DIY $3 smartphone projector

· Thursday November 14, 2013

Like many young inner-urban cinephiles, one of my best buds does not have a television in her sharehouse. Sure, there's been talk of buying a projector for watching movies in the lounge room, but I ask: “Why shell out $500+ when you have a tiny computer in your pocket, a box, a paper clip, duct tape and a magnifying glass?” Get Richard Dean Anderson on the phone, because we've found out how to make a projector for under $3.


3t_432_shoeboxprojector_3640

You will need:
– A shoebox or small box
– A magnifying glass. We went with the smaller one in the end.
– A paperclip
– A smartphone
– A stanley knife
– Duct tape
– Black paint (optional)


3t_432_shoeboxprojector_3662

Figure out the centre of your box. Place your magnifying glass smack bang in the middle and trace around the lens.


3t_432_shoeboxprojector_3667

Cut the hole in the box.


3t_432_shoeboxprojector_3671

Stick your lens in that box.


3t_432_shoeboxprojector_3674

If your magnifying glass – like mine – has a handle that won't screw off and pokes out of the box, cut a little notch for your handle in the side of the box. This way you can close the lid.


3t_432_shoeboxprojector_3691

Tape down your magnifying glass, making sure everything is sealed and no light leaks in. Tape down any loose sides of the box too.

Now, if you want to get fancy, paint the inside of your box black. It stops the light from your smartphone diffusing off the sides of the box, optimising your final projection. Science. But we didn't have time for science.


3t_432_shoeboxprojector_3728

Poke a hole in the back of the box to slip your charger cable through.


3t_432_shoeboxprojector_3700

Grab that paperclip and fashion yourself a stand for your smartphone. Unlike MacGyver, it took us eight failed attempts before we fashioned a stand that actually worked. Here's a handy tutorial to save you the humiliation.


3t_432_shoeboxprojector_3726

Like any lens, light passing through your projector will appear upside down. You'll have to flip the screen to get your $3 home cinema to actually work the way it should.
For an iPhone go to Settings > General > Accessibility and turn on Assistive Touch. Then touch the floating orb thing that's on your screen and select Device > Rotate Screen.
For Android, there're apps like Screen Rotation Control and Ultimate Rotation Control that do this for you.

While you're fiddling with your phone, turn the screen brightness way up.


3t_432_shoeboxprojector_3733

Dim the lights and place your phone on its stand in the box. Move the phone back and forth in the box to find your focus point.


3t_432_shoeboxprojector_3739

Close the box and find yourself a blank wall to project onto.


3t_432_shoeboxprojector_3799

Find your best focus point, prop your projector on a stool and pop some popcorn – because you now have yourself a home cinema.