Modifying the Acer X152H Projector to work with a DLP 3D Printer

Why the Acer X152H

It’s relatively cheap, It’s 1080p and it’s easy to modify for short-focus. Also, it’s pretty much the only option (as of Jan 2016) if you want an HD image that is crisp across the whole build plate. There are other projectors that are HD and do not require modifying, but you will get blurry corners or worse. I tried an Acer H6510BD and about 1/4 of the image was unusable and blurry.

What is this modding all about

The goal is to get the projector to be able to focus on a target that is very close to the lens. The projector was not designed for this, but fortunately it’s relatively simple to hack it to do so. The downside is that once modded, the projector won’t able to focus on distant objects. You won’t be able to use it as a normal projector anymore. However, the modification is easily reversible.

Here we go

Take a deep breath, you are about to crack open and mess around with a brand new $500 device. It’s going to be ok. (or not, and if you mess up it’s not my fault and you can’t sue me, please don’t sue me)

Here is our patient:

IMG_20160121_182649 (Custom).jpg

 

Remove the focus ring, it just pulls right off. No screws.

IMG_20160121_183141 (Custom).jpg

 

Open all the screws on the bottom, you will need a long Phillips screwdriver. Warning: they are really hard to unscrew, get a good screwdriver so you don’t strip the screws. If you do, you are screwed.

Open the lamp cover, take off some weird plastic transparent thing that’s glued there, and pop that white power connector out of its resting place. No need to disconnect it, just get it out of that nook.

IMG_20160121_183256 (Custom).jpg

 

The top plastic cover should come off now, but will still be connected to the main board with a few wires that have plug-in connectors. Disconnect all the wires and set aside the cover.

IMG_20160121_183344 (Custom).jpg

 

Projector should now look like this:

IMG_20160121_183449 (Custom).jpg

Our goal is to remove the lens assembly, which I have professionally marked with red in the next picture, and “shim” it. We’ll be putting it back where it was, only pushed forward by a small amount. This will change the focus distance of the lens.

IMG_20160121_183456 (Custom).jpg

The lens assembly is held in place with four M3 bolts. The bottom two are not accessible, a plastic ‘wall’ is blocking them. You have two options now. You can cut the plastic and bend it a bit, as seen in the next image, or you can dissassbmle the whole optical module of the projector and remove it from the plastic housing. I opted for the first option, but the second option is valid and not that complicated. It’s your call.

IMG_20160121_183950 (Custom).jpg

 

Open all 4 bolts and remove the lens assembly. Replace the bolts with slightly longer M3 bolts, and put two M3 nuts between the lens and the projector. This will be our ‘shim’. Should look something like this:

IMG_20160121_184629 (Custom).jpg

You will need to remove the zoom ring (the gray plastic thing on top). It’s connected with three small screws. Keep all parts you take off and the original four M3 bolts that held the lens. Put them in a box and mark it. If you ever want to revert your projector back into normal operation mode, you will need those parts.

Connect the lens assembly back to the projector, it should look like this:

IMG_20160121_185551 (Custom).jpg

You will still be able to change the zoom, using a small screwdriver inserted in that white plastic tube.

Put everything back together, and now you should be able to do this:

IMG_20160121_190117 (Custom).jpg

It’s really bright and can hurt your eyes, so please use a filter when focusing the projector. Also, once you have the zoom set, cover that top opening with opaque tape. You don’t want UV light spilling out from there.

Next post will be about how to modify the LittleRP to mount the X152H. Don’t worry though, It’s a lot simpler than modding the projector.

Taking it to the next level

There is more you can do to this poor projector, if you are brave and technically inclined. The color wheel can be relocated and the bulb UV filter can be removed. Both will increase the UV output and reduce cure time. Some people go as far as replacing the bulb with a UV LED light, but I have not yet found any solid information about this. If you have done this, or know someone that did, please post some links in the comments.

