100w LED projector conversion

I was given a couple of old NEC projectors, both worked, only one had a bulb (and I wasn't going to spend £100)

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This is my first Hackaday project. I hope there will be many more.

I think I have covered the most part in the details section.

Any questions / comments, just ask.

This project started some months back. I was given two projectors, one with a bulb, one without. Not wanting to scrap either unit, equally not wanting to spend £100 on a bulb that would be prone to shock and likely to fail, I decided a more serious adjustment than bulb replacement would be appropriate. So after using the original bulb to ascertain the projector worked before I hacked it to bits, I started working on fitting it out with an LED light-source.

I have seen projects attempting to get this to work in the past, usually resulting in either massive light bleed from the unit, something unusable in a real environment (with additional trailing wires, boxes and similar), or something with seriously underpowered LED's or overheating high power LEDs.

With this in mind, I create a few constraints and targets I wanted to avoid / achieve, the unit needed to:

1) produce enough light to be usable in a darkened room at 4 - 5 feet (giving a 1m ish image) 
2) occupy its original footprint, and have no additional external connections (for power or similar)
3) switch on and off as originally intended (not run the bulb at all times) 
4) work for hours at a time
5) not bleed an unacceptable amount of light.

After a bit of tinkering (shining a 10w head torch into the light aperture) and getting my hands on a service manual, it seemed feasible that the projector could be usable when finished, though the light source would need to be much brighter.

I decided on a 100w LED (£8.99) , and appropriate 240v driver (£20). On arrival I couldn't help but hook it onto an old Pentium 4 heatsink and try it out. I spent the next 2 hours with a flashing purple spot in the centre of my vision... Be wary, a 100w LED is seriously bright. You can feel the heat in the light from 6 inches away.

Anyway, I located a more appropriate heatsink for the LED, that with a little cutting fitted into the old lamp area of the projector, and allowed then LED to be held tight up against the light input aperture.

At this point some heavy mod's took place to the projectors housing. I cut a hole in the side of the case to exhaust heat, and removed all of the pegs and mounting points from the original bulb. 

I also removed and split the power supply unit. Thankfully, the NEC unit is very modular and bolted together making it easy to dismantle and rebuild. I split the supply and found 2 boards inside, one for the main projector, the other dedicated to driving the bulb. That came out, and after a bit of measuring and checking the LED driver board took its place. 

I decided on a 5v - 240v relay to activate the LED (£2). The original bulb had 4 control wires from the main board, 3v, ground, bulb on, and bulb OK. So I soldered bulb OK to ground at the main board, meaning it always turns on. I used the bulb on wire to trigger the relay (it was only 3v but seems fine) and took a 5v feed from the power supply to drive it. This switches mains to the LED driver. In the picture the LED driver is the bigger board with 1 x Red LED, the smaller board with 1 x Red & 1 x Green LEDs is the relay switch board. Seeing as all the filters are missing from the unit (It's got quite a bit of dust in there) I decided to bypass all the filter and access cover micro-switches, to allow the unit to run regardless of cover state (this is not something you want to do when using the original 5Kv lamp, of if you are likely to touch something mains related). 

The 240v supply for the LED driver is taken off the input for the projector power supply. The driver has its own fuse. Once the soldering was complete I popped it all on the desk and ran it up for the first test. The picture attached it the first test. It ran up OK (after I reconnected the fan I had forgotten about) and the LED is powered on / off in accordance with the projector state.

It's now all built back into the original footprint, I just need to attach a cooling fan (I did some testing last night and found an old AMD fan to be capable of keeping the temperature...

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  • 1 × NEC VT440 The Projector
  • 1 × 100W LED & 240v Driver The Light Source
  • 1 × 1 Channel 5V Relay Module Shield The Switch

  • Finishing Touches...

    ric86603/12/2014 at 08:37 0 comments

    OK, so more progress has occurred in the last 3 days than in the 6 months this has been running...

    I have now tidied some the cabling and built the unit back into it's original case.

    I was really lucky and found a 12v switched (powered on and off with the projector fans) supply coming direct from the power supply. This now runs an old Athlon 64 (CPU) cooling fan attached to the old Athlon 64 heat-sink, which runs the LED at a comfortable temperature (I am not sure what the temperature is, but it doesn't burn my thumb, so it's within tolerable limits).

    After it was all back together, I decided the gaping hole in the side of the unit was a likely cause of problems, so I found the scrap bit of plastic I cut out originally, drilled it full of holes and stuck it back in. I can't tell you how much it pleased me I hadn't thrown it away.

    Attaching the LED turned out to be as easy as 2 self tappers into the heat-sink. Not my favoured solution, but it's not going anywhere.

    Anyway, time for a soak test.

    See the pictures for the near finished article.

  • ric86603/12/2014 at 08:36 0 comments

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oscarontiverosarguelles wrote 09/28/2017 at 16:25 point

I really liked your project and I want to realize the same using vt-440 beamer..!! could you please send more pictures of the project to know how you made connections..?

