My   LCD Boom
finally installed over spare bed

got around to installing my experimental TV setup in my spare bedroom. I postponed it because I was forced ;o) to buy a new Sony 50" Grand Wega LCD rear projection TV for my living room when the old (14 years) 35" RCA Home Theater finally breathed its last on December 20th. This obviated the need for a close-up and personal LCD setup in the bedroom with which to see DVD movies in the "Grand Fashion".

We hope to pay off the new one within a year and I am more than happy with it. I watched the Super Bowl in high def ... yeah!

On to the setup ...

I tried to make several designs with black pipe and PVC parts. Some actually worked but I rejected them anyway as being over-built or prone to other everyday-use problems. Here are some rejects.

lcdfail1.jpg - 11kb This thing worked ... finally ... after I tried different ways of setting it up. The big problem with this is that it will twist out of alignment if the mounted LCD can move to a lower point by twisting. It wouldn't matter how much you tightened it ... it would still come loose and shift unless it was actually welded into position ... something I decided not to do because of cost and complication. What can go wrong is not immediately obvious till you put some weight on it and then it's ... "Oh yeah, why didn't I think of that before I put it together?".

I put a bicycle handlebar cover on the lower piece so as to extend easily ... but my grandkids wanted it for a bazooka/anti-aircraft gun. There's a fortune waiting for someone in pipe/PVC toy gun manufacturing. Just think of all the weapons in video games. Buy a set of building-block-pipes and design your own anti-alien weaponry ... install a couple check valves and it's freakin' ping-pong ball city.

Here's another problem child.

lcdfail2.jpg - 20kb

This is what I actually wanted ... a jointed boom that would go anywhere I wanted it to go easily. However, you see the problem if it's not to be welded. There is no reasonable way to correct this except by using the "woodpile effect" by which I mean ... you make the thing so redundant, heavy and strong that it can't move anyway at all. In fact, I did exactly that in one incarnation with more pipes and it probably would have been OK but it was definitely overbuilt for a simple experiment so I dismantled it and designed another.

What I settled for ...

lcdboomx.jpg - 27kb

Yup, just the straight-up boom. To one side or the other. This is OK for an experimental design because you can pup just about where you want (in the middle) and if you're too far away ... just put another pillow behind you. I changed the attachment pipe for a longer one as a height adjustment. It works. My grandkids came over and I put on a movie and they fell asleep watching it. I just turned it off and closed the door.

A six foot piece of wire shelving was used under the boom to put DVD player on with the Viewsonic TV-to-monitor adapter and a rabbit ear antenna for regular TV reception. It works ... it does what I wanted ... not as well as I would have liked because it's just toooooo dammmmmm cheap.

lcdboomq.jpg - 22kb One thing that's definitely needed is a wire management system. They should go into the boom and not be seen again. A professional system would have speakers mounted on the shelf above the viewers head w/ optional headphones and maybe an overhead subwoofer. They needn't be excessively "watted" because you're only about two feet away from them. You probably wouldn't ever use the headphones because of this.

And ... wouldn't ya know ... the brightness control failed on this monitor so I can only adjust by way of contrast ... so ... all the details are washed out in the blacks. It's OK for the kids but I'm now a connoisseur with my Sony Grand Wega in the living room. I wouldn't have done this in the first place ... if ... I knew I was going to go large screen, facilitated by plastic (credit card).

I didn't manage to catch the studs either. There appears to be at least 2 inches of sheetrock on that wall 'cause my drill bit never spit wood. However, I used 2 inch lag screws and the maximum amount of pulling out force is about 60 pounds on the top of the attachment ... and that's distributed over multiple screws ... and you'd never need more strength even with a bigger screen. It's just not a major design problem. Of course, a professional design would be mounted into the studs.

Another thing I did wrong was mount the shelf too close to the boom. Now, it's not high enough to accomodate my old VCR which I've moved there because I've got a hard drive to record for my new Sony.

