Elliot Woods and Joanie Lemercier at STRP festival

Brightness hack

The "Black and Bright" projector hack removes the colour filters from a low cost video projector to double the brightness of its output, whilst removing its ability to represent colour (all images become grayscale, hence "Black and Bright"). The hack is usually destructive, and a replacement part needs to be ordered to restore the original functionality of the projector.
The hack is really simple to execute (no soldering or electronics knowledge is required).
What you need
  • A single chip DLP projector.
  • Generally any DLP projector less than $2000 will be single chip.  Sadly the hack doesn't work with very bright 20,000 lumen projectors because they are all 3-chip projectors
  • Some screwdrivers to open the projector
  • Pliers to snap the colour wheel
  • Guts (you need to rough a projector up)
  • Responsibility (you might break your projector, or a person, or yourself)
Step 1 - Open the projector
For this step, it can be a good idea to get the service manual for the projector so that you can check what the 'official' way is of opening the projector up. This way you can avoid damaging the casing or anything inside. To get the service manual, ask your projector supplier (they'll have one). Also you can continue without this of course. 
Generally the steps are:
  • Remove all screws which attach the bottom and the top of projector together
  • Take the top off by locating the clips which are keeping it together and squeeze really hard at these points (e.g. with a flat head screwdriver). This can be really tricky, and you may need force, patience and bravado. Or lever the top off bit by bit, but then you will damage the casing a lot.
Be careful of:
  • There may be cables between the lid and the main circuit board (e.g. for the buttons on the lid, or an IR receiver for the remote control)
  • You may have to remove the lamp before taking off the lid (e.g. if the lamp is accessed from the top)
Pro tip:
  • Take photos of everything as you take it apart
  • Keep all the screws in the lens cap of the projector (or something else which means you won't loose them)
Step 2 - Locate and remove the colour wheel
This will be between the projector lamp and the DLP chip. It is generally quite easy to see but it may have its own protective casing that needs to come out together and then be removed.
There are generally 2 cables between the colour wheel and the main circuit board:
  • 4-wire ribbon cable for stepper motor (drive the rotation)
  • 3-wire molex cable for photosensor (measure colour wheel rotation timings)
These 2 cables need to be disconnected from the main board.
Be careful of:
  • If you don't want to snap the filters off the colour wheel, then don't get fingerprints on the filters.