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How and Why To Build a Hush Box For Your Projector Print E-mail
Sunday, 01 February 2004
Article Index
How and Why To Build a Hush Box For Your Projector
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Repositioning my projector was a much bigger problem. I had designed the room with a sidewall to hide a big post and to allow for a side channel speaker, a wall sconce and (some day) art work. Now the partial sidewall was right behind the listening position and blocking possible locations for the projector. I needed to do some research on the maximum throw distance for my D-ILA projector, and subsequently reached the conclusion that I was best served by mounting the projector almost directly above my head when sitting in the “hot spot” of the theater. The best solution I could come up with for the room was to make an open bookcase that would be adjacent to the partial sidewall I had created to separate the theater and the dining room. The open element of the bookcase would allow for the rooms to feel somewhat open and would give me room for the projector.

My initial plan was flawed on many levels. As soon as I got my projector back from another performance improvement (a new bulb and killer software improvements) from video guru William Phelps, my contractor and I tested it poised on its feet on the top shelf of the new bookcase. First off, the fan was unacceptably loud when compared to my last installation, but this was far from my biggest problem. Because of the positioning of the screen towards the right side of the room and the unit’s large size (a leftover 100-inch 4:3 model from my last theater), I needed to push my projector about as far to the right as it would go in the new bookcase. While this left plenty of room for the seemingly military spec connections from my Transparent cables, it also pushed the projector very close to the sidewall of the bookcase, so that the exhaust fan wasn’t getting the clearance it would have had the projector been centered in the box. Worse yet was the fact that the intake fan on the top of the projector was also positioned very close to the drywall of the ceiling. These factors caused a choking effect, due to an insufficient supply of cool air available to the projector. This was not a good thing.

Digital projectors don’t do well when they fail. An old CRT can need a service call when it goes bad, but a D-ILA or DLP can really melt down, especially if it gets too hot. Much like a good high-end power amplifier, most digital projectors will literally shut down (or off) before they get too hot. While this protects your investment, it can ruin a screening of a movie or a live sporting event being broadcast in HDTV. Upon hearing of the dire situation, my contractor got creative with a solution that literally poked a hole in the ceiling (i.e., the roof of my house) and installed a fan that would suck heat from the projector box to the great outdoors. Another fan, for pushing cooler air from the room silently from the bottom of the box to the top and then outside, was placed below the projector on the bottom shelf of what would ultimately become the hush box.

My contractor Bill Conte, who frequently works on projects for Beverly Hills audio/video design firm Simply Home Entertainment, made a run to Home Depot for parts, while I headed across town to the “depot of pro audio” known as Pacific Radio located on La Brea Boulevard in Hollywood. What I found at “Pac Rad” was a pair of low-wattage, 120-volt whisper fans that would plug right into the electrical “J Box” that was connected to my projector. These fans are studio grade and very quiet – far quieter than the D-ILA projector. After cutting a six-inch hole in my drywall above the projector and installing a bit of tube from it that you might use as part of a clothes dryer, Conte lit a match and sampled the power of just one of the whisper fans. It sucked the smoke out of the roof vent like a Hoover. Actually, it was quieter than a Hoover. It was more like a Miele.


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