DIY: How to Make Your Own VR Headset in 6 Easy Steps

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The advent of virtual reality has certainly taken the entertainment and gaming industry to the next level. It allows us to explore a multitude of fantasy worlds, which we cannot really do in the real world. It offers immersive experiences that make education fun and entertainment more stimulating for everyone.

On the downside, the expenses involved in building a setup to experience VR are too much for many consumers. If you too are looking to jump on the Virtual Reality bandwagon, consider learning how to make your own VR headset.

Yes, you heard that right! You can make your own VR headset. It is the age of DIYs (Do It Yourself) and there are several DIY VR headset concepts available these days. If you want to learn more, carry on reading the article.

Google Cardboard

Virtual Reality equipment can be really expensive. A tethered VR headset can cost you anywhere between $500 to well over $1000. In addition to the cost, most VR headsets are compatible only with very high-end computers.

This makes Virtual Reality mostly inaccessible for the majority of us. However, Google came up with an ingenious solution to this: a DIY VR headset that is compatible with most smartphones.

Ever since the Google cardboard was announced back in 2014, many companies have come up with their own take on the idea. These days you can get a fully functional cardboard VR headset for less than $20. However, in our opinion, making your own VR headset from scratch is a much more rewarding and fulfilling endeavor.

Google open-sourced the design specifications for their VR headset shortly after the launch of Google cardboard. So, you can easily build your own VR headset with just a few basic tools, a sheet of cardboard and some lenses.

Building Your own VR Headset

Making your own VR headset is fast, easy and super cheap. In this tutorial, we will be breaking down the process into two steps: making the lenses of headset and making the VR headset enclosure box.

Making Your own Biconvex Lenses

The lenses are the most important piece of equipment in your VR headset. They will be responsible for magnifying the display of your smartphone and creating a 3D effect critical to the VR experience. To make the lenses you will need:

  • A transparent plastic bottle
  • A sheet of cardboard
  • Scissors
  • X-Acto Knife
  • Epoxy
  • A Pencil
  • A syringe and needle

To make your VR lenses follow these steps:

  1. On a piece of cardboard, draw a circle measuring 25mm in diameter. This will serve as the template for biconvex VR lenses.
  2. Now using the template as a base, cut four circles from the rounded part of a transparent plastic bottle.
  3. Put two plastic circles together and seal the borders with epoxy.
  4. Fill a syringe with water and inject water between the two pieces of plastic until it is full. Get rid of any air bubbles by gently squeezing the two pieces of plastic together. Once you’ve done that, make sure to reseal the opening made due to the syringe’s needle.
  5. Allow it to dry, and you now have your first biconvex VR lens. To make the second lens follow the same steps as mentioned above.
  6. To check the functionality and magnification of the lenses, go over the text of a book or magazine.

Important tip: The magnification of biconvex lenses depends on their curvature. Bigger lenses with smaller curvatures will have lesser magnification, while smaller lenses with a larger curvature will have a greater magnification effect.

Making the VR Headset Enclosure Box

The enclosure box will hold your smartphone in place when you wear it on your head. Along with your smartphone and lenses, the enclosure box will help create a Heads-up Display (HUD) that gives you a 3D effect. To make the enclosure box you will need:

  • Google cardboard template, that can be downloaded online
  • A spare sheet of cardboard
  • Long bonded paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue gun

Follow these steps to make your VR headset enclosure box:

  1. Download and print the Google Cardboard template in landscape mode. It is preferable to use long bonded paper, as it better fits the design.
  2. Cut the template using a pair of scissors
  3. After that, you need to glue your template to a piece of cardboard.
  4. Now make cuts and folds on the cardboard according to the specifications and guidelines given in the template.
  5. Place your biconvex VR lenses in the slots provided. Make sure the lenses are secure in their slots. Place your phone in the slot provided for it.
  6. Your headset is now ready to give you the VR experience you’ve always wanted.
  7. To test it out, download the Google Cardboard application to try putting samples of photos, videos and games. If you experience clear high definition close-ups of your phone’s display, it means your VR headset is working fine.

Using Your New VR Headset

The Google Cardboard VR headset is compatible with most iphones and android smartphones out in the market. The Cardboard VR headsets work with multiple virtual reality applications, including games, movies and videos. YouTube too has several VR videos that can enhance your viewing experience.

If you’re into gaming there are many exhilarating VR games such as the Lamper app available on playstore. Movie buffs can try out VR cinema, which converts MP4 formats into a split screen format that allows you to experience your favourite movies and videos in VR.

Once you learn how to make your own VR headset, there are a plethora of options available to explore and to choose from. Building your own DIY version of a VR headset is a cost effective and fun way to explore VR. It is a great way of getting a feel of what Virtual Reality actually is.
If you do, however, want to get a more immersive and better quality VR experience, consider investing in a pair of smartphone powered VR headsets. There are dozens of affordable options of VR headsets available in the market these days that are truly worth the money. These headsets will give you a premium VR experience with just your smartphone.