 700 will buy warranty and piece of mind.  You decide.


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How to mount on a false ceiling?


There is the PJ mount and the Screen mount.  So if you got a false ceiling, can you mount on it?


Well after asking around, I found out it is not advisable to mount it on the false ceiling as normally the structure is not sturdy enough.  Hence when designing your false ceiling, make sure you can mount on the concrete ceiling itself.


For my case, to get around with it, I first wall plug the PJ mount on the ceiling first before covering up with false ceiling.  I have decided to use a L-box design as I plan to have a ceiling fan in the middle as well.  The wiring can run into the L-box.



As for the screen, I have catered for a motorised screen.  I have created a plummet in the front of the living room so that the screen too can be mounted on the ceiling, and at the same time concealed into the ceiling.  Make sure you cater enough space in the plumment for the installers to move their hands around.



I am using bookshelf speakers for my surrounds and hence there is no in-ceiling for me.  The bookshelf speakers mount will be on the side walls.

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What throw distance can I have acheive?


The throw distance is a very important factor as it will determine the size of the screen you can have.  There are many calculators out there and the one I rely on is from projector central.




I managed to squeeze 3.7m into my living area and hence from the looks of it, I could project a 100" screen.  Bear in mind the distance have to start from the screen to the projector lens.  As I intend to have a feature wall and a wall mount plasma, this arrangement does "eat" into the some space.  I was abit surprise how much space I have to cater them.


Having decided on this throw distance, I then anchored my PJ mount.  Afterwhich, everything started to take reference to this point during renovation.  My Plummet, L-box, feature wall, plasma tv, speakers, lightings and tv console positioning all would need to be centralised with this reference point.


If you are particular not to seat under the PJ, then you would need to cater for that in your seating arrangement as well.

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What screen should I go for?


Choosing a screen is not easy as well.  There are decisions to be made like:-


1.  What aspect ratio would I want?

The aspect ratio is widely discussed in our forum.  Commonly the question is whether to go for 2.35:1 or 16:9.  Initially I wanted to go for 2.35:1.  However, after thinking of my source, I finally settle for 16:9 which I think is more versatile for me.  My source vary from Blu-Ray movies, PS3 games, Concerts, HD digi-cam, to HD5.  From what I understand, only Blu-Ray movies will benefit from 2.35:1 format.  The rest will be still 16:9.


2.  What size?

Size is bigger the better?  I was set for 100" then.



3.  What type?  (fixed, pull-down, motorised, tab-tension, ...etc)

As I need to integrate my Plasma TV with the Screen, fixed screen is out of the question.  I decided on motorised tab-tension screen as I am abit worried about the potential wavey effect of some normal non-tension screen.  For motorised screen, the trigger options would be manual switch, RF control and 12V trigger.  The first 2 is definitely a no brainer but do I need 12V trigger?


Well I did not venture on the 12V trigger because I was told that it might create complications sometimes especially if they are not syncronised.  Sometimes the screen might trigger to stop half-way or not function as it should be.  Maybe someone who is using this can verify if this is true.



4.  What material, color, gain?

This area I am not too familar with.  However, I was advised to go for higher gain screen as I have to deal with ambience light in my living room.  Also, the material used should not be rough as it can be obvious under projection.



In the end, I settle down with the Cyrus Screen from Alfie.  Kudos to him as my experience with him was a good one. 


He is very knowledgable in this area and recommended me with a High Resolution Crystal White screen with gain of 1.25.  Service was good and when he called in the installers, it took less then 2 hours to finish installation.


The quality of the screen is not bad too.  With the tab-tension, I could hardly see any wavey effect.  The screen material seems to be easy to maintain.


The only gripe I have is that I was unable to acheive the 100" screen which I wanted.  This is mainly due to the fact of my setup as the speakers and some of my rig was in the way.


There are still some height adjustment of the screen which I need to make but overall I am happy with the 92"  so far.

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Should I go for 5.1 or 7.1? (at the time still dunno about DSX yet)


WAF is very important to me.  Hence I need to start off with 5.1 first.  However, I did hide some extra cables so that I can cut open the L-box for the extra 2 speakers in future.


