Projectors these days are no doubt an essential item for not only business or academic purposes, but for homes as well.
But considering the matter of cost, many of you may not prefer to invest a hefty sum on a projector just for casual purposes.
That doesn’t mean you have to miss out on enjoying a widescreen experience as smart DIY methods can save the day and your money while providing the convenience of a real projector.
All you need is a few basic office tools to get the job done and near-similar projector performance. So let’s check out how to make a projector at home in all the crazy yet simple ways to boost your entertainment like never before!
The mirror is needed to cancel out the inversion of the images as the magnifying lens is convex and causes the inversion.If you don’t have a mirror, avoid media with writings/subtitles.
1. Prepping The Box
The first step involves cutting off one of the short sides of the rectangular box. The long side is important for focus adjustment.
If you’re using black paper, glue them to all the internal areas evenly and smoothly without missing any spot. This is vital to ensure the prevention of reflections in the image so that you get the best visual quality.
If you’re using black paint, let it dry completely before moving on to the next steps. Ensure that you provide even coating.
2. Placing The Magnifying Glass And Mirror
Cut off or unscrew the handle of the magnifying glass. Make sure it is of high quality and a decent size for delivering the most premium image quality.
On the piece of cardboard that you cut off in the first step, trace the shape of the magnifying glass head. Take the internal diameter to ensure a tighter fitting so that it doesn’t fall off easily.
Cut out the traced shape with your knife/scissors.
Place the magnifying glass lens in the slot you created. You can secure it with glue or create a rectangular compartment for the lens-holder cardboard piece with matte black paper. If you use glue, you’d need to move the smartphone for focusing, while the separate box allows you to move the lens for focus adjustment.
Now you need to place the mirror at the other end of the box at an angle of 45 degrees. The mirror needs to be placed in the middle of the magnifying lens and the smartphone.
3. Creating the Smartphone Slot
On the top lid of your cardboard box, place your smartphone and trace the shape of your smartphone screen, not the smartphone body as or else, the phone will fall inside.
Cut out the traced shape after ensuring that it is right above the mirror.
Put on the lid, place the smartphone on top, test it out and make necessary adjustments.
With everything all set, start projecting away in a dark room.For an enhanced experience, use an external speaker when playing videos and set the brightness setting to the maximum level.
How To Make A Projector With A Flashlight
This type of projector is only effective for projecting images. Videos won’t work and you’d receive no sound output either. The items needed for this DIY method are:
A magnifying glass of good quality
Scissors and anti-cutter
Styrofoam or cardboard
Once you have these at hand, move on to the steps below to create your own DIY image projector.
Measure and cut out two square pieces of cardboard or Styrofoam.
Now on top of these squares, cut out U-shapes matching the shape of your flashlight. These two pieces will be the pillarsholding your flashlight.
Now cut out another piece so that you can easily place and change slides on it. Match the height with the flashlight so that the light passes straight through the transparent paper slides when they’re placed in this cardboard cutout.
Cut out a third piece of cardboard for holding the magnifying glass lens.
Trace the shape of the magnifying glass on this piece, cut out the hole, and attach the lens in this gap with glue.
Now assemble all three pieces on a single rectangular base. Glue them together with the flashlight holder piece in one end, the lens piece on the other, and the slide holder piece in the middle. Ensure sufficient space among the pieces.
Your flashlight projector is now just about done. Turn off the room light and place this projector facing a white wall or any smooth white surface such as a whiteboard.
Place your transparent slides in a reverse alignment.
The light from the flashlight will pass through the image in the slide and the image on it will be magnified and inversed by the magnifying glass lens, showing you’re the correct, enlarged picture.
For bigger projections, you can move this projector further away from the wall or whiteboard. Do keep in mind that the image quality will fall the further it is moved.
How To Make Projector Without Magnifying Glass
It is likely that even if you find all the other tools, you’d find no magnifying glasses at hand.
In such a scenario, this one issue will not get in the way of making your own homemade projector. The main hero is water, along with which, you’ll need either of the following instead of a magnifying glass.
Homemade magnifying lens
Clear glass fishbowl
How To Make A Magnifying Lens At Home
This is quite a simple procedure and requires just a clear plastic bottle, knife, and water.
Since magnifying glass lenses have convex surfaces that magnify the image, you need a bottle with a rounded top.
From near the mouth of the bottle, cut out two circular pieces of the same size. You’ll notice that the circles are not flat pieces of plastic, but are curved.
Next, put the pieces together with the convex side outwards.
Now with a heated knife, start joining the pieces together. The heat will melt the plastic and seal them.
Seal almost all the way but leave a small gap. You now have a circular plastic pocket that is empty inside.
Dip this into a bowl of water and allow water to fill it up through the gap you left. Also, check for any leaks in the sealed areas.
Once it’s entirely full, take it out and seal the opening with the hot knife.
Now you have a plastic pouch of water which can be substituted for a magnifying glass lens as it possesses a convex shape, i.e., thicker at the middle.
How To Make A Homemade Projector With Water?
If you’re using a light bulb instead of a magnifying glass, the procedure is the same as the very first method we discussed above with the shoebox.
The only difference is that instead of using the magnifying glass in one of the short ends of your rectangular box, you’ll have to attach the lightbulb.
Before doing that, you have to carefully take off the bottom of the bulb and clear out all the filaments andother internal materials so that all you are left with is the glass bulb case.
Once that is done, attach it to the cardboard box and fill it up with fresh, clean water.
Then close the bulb top with a bottle cap or something and seal it securely with tape.
If you don’t have a mirror, you have to play the media on your smartphone inversely or upside down after turning off the auto-rotation mode. Hence, when the bulb lens inverts it, you’d see the images the right way.
2. Homemade Lens
After you have made your lens with the plastic bottle cutouts and water, you just have to attach it to your DIY projector in place of the magnifying glass lens. The rest of the steps will remain the same.
If you’re a lazy-pants like I am, this is probably one of the most straightforward methods to project your images without all the legwork of building a homemade projector.
Just fill up the fishbowl with water and set up your phone behind it at an angle so that the images are properly visible. Now turn off the light and start projecting on a white, smooth surface with your phone at the highest brightness level.
Pros And Cons Of Homemade Projectors
Inexpensive; saving projector, electricity, and maintenance costs
Great for basic purposes
Can be made with basic household tools and items
Fun and creative activity
Saves time in looking and researching for the perfect projector
Easy fix that allows the eyes to rest from direct screen-time
Not worth the hassle for important tasks
Lots of trial and error involved
Not the most accurate media and color quality due to single lens
The flashlight projector works with only images on transparent slides
Water methods can be messy and risky
Though manufactured models of projectors available in the market come with enhanced features and quality, both this and the homemade models adopt the same science.
Hence, for basic tasks/entertainment, building up your own device is a lot more fun and budget-friendly.
Now that you know how to make a simple projector at home, you can finally get crafty and enjoy a close-enough widescreen experience with barely any expenses!
Dror Wettenstein is a software engineer and entrepreneur with more than 15 years of experience in the industry. He is the founder of TechTreeRepeat, a company that enables technical writers to publish their work faster and share it with readers across the globe. Dror has a master’s degree in computer science from San Diego State University and a bachelor’s degree in physics from UC Irvine.
When he’s not working on software projects, Dror enjoys writing articles and essays on various topics. He also likes playing guitar and spending time with his wife and two young children.