While I was in Disney World I was watching a circle-vision presentation, and being me, wanted to know where that amazing looking picture was coming from. I looked up and saw a familiar site; boxes with three lights beaming out of lenses, almost like the traffic lights of the gods! I have seen these before in a miniature theater I visited in elementary school. I instantly became obsessed with finding out what these great projectors were all about.
After looking around on the internet I discovered that these projectors were called CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) projectors. Like a man possessed, I preceded to learn everything I could about them, so much so, I even bought a broken one so I could take it apart and learn more. After I learned all that I needed to know, and there was a lot, I began to watch craigslist and ebay for a good projector. The day came and I found a local seller on ebay. The guy was selling this particular projector (Barco 1208/2).
Now keep in mind, these projectors are not light, in fact this particular one is 160lb and that isn’t the heaviest out there.
Now that I had the projector, I had to figure out how to mount it to my ceiling safely, as it would really not be good to have it fall on someone. I settled on using lag bolts and unistrut extruded metal. I went a bit overkill on the mounting but I want this to be safe.
After I got this all setup I started on blacking out the windows, painting the walls, running speaker cables and setting up my audio system. I already had a really great home theater receiver and speakers so I was really getting close to being in movie nirvana.
I did a bunch of reading on projector screens and found a company that makes screens with the right reflection and size (8ft wide by 6ft tall). I made a big frame for it and aligned it in the center of the room just like I had done with my projector mount.
Next I had to get the projector onto the mount and that took some planning, chain, and some serious strategy. I finally got it up there and lined up right. Then came the long and tedious part of setting up the projector focus and converging the images. This process took a long time and lots of tweaking, looking, and tweaking.
Once I got it solidly centered, focused, and converged I could then watch some flicks!
Overall this was a pretty big undertaking a took a whole lot of planning and even more learning on my part. These projectors were not made for the casual user and they are definitely not plug and play. I had to learn enough to service these things as they were normally setup by professional technicians.
I can’t say that these guys are for everybody but I can say they have the best picture I have ever seen from a projector. I don’t recommend looking at pictures of peoples projections but find someone local that has a theater setup and see it in person, it is truly amazing. I am really happy with my setup and it really feels like you are in a movie theater when you are watching a movie. I watch movies in standard definition and high definition as well as play XBOX on it. It really does look like the film grain you see in the movie theaters and if you are willing to put the time and effort into one of these you will not be disappointed.
For more information on CRT projectors here are some great sites that I used in my research:
Bonus: Here was a page of my checklist for planning this whole endeavor.