How to set up a Projector

A projector is a device, which can be connected up to a computer, laptop, VCR etc. It projects an image or clip onto a large screen or a flat surface. Although a data and video projector is rather powerful, it is simple to use. Here I shall explain how to set up and work a projector.


Locate the monitor output connector on your computer:

If you are using a desktop computer, this will be where the monitor connects to your computer at the back. You will need to unscrew the VGA (video graphics array) connecter which will then make this connector available. When you do this, your monitor will not receive any signal and will send the screen black.


If you have a laptop, there is no need to unplug anything. Instead you just need to look at the back or side of the laport to find a port. When finding it, you may find that it will have an image of a port or have words such as ‘Monitor,’ ‘VGA Output’ or ‘Video Output.’


Plug the data projector’s VGA cable into this connector:

projectorAfter finding out where the Monitor VGA cable is, you will need to take out the VGA cable which is with the projector. You will be able to identify this cable, as it will look like this:

Take out one end of the cable, then screw it onto the Monitor Output connector, which is on the back of the computer, or at the side on a laptop.

Plug the VGA cable into the projector:

Locate the VGA input connector on the projector. Each model may be different, but in despite of this, the port will look the same as the Monitor Output Connector on the computer. It may be labelled ‘Computer,’ ‘Input,’ or ‘VGA Input.’ Plug the free end of the cable into the port of the projector.

Set up and turn on the projector:

Now you will need to point the projector towards a flat surface or white screen. If you find that the VGA cable is too short, you can buy an extension. At this point, you may now turn on the power for the projector.  

Make sure the video signal is getting to the projector:

When the projector warms up, you may get a picture straight away. If not, there may be a number of things you can do to try and work out what’s wrong:

If you are using a laptop, try pressing the ‘Function’ Key, possibly labelled Fn, and F3 on your keyboard together. This will generally put you through three different video which are:

  • Video to monitor only
  • Video to both monitor and projector
  • Video to projector only

If you are using a computer, you may need to press the source button, which will be on the data projector. Each time you press this button. The projector will cycle through a variety of video sources, until it finds one which works.

If all else fails, make sure that you have taken the lens cap off.

Adjust the projector so that you can get the best quality of image and sound:

You can raise or lower the feet of the projector, if you want the image to be raised or lowered.

If the image is blurry, you can adjust this by using the focus knob, on the back of the projector. It can be focused by the lens itself also. Some projectors also have a zoom lens, which can also be adjusted from around the lens.

This type of projector, also has built in speakers, which can have its volume altered, using the VOL – and VOL + buttons.

For more advanced settings, you can press the MENU button on the projector. This will fetch up an on screen menu, which will allow you to change the colour, brightness and contrast. This generally doesn’t need changing.


Now the projector is now ready to be used.

When you are done using the projector, you must do the following:

  1. a) Turn off the data projector.
  2. b) Unplug the VGA cable from the projector and the computer.
  3. c) If you are using a desktop computer, reattach the monitor’s VGA cable to the computer (the monitor will begin working again.)
  1. d) Pack up the projector’s VGA cable and power plug.
  2. e) If the projector is noticeably hot, give it five minutes to cool down.
  3. f) Pack up the projector in its case.


What is DMX?

A DMX, digital multiplex, is a standard protocol for stage lighting, e.g moving lights, LED’s. It was originally developed to allow stage lighting technicians to control a large number of lighting channels on the stage using a control desk that could be positioned away from the stage, without the need to run large lengths of mains electrical cable for each lighting channel. The DMX uses a small voltage control cable, which connects the lighting desk and dimmer packs. Each DMX link can control up to 512 channels. This is what makes a DMX universe.

DMX was first designed to adjust the brightness and intensity of each channel from 0 – 100%. The data which would be sent from the DMX cable for each channel is measured in bytes, which represents the brightness value. The dimmer pack will receive the values, which will then adjust the values to each light.

A decoder is built into the dimmer pack. The dimmer must be set onto the desired channel, (i.e 1 2 3 etc.) This will then allow you use that specific fixture. This is usually accomplished by using a DIP switch, or LED/LCD display. This desired channel is known as the DMX address.

Planning your addressing:

Before you start addressing your fixtures, you need to put the fixtures in a logical order. This will help you figure out which fixture is which later on. You need to find out how many channels it will take to use each fixture. In the theatre at Rotherham College, you will need 6 channels for each fixture. So the starting address will be on 1 and end on 6. The next fixture will start on 7 and end on 12, and so on until the 512 channels are used, or until a terminal plug is used to end the chain. Each channel will control a different light in an LED fixture, or control the movements of an Imove/Mac.

