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Most of the backyard home-built movie screens I’ve seen are overbuilt wooden structures that take up a huge amount of room to store when not in use or are flimsy PVC tubing affairs. My answer is to use steel tubing. It is strong, relatively inexpensive, and easy to set up and store.
Here is how to build a fast, cheap and solid movie backdrop using 10 foot sections of electrical “black pipe” conduit for the frame. They come in 10 foot sections ready made and are available at Lowes and Home Depot. The advantages of black pipe is it can be setup in 6 minutes. Disassembly is also 6 minutes. It takes almost no room to store. The key is to use half inch black pipe conduit, which is actually about 1 inch across with 1/2″ internal size. Here are the parts.
You need at least, 8 bungee cords, 12 feet of steel cable, two half inch black pipe elbows and two half inch black pipe connectors. Three 10 foot black pipes. One for the top, two for the sides. 4 ring hanger assemblies so you can add eyebolts and nylon cord if you need to stabilize the sides.
I found the screen pre-cut to 6.75 x 9 feet which works out perfectly for the 10 foot black pipe sections. It cost me $29.95 from carlofet.com. I had pocket sleeves put in on the top and bottom, the top sleeve for the top 10 foot long pipe and the bottom sleeve for a steel cable stretched between the two vertical pipes. Tabs were sewn into the side hems so that they could be pulled tight against the side pipes with small bungee cords.
To make this easy to set up in the future dig post holes for the vertical pipes exactly 1 foot deep. Make sure they are level between the two poles. Make them exactly 10 feet 2 inches apart. Insert PVC pipe and pour concrete. Make sure the PVC is absolutely vertical. I put one foot of the two foot pipe secton.
If you want more stability, use two of the split ring assemblies to connect to nylon guy wires attached to tent stakes. You probably won’t need them. I decided after I used them that they were not necessary.
For more detailed photos go to the flickr website at http://www.flickr.com/photos/lightsnaffler