Nün&Noot

We use our LittleRP to print our unique sculpture jewelry, and then cast it in Sterling Silver. Check it out at NunAndNoot.Etsy.com

 

 

17 thoughts on “Modifying the Acer X152H Projector to work with a DLP 3D Printer

  1. Did you make a gasket to seal the gap created by the shim? Or did you leave it open like that?

    For other types of short throw modifications, I have seen it mentioned that a gasket is necessary to keep dust from collecting on the formerly sealed light path for other projectors, but for the X152H, I don’t know whether that path was sealed to begin with or whether leaving it open is fine.

    Have you found any dust issues leaving it open, or did you build a gasket in a subsequent step?

    I did not put a gasket there, but it sounds like a solid idea. I’m not sure if the optical engine is airtight to begin with. I will check later.

  2. Hi. I see that this modification is quite easy, but it is still a modification of course. Could you tell me to how small a projection you can go with a UNMODIFIED X152H ? I am looking to build a new sla printer and currently was looking at acer P1500, H6510BD projectors. Then suddenly I saw this X152H also being available and maybe this is a better solution. I would need to be able to project the 1920×1080 onto a 192x108mm surface for 0.1mm resolution in XY. Would that be possible with an unmodified X152H ? I even think a P1500 in unmodified state does this. And would the X152H give better focus on the edges at 192x108mm or is that good for both projectors anyway and is that fosuccing only getting more and more important with the 40-50 micron XY resolutions ?

    Kind regards, Bart

    1. Hi Bart. Modifying the X152H is mandatory. Without it, the minimal focus distance is about 50cm, completely unusable. Once modded, the X152H can deliver a very sharp image at any you want. If you don’t want to mod a projector, go with the H6510BD. It can focus at close range, but you will have somewhat blurry corners.

      1. But what do you mean by blurry corners ? If for example I focus the H6510BD to a 96 * 54 mm projection pane (50 micron), what part is blurry then ? Is it in the order of about 10mm on all edges ? Bigger? Less ? If I focus to 50 micron res, then I could live with the fact that for example only 76×34 would be nicelyfocussed of the 96x54mm buildspace. But I have no idea how big that blurryness is ? If I recall you began with a H6510BD, no ?

      2. It’s hard to say, because of manufacturing variances every projector is a bit different. Remember, they are not designed to be used like this! I currently have a H6510BD (unmoded) and I can get most of the image sharp, except the upper two corners and about 10% near the top edge.

    2. I know that this is an old post, though here is the correct place for this information! I have this projector. Minimum focal distance 210mm from wall. Image size at this distance is 83 x 142 mm (ish). This is too big for the normal flex vat, but about right for the ‘medium’ sized one. Hurra! (I will be continuing my build at https://hackaday.io/project/19032-dlp-printer-build )

  3. Owkay, but I suppose you can easily identify that when projecting calibration grids and then you just avoid printing in that range ? Can I ask you why you decided to use a 6510BD again after burning down your X152H ? The X152H is cheaper than the 6510BD and you knew how to mod it. Why not retry again ?

    1. You need to drill a new set of holes. If you contact LittleRP support they will send you a template to print that will help you align the holes correctly.

  4. I am about to crack open my Acer X152H this weekend to to the mod. I went to Home Depot and Lowes to look for longer M3 screws, but neither had them. Do you know what size and length you ended up using for the mod, I may just order them online. Thanks again for the guide!

  5. Thanks for this really helpful guide. Now you have a 6510BD have you noticed whether cure times are much shorter with that unit compared to the X152H? I’m sure this info would help many such as myself considering the X152H for 3d printing based on your info!

  6. Thanks for this this really helpful guide. Now that you’ve got a H6510BD can you say whether the X152H was roughly equivalent in terms of layer curing time or is the H6510BD much faster? This would be really helpful info for people like me who are considering the X152H based on your post.

  7. Can someone confirm tha the x152h is working?Brad told me that the curring times are about double the time with the 6510 but that is not a problem to me concidering the perfect zoom one can achieve with the x152h.

  8. This might be an old post, but I hope you still manage this place. Can I ask the distance from lens to screen after mods? I’m debating to get x152h to see if modified x152h can fit to my printer. I need 110mm or longer to put the projector. Thanks in advance.

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