Maybe 800 by 600 is enough

With my planned projector setup for RPG mapping, it looks like I’ve gotten some good news and some bad news about the projector that I bought.  The good news is that my buddy who works with projectors was able to help me out with my projector last night at the bowling alley, and it looks like the resolution will be just fine.

A quick aside: Toting a laptop, projector, cables and an extension cord into a bowling alley will get you some funny looks.  Accidentally shining the projected image onto the lanes (distracting the other bowlers) will get you yelled at.

Anyway, my friend was able to show me how to adjust the height of the projector and the zoom of the lens to get the image focused from a good height in such a way that the quality of the image was on par with what I was looking for.  It’s still a little pixellated, but not bad at all.  A higher resolution projector wouldn’t make any difference.

The bad news is that if I want a better image quality, I’ll have to use something other than MapTool.  Now, I love MapTool.  I’m not really interested in using anything else, so that means that I’m willing to accept so-so graphics.  The graphics for the maps themselves are fine – it’s the tokens for the monsters that don’t look great.  I’m probably okay with that in the end, but I will at some point experiment with other graphics options.

I’ve also gotten lots of good feedback from commenters on the blog and people on EN World about my tripod setup and other options.  My bowling pal likes the idea of a tripod, with one leg right under the projector and the other two legs some distance back, resulting in a squat isoceles triangle of legs rather than the equilateral triangle I have now.  However, my next approach will be as follows:

  • Get a 12 inch square piece of pretty heavy wood (maybe 3/4″ thick)
  • Mount a pipe flange onto that piece of wood with screws
  • Screw a length of pipe (maybe 24 inches long) into that flange
  • Put a 90 degree elbow on the top of that pipe
  • Screw a short pipe (maybe 4 inches) onto the elbow, sticking out parallel to the table
  • Screw another flange on another piece of wood onto the end of that short pipe
  • Put a projector mount (perpendicular to the table) on the other side of the piece of wood
  • Put the projector on that mount, aiming downward (and maybe slightly outward, with keystone correction)

This, too, should be pretty inexpensive.  I’ve ordered a projector mount for about $27, and I’m guessing that the pipes, flanges, wood and elbow shouldn’t be more than another $25 or so.  I’ll need to get some good clamps to hold the bottom piece of wood to the table, and maybe some kind of weight to put on that wood as well, but I expect the mounting system all-in to cost less than $75.

Next stop: The hardware store!

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