Help me with Wii + Projector + 18 foot wall = Massive Fun
May 20, 2008 8:34 PM   Subscribe

Help me with Wii + Projector + 18 foot wall = Massive Fun

I'm living in a huge loft this summer that has 18 foot ceilings and a massive white wall. I want to buy a Wii and a projector so that we can play Wii sports in larger than life mode. However, I don't know what I'm doing and I need help buying the right projector. That's where you come in. Tell me what kind of projector/dimensions/Wii-compatibility I'm going to need so that I can project huge images on this wall (let's say 14-15 feet vertically).

Anything else we need to do to make the Wii and projector play nice?

I promise to make a video and link it to this page once the project is complete.

posted by jrholt to Technology (16 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
a) I just came in my pants

b) a large part of how good this looks will depend upon the ambient light level in your loft. The lower the better. So a good blackout is essential, especially if you intend to play during the day.

c) a big image demands a big sound system so don't neglect the audio. In fact, great audio may be more important for immersion than great video.
posted by unSane at 8:42 PM on May 20, 2008

The biggest factor is how far away from this giant wall you can place the projector, and what the projector's throw distance is for the size image that you want. Canon has a nice throw distance calculator that will help you figure out how big an image each model will get for a given distance from the wall, but you probably don't want a canon project as they're not big on the low end. But that calculator can give you an idea of what you're working with. Lens is a big part of the cost of a projector and cheap projectors usually have shitty throw. Here is a more flexible but less clear calculator that includes more low-end projectors, but I can't vouch for those guys as a seller.

As for the wii, you don't have a lot to worry about; wii's work great with projectors. The only catch is that if you're standing far away the standard sensor bar (and the resulting pointing range of the wiimote) may be too small for easy pointing. But that's okay, because you can make your own sensor bar super easily, and even have the two ends loose so that you can adjust them to find the optimal distance.

Have fun, and don't forget that you can adjust the sensitivity of the wii remote for pointing in the wii settings if the tracking is flakey.
posted by ulotrichous at 8:51 PM on May 20, 2008

Anything else we need to do to make the Wii and projector play nice?

It's not a terribly big deal, but you're going to have to find a place for the IR sensor that you normally plunk on top of the TV.

Also, I think projecting a huge image (larger than life) will require a huge distance between the projector and the wall, plus an extremely bright projector. I'm not sure how realistic this goal is.

As usual, there are plenty of interesting Google results to sift through.
posted by knave at 8:54 PM on May 20, 2008

I should have anticipated the "throw distance" request. In response, I got out a tape measure and it's 37 feet from wall to wall, so I can realistically place the projector 36 feet away from the wall. According to the throw distance calculator (thanks ulotrichous!!), it looks like we have enough floor space to project an image to cover the wall.

Knave: How bright do you think the project needs to be?
posted by jrholt at 9:01 PM on May 20, 2008

As it happens, a few years ago I realized that a projector and screen was, inch for inch, a mere fraction of the cost of a regular TV. The setup I've got in my home today would cost about $1200 if I went out and bought everything from scratch again, and I have a 120" diagonal screen. Things I've learned:

1. Figure out the lighting issues regarding windows, skylights etc. Otherwise you won't be doing anything with it in the day. You don't have to block ALL light, especially with todays ridiculously high lumen projectors (mine is a BenQ 620P that puts out 2200 lumens but I have it on eco mode, so it's only about 75% as bright as that), but you do want it to be on the decidedly dim side on the wall where the screen will be.

2. I have a Wii. My single biggest issue with setting it up was the sensor bar. I eventually went out and bought one of those wireless, battery powered sensor bars instead and just mounted it on the bottom of my screen.

3. Sound system is important, but also if you have multiple things to plug into it, you will have to put some thought into how you switch the various inputs around. The "system" I have right now has possible input from my MythTV box (XGA res VGA signal), an Xbox 360, PS2 and Wii. There are 3 different VGA cables hanging down the pillar next to my sound system, one for the Myth box, one for the Xbox and one for the Wii/PS2 which share a component out to VGA cord, switching of which happens inside my sound system.

4. Mounting the projector: You will either want to splash out a fair amount of money on a "real" mount instead of one of the $35 ebay dealies, or you will have to come up with something yourself. I say this because the cheap mounts are nearly impossible to make fine adjustments with. Myself, I made my own by installing a shelf on the wall, and then building a frame for the projector to sit upside down in, with fine adjustment screws on all four corners. This way I can adjust it millimeter by millimeter.

5. Screen. You can start out with just shooting it at the wall, but you may eventually decide that the imperfections on the wall are irking you, and want to get a screen. An 18' screen is probably going to be extremely expensive, but before I went to a full on "professional" screen, I sanded my wall smooth, and then painted it flat white, and put a grey border around where the projector image went, and that was satisfactory for some time.