Some common questions are what cables should I get and must they be the same length?


I went for Belden cables from LHS.  However I choose the lower gauge ones as the 1313A (10 AWG)is abit stiff.  Hence I choose the 1311A (12 AWG) instead.  I also did not go for equal length for surrounds and just left it for my electrician to cut the cables.  I would not recommend this for the front speaker lengths though.



I got my speaker wall mounts from SLT and they are pretty sturdy for my bookselves.  Looking around at SLT, I bought some cable jackets as well.


After reading the DSX thread, on hindsight, I should have laid all the cables I can!  11.1 hmm ...




What cost effective HDMI cable should I got for?


I needed more than 10 meters for HDMI cable to run from the tv console to the PJ.  I was recommended Blue Jean cables.  From the website, they have different grades for HDMI.  Will the cheaper ones work for longer runs of more than 10 meters?  The economy range tartan 22 AWG cables seems good to me and for SGD100 for a 45 feet run, I decided to take the risk to find out if they are ok.


Bear in mind higher gauge HDMI should be better but they are alot more stiffer as well.

Do test out the cables with some 1080p material with HD sound first before installing the cables.  You would not want to find out that it is not working after hiding everything in your ceiling.

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Is it possible to have a celiing fan with PJ as well?


It came out quite possible with a few things to look out for.


Obviously the fan should not obstruct the line of sight of the PJ.  Hence you would need to get a low height fan and a longer PJ mount.  One negative part I experience is that if I turn on my fan to highest speed, it will move my PJ screen slightly while watching movies.  So for bros who can install air-con, it will be a better option.


What projector mount can I go for?


I bought one at SLT as well for around $80 which can extend up to 600mm.

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Cat 6 cabling?


Although not related to PJ, but since I am doing my reno, I might as well hide all the wires together with my HT rigs.


To cut cost, I decided to DIY and just ask my electrician to lay the cables.  DIY is relatively easy as there are lots of idiot-proof items around.


I got a 1000ft Amp Connect Cat6 reel of cables for my electrician.  Then I ordered some Cat6 RJ-45 Tooless Keystone and Wall Plate from Monoprice.  There is even a diy guide on how to terminate the wires.





I lay 1 pair of Cat 6 to 3 rooms and hence at my tv console, the hub would have 6 points.  The plan is to connect a gigabit switch and internet modem at the tv console.



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Can I install in the living room bearing in mind of the ambient lights?


Now I can understand why many forumers are recommending a delicated room with a fixed screen as the best option.  If  you intend to have it in the living room, there are alot of factors to account for.


The worst one I can see is fighting with ambient lights.  On my left is the balcony and on my right is the kitchen with a half wall partition.  Lots of light sources will be coming from these 2 areas.  To make things worst, my colour of the walls in the living room is off-white.  Hence there will be lights bouncing off it and reflected.


For the balcony, I try to mitigate the ambient lights by having day and night curtains (dual layers).  I have yet to convince my wife to have super dark coloured curtains and I have to make do with the current colour, which is light brown.


If possible, go for dark coloured wall paint as well and that will help.


The next thing I should really have dealt with is sound treatment of the living room.  However, due to unforseen circumstances, I did not manage to factor this in during my reno.  Sound treatment I believe is very important and I might have to revisit another time.  For those who can, please search around the forum for lots of infomation on this and factor in time and material on sound proofing the room when planing your renovation.  You can go for the full works or simple DIY stuff like stuffing rockwool which you can find information on.


Another thing which I failed to achieve to do is to create another DB box so I can seperate my video and audio power circuit to reduce the electrical noise level for the audio system.  I did check with Mr Soh which was recommended by some members but didnt manage to execute it.  Until then, I will just rely on whatever conditioners I have for the time being.

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How to integrate my PJ screen and my Plasma TV together?


As mentioned earlier, I decided to opt for a motorised tab-tension screen.  However, how can I ensure that the screen will not hit the Plasma TV while lowering down from the ceiling.  i.e. how much allowance should I give for the screen to be placed away from the wall?