The LED fixtures will need a number of channels, as they have different coloured bulbs in them. In the studio theatre, each bar of LED Parcans is set to the same address. This is useful as if the lighting designer wanted red LED lights, they would just have to push the fader for that channel up. This would then turn on the red LED’s. It would be the same for the other colours that are available.

For the Imove and Mac’s, it would be the same procedure as the LED Parcans, only it would be for GOBO’s, pan, tilt, colour etc. Each effect will have their own channel, like the LED’s with different colours. Each Imove and Mac will be on their own address, as if they were on the same ones, the Imoves will go in the same direction of each other instead of opposite.

Why do lanterns need cleaning?

As a Theatre is a place where a lot of dust is gathered. When dust gets hot it can ignite. Lanterns, by their very nature, produce a lot of heat. It is important for lanterns to remain as dust-free as possible to avoid fire. This is the reason why lanterns are regularly cleaned.

How to clean a lantern:


  • Firstly, clean off any excess dust, paying close attention to air vents, in which the dust may get clogged up.
  • Whilst working on the outside casing, check the cable and plug for any wear and tear. Examples of this are slits in the cable. The cord cable is the most common place that may become damaged.
  • Checking the plug can be by slightly moving the pins and, if it move rather vividly, the plug will need replacing, making the current one unusable.



  • Opening the casing is the next step to cleaning a lantern. Getting inside the lantern varies on the type of lantern. Often, a screw/catch is found to keep it shut.
  • Once inside the housing, remove the bulb, but carefully don’t touch it.
  • Using a sucking device, (such as a hoover,) start removing remaining dust/cobwebs.


  • Clean and polish the reflector. (spotting a reflector with spots on will not clean well.)
  • Use source4 cleaning liquid, as standard glass cleaners are unsuitable.


  • Check inside the lantern for any cables that may be shifting and splitting.
  • Check lamp holder and terminal blocks to make sure there is no burns, as that could be fatal.


  • Putting the lantern back together, means checking the reflector is safely in place.
  • Make sure shutter blades have no nicks on the edge.


  • Finally after cleaning and adjusting, a PAT test is to be undertaken. This entails both a visual and electrical test.

Health and Safety

What is Health and Safety?

Health and Safety,is used to ensure that the employer and employee can work in a safe and secure environment. Anywhere that this sign is shown, Health and Safety is taken seriously.

What are the regulations?

  • LOLER (Lifting Operations and lifting equipment regulations 1998)
  • Working at heights (2005)
  • Health and Safety at work act (1974)
  • Management of Health and Safety at work regulations (1999)
  • Electricity at work regulations (1989)


LOLER (Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations)

These regulations require that lifting equipment, used on a day to day basis, must be checked annually. For theatre use, LOLER will be used for lifting/moving heavy objects, such as ladders, access towers and lanterns. This regulation states that after each item (if applicable) has been checked, a risk assessment form must be carried out then filled in and, handed in to the most competent person i.e supervisor/manager. The LOLER act covers equipment, such as, Lanterns, stage blocks and access towers.


Working at Heights (2005)

This act was put in place on 6th April 2005. It is there to ensure that people working above ground level can do so safely and with confidence. This regulation applies to all equipment and persons, working at heights. For Theatre, this is a good act, as technicians need to climb ladders/access towers, to reposition lanterns. The reason for this legislation is to prevent injury, as working at heights can be fatal.


Health and Safety at Work Act (1974)

This act puts into place, the duty of care upon both employer and employee. This gives the employer and employee the responsibility of making sure that, all persons in the work area, are using equipment safely and responsibly. This also includes self employed persons.


Management of Health and Safety at work regulations 1999

This act states that every employer should make a sufficient assessment of the safety of potential/current employees and what hazards they are exposed to whilst in the working area. A risk assessment should be documented and revised, for if there is any changes to the risk. These assessments must be checked annually.


Electricity at Work Regulations 1989

This law is obliged to carry out a programme of testing and checking maintenance. The testing should be carried out when:

  • Any electrical equipment is used by any employee
  • Where the public can use appliances (hospitals, schools etc.)
  • When electricals are hired

These laws are designed to improve safety of a public area and workplace.

Choosing Lighting Positions

Choosing Lighting Positions

One thing to always consider whilst creating a lighting plan, are the shadows that might be on show, which will make the performance seem less professional.