6. Projector. You have 2 main options here. Either a DLP based one, or an LCD based one. Most projectors these days are DLP based. DLP based projectors tend to be less expensive, have MUCH higher contrast, but can also suffer from the "rainbow effect", particularily the first few generations of them. As the color wheels get faster, this is less of a problem, but it's also highly subjective so you won't really know if it will bug you until you try watching something fast moving on the screen in person. Best to try out whatever projector you're going to buy at an AV store first if they have a demo model set up so you can gauge this for yourself. The LCD projectors do not suffer from rainbow effect, but have less contrast, less brightness for the same buck, and tend to be more expensive overall. I've used Toshiba, Dell and BenQ projectors and I find all of them to be pretty good. Projector Central is your friend when you're sitting down to decide which specific model you are interested in.

Overall, I'd have to say for me I am never going back to a regular TV. I've got more for less money, but it did take a bit of work to get it all going, so be prepared to put a few hours in setting up and tweaking.
posted by barc0001 at 9:10 PM on May 20, 2008 [4 favorites]

Seeing your throw distance followup, at that distance and size you'll want to get as many lumens as you can get your hands on. Certainly nothing less than 3000. Alternatively, if you adjust your expectations and go for "only" a 10' - 12' wide screen, a 2500 lumen model would do fine, and if you sit about 10' away from such a screen, it will pretty much fill your field of vision anyway. My couch is about 7' away from my screen and if I was any closer I'd probably start shifting my head around to watch different sides of the screen.

Also, make allowances for wherever you mount the projector that you've got to run cables and power to it, obviously. ;)
posted by barc0001 at 9:14 PM on May 20, 2008

According to this if you go with a 15' 4:3 screen, you'll want around 6000 lumens, if you can make your room dark. With a 15' tall 16:9 image you'll probably need around 8000 or 10k lumens.

I think you probably will be happier with a smaller image. The wii doesn't even do HD so at 15' images you'll have pixels the size of legos*. You'll probably do better to get a nice screen (say, 100" diagonal) and not HAVE to sit on the other side of the room to fit the whole picture in your view. A screen will improve brightness, contrast, and color quality.

* your pixels will be (15 feet) / 480 = 0.375 which is how tall a 1x1 lego brick is on it's biggest dimension.
posted by aubilenon at 9:36 PM on May 20, 2008

sorry, that's a 15' tall 4:3 screen, not 15' diagonal.
posted by aubilenon at 9:37 PM on May 20, 2008

I have a Wii

I have an HD projector (a Mitsubishi HD1000u) with the Wii hooked up to it via component cables and it displays on a 100" screen in my living room.

One thing you will for sure need is a wireless Wii sensor bar, you can get one at any Gamestop, etc. They're battery powered.

Anyway, for your projector questions, you really need to check out this site. Especially the forums there. It's what I've used to guide my purchases for my last two HD projectors.

Send me a mefi mail if you have any questions specific to my setup.

I am not affiliated with any of the companies or links posted here.
posted by xotis at 9:47 PM on May 20, 2008

you'll probably need around 8000 or 10k lumens

Just like to point out that even though this would give a very nice picture, but probably only slightly clearer in daylight, 10k is very, very bright for a simple home set up. I'd work on making the room darker and go for around 3000 lumens, for price's sake. Also, you should have a look at a calculator such as this (there are tons if you google it) to make sure you don't make the image too big.
posted by ddaavviidd at 9:53 PM on May 20, 2008

ddaavviidd: yes, but having a 300" diagonal is also very, very large for a "simple home set up". Lumens required increases with the square of the diagonal.
posted by aubilenon at 10:17 PM on May 20, 2008

The techheads above have the projector covered. Here's a Wii consideration:
Your sensor bar needs to be under the image, but you need your Wii to be near your projector. It only extends six or ten feet. Solution: a wireless sensor bar. I bought this for my girlfriend a while ago and it's worked beautifully.
posted by svolix at 11:45 PM on May 20, 2008

My friend has a much more modest setup -- it's a Wii with an old-ish LCD projector going across a normal-sized room onto a screen probably something like 100" wide. It works great! So just so you know, it isn't necessary to have a gigantic 18" screen to have fun with it, if it's looking toget expensive.
posted by Drexen at 4:22 AM on May 21, 2008

About the sensor bar that everyone is talking about, here is a site on how to make a sensor bar using candles. Because basically the sensor bar is just a few LEDs that the Wii Remote uses to figure out what direction it is pointing in. That would make it easier to make a larger sensor bar, and therefore better control.
posted by Deflagro at 8:52 AM on May 21, 2008

Absolutely buy the component cables and output 480p. Its going to look pretty bad at 480i with the cable it comes with. Heck, it wont look great, but you can probably get a decent image if you stick to around a ten foot or less image. The comp cable can be gotten on the cheap if you dont get the nintendo brand.
posted by damn dirty ape at 10:09 AM on May 21, 2008

I tried the sensor-bar candle thing. Doesn't work nearly as well as you'd hope at a distance. Which is too bad because if it did work, I could have candles on top of my speakers at the perfect height on either side of my projector screen....
posted by barc0001 at 10:35 AM on May 21, 2008

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