In today’s environment, with social distancing and other pandemic precautions, we need to be careful. One fun option for gathering with friends safely is to throw a movie or game up on a large outdoor theater screen. While this may seem like a hassle to set up, with the right equipment it’s not that difficult.
The following steps will guide you through the process of setting up an outdoor theater. Perfect for gathering outdoors to view movies or sporting events while social distancing.
- Locate a Power Source
If you don’t have an outlet nearby then, you’ll need a generator. RYOBI makes a 2300 watt generator that is more than capable for this and is also fairly quiet. With a long extension cord it could be placed in a area away from the theater.
The RYOBI generator has a few awesome feature like CO detect where the generator will sense if there is too much carbon dioxide present and shutdown automatically. It also has bluetooth so you can connect via a mobile app to monitor run time and reset if it gets overloaded.
- Setup the Big Screen
For this, there are plenty of options. A flat wall or a large hanging bed sheet will suffice in a pinch. Or you could invest in an outdoor theater screen. While the blower does make a little noise, due to ease of setup and takedown, I decided to opt for a 20ft inflatable theater screen for about $220 on Amazon. Fixed outdoor screens are also a good option but typically smaller and more time consuming to put up and take down.
- Connect your Projector
When it comes to a projector for outdoors, if there is any ambient light (fire, house lights, moonlight, etc.) I would suggest a projector with 3000 lumens or more. I have had a lot of projectors over the years and I always default to the tried and true manufacturers like Epson, Optoma, and BenQ. I actually found a really bright used Epson on Ebay that we use for the golf simulator as well.
- Connect your Media Source
There are a lot of options here but it comes down to what you want to stream and what type of internet access you have/don’t have. Assuming you can’t just plug in your cable box here are your options.
You could just plug in a Fire stick, Apple TV, Roku or similar streaming device and go. A laptop is also a good option.
Note: If your projector or the HDMI cable does not support HDCP (anti-piracy protection) then this won’t work for paid streaming services (usually only the case for much older equipment).
No WiFi but Good Cellular?
Without WiFi, streaming devices won’t work (even to mirror your phone cellular device to). You can however use a mobile hotspot for internet or enable your phone to do so and connect your device to that network. Just know that this will use a lot of cellular data. Hulu with Live TV users: The app will not work on a streaming device connected to a mobile hotspot while it will on a laptop.
Another option is to connect your iPhone directly to the HDMI port on your projector with this adapter (which needs to be powered by a USB-C cord). Don’t go for the knockoff versions as most do not support HDCP and paid streaming apps will not work. This is also a workaround for Hulu with Live TV users.
No WiFi and No Cellular?
If you’re completely off grid then you will need to rely on downloaded media. Apps like Hulu and Netflix will allow you to download movies onto your mobile device for viewing without internet, then connect with this adapter. Another option is a DVD. To view you could use a game console, laptop with CD slot, or just get yourself a good ol’ DVD player (I checked and they do still make them).
- Connect your Audio
As for audio, this can be as complex or as simple as you want it to be. You could connect a soundbar or other powered speakers to the projector audio out port or use a receiver and unpowered speakers. What I opted for, was to connect via bluetooth from my laptop to the RYOBI 18V speaker. This way I could place the speaker right next to us (cord free) and hear the audio without having to blast it across the yard.
I can already tell this is going to get some good use. I doubt COVID precautions will be going away anytime soon and this outdoor theater setup will allow us to be able to enjoy movies and sporting events with friends.
This post is sponsored by RYOBI tools. Not only do they have an amazing selection of power tools for the shop but they also have a lot of great tools for the outdoors. Learn more here!