Most important thing in making a outdoor theater is the projector these can be expensive but since this is on the CHEAP. I went with a model that was CHEAP! but also has a decent enough picture quality and large enough projection size up to 150″ to be enjoyable.
150″= 12.5′ x 6.1′ that shit is huge and this posting makes is HUGELY CHEAP!!!
And it also handles HD as well 720 or 1080i or p. That is at a minimum you will want an HD projector these days the prices are at a excellent point for HD models. UltraHD /4k Projectors are very expensive.
The model I went with was a Walmart special can be bought online at the normal retailers like Amazon or Newegg.
The RCA RPJ116 LED Projector 30″ to 150″ 1080i
Supports 1080p (as well as 1080i, 720p, 576i, 480p, and 480i)
|Manufacturer Part Number
|Assembled Product Weight
|Assembled Product Dimensions (L x W x H)
3.86 x 12.01 x 7.87 Inches
This was on sale for $89 we had a discount and got it for $82 but I did see they are selling refurbished models for $48.37 can go this route if your looking to go UBER CHEAP!!
And free shipping too.
You don’t have to get the same one I did shop about see if there si something better in same price range or a little more.
The next thing you will need is a screen to watch it on in the place you decide is large enough to put up the screen and allow 10 or more people to sit about lounging watching your CHEAP!! outdoor theater.
Don’t be a dunce make sure your placing your UBER CHEAP screen where there is no street lights beaming on it. Because more light will really lessen the effect of your CHEAP Theater.
Also decide if you want one you can pull down easily or if it’s just fine becoming a backyard ornament.
There are screens you can make with wood and paint the plywood white and project to that. There are also Blow up screens available. These you will not find on the CHEAP!!
I went with good ole Ebay for my screen shopping and decided on building a frame for it. Frame equals less wood, less wood equals CHEAP!
Name it went by on listing 16:9 150” Portable 3D Manual Hanging Projector Screen Home Video Projection US paid $47 for it that included shipping SUPER CHEAP!!
It’s now selling for $49.99 or make offer. Don’t think he will go lower than $47 I tried $45 ended up countering at $47 and change.
The frame is something you will have to look at even after you pull the screen from it when your finished watching movies outside.
You can use house paint you have around the house or even spray paint you may have laying about.
To keep this on the CHEAP you don’t want to spend any extra on paint so settle for a color you can live with that you already have in your garage or shed.
Or if you don’t hit up Dollar General they sell spray paint the CHEAPEST! at $2.47 a can you can’t beat it keep in mind since DG paint is so damn CHEAP! it’s runny and may require an extra layer of spray.
Or you can do Walmart and pay $3.67 a can and not have a runny CHEAP can of paint that requires 2 coats.
CHEAP is good but if that CHEAP is gonna cost ya in the end avoid it.
Skill Saw “If you don’t own one use a saw or even better get a friend to bring his Skill saw. Act like you don’t know how to use it. Have him cut the wood for you CHEAP!!”
The wood I used 2×4’s for the frame it is to be treated for outdoors.
Since I went with 150″ screen it required 4-10ft 2×4’s 2-12ft 2×4’s.
I realize that the screen is 12.5 ft but the wood lays flat so it gives you an extra 7″ which is needed for the black boarder around the screen.
You will want your screen to mount as tightly as possible to remove any wrinkles in the white projection area.
Wood is weather shielded
12ft 2×4= $8.47 x2= $16.94
10ft 2×4= $6.88 x4= $27.52
Wood is weather shielded
12ft 2×4= $8.22 x2= $16.44
10ft 2×4= $6.67 x4= $26.68
As you can see the prices are close but if your wanting CHEAPEST LOWES WINS!!
Remember to measure everything even your screen before cutting your wood to spec.
You will need to get curved braces for both sides of the frame they cost $2 each at Home Depot
Will also need 2-4 straight braces for the Braces you’ll place behind the frame these cost about $2.50 each. Don’t want wind blowing down your new Theater do you?
The 10ft 2×4’s are used for the Screen and will be dug into ground 2ft after frame is completed.
Here is what it should look like after you have completed the frame and put into the ground.
Remember the sizes of wood I used were if you were building a 150″ screen frame if larger or smaller you would possibly have to buy different sizes.
The 10Ft 2x4s go 2ft into the ground and the other 2 10ft 2×4’s are behind the screen bracing it from weather like wind.
The braces are not buried into the ground and since I put it closely to our house I will use 2- loop hooks to mount a chain to the frame and to the house to brace it as well this will ensure it’s safe from wind both directions.
On the back I use a tarp that is partially reflective “Black or dark Blue” this is to trap any light that escapes from behind the screen when projecting a movie from the front.
