Outdoor Projectors

I’ve long wanted to be able to watch TV from the hot tub, as well as from the deck at both houses. It’s not something that I’d use all the time, but on a nice spring, summer, or fall night it would be nice to watch a movie outside, and being able to turn on Sports Center from the hot tub would be awesome as well. Outdoor TV’s are an option, but properly reinforced outdoor TV’s that could stand up to the wild Wisconsin weather year-round are very expensive, and hard to justify given the frequency of use I anticipate. With that in mind, I wanted to build a projector rig that would be easy to carry outside, set in place, and watch TV. It needed to be lightweight, and have a single plug so setup would take under 10 seconds. I bought a small, portable projector with an integrated speaker from Amazon, and connected a Roku stick directly into its HDMI port.


I then bought a very small power strip with USB outlets that I could attach to the projector, which would power both the Roku stick and the projector.


After that, I build a metal cage around the entire rig, giving it structural integrity and making it easy to carry to where it would be used.


Next, I build mount points. I built metal platforms with clips to hold the projector in place, and mounted outdoor power strips next to them so the projector would have power. I have two mount points by the hot tub, one on the upstairs deck at the house in Verona, and one on the deck at the lake house.



The end result is pretty awesome, even when just projected on the side of the house.


My next step is mounting outdoor projector screens, which will make the picture significantly higher quality.

Boat Lift Fiasco

Several weeks ago when I was in Dallas, I received word from my realtor that the boat lift (and the boat) at the lake house was in danger of being swept away due to flooding on Lake Wisconsin and the Wisconsin River.

After following up for more information, I was eventually able to get ahold of Manke Enterprises, one of the two Lake Wisconsin dock companies. They agreed to go take a look that night, and what they found wasn’t great.

Manke did their best to secure the lift for the night, and we went to bed wondering if everything would still be there in the morning.

Luckily, everything held fast overnight despite record high water levels for late June on Lake Wisconsin. Manke was able to get the boat and the lift out, and several weeks later (plus about $5,000 out of pocket) we were able to get the lift and the boat back in the water. Before that happened though, we also had to have the dock rescued a week after the boat lift, as the water levels rose even higher.

Thankfully, Deano Docks was able to get it reset in a couple of days and the boat lift was able to go back in.

Learning from this experience, I took several steps to prevent this from happening again. First, I learned how to read the NOAA water level charts, to predict when flood events might happen.

Second, I installed security cameras that I can access remotely, to be able to personally verify that everything is where it should be.

The cameras were pretty easy to install, and it took half a day to run cables along the stairs that go down to the dock and bury them underground from the top of the stairs to the house. By using a wired system, I don’t have to worry about WiFi, batteries, or any other potential points of failure.

Hopefully the rest of the summer will be as drama free as possible!

Underground Ethernet: Completed

Last weekend, I was able to complete the excavation of the trench to bury my underground ethernet cable, and bury it underground. A week later, everything is still working well and the guest house now has fast, reliable internet!

At the guest house, I added an additional junction box to deal with extra cabling so there is some slack in the buried cable, making it less likely something will go wrong if the buried cable shifts position due to the freezing thawing cycle.

Once the cable was buried, I used the dirt I had dug up to bury it, and resodded grass with the grass I had ripped up.

Ultimately, I was able to get this knocked out in two days for about $200 worth of materials. An electrician had quoted be $2200, so this was a true DIY success.

Underground Ethernet

Another spring project I am working on is resolving the internet access issues that have plagued the guest house. I have tried a variety of wifi range extenders that have worked with varying degrees of success, but all have been inconsistent. To permanently solve the problem, I am going to run underground ethernet cable from the main house to the guest house, following approximately this path:

Ethernet Lines

This weekend, I setup the routers on either side of the underground line, setup junction boxes on the outside of each house, and verified that everything works with an above ground cable. In the main house, I configured a wifi extender with an ethernet port, so that I could mount it right by where the cable would exit the house.

The cable coming out of the range extender exited the house through a plastic electrical conduit, and hit a junction box with a female to female ethernet connector.

At the guest house, I installed an identical junction box with a female to female connector.

Inside of the guest house, I installed an entire new router, which is able to get internet access from the main router in the house while maintaining its own DHCP server, functioning as a separate network.

Once the weather improves, I will use a trencher to dig a trench and bury the cable outside.