How to Project a Movie Outside without a Projector?

Movie nights are always a great occasion to gather family and friends. You watch your favorite movies, eat popcorn, snuggle on pillows and blankets… It’s always a fun and cozy time.

If you want it to be even more fun and cozy, you should take your movie night outdoors.

There’s one problem, though. You can’t simply bring your TV outside. So where are you planning on watching the movies?

This is where projectors come in. They make outdoor movie nights very possible and enjoyable.

But what if you don’t have time to buy one? What if you’re not willing to spend on that? Or, what if you can’t afford it?

Don’t worry! You can make your own!

Here, you’ll learn about 2 ways to make a DIY projector.

So let’s get straight to it!

How to Make a DIY Projector

These DIY projectors are not only cheap but also simple to make. Within a few minutes, you’re ready to set up your outdoor movie night.

DIY Projector Shoebox

For this project, you’ll need a shoebox, a magnifying glass, black paint, glue, and your smartphone.

  1. If your shoebox has flaps inside, the first step is to secure that. Apply glue and wait for it to dry before moving on to the next step.
  2. Once the glue is dry, cut a hole on the side of the shoebox for the magnifying glass. For accuracy, trace the magnifying glass with a marker at the center and cut with a cutter. If the shoebox’s lid gets in the way, cut the part that blocks the magnifying glass.
  3. Remove the handle of the magnifying glass to fit it in the hole. You can remove the handle by breaking, cutting, or sawing it. Some magnifying glasses allow you to unscrew the handle.
  4. Before securing the magnifying glass, paint the inside of the shoebox black. The darkness of the black paint will absorb the light and not allow it to escape.
  5. Once the paint is dry, slip the magnifying glass in the hole from the inside. You can secure it in the hole with glue. You might also want to paint the outside edges of the hole black so that no light enters the shoebox.
  6. Download the movies to your smartphone.
  7. Turn your phone’s brightness to 100% and don’t forget to turn on the lock screen. You’ll want your phone upside down when you place it in the box so that the reflection will be right side up.
  8. Move the phone forward or backward inside the box until you get the best focus.
  9. Close the lid.

With that, you’ve made your very own projector from a shoebox!

DIY Projector from Scratch

If you want to create a projector from scratch, it’ll take more time and effort.

Here’s how to make the projector’s body.

  1. Get a piece of craft cardboard and draw a line down the middle. With equal distance, draw two other lines that run parallel to the center one.
  2. Divide the lines horizontally into thirds. So you have 6 squares with outer edges. The top 2 squares are for the back of the projector, the middle 2 are for the bottom, and the bottom 2 are for the front.
  3. Place your lens in the middle of the bottom 2 squares. Trace and cut it out.
  4. Then, cut out right-angle triangles on the outer edges of the squares. These will help you make the perfect square box.
  5. Follow the line patterns when folding it into a box. Use glue or tape to secure it all together.

So you’ve finished with the body. Let’s move on to the focus area.

To give the projector a focus, you’ll need plant sticks, straws, and a glass mirror.

The steps might not make sense at first, but you’ll understand once you see the finished product.

Here’s how to make the projector’s focus.

  1. Make tiny holes at the bottom of the projector’s body in each corner. This is so you can insert the plant sticks through. Don’t insert it yet though.
  2. Inside the box, glue a straw on each corner. Make sure that the straws’ hole is right above the tiny holes you bore. Cut out any excess of straw rising above the box. The straws are there to support the plant sticks upright.
  3. Now you can insert the plant sticks. To make it easier, insert it from the bottom. Leave about 2 inches of the plant stick behind to form legs.
  4. Get a glass mirror that perfectly fits inside the box. Glue it at a 45-degree angle. If you want it angled right, a good trick is to look at the straw’s reflection and see if it’s perpendicular.

Now let’s talk about how to make the phone’s platform and how to install it.

