Make a 100" Screen for under $100

Evan Powell, May 26, 2006


Color is not the only difference between our makeshift screen and the Grayhawk. The Grayhawk also delivers better contrast and deeper blacks, especially when there is some ambient light in the room. The presence of ambient light is a HUGE factor in the performance of any front projection system. No matter what screen type you use, if you are able to darken your room you will get much better results.

The following test shots were made with some indirect ambient light in the room. There was enough ambient light to make it possible to see everything in the room, but it was not bright enough to read a newspaper. So we are not talking about a "lights on" condition here. It does not take much ambient light to have an impact on image quality. Notice that the richness and depth of the blacks is compromised more on our DIY screen, while the Grayhawk does a better job of holding them solid:

Test shots with no ambient light. You always get better results from a front projection system when it is used in a dark viewing space. Compare the test image immediately below with the one above to see the impact of ambient light. But it is particularly important to get the room as dark as possible when using a white screen, as you can tell from the performance of our DIY screen in these same two images.

The following test shots were made in a completely dark theater space with no ambient light, which is the best case scenario for both the DIY and the Grayhawk. This minimizes the difference in contrast between the two screens and produces maximum black levels. Here, the performance of our DIY screen is quite impressive-not quite as good as the Grayhawk, but surprisingly close:

ProjectorCentral's Quick n' Easy DIY Projection Screen

Our conclusion is this: If you are buying a premium performance projector and want to get the best possible results from it, we still strongly recommend getting a high quality professional projection screen to go with it. However, if you want to minimize the cost of your system and you can manage to keep your viewing space dark, one option is to build a DIY white screen from scratch. The creative energies of the DIY folks out there have produced many DIY solutions. Ours is just one of them, and we don't claim that it is the best anyone has ever invented. But it is cheap--less than $100--it is quick and easy to assemble, and it produces quite satisfying results in a dark viewing environment.