Pattern/Plan Projector

A collapsible table projection system for tracing and cutting patterns and plans

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I often need to trace or cut out patterns. The common method of printing it in separate pages, cutting and taping it all together is time consuming, and doesn't always align right. This setup creates a digital projection on a table top. Simply pulling up the image and scaling correctly, then it can be traced or cut out directly. This was put together for sewing patterns and RC plane plans and done using only parts I had on hand.

I've wanted to do this project for some time, but a long winter break during quarantine gave me a good excuse to do it.  Using parts and hardware I had on hand, mostly scavenged, I was able to finish in a couple days.  Most of the effort was making the mounting brackets, support and adjustments.

There is a lot of great information about pattern projection systems in the Projectors For Sewing Facebook group. (please keep in mind this group is for people who sew while deciding if it's appropriate for you)  The pinned post has several very helpful documents and tips, including the calibration files and tools for assembling multi page patterns into one.


I had a couple Epson PowerLite 830p (EMP-830) projectors stored that I salvaged from the trash.  They'd been discarded as they were quite old, the bulb was no longer available(at that time) and the rooms had new projectors installed.  The ones I have have 2000 and 2500 hours, out of a 3000hr lifetime, though these hours are all at low intensity, so they should last longer.  Regardless, these bulbs are now available online.

You need a projector with square pixels(or adjustments that can force it), reasonable resolution and cabling to connect to a computer.   Brighter is better so you don't have to work in the dark, and wider angle permits a larger image.  This one is 3000 lumen 1024x768 resolution, which is sufficient.  This has higher end configuration options, including corner mode keystone(more flexible than simple H/V keystone).  This brightness and throw means it is plenty bright enough to use on light colored material even with the full room lights on.  On darker material, some of the room lights need to be turned off.

See Projector and Mount project log for more details.


Unless you have a very wide angle projector, you will need a mirror, ideally first surface.  You can use a bathroom mirror, though the image will be blurred in one direction.  I'm repurposing a mylar mirror out of an old rear projection TV.  You can purchase these for much less money than a first surface glass mirror, and they are much lighter and safer that hanging a large glass mirror overhead.

My mirror has a very slight bow in the frame along the long edge, which I adjusted out with a clamping screw.  This is another advantage and disadvantage of a mylar mirror, the frame can bend more easily, which permits perfecting the image, though a glass mirror may get away without this.  Mine is trapezoidal due to it's original purpose.  The actually used surface of the mirror is a trapezoid, though this mirror is much wider as it was from a 3 tube rear projection tv instead of a DLP.  You can easily use a rectangular one.

See Mirror and Mount project log for more details.

Projector Mount

I already had a slim projector mount, though it's hole pattern was not the same as this projector.  I used some scrap metal to make an adapter.  As this is an offset image type projector, I needed the projector as close to the ceiling as possible, making this style better than most of the ones easily available.  This style allows it to be mounted to the ceiling, and the projector side can simply be hooked on and tightened down.  This allows me to take it off if I want.  I repainted the ceiling side of the mount white to match the ceiling.

See Projector and Mount project log for more details.

Mirror Mount

They mylar  mirror I had only has mounts on one side as the other originally fit in a channel in the tv.  I made up a couple brackets which spanned the back side and clamped on.  This was based on some 1 by 1/2 inch aluminum box tube I had around.  I mounted further hardware onto this, connecting everything with tapped holes for easy adjustment.

Eyebolts stuck out the end to hang on hook on the ceiling. ...

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  • 1 × Projector I used an old Epson EMP-830 (PowerLite 830p)
  • 1 × Front surface mirror I used a mylar mirror removed from an old rear projection tv
  • 1 × Projector ceiling mount I repurposed an old one from a different projector
  • 1 × Mirror mounting hardware

  • Calibration and Finish

    Quinn01/02/2021 at 05:43 0 comments

    Calibration was done using the projector corner mode keystone adjustments, and adjustments on the mirror mount.  This projector has a corner mode keystone adjustment, which instead of the typically keystone, just lets you shift each corner, in either axis, arbitrarily.  As I made the whole system orthogonal, actual keystone distortion was not present, but this feature was used to shrink the image horizontally about 2%, to match up 1 to 1 in both axis.

    The mirror required slight adjustments to the suspension cords to correct for a very slight twist that was being imparted on the mirror by uneven tension in the cords.  This was visible in the projection as a very minor shrinking of the image along a 45 degree angle.  Slightly tightening one of the cords pulled the mirror flat again.  The  below picture was taken prior to this adjustment, which is why it isn't perfect.

    This calibration was done using the calibration pdf in the Projectors For Sewing group, along with a cutting mat.  The cutting mat as well as the table are slightly bowed creating some unevenness, but overall it is extremely accurate.  Across the entire 48" width of the projection, a projected line does not deviate from a straight edge by more than 1/16", which is mostly due to the bow in the table.  Vertical and horizontal lines are perpendicular to within less than 0.5 degree(within the tolerance of reference grid)

    I ran a long IEC power and VGA video cable to the wall, held up by a hook to keep it out of the way.  

    The mirror can be simply folded up and latched flat against the ceiling to keep it out of the way.

    The mirror and projector are on simple hooks so they can be taken down quickly if needed.

  • Mirror and Mount

    Quinn01/02/2021 at 05:23 0 comments

    I reused a mylar mirror from an old rear projection tv:

    (Picture angle makes it look odd; it's hard to photograph a mirror.  It is trapezoidal shaped)


    This mirror didn't have sufficient mounting points, so I made a couple brackets to hold the mirror, and allow me to hang it.

    I lined the brackets with PVA foam where it contacted the mirror frame.

    On one end I attached an eye board for hanging(though I would later move this position), and the other fashioned a latch to allow the mirror to be stowed flat against the ceiling.

    Pieces were attached with machine screws and tapped holes for easy adjustment.

    Two hooks were screwed into the ceiling for the eye bolts to hang from.  The other end was suspended from some cord.  I added some very lightwieght elastic which would pull the cords back on top fo the mirror back when it was lifted to the stowed position.  (the black line below, which was attached to the cords with some thread which doesn't show in the image)

    To making fine adjustments of the mirror angle, and twist, I used locking collar's on the cord, locked in with a set screw.  (these are RC linkage stoppers)

    To stow the mirror, flat against the ceiling, it is simply tipped up, and the latches hooked on the ceiling hooks.  The cords automatically are pulled back by the elastic.  To lower, I simply pull back the latches and lower it down.

  • Projector and Mount

    Quinn01/02/2021 at 05:03 0 comments


    This is an offset type projector which means the projected image if offset from the lens, not centered.  This style allows better projection without degrading resolution from keystone adjustments.  This image from the user manual better explains:

    While this projector user manual doesn't specify it's throw ratio, the above table was used to figure out the distance I wanted the projector to be from the table.  As this was longer than the distance between the table and the ceiling, I needed to use a mirror.


    To double check the distances and that the system would work well, I mocked it up upside down.  That is, the projector and mirror were on the table, and projecting on the ceiling.

    (The ceiling image looks distorted due to the camera angle.  It was orthogonal on the ceiling, and carefully measured to confirm the image was good)


    I repurposed an old projector mount I had for this.  It was intended for a different projector, but made a steel mounting adapter, cutting openings for ventilation.  As it was a little rusty and black, I painted it white to better blend in with the ceiling.  This was important because I might want to remove the projector, and this will be less obtrusive.

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