Box Build Tutorial

If you want to mount your projector securely so you don’t have to constantly watch it, then you will need to build some kind of secure box to protect it from weather and potential thieves. There is certainly more than one way to go about it, but this is a tutorial showing you how I built mine. I project in all kinds of weather, including rain and snow storms and my projector is still going strong. Also I have never had anyone attempt to steal it.

Materials:

  • One 4′ x 8′ sheet of 1/2″ thick plywood
    It doesn’t have to be pretty, just something sturdy

  • Two 8′ lengths of 2 x 2 boards
    Look for ones that are as straight as possible as these are for reinforcement

  • 3 hinges
    Sturdy interior cabinet hings will work best, but you can use exterior hinges also

  • 2 handles
    Make sure these are relatively large and easy to grip because the box is heavy

  • A sturdy latch
    This will allow you to lock up the box and will also keep the door closed

  • 4 rubber feet (furniture feet)
    Not absolutely required, but they help the box sit evenly on hard surfaces and keep it from sliding

  • A supply of 1 1/4″ wood deck screws
    This type won’t rust in the weather and are small enough that you don’t need to pre-drill holes to avoid cracking the wood

  • Door & Window type caulk
    This is to seal the seams to keep water out

  • Exterior house paint
    This will seal and protect the plywood from the weather. Any color will do, but black is probably best to make it unobtrusive.

  • Locks
    For locking the box and securing it in place. I just use a simple combination lock to lock the box closed and a bike chain type lock to secure it in place, but you can use any kind you like

  • Earth Anchor (optional)
    If you don’t have something to secure the box to, then an earth anchor can provide that for you.

Instructions:

The first step is to cut the pieces you will need out of the sheet of plywood. The diagram below illustrates how it should be done and the measurements.
box layout

In addition you need to cut four 32″ lengths from the 2 x 2 boards.

To assemble the box, take one of the side pieces of plywood and screw one of the 32″ 2 x 2s along the 32″ edge of it so that it is flush. Screw another of the 2 x 2s to the other edge. Repeat with the other side piece of plywood. Then screw the back onto the side pieces. When you are done, it should look like the diagram below.
box top view

Next, screw on the bottom piece. Screw into the ends of the 2 x 2s to make it sturdy. The bottom piece should be flush with the sides and back and leave a small lip for under the door.

Before you attach the top piece, it is a good idea to put in your shelf for the projector. It will be easier to reach that way. You may want more than one shelf to hold other components. Use left over pieces of 2 x 2 for the supports and the extra plywood for the shelf itself. It can be as narrow or deep as you want, but the 2 x 2 supports will prevent you from making the shelf as deep as the interior of the box. That is a good thing since you will want air to circulate freely throughout the box. Make sure your shelf is low enough to accomodate the clearance necessary for the tilt your projector will need to aim it properly at your house.

Once your shelf is in, put your projector on it and mark the back of the box where the lens is. Use a hole saw to drill an opening for the lens. I used a 3″ hole saw for mine, but depending on how large your lens is, you may need to make it bigger.

You don’t want to cover the lens hole with glass or plexiglass. You will need the hole open for ventilation and the projector sits far enough inside that precipitation will rarely touch it. It will be very warm inside the box, so the few water droplets that get inside will evaporate very quickly.

At this point it is a good idea to drill a series of smaller holes around the lens hole to facilitate even more ventilation. Projectors run very hot, so even in the winter, your box will need ventilation! A medium sized house fan is an absolute must in the box to keep the air strongly circulating. In the summer, for our 4th of July projection I actually put ice packs in the box to further cool it down. Otherwise it will overheat and shut down.

Next you can screw the top onto the box and also attach the door with the hinges and the latch. Now you have a box!

If you want to install flush mount waterproof speakers into the sides, now is a good time to make the cutouts. A hole saw, Rotozip, or Dremel tool can do that job for you. The size of the cutouts depends on the speakers you want to install.

The next step is to seal all of the seams with caulk. Smooth out the caulk lines and you are ready for paint. After the paint dries you can attach the handles and the rubber feet. Woo Hoo! You are done!

Securing The Box:

As you go through the process of securing the box, keep in mind that the goal is not to make the box impregnable or impossible to steal. That is just not reality. All you are trying to do is make it difficult enough to steal that a thief will think it isn’t worth it. Consider that your projection will likely get a lot of attention on your street and thieves do not like to commit their crimes where they can easily be seen doing it.

Also, we don’t recommend that you leave your projector out all night. Only put it out when you think most people will want to watch it. Most robberies happen in the wee hours of the morning when no one is watching and you will greatly reduce the chance of your projector being stolen if it is not out then.

To begin securing your box, the latch you use should accommodate a lock so only you can get into the box. I use a simple combination lock. The presence of the lock sends a message that you don’t want anyone in there.

But somebody could still come along, grab the box, put it in the back of a truck and drive off. To prevent that, I secure mine in place with a typical bike chain. I use a large metal screw eye, firmly screwed into the base of the box to provide the loop for the chain. Alternately, you could drill holes near the base and loop the chain through there.

If your box is near a street sign or some other object to which you can chain it, then you are good to go. If not, then you will need to do something else. The easiest and most inexpensive solution I have found is to use a permanent earth anchor. An earth anchor is a small metal object with a steel cable attached. You use a long metal drive shaft and a hammer to pound it a few feet underground. Once you have it deep enough, you pull out the shaft and tug on the cable. The shape of the anchor makes it catch against the surrounding earth, holding it firmly in place. Most can literally withstand thousands of pounds of force. The cable has a loop on the end to which you can attach your bike chain or a lock. Earth anchors are often used to secure playground equipment, picnic tables, etc., which makes them great for this kind of application.