Also, I don't recommend using a computer monitor for this purpose because the angle within which viewing is acceptable is too narrow. The LCD TVs are made with a screen that now looks just as good at any angle as do plasma screens. If you don't believe me, go to Best Buy and look down the row of plasmas from an extreme angle ... then so the same at the end of the LCD row. You'll see that this is no longer a problem.

Based on my experience here ...

This is DEFINITELY the way to go in the bedroom. But, you can't make anything that's acceptable on your own. It needs professional design and manufacture. I can't do this because I have no capital. But, when I was strolling through China Outlet a few weeks ago, I realized that any bicycle manufacturer could do this easily with off his shelf parts and designed on their computer by their employees. Take a quick look and see if you agree.

lcdbike1.jpg - 4kb

Notice that a typical bike frame is close to what I'm looking for. It has piping that's more than adequate, bearings for swiveling and a good paint job (not my 94 cent Earl Schieb special. I've seen kids bikes in China Outlet for as little as $29.95 that were adequate for my requirements. Now, strip off the wheels, chain, sprockets, handle bars, fenders, seat, etc. and add a base plate and another hinge section ... and ... contemplate the price drop. See what I mean?

If a cycle manufacturer chose to make this, it would cost him diddly-squat. No advertising would be necessary because all he'd have to do is make it and put it on a web page. No competition here. I looked and looked and found nothing on the web at all for a bedroom LCD boom similar to what I have in mind. And ... what comes closest ... costs on the order of $500. So, if a TV mount manufacturer made what I want, he'd probably charge in the neighborhood of $800 (Yeah, you're reading it right). I figure it could be sold very profitably on the net for something like $39.95. Anyone looking for this would find just one maker. If the other players want in, they'd have to lower ALL their prices across the board, i.e. one bike manufacture could put all TV mount manufacturer's out of business ... overnight ... due to their profligate and abusive overcharging. Even to mount something on the wall [stationary], they want 50 bucks [for a 10 dollar value] in China Outlet. Good grief.

Some necessary improvements ...

I would design with a back plate that attached to the wall over two studs, with four lag screws (two on each stud). It would be maybe 2 feet long so as to reduce the pull-out force on the top screws by reducing the leverage on them.

lcdboomz.gif - 6kb Also, I found that even though my "hinge" is metal to metal, it moves off center by itself due to the inevitable imperfect leveling of the arc drawn out by the boom. To remedy this would require two set screws to correct the "warp" and "whelm" of that arc.

My design failed in the LCD tilt mechanism and I found that no matter how tight I made it, the screen would lower itself. I had to "rig" it (temporarily) with a piece of stick and a chain. Yuck. However, all LCD manufacturers have this problem licked if they have tilt bases. So, it's not a significant problem.

I would expect a professional design to use a 23" 16/9 screen format with externally mounted speakers. In this setup, a remote control is ludicrous. The on screen menu from buttons on the LCD itself should be more accessible. Also, I find the workings of such buttons to be universally inscrutable. They just don't make any intuitive sense so you have to re-learn them everytime you use them. This is bullshit. I MUST have an independent "Select" button ... and an independent "On/Off" menu button ... and ... it would be nice to have a "Previous Channel" button.

I expect that my "ideal system" would run in the neighborhood of $1200 but it would blow you away. Just look in the store at a 23" LCD from about two and a half feet away and see how spectacular it looks. At that distance, it's equivalent to about a 70-90 inch screen on the back bedroom wall. You just have to make sure to get enough resolution for that distance. And, no, you won't get a headache any more than you would get a headache from working on your computer for a couple hours. Just don't stay in bed all day ;o)

I've got a list of bicycle manufacturer's email addresses and I think I may send a few of them an email about this and see what they say. It should be a no-brainer for any of them ... but not Schwinn or any big company because these are incapable of receiving an idea from outside of their own R&D department. If I do so and get a reply, I shall post it here.

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