$6 Ipod Nano Projector





Introduction: $6 Ipod Nano Projector

About: In my free time, I like building and repairing almost anything especially with found or recycled materials.

First, I should start by saying that I got this idea from Killa-X's comments and photos on Tanntraad's "Make an Ipod Video Projector" Instructable.  What I really wanted to do was take out a functional LCD screen that was roughly "slide sized" and place it where the slide would have gone in a slide projector.

Imagine if you took that digital camera that you dropped and broke the lens but it still reads memory cards and does photo slide shows on its little screen.  If you take the backlight off the LCD you can project light through it so if you could fit it inside a cheap slide projector, you'd have a wall-sized digital photo frame.

I already had a slide projector from my $6 lens Instructable but I didn't have a spare digital camera to sacrifice so I decided to do a "proof of concept" projector using the backlight of the ipod as the light source.  Of course it was never going to be very bright but hopefully someone will take the idea and run with it.

Step 1: Basic Concepts

A slide projector has a light source (in this case a 12v 50w bulb) which is reflected and diffused to make as much of its light directed and evenly spread across the focal plane (slide or LCD to be projected).  It's also necessary to separate the heat source (light bulb) from the focal plane because slides and LCDs can melt and burn.

I'd love to use all of this, but as I said in the introduction, I don't have a spare LCD to project so I'm using my "hand-me-up" Ipod Nano as my light source, reflector, diffuser & LCD.  This simplifies the process significantly as I just need to place the Ipod in the focal plane and then do some tidying up.  I think an Ipod with a larger screen and adjustable brightness (or hacked super-brightness) would be even better.

If you are old enough to remember using a slide projector, you put the slides in upside-down and back-to-front for them to be projected right side up and front-to-front.

Luckily the Ipod easily fits upside-down but the back-to-front proved impossible.  You'll see later that it's pretty obvious the projected images are reversed.

Step 2: Tidying Up

I made a slot so the Ipod slides into the focal plane.  Measure, Mark, Cut is a favourite sequence of mine.  I then taped some black card stock to the underside of the lid to get rid of some funny reflections that were being projected and to steady the Ipod.

If you do use the projector's light source, don't cover any of the vents.  You will need all of them to be open to keep the heat from building up.

Step 3: Testing

So I set it up to project the Ipod image (39mm diagonally) to roughly the size of a DVD case (230mm diagonally).  It turned out that the distance from the focal plane to the screen was 670mm (around 2 feet 2 inches).  Any bigger and it was too dim to focus.  Hopefully this might help you in your image size & distance calculations.

Hopefully I'll find a suitable donor camera or MP4 player and actually use the projector's light source.



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"If you are old enough to remember using a slide projector, you put the slides in upside-down and back-to-front for them to be projected right side up and front-to-front." Not in my Kodak Carousel. You put them in upside-down, yes, but you don't reverse them front-for-back. When the slide is in the projector, the back of the slide faces the screen and the front of the slide (normally the slide with the Kodak or whatever logo on it) faces the lamp.

If all you need is a brighter image couldnt you just use a led light source?

Use a mirror as shown in my instructable

If you are trying to flip the image upside down, you could point the projector up and reflect it off a mirror to the wall.

If you are trying to invert the image left to right, you could "rear project" it onto a piece of frosted glass....  See my instructable on spray-on glass frosting.

A friend of mine had a piece of frosted perspex (plexiglas) standing vertical in the middle of his living room.  I asked him what it was for and he laughed and turned on a projector sitting on a bookshelf.  The perspex became a screen and you could see the video image on both sides (although one of them would be reversed, of course).

 or, you could put the projector on a box, and slide the ipod thru, so it fits exactly, with all of it covered..... 

i have done a poject like this only i used a lcd screen from ebay that was just a screen withe video in puts and i stripped it and put it in a old scool movie projector so it looks like the cool old ones but it is actually a digital projector i would post pictures but i don't have a camera i will when i get one tho

4 replies

Excellent!  That is a very cool idea.  If it was an old 16mm projector, the LCD must be very small!  Does the motor still turn the reels around?  I wonder if they still make that cool flappy sound without the film running through it?

 very small lcd the the motor still turns the reels but i installed a separate switch to turn them on and off but i attached a piece so it flaps so it still makes the cool sound but sometimes when playing 360 it can get annoying

It sounds great!  Why don't you take some pics and post a slide show.  I'll be happy to put a link to it from the intro page of this instructable.

like i said above i don't have a digital camera but i will try to barrow one from my friend or the school

Hi tewharau,
great idea and realization.

Somehow I was thinking you would use the ipod display as an actual slide.

So what if you took apart an ipod, separated the electronics from the display and used it as a see trough slide, to be projected onto the wall by the projectors lamp.
(under the condition, the display is see through ...
let me check on my broken nano

bye Gerde

3 replies

 Hi Gerde,

That is exactly what I wanted to do but didn't have a broken ipod.

I bought a camera with a broken lens so I could use the LCD out of it to make a slideshow projector, but then I found an instructable to fix it so I've been using it as a camera.

Please post pics if/when you get it going!

Hi again,
I just got done, taking the ipod apart.
To proove the concept I can say:
"Yes it is possible to remove everything from the LCD Display in an ipod nano* "
(* 1st generation with a simpler display, than they use now, argh)

anyway... here are the pictures, taken of my ipod,  some of them with a reversal lens adapter and a 28mm f2.8 lens  for an analog 35mm SLR

bye Gerde

ipod nano first gen in pieces.jpgLCD display closeup.jpgLCD display closeup2.jpg

 Hi Gerde,

That is excellent!  If you can separate (or fold up) the backlight and place the LCD in a slide-shaped casing, you should be able to drop it into place and (hopefully) have the IPOD on top of the casing so you can control it.

Remember that when projected, top becomes bottom, and left becomes right....so you'll need to have the screen upside down and "facing" the light source so it displays correctly when projected.

If you were nearby, I'd happily drop by my slide projector and we could have a go at making it work, but I suspect you are in Europe, so we couldn't be any further from each other.....

Keep up the good work, and feel free to make an instructable and I'll put a link to it from this one.

Was this the projector you used to make a macro lens? I recognise the $6 sign witten on it

4 replies

 Haha, yeah, same one.... lucky I didn't have to modify the lens and could use it for this one too. 

is there a possible way to place a lense in front of the iPod so the screen wont be reversed?

how about just using a replacement screen from somewhere like fixmyipod . com (Not advertizing for them, but the only ones i could think of off the top of my head) ive seen them as low as $15.00 i know its a bit more than $6 but it will save your hand me up ipod for use latter, and when i tried to remove my screen from my 5G ipod i broke it :(, but good luck with this project it is a great idea

Not that I know of, but if you disassembled the Ipod, you could turn the LCD screen around so it would come out right.