The projector: The Giant Auditorium BARCO

If you thought the Sony CRT projector was a monster, then you've never seen a Barco 3 LCD theater projector. This monster was sitting in the entryway of the local movie theater in Potsdam when I first moved in, and I said "hey- Is that garbage?" to which the owners said "Yeah, we bought it used and couldn't get it to work".

Well, as an engineer with a love of big old projection gear, I hauled this giant into my apartment, with no idea where it would end up.

Meet the Barco LCD Projector. I'm not even sure it's model number any more, but when I picked it up and hauled all 150 lbs of this monster into my apartment, it came with a lens and a CD full of documentation. The report from the original owners was that the lamp wouldn't stay lit, and that the lens didn't focus correctly.

After sitting on the floor in my apartment for like 18 months, some friends finally suggested I haul it into the Old Snell Auditorium at Clarkson to see if we could get it going. Much hauling and cursing, and we had this thing in the balcony. The lamp igniter seemed to be operational, but the thing wouldn't stay illuminated once it had struck. Eventually this was traced down to a little adapter board with some cold solder joints, as illustrated at left.

I enjoy the kinds of problems which are easy to find and easy to fix. The cold solder joints were found by probing around with one of my high-tech tools (a retractable pencil eraser I keep around for cleaning contacts and this sort of probing). Five minutes later, the solder joint is fixed and the lamp stays struck.

As for the focus problem, I'm not sure where they had installed the projector, but the lens that came with the thing was only good for about a 20' throw. Here's Matt Krass and some other movie-night regulars celebrating a succesful movie in the auditorium. Note the jackets and hats. The auditorium space isn't heated very generously, so gets quite chilly during those Potsdam winters.

Behold: The Big Screen. It's hard to see scale in this picture, but the Old Snell Auditorium has a roll-down screen which is something like 22 feet across. After applying a good helping of twiddling to the Barco's 20-odd alignment screws, and mounting the projector on a custom wooden chair straddle, the Clarkson Theater Group got ahold of a big projector that can fill their screen with a pretty good looking image.