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oscarontiverosarguelles wrote 09/28/2017 at 16:24 point

I really liked your project and I want to realize the same using vt-440 beamer..!! could you please send more pictures of the project to know how you made connections..?

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mike wrote 02/24/2017 at 23:12 point

Anyone doing this with a Panasonic pt-ae1000u?

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goldenshuttle wrote 08/16/2015 at 17:51 point

great project. Tried it myself on a dead SANYO projector, but the board would not start the video unless the HV module powers the bulb. So replacing the bulb with a LED circuit was OK, but now the video board refuses to take off. Being less knowledgeable on how to follow the signal, and since the boards is so complex, I decided to salvage whatever useful parts from the dead projector and stop there:(

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FC's Got Talent wrote 08/15/2015 at 22:13 point

So im about to start my hack on a NEC MT1056 Projector that the bulb has gone out on. I know that there are a lot more advantages when going with LED. One of them being quick start up times.

So I have a couple questions..

1) Does the 100w bulb not hurt the projector? I was doing some research and saw that a 100w LED should be putting off 4500 to 7000 Lumens. But i see that you said it was not as bright as the original bulb?

2) If I use a reflector or lens would that help focus the light into the input and should that be a better option? If so which one?

3) Also would you be able to send better pictures of the wires and supplies?

4) while Im under the hood i've thought about installing an HDMI port on mine as well because of the XGA port and having the adapters to be able to do so.

I am really curious how the projector runs today. 

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ric866 wrote 08/16/2015 at 12:01 point

1) The 100w LED hasn't done any damage, but the focus is an issue. It's absolutely, totally 100% definitely, not as bright as the original discharge lamp. Opening the bulb cover with the units running (I've one running the original bulb too) makes it obvious (I near blinded myself, just with the escaping light out of the crack between the bulb and input lens).  

2) Lenses or reflectors to focus the light could work really well. Unfortunately the lenses I have were absolutely useless (in as much as they added 20mm between the LED and the input lens). The biggest problem in the area is knowing the correct focal point for the LED light. 

3) I will say maybe, I haven't had it apart in a while, so don't really want to take more... Send me a PM and I'll mail / FTP you the full resolution images. 

4) That's going to be tricky, unless you want to install a HDMI -> VGA converter box in there at the same time. 

Projector still runs! 

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azomazigelog wrote 03/04/2015 at 03:28 point

Hi, I stumbled across this exact projector at Goodwill for $10. It didn't turn on but I bought it anyways. It gives me the cover switch error with the quick blinking red light. After pulling it apart it looks like one of the switches was completely destroyed. I was wondering  1) exactly how you bypassed the cover switches 2) which pins on the main board you wired your relay to and 3) have you had any luck increasing the brightness of the screen- I know the optics are designed for a point source and a low divergence angle, maybe the 'collimating' lens they sell bundled with it would help?

I've acquired the 100 watt led, heat-sink, driver board, and projector, and have removed the lamp power supply. I am interested in helping develop this hack further, and I believe conditioning the LED's optics is the next step. I've also made a couple of 3D-printed brackets for holding the led to the heat-sink assembly, and holding the LED driver board tight in place where the lamp power board was.

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ric866 wrote 03/04/2015 at 07:04 point

Hi Gregson, that's a good find for that price. You've got yourself a very repairable / hackable projector. In answer to your questions, I bypassed the case switches by soldering the switch pins together (I seem to recall, there are 4 pins on some of the 3 interlock switches and it took me couple of goes). I will send you some higher resolution pictures of the multi pin header (I'm not sure I can email on here....?) where the relay connects. The collimating lens I have didn't really make much difference (in fact the extra gap to the first optic lost more light), I suspect some re-working of the internal optics would help. 



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ric866 wrote 05/30/2014 at 20:11 point
Hi Daniel,

I used a cold white LED, probably 6 - 7 K (from memory). TBH the brightness is about half that of the original lamp. I have since run the other unit (with original lamp) briefly with the covers removed and there no two ways about it, the discharge lamp is wildly brighter, but the colour of the light is very close to the LED.

On the topic of your Epson, I was looking at modding one that I have here. I noticed the lamp bracket assembly and air space is quite small compared to the NEC, which would have given me bigger cooling problems. I found it mandatory to be fitting fitting a 100w CPU heatsink (like the trusty old P4) and matched fan. Without the fan the heat sink gets too hot to touch in around a minute.

I have uploaded a couple of photo's for you to compare, the colour difference looks much worse on the picture.

Anyway if I can help any further or want to see any more, just let me know.

Kind regards


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danielromero75 wrote 05/29/2014 at 23:48 point
What kelvin range of led did you use? Did you notice it to be brighter than the pj that had a bulb already in it? I want to mod my epson 8100 and am getting the details but curious if the colors will change

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