  1. Get a rectangular piece of cardboard and cut a hole for the phone’s screen.
  2. Bore tiny holes on the corner of the rectangular cardboard and insert it on the up tip of the plant sticks. Glue that in place.
  3. Slip your lens on the hole that you made in the body. Glue it in place.

Before we get to the last step, let’s explain how this works.

The phone will flash its light down on the mirror. The mirror will then reflect it to the lens. Finally, the lens will project the light images onto a surface.

But since your phone is high up and it’s exposed, it won’t focus all its light on the mirror. The light will flash down but also leak to the sides. This is why the final step is so important.

You need to block the sides all the way from the body to the phone’s platform. You can block it off with dark-colored paper taped around the plant sticks. To stick it all together, tape the dark-colored paper also to the body and phone’s platform.

With that, you’re not allowing any light to escape or enter.

And this is how you make a projector from scratch.

Helpful Tips

We have a few helpful tips for you when creating DIY projectors.

The first one is how to make your phone stand inside the shoebox. There are several ways to do that.

If the shoebox is thin, then you might be able to wedge your phone between the walls. This is the simplest way to make it stand.

If the shoebox is wide, you can go for many options. You can place your phone on a phone stand, you can lean your phone on an object… Or, you can create a stand from styrofoam or cardboard.

To do that, you can get a wide enough styrofoam or cardboard to wedge inside the shoebox. Stick your phone to the styrofoam or cardboard by using double-sided foam tape.

You can also build your own stand with styrofoam or cardboard. You’ll need two pieces of styrofoam or cardboard. Glue the two pieces together, forming a floor and a wall.

You can secure the phone with tape on the styrofoam or cardboard wall. This is the best kind of stand because it’s easy to move the phone forward and backward in the shoebox.

These are just a few suggestions. You can use anything you find to secure your phone’s standing position.

Of course, to enjoy any movie, you’ll need a clear sound. If you don’t have a Bluetooth speaker, then how are you going to hear anything when the phone is inside the shoebox?

To solve this, bore a tiny hole at the back of the shoebox. Make it big enough for the speaker’s wires to fit in. This will allow you to connect the phone to the speakers and have a clear and loud sounding movie.

Another helpful tip is to use a bigger magnifying lens. A bigger lens will make brighter images.

The focal length is also important. If you want the image to be bigger, then go for a lens with a lower focal length. Note though that the bigger your images are the dimmer it will be as the light is being spread further.

If you want to make your DIY projector look fancy, you can decorate it however you want.

And finally, since we’re talking about outdoor movie nights, you can project the images of your DIY projector onto a white, smooth wall or sheet.

Why You Should Buy a Projector

No doubt, these DIY projectors are fun and cheap to make. But the quality is nothing compared to an actual projector.

With DIY projectors, you won’t be able to get crispy clear images. You won’t be able to get the colors to pop out or the images to stand out.

If you want the best outdoor movie night viewing experience, then buy a projector instead. You can find some at a very reasonable price. (Read more: How Much is a Movie Projector?)

If you’re looking for a good outdoor projector, we recommend YABER Native’s Y21 or its Y30.

The Y21 is 6200 lumen with LED light source, high-quality materials, and delicate manufacturing process.

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The Y30 offers 6500 lumen. It has fantastic image clarity, outstanding color accuracy, and sharp detailed images.

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  • 💞⚠【$50 off code:B8QURQ3I】Innovative 4D Keystone Correction & Zoom Function} Our hd...
  • 💞 [1080P Native Resolution (1920*1080), Support 4k Video] The projector with a real native...
  • 💞 [HIFI Stereo Sound & Latest Advanced Cooling System] The Y30 LED projector has built-in 3W dual...

Conclusion

We hear a lot about creating DIY projector screens… but it’s also very possible to create your own DIY projector.

Though it isn’t ideal for movies, it’s still great to know how to create it. Even if you don’t need it, it can be a fun project to do with your family or friends.

Last update on 2020-03-31 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API.

  • Updated March 21, 2020
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