Short Throw Projectors and Wall Mounts

Once upon a time, budget projectors suitable for classrooms all came in budget configurations. They were all intended for ceiling mount with a distance to the screen of 2.5 – 3 metres. If you wanted to come in closer than this, you either paid a lot of money for an odd looking Sanyo, or you spent still more money on something much bigger and spent half your IT budget for a year on a special short throw lens.

Times change, and the advent of interactive whiteboards and other special situations, has seen a spate of affordable short throw projectors appear recently at the lower end of the price range. If you can cope with a distance of about one metre, Epson, Toshiba and the like have models around NZ$2000 to catch your interest. This sort of throw makes it possible to mount these projectors on an arm screwed to the wall, rather than lowering them off the ceiling, which works well in a variety of situations where the ceiling mount is difficult to manage, or too high. Projectors in this price range also have other nice features like network cable connections that allow software based remote control out of the box, and status reporting.

When we purchased our Epson EMP-400W, which fills an 84 inch screen at about 1 metre, the manufacturer’s official arm for the projector cost around $600, which is pretty steep compared with $100 that you can pay for a good quality no-name ceiling mount these days. However, Ingram Micro have just started to distribute projector screens and mounts by Herma, an Australian company which produces a range of well engineered items, including a short throw wall mount arm called the Teach-It 2C141. This is a chunky beastie which hangs off the wall and will hold the projector out at any distance up to about a metre. The RRP at the time of writing was a bit over NZ$400 (incl GST), which compares favourably with the official Epson product and it is a far simpler solution than making your own, an option we considered.


This is a simulation of how the thing is going to look on a wall (Just pretend that you aren’t going to mount it two inches off the floor). The plate you can see on the left needs to be screwed into solid wood (or concrete), and pretty well too, because the weight of the arm and projector are a significant loading cantilevered out like this. In deference to this, the mount is rated for a maximum projector weight of 10 kg, in part due to the weight of the arm’s own projector carriage. There is a neat plain white cover that goes over the plate when it’s mounted. I was somewhat taken aback by the size and weight of the thing – as shown above it is pretty big compared to the projector (which itself is a typical desktop size). The boom measures about 1.2 metres long, 100 mm high and 50 mm wide. The wall plate is about 700 mm long and 180 mm high. These people don’t do things by halves. Most of the metal in this thing is solid steel up to 3 mm thick. The boom is thinner and lighter, but that wallplate is solid and even the projector mount is a heavy, bulky behemoth with a dozen or more screws, each going into threaded bosses welded in place, making sure it stays together. Basically you attach the wallplate to the wall, then bolt on the boom, which can be at 90 degrees, or tilted down somewhat. The projector mount then slides onto the end of the boom, and once set at the right distance, is held in place by a set screw. Below is a closeup of the mount carriage attached to the EMP-400W.


Most projector mounts I have ever seen boast the ability to conceal cables. But in the majority of cases this is not so easy to achieve, particularly in our scenario where we have a VGA cable with pre fitted plugs which can’t be taken off. The 2C141 stands out as a mount where anything that will go through that massive boom and a 45 mm diameter entry hole on its underside (big enough for many types of plug, including Aust/NZ 3 pin mains) can be nicely tucked away out of sight inside. There is enough of a gap at the junction of the arm onto the wallplate for plenty of cables to get through. If you’re putting mains and low voltage cables inside the boom together, to comply with NZ electrical regulations the mains cable should be separated from the other cables (e.g. using a plastic duct). You should use a mains lead of at least 2 metres. The Epson comes with its own 4 metre lead, but having diverted this to other uses, we were unable to obtain generic substitutes with the figure-eight 2 pin appliance connector longer than 2 metres. For projectors that use an IEC connector, leads are readily available up to 5 metres or longer. Ideally your electrician should be able to mount a mains socket directly above the bracket on the wall.

Since Herma did not supply us with installation instructions, the following appears to be an approximately correct sequence for putting the mount together and installing it:

  1. Attach the mounting base to your projector. This can be quite tricky if the mount holes are close together. The Epson has five holes, while the mount can attach to four. Generally I prefer to balance the mounts as much as possible which depends on the weight distribution across the projector – typically the lens is at the heavy end. On this mount the balance doesn’t matter so much as it does on a $100 ceiling hook. Four screws are supplied for the mount and they fitted the Epson exactly, but if they don’t you will have to supply your own.
  2. Attach the mount base to the carriage (the part that hooks onto the boom) with four bolts supplied.
  3. Attach the wall plate to the wall. Use appropriate fastenings, I should think at least four of.
  4. Attach the arm by the lowest pair of screws only and let it hang down. Thread the cables through from the top.
  5. Bring the arm upright and insert the upper pair of side screws. If it is not tilted then put in the top centre screw that stops it from angling down.
  6. Fit the wall plate cover over the boom end and slide it down to the wall and press into place. You will have to thread the cable ends through it.
  7. Slide the projector carriage onto the boom and temporarily tack in place with the locking screw.
  8. Attach all the cables and power up the projector.
  9. Adjust the projector carriage and mount for angles, distance etc. The Epson doesn’t have an optical zoom so the carriage must be moved in and out to set the picture size. There’s plenty of adjustment in the carriage for tilting the projector up and down or sideways.
  10. Secure the locking screw to lock the carriage into place.

What’s the score? If you must have a wall mount, the 2C141 is worth every cent. The only problem I have with this thing is its size, which could be a bit dominating for some people. If you aren’t put off by that, it is a great solution for a wall mount out to about a metre. At this stage I still have to install it, but that looks to be a relative formality. Hats off to Herma for making such a well designed and constructed you-beaut product.