My Backyard Drive-In Theater

This is my backyard drive-in screen.

The frame is made of pieces of pipe left over from a chain link fence project. The screen material is a vinyl billboard turned back side out. The screen is 12 feet wide and 12 feet high.

The projector is a Hitachi CP445 that I picked up on eBay. It is commercial quality and can throw a picture up to 300 inches diagonally. It originally cost $8,000. The tripod it is sitting on was for a large video camera and I picked it up at a local resale shop for $20.

The drive-in speakers are from my large collection. The ones I used this evening are from my "Celebrate the 4th of July" Red, White, and Blue collection. They are connected to a commercial public address amplifier which is connected to the DVD player and are also connected to a 24 volt transformer which powers the internal lamp and lights the lens and the pole, just like in the original drive-ins.

This is a second pass at mounting the vinyl on the frame.

The vinyl has a pocket around all four edges and they normally run a rope through it to tie it to the billboard.

They sometimes make cuts to anchor it so that is why you see notches in the bottom seam.

After it has been out in the sun for a while, the wrinkles drop out and you have a flat, white surface that the movie shows up on well.

This is a shot of the back side showing how the vinyl is held on the frame.

I slipped a ten foot length of 1/2 inch conduit in the side pockets and wrapped the vinyl around the frame. The two pieces of conduit are pulled together on the back using bungee cords.

There is a piece of 12 foot long aluminum rod threaded through the top pocket and hanging from eye bolts in the top rail.

The center vertical is to prevent the top bar from sagging under the weight of the vinyl.

This is a shot of the frame without the vinyl billboard covering.

It's assembled using common fence fittings from the home improvement store.

The whole thing could be taken apart or put together in about a half hour.

This is a shot of the back side showing the bottom of the frame.

The metal pieces sitting on it are actually the bases of an original 65 foot tall, 70 foot wide commercial drive-in screen. They weigh about 100 pounds each and help keep the screen anchored during light winds.

There are eye bolts near the top where you can run straps to anchors in the ground if the wind is stronger or you intend to leave the screen standing for any length of time.

I usually just flip it over so the top is laying on the ground when it is not being used.

I'll try to add some night shots the next time I am watching a movie.

This is another screen that I own. It is an Open-Air Cinema Elite 20 foot by 17 foot inflatable screen.

It is being used by a local group that does a drive-in event many times between February and November. Check their Facebook> page for dates and times.

Unfortunately it is too big to set up in my backyard. It takes up a space about 26 feet wide, 6 feet deep, and 21 feet high when it is inflated. For perspective, the pickup is actually about 50 feet from the screen. We set a projector on the roof of the pickup to test the picture quality that evening.

Here's a link to another related page, powder coat finishing speakers and junction boxes.