How to Install a Home Cinema Projector

You have finally persuaded your partner, or your bank manager, that a projector and screen would add greatly to your viewing experience, and you have even chosen the projector of your dreams. But you are left with one problem - how to install it?

Talk to many audio visual companies and you may be forgiven if you are left with the feeling that installing this equipment in your home is some form of black art. They make their money out of putting these things up, so it is not in their interest to suggest that it is something you can do yourself. In reality it is a very simple process.

1. The first step is to put up your screen. This may seem like doing the job backwards, but the zoom range on most projectors is more limited than you may expect. If you hope to attach the projector to the ceiling, then use the zoom to give the image size you desire, then you may well be in for a rude awakening. Even if you have worked out the distance the projector should be from the screen to give you the image you want based on distances published by the manufacturer, you may find that they are inaccurate. The small print will warn that the figures could be 10 percent out, but in many cases they are more than that. So put up the screen first.

2. The next step is to plug in the projector and switch it on. Set the zoom to mid point and move the projector to the point in the room where it fills the screen area. It may not seem like a very scientific way of doing things but it works better than any other.

3. Next fit the bracket securely to the ceiling. Bear in mind when you do this that the lens on the projector may not be in the center of the unit and it is the lens that has to be in line with the screen. Some projectors may be able to adjust the image to fit if you have not matched up exactly, but many do not. Even with those that do, there can be a loss of picture quality when using this adjustment.

4. Cables can be fished through the ceiling void, or passed through conduit if you have planned in advance. In the worst case, from an aesthetic point of view, they can pass through surface mounted trunking. Whichever way you do it, to avoid interference try to avoid running them alongside power cables wherever possible. A tip worth bearing in mind is not to just run the one you think you need. If the projector has inputs for several sources - composite, component, SVideo - then it is worth considering putting them all in. They add very little to the cost and give you options at a later date. "Better looking at it than looking for it" is a common expression heard from audio visual installers. An absolute on your "don't forget" list is to test them before you put them in. Cables can be faulty and it is better to find out beforehand than after they have been plastered into the ceiling.

5. Lastly, attach the projector to the bracket and plug in the cables. Be sure to check that any filter on the projector is clear, as they do need adequate ventilation to keep cool, and avoid tight bends in the cabling. The cable may look substantial but the wires inside can easily be broken if stressed.

That done, all that remains is to choose a DVD and invite your friends over.