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Another drive in

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  • Another drive in


    I am looking for advice on setting up a drive in. At our non profit, private preforming arts theater, we show licensed Blu Rays with a Barco F80-4K 12 on a 22' X 12' screen. Our motorized lens ratio is 1.2-1.7:1.

    I have the projector, Oppo Blu-Ray player, an FM transmitter, and flat parking lot. I will need a screen, power, a place to house the projection equipment.

    I realize that having a flat parking lot will be a hindrance and will stager car rows along with limiting attendance to just a few rows of cars per showing.

    Power will not be an issues as we can easily get dedicated 20 Amp, 120 volt GFCI circuit(s) to any place needed.

    My questions are, is our 12,000 lumen laser projector suitable for this application outside? We will turn off parking lot lights but there may be other light sources out of our control.

    Does anyone have any ideas for a booth?

    It appears that a blow up screen is the best option but I assume their are trade offs in using one compared to a traditional screen. Having never used a blow up screen, what are their issues?

    Is there anything else I need to consider?

    Thanks in advance,


  • #2
    A real issue with blow-up screens for drive-ins is that you need to lift the screen to at least something like 2m above the ground, especially if your parking lot is even. Some blow up screens can not be inflated sitting on a narrow stage. And while blow-up seems to suggest they are light and can be moved up after inflating, this is not true for good blow up screens.

    The 12.000 lumens should be enough for a small scale operation. Maybe you can manage to tilt the screen a bit towards the cars.That will improve light efficiency.

    Is there a building/wall close to the planned screen location?

    The throw of that projecton lens is very short - I assume it is usually hanging under the ceiling in your theatre. Is a longer throw lens in your budget?


    • #3
      Thanks Carson for the reply.

      Yes, having the bottom of the screen masking above cars height is a concern of mine. The one I am considering is 6' 6" of bottom masking,

      A longer lens can be purchase if needed.

      I need to measure and have another look at the parking lot near the end of next week to see how close the building is to the parking area.


      • #4
        Projector is good for a reasonably small screen. Depends a lot on background light.
        Several popup drive-ins (and a permanent one) are using containers for screen support. These rent pretty cheap for temp use and are cheaper to buy than getting a permanent screen tower.. Stack 3 40' cans and stretch a normal vinyl screen on the top 2. A small one (10' or 20') makes a decent booth, or rent a closed cargo trailer - even a van works as long as nobody rocks it.. You can move a trailer or van away to a more secure spot..

        Don't forget about getting rights to show your movies to the paying public.


        • #5
          Thanks for the response Dave. For your booth idea, are you stating to put the projector on top of the van or container to get the projector up high enough over cars?

          Also, I may need an FM transmitter. I did a search here and found the Broadcast Warehouse TX-5 is the one to get but I am in the U.S. and cant seem to find a local distributer. I realize that FM transmitters and perhaps other "Drive In" related equipment are in high demand now, but does anyone know of U.S. based distributers that may have FM Transmitters? My needs are simple as I will down mix within the Oppo 105 to stereo and can add limiting if needed.
          Last edited by Steven Cohen; 07-05-2020, 11:59 AM.


          • #6
            We usually supply BW Broadcast equipment for FM transmission - model and antenna configurations depending on the size and topology of the field. It is widely available in the USA, and they could put you in touch with a local dealer. You may even be able to buy direct from them.


            • #7
              Thanks, I am checking with my dealer,


              • #8
                Was recently in the market, contacted BW directly and they referred me to their US distributor. Was a few weeks wait till they renewed their stock but the check is in the mail and hope to have it soon. They were also able to recommend, and sell, all of the antenna/cables/attenuators that were needed.


                • #9

                  I have been trying to reach BW's site all weekend but its been down. Do you have the information?


                  • #10
                    Today I saw this item in an eMail.


                    I don't know more about it but you can contact the source.


                    • #11
                      I hope that your dealers are being up front and informing you guys that you are taking a risk using these higher powered transmitters in the US without a license. While the odds of getting caught may be slim the fine is very steep.


                      • #12
                        Hello Sean,
                        The first item in the description of this transmitter is "FCC part 15 Compliance". In other words, it should be legal if you don't add any gain antennas or linear amplifiers to it. Also the lower frequencies are better than those above 100 MHz.


                        • #13
                          Nothing was said or asked about licensing when I inquired. I did ask about attenuation in my inquiry and was quoted for a 20dB attenuator which I am hoping is enough to limit our reach. Perhaps had I not asked they would have suggested it, no way of knowing. After install I plan to drive around to make sure we don't bleed to far beyond our property. If we do, I guess its back to the drawing board with attenuation.


                          • #14
                            Hi Ken,

                            I was referring to the Broadcast Warehouse TX-5 which isn't specifically licensed for part 15. While it is true that it can be operated as low as 0.5 Watts (and as high as 5.05 Watts) it is not necessarily the power level at the transmitter it is the power level measured 3 meters from the transmitter is less than 150 ┬ÁV/m.


                            • #15
                              Hello Sean,

                              Thanks for the link to the FCC document.

                              The actual radiation is from the antenna so inserting an amplifier between the transmitting device and the antenna or installing an antenna that provides gain would cause concern.

                              The shorted coax antenna system is very restrictive on the area covered by the radiation. Basically it is confined to the area inside the circumference of the loop antenna.

                              The Twi-Lite Drive In here used such a system and after the theater closed it was donated to a church for use in the parking lot. Whereabouts of that equipment at this time is unknown