Lighting from the front:lighting-1

A vertical beam will be more efficient for lighting from the front, as the lit area of the stage and the shadows, shou
ld be no wider than the actor. One con of this is that the actors eyes will then be seen as black holes and the nose (which will be highlighted from the lantern) will then shade the mouth, making the facial features less noticeable.


When the lantern is moved slightly forward, it will start to reach the actors mouth and eyes (if the chin is being held upright in the right posture.) However, with the lantern being brought forward, shadows will be present. The shadow cast from the actor will go more upstage.


As the lighting comes more to the front, the actors facial features become more visible as they receive more light. Again, this increases the shadow which expands further and further upstage with the likelihood of the shadow hitting the scenery.


Enter a caption


As the lighting is right at the front of the stage, the actors features becomes too bright as well as the scenery. The shadows increase dramatically. When the lighting is like this, the beam shape goes horizontal, known as a corridor, which shows the entire depth of the stage, and the actors shadow becomes the same as the actors length.




Lighting from below projects the actor’s shadow, so it goes bigger when the actor is closer to the lantern. But when the actor moves further away, the shadow will decrease. When there is only this lighting angle, the light on the face reflects will soften the harsh features.


Lighting from the back and side:

Lighting from behind the actor does not help to illuminate the facial features. It helps by giving depth to the stage. This is done to separate the actor from the scenery. This is done by highlighting the head and shoulders. As this type of lighting does not land on the face, strong colours can be used.

When the light comes a little from the side, it will start to again, illuminate the face, on the side where the lantern is based. The shadow will cast alongside of the stage, in the opposite direction of the lantern.

Risk Assessment of Construction/Workshop

Risk Assessment for Set Construction
Hazard Risks Liklihood Prevention Liklihood after prevention Comments
Tripping over wires/objects
Tripping over objects
Tripping over wires
Cuts and bruises
Medium Keep work area clear
Keep cables off floor and visible
Tape wires down if used for extended period of time
Low First Aid Kit – Nearest location is the
Faculty Office
Inhalation of solvet
Working with solvents
Contact with eyes
Asthma Attack
Medium Wear PPE at all times
When using solvents ensure area is well ventilated
i.e outside or fume cupboard
Provide adequet storage
Familiarise with COSHH regulations
Ensure all sprays/glues/paints are not leaking
Low Fume cupboard located in fashion department
Working with electricity
Electrical burns
High Wear PPE at all times
Observe H&S regulations:
Ensure first aider is on site
PAT test all electrical equipment
If in doubt, ask a competent person
Low First Aid Kit – Nearest location is the
Faculty Office
Working at heights Falling objects
Slip and fall
Head Injury
High Keep three points of contact on ladders at all times
Always have somebody footing the ladder
Don’t stand underneath a ladder, as items can be
Use a harness if necessary
Use brakes if applicable
Make sure ladders/scaffolding is stable
Low Ensure harness’s and access towers are checked regulary
First Aid Kit – Nearest location is the
Faculty Office
Fire Burns
Smoke Inhalation
Medium Ensure fire extingushire is fitted in classroom
Make sure power tools do not overload the circuit
Familiarise yourself with fire exits and use of fire
Low Check date on fire extinguishires
Regular fire drills
First Aid Kit – Nearest location is the
Faculty Office
Power tools Injury
High Access to tools manuals
Make sure edge tools are guarded
Safe stance and positioning
Make sure hair is tied back
No loose clothing
Safe working distance from collegues
Approved insulated work tools
Wear PPE
Low PAT test equipment annually
Lifting/carrying Back Injury
Crush Injury
Medium Lift from the knees
Straight back
Use trolleys if needed
Never lift more than 20kg alone
Do not procced to lift/carry if injured
Low First Aid Kit – Nearest location is the
Faculty Office
Excessive noise Tinitis
Deafness (temp/perm)
Inablility to hear collegues
Medium Wear ear protectors
Familiarise yourself with ‘The noise at work
regulations 1989’
Make sure you can hear collegues in case of
Low Anybody suffering from hearing impairment due to excessive noise, should seek medical advice ASAP
Vibration in power tools Vibration whitefinger (veins)
Medium Regulate exposure time
Wear PPE
Do not proceed to use if extremities are numb or
Ensure loose objects are out of way to avoid
vibrations knocking them off
Low Anybody suffering persistant symptoms, should seek medical advice ASAP

Set Construction Techniques: Joints


For this part of the ‘Scenic Construction For The Stage,’ I am going to be exploring potential joining methods for a number of materials, which can be used within set construction.

