Projector setup: Maybe a tripod?

As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve decided to take the plunge to buy a projector for use in projecting my RPG maps onto the game table from my laptop.  I was planning to use Sean Pecor’s design for the rig to hold the projector above the table, but then I thought about a word that my bowling buddy (who works with projectors and other video equipment for a living) used when I described the setup to him:


Could it really be that simple?  Could I really just build a tripod to suspend the projector above the game table, rather than building a massive cube?

Well, given that a tripod would be cheap, simple and highly portable, I think it’s at least worth a shot.

I began by doing some sketching of what a tripod for this setup might look like, then swung by the hardware store on my lunch break.  I picked up two eight-foot long pine boards (1.5 inches wide, 3/4″ thick), some small hinges and some screw eyes.  I already have some scrap plywood at home.  The general idea is that there will be some type of triangular platform at the top with a hole in it that the projector will point downward through (along with something to hold the projector in place).  Attached to each side of the triangle will be a hinge with a wooden leg attached.  Each leg will have a screw eye on it (not too far down from the platform), and some leather rope will connect the three screw eyes together to hold the tripod up properly.  There will be some adjustable feet on the bottom of the legs, preferably rubber-tipped.  The whole thing will sit on some type of battle mat (I like Sean’s idea of a dry-erase surface).

What am I missing?  Will the legs get in the players’ way?  Will it be too unsteady?  What is the drawback to the cheap, light, portable tripod approach?  I plan to build a quick and dirty version to test it out.  If it works, I’ll build a nice one.

4 thoughts on “Projector setup: Maybe a tripod?

  1. My concerns would be the same as yours – is it wobbly, is anyone going to accidentally bump it, is it in the way? A projector is not a cheap piece of hardware – the idea of it falling fills me with dread.

    Our projector setup uses a glass table, which we cover with a sheet. The projector is on the floor and a mirror is used to bounce the image onto the underside of the sheet. Works pretty great.

    – Secure
    – Cheap (if you have a glass table and a mirror)
    – Doesn’t take up table real estate

    – the dog likes to sit in front of it
    – if you happen to look at it from the wrong angle you can get hit with the bright light from the projector. Usually only happens when standing up and leaning over the table.
    – projecting onto cloth doesn’t make for the crispest image

    I’ve also heard but cannot confirm that some projectors are only designed to work when flat or slightly angled, and perpendicular use can shorten your projector’s or your bulb’s life. I have no idea if that’s actually true.

    Let us know how your experiment goes!

  2. Snuh – thanks for the feedback! I’ll admit that I had not even thought about the possibility of the projector falling. That could totally happen – somebody walking by trips and flails an arm out into the tripod… yuck. I’ll have to think carefully about this!

    I like your sheet over a glass table setup, but that’s not going to work for me since I need portability – I’ll be taking this rig to my local game store and to a local convention. That’s why I’m leaning toward the tripod right now – it’s super-portable.

    As for the vertical angle on the projector, my buddy who works with these things says it’s not a problem with a modern fan-cooled projector, thank goodness!

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