The Roll20 Digital Gaming Projector: Howto Part VI

Last weekend (the second of two back to back long weekends in Quebec) I returned to update everyone on the gaming projector project. As you saw, I had most of the ceiling beams up and in place.

I took a third long weekend (so much for my vacation bank) to spend more time with the family, accomplish some on more work on this project and to help a friend with renovations. Due to a nasty bout of rain, the renovations were delayed, which meant that I celebrated my 100th day of marriage with my wife (instead of renovating at a friends) and finished even more on the beams. As you’ll see in the next photo, the beams are essentially done (thanks to help from my wife on Friday), and the gaming room is cleaned up a little bit. Today (Sunday) I even found my wife’s preferred set of dice while cleaning!

20160710_153352

In this second photo, you get a sense of my new projector and mirror mount. The mounting support is a steel pipe, spray painted with a hammered black finish. I think that it will work just fine once the mirror and projector are tweaked. Until then, the single point of connection that the pipe gives, is a little less stable than the old I-Beam rail design, so the image is a little off.

20160710_153406

Left to do:

  • I need to wire in two more speaker outlets
  • Purchase Speakers and an Amplifier
  • Mount the Speakers
  • Trim the chain on the mirror (it holds it on an angle)
  • Finish the LED strips
  • Finish off the moulding in the rest of the ceiling
  • Photograph the entire setup
  • PLAY ON ROLL20.NET!

The Roll20 Digital Gaming Projector: Howto Part V

Overhead Beams

So it has been nearly a year since my prior entry in this series (Part VI on July 5th, 2015). Since then I’ve begun a few changes in the gaming room, some aesthetic and some for function. Suffice to say, we have moved forward from the version of the projector that you see here.

The Mirror

When we installed the gyproc/sheetrock in this room we only had a vague idea of what we were doing, and frankly we were not too careful. A few years of staring at bad joints drove us to do something about it. From the start I knew that I wanted to have ‘faux beams’ in the room, and that they would cover some of the mistakes. My wife also suggested that we wall paper the ceiling (which we also did in our Front porch), which would further conceal our mistakes.

This resulted in some work in June, 2016. My wife chose the pattern, and then the Brother-In-Law and I put up some wallpaper, which I painted later on. A couple of weeks after that, I built a framework from pine boards (and homemade MDF brackets) that I anchored to the ceiling. You can see what that starts to look like here.

Open Beams

This led to a series of conversations about wiring in speakers, USB, HDMI and several other types of cable, for future proofing. Since I do this frequently for my day job (I work in Technology), it was only a matter of time and budget. Now, on Canada Day weekend, 2016, we made a little headway in between my wife’s return to work from Maternity leave. As you can see in the following picture, most of the wiring has been run (for 7.1 surround sound focused on the gaming table), HDMI for the projector and a new projector mounting system. Entry IV (to come) in this series will cover the wiring in a bit more detail as well as the projector setup.

Overhead Beams

The Roll20 Digital Gaming Projector: Howto Part IV

The Roll20 Digital Gaming Projector: Howto Part IV

Tonight I’m going to briefly discuss the type of PC that you should be using for this.

My criteria came down to the following:

  • Silent or nearly silent as it’s sitting right next to my players.
  • The smaller, the better
  • Portable, or at least portable enough that I can put it away and use the table for other things
  • A reasonable sized screen, as attempting to control the projected map while it is upside down is a pain in the butt
  • Will accept a USB mouse, you may not need one, but I felt that I needed one
  • Enough CPU/RAM and Graphics power to drive Roll20 and whatever else you need (in my case I also play mood music for Airplay/Wifi).
  • A Uni-lingual English keyboard. Again you may not need one, or it may not be an issue for you, but I live in Canada and multilingual keyboards are a pain in the butt.
  • Cheap or free

In the end, here’s what I did:

  • I went with two older and under powered systems.
  • I use Synergy [http://synergy-project.org/] to control both PCs with one keyboard and one mouse.
  • I split my tasks over the two systems, music and the ‘DM view’ on one laptop, with the ‘Player/Projector view’ on the second system.

What I should do:

  • Invest in a Macbook or other quality laptop

 

 

The Roll20 Digital Gaming Projector: Howto Part III

The Roll20 Digital Gaming Projector: Howto Part III

It’s been 21 days since my last update. Since then, the projector has arrived (no thanks to Purolator’s delivery policies), as has the matching remote control that I purchased. With our new baby it took until the afternoon of the 27th for me to find a few hours to assemble a carriage/housing.