The Butt Joint:


(Butt joint, 2016)

This technique is where two pieces of materials are simply joined by ‘butting’ them together. It is the simplest joint to make as all it is, is cutting two pieces of material, such as hardboard, to the appropriate length and then butting them together. It is the simplest joint, however it is the most weakest. Because the material being used to butt is only the end grain and long grain this results in the joint being relatively weak.

The Dowelled Joint:


(maxwel and profile, 2008)

The dowelled joint, more commonly known as dowelled butt joint. This has been a common way of reinforcing butt joints. They are mainly used in frame and carcass construction. Dowel joints are mainly popular in chairs, cabinets, panels and tabletops. They may also be used to help with the alignment during a ‘glue up.’

The technique consists of cutting the material to size followed by drilling a number of holes in the joint surface. The holes are generally made by a dowelling jig, which helps with accurate hole placement. Accuracy is vital in this joint, as the material needs to be lined up perfectly to ensure that the holes are together. After successfully doing this, you then will put short dowels in the holes which were previously drilled. They would be inserted with glue. The joint would then be brought together and held together and clamped until the glue had fully dried. After all of this has been completed, it would have produced a joint which is much stronger than the butt joint without any reinforcement. The dowels provide strength even after the glue has deteriorated.  

Over a period of time, the dowels will eventually shrink and become loose. Loose dowels will then allow the joint to flex, although it may not fall apart. When rocking chairs start creaking or bookcases start wobbling, this is a sign that the dowels are loosening. With this reason alone, dowelled joints are not suitable for high quality furniture. For the full use of this joint, it is more suited to making frames, shelving and for alignment.

The Mitre Joint:


(Craftsmanspace, 2016)

The Mitre joint is simple to construct like the butt joint. Although it is rather similar to the butt joint, this one is stronger and has much greater aesthetics. This joint is much stronger and more appealing because the ends are cut at a 45° angle and then glued together. This creates a better surface area for when you apply adhesive. It also conceals the end grain giving it a flush look. For the best results of cutting this angle, is by using a drop saw instead of a hand saw. This will create straight and neat edges. This type of joint is common with picture frames as there is no end grain showing and don’t require much holding strength.

The technique used for making a Mitre joint, is by firstly drawing a 45° angle line on the material, which in this case could be either timber or mdf. After this, you would cut the material will a drop saw. When this has been completed, you must check that the angles are accurate. If this is correct then the next step would be to join the joint together with an adhesive and leave it to dry. If the joint is not accurate, then the angles will not fit together.

The halving joint:


(Reserved, 2016)

A halving joint is a woodworking joint where two materials are joined together by removing some of the material from each piece so that they will overlap. The halved joint is differentiated from the lap point (technique.) The material will then be joined at the edge rather than on the flat.

The halved joint is created by cutting a slot on the opposite edges of the material to be joined so that they slip together. The amount of material removed is equal to half of the material being joined.

This joint is rather weak and prone to splitting which is due to the lack of shoulders which would have prevented twisting.

The Dovetail Joint:


(2016, 2002)

A Dovetail is a joint technique which is most commonly used in woodwork such as furniture, cabinets and traditional timber frames. It is known for its resistance to being pulled apart, therefore it is an excellent joint for the sides of a drawer.

A series of pins are cut so that it can reach the other end and interlock with tails, which are cut to the other end of a board. The pins and tails have a trapezoidal shape which looks like this image on the right. Once it has been glued together, a wooden dovetail joint doesn’t require fasteners.

The way the tails and pins are shaped make the joint difficult to pull apart, and impossible to do so, after the adhesive has been applied and dried. It is a rather difficult joint to make and a lot of practise is vital. There is a number of dovetail joints, and when it is cut accurately they are impressive and attractive. The joint is especially strong when it is used with a good adhesive, such as PVA or cascamite. The slope angle varies according to the type of material you are using. For softwood, the slope is 1:6, hardwood is 1:8 and if you are not sure, you can compromise this with a 1:7.   

This joint is known to have pre-dated written history. One of the earliest ways this joint has been used, which has been recorded, is dating back to the Egyptian era as they were used in furniture entombed with mummies. In Europe, this joint is known as a swallow-tail joint and/or fantail joint.


Butt joint (2016) in Wikipedia. Available at: (Accessed: 28 September 2013).

maxwel and profile, V. my complete (2008) Dowel joint. Available at: (Accessed: 28 September 2013)

Craftsmanspace (2016) Free plans, patterns, books.. Available at: (Accessed: 28 September 2016)

Reserved, A.R. (2016) DIY do it yourself how to information and advice. Available at: (Accessed: 28 September 2013)

2016 (2002) A design and technology site. Available at: (Accessed: 28 September 2013)