How to Set Up Your Own Outdoor Projector Arcade: After spending several nights under the stars this summer reviewing outdoor TVs, the gears in my head started turning. Why not bring a gaming system or computer if I can watch live games and shows outside? I brought some concepts to my dad, a wood flooring expert who often knocks out DIY woodworking projects in his spare time.
Together we designed a multifunctional projector cad (projector arcade)—an all-in-one outdoor entertainment center with a two-player arcade cabinet pedestal top and shelving for the outdoor projector, plus additional equipment such as A laptop or speaker, inside a portable structure on a set of locking wheels.
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At just over 50 pounds, it’s light enough that one person can easily carry it from the living room to the backyard using the built-in side handles or attached wheels. You can play the majority of arcade titles and console video games released into the 21st century using the classic machine’s authentic joystick controls and mechanical buttons.
If you’re not into playing retro games, you can use the projector as a streaming device to watch media from video apps like Netflix or share home movies from your phone to the 120-inch screen. And since the projector I used has two 5-watt midrange tweeters and a 10-watt woofer built-in, the speakers get loud enough to stream Spotify loud day or night. Here’s what you’ll need to make your own.
Choose the right outdoor projector and arcade system.
The Projector Cad consists of two main pillars: a projector for visual display and an arcade for computing power. I chose the BenQ GS50 projector for this setup for two reasons—its high level of performance and ruggedness to brave the elements. The GS50 delivers a crisp picture with a sharp sound, earning it a spot in both our Gadget and Yard & Garden awards.
In addition, it has inputs for multiple sources such as arcade systems or gaming laptops. The GS50 uses an Android TV interface to download all your apps and, using the remote, I could switch to the arcade HDMI input with a tap. Plus, you can save some serious money on this build by buying a more affordable projector. Now for the arcade itself, I went with the AtGames Legends Gamer Pro system you see above.
The Gamer Pro is an arcade system with a streaming pick and a two-player control deck. The brains of the system and its game library are housed inside a small computer chip that connects wirelessly to the control deck. An HDMI cable on the back of this streaming device connects to a projector to display the image.
You navigate and play using a control panel consisting of two joysticks, 16 mechanical action buttons (eight per player), a trackball, and four side flipper buttons for pinball games. The versatility of this control means you can play a variety of titles from Street Fighter to Golden Tee. The legends system can also connect to a gaming laptop or computer to play advanced games using the control deck as an input device. I booted up demanding titles like Soul Calibur VI from my laptop’s Steam library to recreate the arcade feel of a modern game in my backyard.
Woodworking tools and materials
We developed sizing specifications to create a portable arcade pedestal, storage shelf, and back with a single standard 4 x 8 sheet of plywood in mind. Even your local home store will make the cuts for free, which is handy if you don’t have a saw. The dimensions of my plans are above for both time-saving and transportation purposes.
But if you prefer to make your cuts, a circular saw, track saw, or table saw will do the job. I recommend using a jigsaw for curved cuts, but if you don’t have a power tool, a coping saw works. In addition to a saw, you’ll want a brad nailer for assembly, but a hammer with some wood glue and nails also works. The last tool you will need is a drill to install the caster wheels.
I visited my local Lowe’s with a crisp $100 bill and my design plan to buy a full sheet of 3⁄4 CDX plywood for $53.08. He provided the majority of the components for the projector enclosure, from the sides to the shelving. For stability and easy access to the wheels, I grabbed two 18-inch 2 x 4s that my dad had laying around his workshop to widen the bottom.
Speaking of wheels, I bought four of these with 2-inch locking casters with wheel brakes so the whole projector cad can roll easily and still stay in place when mashing buttons. We were then left with two choices — paint the projector enclosure or wrap it. I chose to wrap it with three rolls of this PVC black marble peel-and-stick wrap from Amazon for a sharp look that I wouldn’t have to wait for or bump into another coat. Altogether, the ProjectorCAD platform costs just $99.58.
Constructing the sides of the projector enclosure
To start, we grabbed our 40-inch side panels and made a mark of 1 1⁄8 inches down from the top edge of both sides. On this notch, we used our jigsaw to make a 3-inch deep notch that was 2.5 inches wide to comfortably accommodate the pinball flipper buttons on each side of the control deck.
We then used the curved shape of a decade-old cell phone we found in my father’s workshop as a template for an ergonomic built-in grip. Since the handles were located in the center of the wood, we used a 5⁄8-inch drill bit to make pilot holes and then proceeded to insert jigs to make the round cut. To finish, we lightly sanded each edge and set the two pieces aside.
Adding shelves for projectors, gaming systems, and storage
Next, we had to cut four shelves for this project. The bottom shelf serves as a support base so we cut it to 28.5 inches long, slightly longer than the other three shelves, which we cut to 27 inches. Using this base as a starting point, we attached the two side panels at each end using a brad nailer.
We placed a 27-inch shelf 3 inches below the top of the side panels that span between them to form the frame of the projector enclosure. We chose this 3-inch depth because it is the same as the arcade panel, which can be easily removed even though it is now in the projector enclosure.
Next, we placed the second shelf 14 inches below the top shelf, allowing for airflow to prevent the projector from overheating. Finally, we placed the final shelf 16 inches below the projector shelf to accommodate a large gaming laptop, giving us 4 inches of storage below for controllers and keyboards. With all of our shelves installed, we used a 7⁄8-inch speed drill bit to drill a hole in one corner of each shelf for the wires to pass through.
Finally, we added a 27-inch rail to the top, marking it at the 5 1⁄4 and 10 1⁄2-inch points before cutting it to create a 2-inch-deep rectangular notch for easy access to the arcade system. . rear ports. Just below that rail, we sealed the back with a large 20 1⁄2 x 40-inch piece to stabilize the projector pad during gameplay. Pounding on controllers or getting into combos can be intense in fighting games.
For added stability, we took two 18-inch pieces of 2 x 4 and attached the casters to them using 1 1⁄4-inch wood screws. We centered these long wheel legs on the underside of the side panels to attach them to the overall structure of the projector enclosure. These 2 x 4 sections keep the building from being too heavy and make it easier to reach and lock the casters instead of reaching under the cart.
Design your dream outdoor media center.
The application of the contact paper was the last and most time-consuming step of the entire project. For time constraints we used PVC shelving paper to give the projector cad a quick finish. If you choose high-quality cabinet-grade plywood (about twice the price of the CDX we used), you can stain or paint it to create a unique-looking piece of furniture.
Once it was fully wrapped, we unscrewed the wheels, moved the unit to our white fence, and mounted the arcade system on top. We wrapped up as the sun started to set, so while I brought out the projector and gaming laptop, it was time for my dad and me to indulge in some of our favorite games we used to play together as kids.
My Projector Cad is just a template, so feel free to add modifications as you see fit. Some of my future upgrade plans include 3D printing cup holders, adding chrome trim to match the arcade system, and LED lighting. While it’s pretty functional in its current form as a gaming system and streaming device, you can add more features like a Windows PC Stick and Bluetooth keyboard to make it a portable outdoor PC, or make a mini Can also use additional storage space for – Bar on wheels.
What is a projector used for?
A projector or image projector is an optical device that projects an image (or moving images) onto a surface, usually a projection screen. Most projectors create an image by shining light through a small transparent lens, but some newer types of projectors can project the image directly using a laser.
Why use a projector instead of a TV?
Projectors reflect light. TVs emit light. The reflected light is less stressful and more comfortable. Projectors produce large images. Large images make viewing easier, and less stressful.