A Cat Tree for Spoiled Cats

After picking up our second unappreciative, disdainful ball of fluff, I realized our store-bought cat tree was on its last leg (already being held by several Home Depot L-brackets). I decided I could do better myself and tailor it from kitten size all the way to adult.

Meet Natasha and Isaac:

Natasha and Isaac

After many iterations in Sketchup, I finally decided on a design.

The messy materials, and my tools displaced from another project in the house.
Cat Condo Materials

Cat tree startSo far, so good

Cat tree half done

And the finished product next to the generic one

Cat tree vs store bought

Cat tree done

I made a few other bits with the leftover pieces, and a pair of food bowl platforms to go with it all

Remodeling Woes Greatest Hits Volume I

Just some of the fun things you find remodeling…

A bare ground wire carrying the voltage return

A clump of live wiring in a random hole behind the fridge

Another clump of live wires taped up hiding behind the drywall

Not even sure how this happens…

Mold on the insulation above a bathroom vent

More mold and general water damage only discovered during a heavy downpour

A junction box hidden inside a brick wall

The Difference Material Makes

Continuing from Preliminary Projector Results

Recall the original condition of the projector displayed on a knockdown textured white wall:

First light with The Fifth Element

I finally received some sample screen materials from Da-Lite, specifically the High Power 2.8 Gain and Glass Beaded 2.5 Gain varieties. Putting them up against the wall was an immediate difference (ignoring the white balance):

Da-Lite screen samples on top of white textured wall

Da-Lite screen samples on top of white textured wall

After seeing the difference, I placed an order for a 72″ x 96″ Da Lite 2.8 gain screen. Here are the final results:

DIY Projector results with a 2.8 Gain screen

Not bad for a homemade 720p HD projector!

Preliminary Projector Results

Continuing from A Projector is Born

With a decent bulb in place and an appropriate reflector, I turned on the projector and LCD to see this:

First light with The Fifth Element

Lots of light leaks, a bit dim, perhaps, but a huge Milla Jovovich in crisp HD focus!

Some more pictures, including one for size reference (sorry didn’t have any bananas handy).

First light with Gladiator movie

First light with Team America World Police

Projector size reference

After fixing most of the light leaks:

Wayne's World after fixing light leaks

The Matrix after fixing light leaks

And of course, 100″+ diagonal video game goodness (Quake 3 Arena)! Unfortunately it was impossible to get a good photo, or I was too busy enjoying it to bother.

Quake 3 after fixing light leaks

I was pretty satisfied at this point, but I’d ordered some screen material samples to see if the brightness could be improved.

Continued at The Difference Material Makes.

A Projector is Born

During my daily browsing random nothings, I happened to stumble into this diagram and the idea of a homemade projector.

DIY Projector Sketch

At the now defunct lumenlab.com, one could find dozens of project logs, listing LCD’s used, lamp and reflector design, as well as fresnel and triplet configurations. With a full all-nighter of studying the forums under my belt, I set out to build my own.

I first had to find a monitor to sacrifice. Fortunately I had a native 1280×1024 LCD sitting around (good enough for 720p, I figured). After removing the framing and guts of the LCD, I removed the anti-glare layer on the screen using moist paper towels laid upon it until the adhesion weakened and I was able to peel it off.

Fast forward a few weeks later, I’d assembled most of a working projector, along with a ghetto cooling system and height adjust system.

Projector with ghetto cooling, mount solution

LCD from front

Rear inside projector, improvised light source

With a bulb still on the way, I improvised with a pitifully low lumen lantern to test functionality. Here one can see the inside rear of the projector enclosure. Visible is the bulb socket (connected to a big ballast mounted on the outside rear), the reflector, and a temperature monitor controlling a 120mm exhaust fan to continue running after use until a set temperature is reached. One can also see the fresnel-LCD-fresnel sandwich and LCD control board, as well as a piece of Lexan attached to the rearmost fresnel to serve as a heat shield.

This is the result of the improvised setup viewed from the front of the projector:

It's Alive!

It works! The LCD lives! A view from the front of the box (through the triplet):

What a bad light source looks like through the triplet

I hold on to hope that things will improve with a decent light source.

Continued here: Preliminary Projector Results