I have a feature wall which is 10cm thick.


The TV mount would be another 10cm thick.


And the TV is about another 10cm thick.



Hence my plumment need to be at least 30cm away from the wall so that when the screen is installed, it will lower nicely down just infront of the TV.


A HDB flat I reckon is about 2.2 to 2.4m from floor to ceiling.  Hence when planning, I need to cater for the TV console height with the centre speakers height included.  The screen will then have to lower and stop before hitting the centre speakers.  This is where the throw distance calculator would be useful in planning the size of the screen.

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How to integrate my music and HT system together?


In my old setup I have 2 seperate system.  One for music and one for HT.  Due to space contraints, I need to merge

them to one.  This is where my headache starts.  I have the following equipment to integrate:-



1x Plasma TV

1x PJ Screen



1x TT

1x CD Place

1x DAC

1x DVD Player

1x PS3

1x Wii


1x Media Player

1x DVB-T setup box



1x AVR

1x Pre-Amp

3x Monoblocks

1x Phono Amp



2x LR

1x C

2x SLR

1x SW



1x SCV Modem

1x Router

1x Switch

1x PSU

1x Power Conditional


With the above, I had to carefully plan where to place them.


Audio Configuration

My configuration is using the AVR pre-out and HT by-pass my stereo Pre-amp to the monoblocks to drive my LR speakers. 


The AVR will pre-out as well to the single mono to drive the centre speaker.  The only audio work the AVR needs to

perform is to drive the surrounds.


The music source like TT, CD Player and DAC will feed directly to the stereo Pre-amp for 2 Channel pleasures.  For my

multi-channel music, I use my DVD player which support DVD-A and SACD.  The DVD Player will hdmi-in the AVR.  DAC

currently is used for my PC Audio and sometimes CD player as well.  It has a headphone section which I can use for late night listening.


Visual Configuration

As there are 2 display, I would need a AVR with 2 HDMI out.  One will be for Plasma TV and the other for the PJ Screen.  The HDMI-in source are PS3, DVD, Media Player and HTPC.  For my Wii and DVB-T setup box, I am using component cables in.


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Cable management?


As you can see on the component list, I have more then 19 power cords, 6 speaker cables, 6 HDMI cables, 3 digital cables, 4 antenna cable, 2 component cables, 10 pairs of ethernet cables and more than 6 pairs of interconnects.  It will not be a pretty sight if you do not manage them properly.  I am one who is very bad in managing my time, money and people.  So I do not think I will do a good job to manage 50 plus cables too.  So my solution is just sweep them under the carpet.


For the Plasma, I hide the cables inside the feature wall.  Make sure upon intallation, you have all the cables you need first.  If you need to change it after that it will be a hassle.  What I needed in the end is1x HDMI, 1x power cord, 1x antenna, and 1x DVI-HDMI (PC input).



I would need power source to all the components.  Hence I intended to built the power sockets inside my TV console so that I can hide all the cables.  I had 2-gang sockets (and scv point) on each side and also have the cat6 and PJ HDMI,surround speaker cables coming out from each side.



This the TV Console where I intend to "sweep" most of my components and cables inside, out of sight.  It is not ideal but will score high on the WAF factor.





On the TV console top, I have a slit of "goat hair" for cables to run through.  Currently I have the centre speaker cable running out.



On both sides of the the TV console, I have 2 openings for the cables to run out.  This is mainly the speaker cables and the antenna.




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Brilliant write up - will definitely help someone like me who is on the thought phase of the HT install.


Hiding the wires is one of the issues I am facing. No drywalls to cut into so :(


Second is the pj mount. Got the 60cm one from SLT, but not long enough in the end. Want to balance the pj with the top of the screen so... going to change for a longer one today!

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Mounting with DILA and LCD projectors is a lot simpler because the lens shift features


I don't even mount my projectors upside down anymore. Just any shelf will do. Plonk it down in the usual orientation, with the feet adjusted so the projector is level. Then use the lens shift to align the displayed image properly.



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