The overhead projector outside my front door

On Saturday mornings right outside my front door on Kingsland Road, London there’s a market for fairly random second hand items. I think they’re mainly plucked from skips and otherwise discarded because they’re often things like home photography development kits or big reel tape recorders. Things that I couldn’t see any self respecting thief ripping off to sell on the side of the street.

I have been a scavenger for the longest time so I really enjoy taking a stroll down the street on a Saturday morning to see if there’s anything exciting. I’ve already bought a scanner for £1 (but it scanned with a dark line down the center) a sowing machine, £8 (that didn’t have a bobble, so I learned how difficult it was to find a replacement and gave up), and an ioniser, which provided the power supply for the scanner until that was upgraded and now is happly charging the air in the flat with negative ions. The ioniser was by far the most successful purchase but hey, it’s fun.

At the moment I’m in the market for an overhead projector to turn it into a video projector so you can imagine my excitement when I spotted a very exotic looking ohp right outside my door. “Made for Silicon Graphics” it said on the case, and it had a wide angled lens on it as a feature (not sure if that’s the norm but I was impressed). So I go home and look it up. The thing cost about $2500 when it came out, and still fetches about $200 on ebay and the guys outside are asking for £20, so I was excited. The only thing that stopped me was that when I checked the price of replacement bulbs it was about $350. Reading further articles on diyaudio.com I found out that the $5-$20 bulbs that work on certain models of projectors only last about 50 hours.

Diyaudio.com looks like a great place to explore this further, many people there are giving their accounts of experiments they’ve been carrying out with splitting up the colour projectors into red green and blue and also using smaller 5″ screens with LED lights etc. The LED light source option sounds great to me since it would mean a much lower power consumption, lower heat dissipation and naturally lower overall cost. I only had £10 in my pocket so I thought I’d give it a shot, especially since it was raining so I thought the guys would go for it rather than hauling the ohp back with them the next week. Unfortunately it didn’t work and I couldn’t be bothered to take the trip up to the atm and queue up to get the extra cash. It was funny though, they guy I tried bargaining with told me how lucky I was that he didn’t deck me for trying to haggle with him. This obese welsh man who justified his profanities by explaining he had just had a few scoops in the pub assured me the overhead projector was his own and that he had paid a lot more than £20 for it. I pictured him standing over his projector scribbling wild equations on transparencies transfixing his relatives and friends with the wonders of string theory, or perhaps showing a sketch of his tatoo, which he also proudly lowered the neck of his t-shirt to convince me of his nationality.

I need to do some more research into this anyway and there’s only so much junk that I’m allowed to accumulate. I’ll probably end up buying it this weekend if it’s still there though. The thought of turning a monitor with a broken backlight and an old ohp that nobody loves anymore into a kick ass video projector isn’t something I can easily forget.

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