Whether you are using a digital projector or a traditional slide projector, a dependable projector stand is an important piece of equipment you will need when showing your photographs to a group. Since portability is necessary for many photographers, the best solution for a homemade projector stand is to simply modify a piece of equipment you probably already own---your tripod.
Choosing the Tripod
Tripods come in all sizes and are made in a variety of metals. You will need to have a tripod that is sturdy and able to handle the weight of the projector. So if you own a lightweight tripod, look for a heavier model. New ones are expensive, so check online on eBay or Craigslist for used tripods, or shop around at second-hand stores. Some tripods have a quick release plate head that makes it easy to remove a camera. These plates work nicely for projector platforms if you want to remove the platform quickly. You will also want to find a tripod that has extension legs that slide and snap-lock into place so that you can set up quickly.
Building the Platform
Materials and tools for building the platform are inexpensive---you should be able to locate most of them around the house. You will need a piece of sturdy 1/2-inch plywood cut slightly larger than the projector size, a drill with bits, a utility knife and a hammer. From a hardware store, you will need an insert nut that matches the bolt size on the tripod head the camera normally screws into. Drill a pilot hole in the center of the wood and hammer the insert nut into the board so it is recessed. The bolt on the tripod will screw tightly into this recessed insert nut. To prevent the projector from shifting on the platform, glue no-slip drawer lining material onto the plywood (also available from a hardware store). Finally, cut a circular hole in the center of the liner material on the bottom of the platform board so the tripod can grip tightly into the wood for more stability.
Using the Tripod Projector Stand
Stability is critical when using the tripod projector stand. Make sure the surface you are on is flat and the legs are fully extended. Double check to see if all the legs are tightened properly and that the head is firmly fastened. Add weight to the bottoms of the legs by attaching exercise arm or leg weights if necessary. Most expensive projector stands have built-in electrical sockets, so if you need to have multiple plugs handy, duck tape an extension plug strip to the side of one of the tripod legs so you have an easily accessible outlet. Bring extra extension cords to your event so the stand always has electrical power to it. Also bring along a level to check if the platform is level. If you need more height during setup, increase the height on the legs, not on the top tripod head adjustment as this will make the unit too top heavy and affect stability. Once you get used to working with it, this homemade projector stand will be a perfect companion to fit your needs.