Note: Use 2 tarps make sure they over lap in the center this will allow wind to pass through and keep it from ripping even on light winds. And use 2 rope in an X pattern behind the tarps this will hold the tarps and not allow them to just blow as far back will brace the tarp somewhat. Take a look at the picture of the frame and tarp from behind you will see the X pattern from the ropes bracing the tarps .
You can choose to paint your frame before the bury or after it really doesn’t matter since the wood is weather proof and will last some time.
I later painted my frame Black and mounted my miller Light bottle Lights around the frame and built a small stand that goes under the frame for sound system.
This brings us to a sound system.
You can opt to skip this step completely and just use the sound that comes from the RCA projector.
While it’s sound is decent. When outside with talking and other night time sounds this probably won’t be enough.
You can use spare PC speakers that you have on it or you can use a sound bar or a receiver with Speakers it’s up to you and what your willing to spend on this venture.
Since I went a bit off the CHEAP here I still didn’t pay all that much for the sound system.
I already owned a pair of outdoor speakers which I mounted to the side of the frame.
I did have a few spare receivers but were being used by other setups or my son.
And also had a spare Blu-ray player that was never being used. If you only have a spare DVD player use that as well also keep in mind the RCA projector has a USB port that you can watch movies from using a USB thumb drive Divx and other formats are supported this way.
Which left me in need of a receiver since this is outside I do not need surround sound I just need raw sound in stereo.
Which first should be looked for locally in thrift shops or local Goodwill if you can’t find a decent working one there try pawn shops and then lastly go to Ebay.
I found an old Kenwood 103AR Receiver 50 watts per channel and handles 4 channels.
got this on Ebay for $40 free shipping not as cheap as my Garage Pioneer I got for $20 but $40 is still CHEAP!!
There are many things you can do for seating lawn chairs blankets or can even build your own it’s up to you it’s your backyard theater you can change or make this how ever you like.
Popcorn and treats are a must as well everyone likes that stuff and if your 21 or older pack those coolers with BEER! Just NOT CHEAP BEER YOU’LL SHIT YOUR PANTS IN THE AM.
In all seriousness in total this project only ended up costing me $263.82 Included Projector, screen, wood, paint, brackets, sound system,25ft hdmi cable from Amazon $7.
Nails and screws I already had so these will cost you another $10-$20 for big boxes can use the leftovers on some seating or stands your going to build for your outdoor theater.
Note: The math for total spent is give a few bucks take a few bucks but it is under $300.
Since this isn’t a top of the line projector you will only want to start watching at dark.
The picture quality is really good for the price range I was completely impressed by how good the quality I was getting on a almost 13 foot screen. I expected so little that when I saw it I was surprised. That isn’t a bad thing it really does get good quality and is LED based 50,000 hour use that is a lifetime for us. We don’t watch TV outside every night.
And everyone that came and joined us that night neighbors and all loved it.
Here it is finished painted with lights on but haven’t started movie yet. You can see the bench I built with some spare wood for the Receiver and Bluray player.
To those that are willing to try and do it. I had a great time building and getting this together more so than watching movies after.
And my kids like it as well which brings me more joy than the project it self. My kids range from 20’s to 17 so if you have younger kids this thing will look like a house to them. And get plenty of family nights in the fresh air.
I am debating on building a platform bleacher type seating using pallets.
This is a challenge for another day or maybe year who knows maybe this week?
If you have done this please feel free to post a link to in in the messages.
Forgotten item where to place your projector.
I use a old tri-pod that we had packed away and placed boards on the ground to keep it some what level even though I can adjust that with the tri-pod.
Would rather make small adjustments to height each leg than major adjustments.
You’ll want the projector on a stable table or tri-pod to ensure it doesn’t hit the ground. I hear it’s pretty tough from reviews heard it can take a bit of a beating. But I’m not willing to give that a try.
So you’ll need a small table that is at least 3-4ft off the ground a tripod you can adjust height I felt this was an easier path 1st time I used it was on a chair with a few books it was a mess.
The projector I use the RCA is about 14-16feet away from the screen to project a 150″ image. The smaller the screen the closer it will be and better quality as well.
For best image quality on the RCA I’d say 100″-120″ is the sweet spot 150″ still looks really good though.
Every projector is different and remember brighter the Lumens doesn’t always mean better every brand uses different technology so keep that in mind when shopping and read plenty of reviews from people that actually own it.
Especially on the cheaper projectors brighter can mean less contrast less contrast means less detail.
Settings I use that seem best at 150″ after dark.
Brightness 40 “setting this to high will get a brighter picture but much less detail”
Sharpness 40-60 “Turning lens is not same but is used for focusing and will effect sharpness”
On Televisions I prefer Cool setting for temperature but I find Warm to be best on this projector.
Seems to me the projector pushes blues while LCD or OLED push red more so than Blues. This is why Temp setting is best warm.
Mess with these settings to get the best picture quality you can harness out of it.