Seeing as the ceiling in the gaming room is quite low (6’6″) a traditional projector mount wouldn’t suit my needs. I needed to conceal the wires (as best as I could, hold a power supply, and support a hanging mirror). In the end, I designed  a hollow track system that I could run the wires through, but that would allow me to slide/adjust both the projector and the mirror. Sharing measurements is in my opinion, pointless. I made a few educated guesses about how durable I wanted the design, and selected economical materials from there. I then cut them to the length I needed for my specific setup.

Here is a mock up of the track from an end view:

Projector Track

Most of it is held together with epoxy and finishing nails as I was too impatient to wait for wood glue to properly cure up. All wood/MDF received a coat of “Cream White” spray paint so as to not offend my wife (Cream White was the closest colour to what we had painted the ceiling, and using the word ‘close’ is a stretch).

I did think to take a few pictures as I was mounting the whole affair to the ceiling. I’ll comment on the photos as we walk through them.

The first photo is the track laying on my gaming table. You can see the various cords and cables that it conceals. Four screws (one at each corner) were pre-drilled and prepped for mounting onto the ceiling.

Inside the Track

 

I skipped ahead slightly without photos as I was doing this on my own, but here you can see that the track is mounted to the ceiling, and I’ve slid the projector onto one end of the track. I elected to plug it in and try it just after this photo, before I got too far and realized the cables were unplugged or damaged.

Ceiling Mount

 

Here you can see the wire covers that I cut on an angle so they would hug the wall. The room has a ‘barn’ style roof, so each angle is different.

Wire Covers

 

In this picture you can see the mirror that I am using to bounce/reflect the projected image onto the tabletop. Thanks to the handy track system I was able to fine tune the image by adjusting the distance and angles. This will vary greatly for anyone else doing this. My advice: leave yourself lots of room for adjustment.

The Mirror

 

Finally, we have a test image using Roll20.net and the miniatures of my Pathfinder players.

Testing the Projector with Roll20

The Roll20 Digital Gaming Projector: Howto Part II

The Roll20 Digital Gaming Projector: Howto Part II

Last night in my haste to begin this process, I skipped a few background details. While most of my readers know, maybe some of you aren’t aware that I work in IT (Information Technology). I’ve had to put up more than one conference room projector over the years, and I know a bit about them. A couple of years ago, a co-worker introduced me to the world of short throw projectors and more exotic materials like Vikuiti film. While I won’t be using Vikuiti for this project, I’ve had a chance to experiment with it, and bouncing projected images off of mirrors.

Once the seed of the idea for the project was planted, and I had permission from my wife to proceed (as this isn’t a $50.00 project), I began shopping for a suitable projector.

My criteria were fairly straight forward:

  • Price: less than $200.00 after help from my gaming group
  • The projector needed to be physically small as the ceiling of my gaming room is only 6’6″
  • The “throw” of the image would be less than 6 feet even if I bounce it off of a mirror (to the top of my gaming table)
  •  The projector needs to be fairly quiet and not generate a lot of heat as we will be sitting “right under it”
  • Mountable either upside down,  or pointed downward
  • 1280 by 800 resolution
  • HDMI connection

Some of the elements that worked in my favor:

  • I wired the room that it will be in, so I know what circuits are free
  • I work in IT and I have contacts with various suppliers
  • The lights in the gaming room are dim-able, and broken into three independently controlled sections; two wall scones on each of the far walls, and a line of lights down the 28′ length of the room.
  • The room has only two windows, and we put heavy curtains on each window.

This brought the choice down to two strong contenders:

The EPSON VS335W – http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16824157270CVF

EPSON

The DELL M115HD – http://accessories.dell.com/sna/productdetail.aspx?c=us&cs=19&l=en&sku=210-ablu

dell-m115

From the start, the Dell had several advantages in my mind. It’s smaller, quieter, lighter, and 37% cheaper (thanks to my Corporate Dell rep giving me a discount).  The Epson had one thing that the Dell couldn’t deliver (brighter light/more lumens). While I didn’t discard this, since I can control the light in the gaming room, and I’m only ‘throwing’ the image under 6 feet, it wasn’t much of a concern.

Now, the Dell is on it’s way, and due to arrive before the 15th of June.

 

If you’re curious about Vikuiti Film, check this out. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fFcpg5A8AhQ

 

The Roll20 Digital Gaming Projector: Howto Part I

The Roll20 Digital Gaming Projector: Howto Part I

After considerable debate, my Pathfinder gaming group chipped in with me toward purchasing a projector.

“Why?” you may ask. I present to you the inspiration:  http://projection-mapping.org/dungeons-dragons-projection-mapping/

The plan is to mount it to the ceiling of the gaming room, for projection of gaming maps onto the table that I made last year.

I’ll be attempting to write up the process that this build takes as an informal howto, maybe even with a few photos.

ProjectorScreen