Introduction: DIY 3D Head-Mounted-Display Using Your Smartphone

Picture of DIY 3D Head-Mounted-Display Using Your Smartphone

I recently stumbled over the OpenDive 3D glasses from Durovis.
Stefan Welker designed this nice little toy and made the plan open source.
It is a Head-mounted display like the Oculus Rift but instead of using a dedicated display you can use your smartphone as a display.

The plan he released is a 3d model for 3d printing.
Today everything seems to be printed with a 3d printer but simple constructions like this do not necessarily need such hardware. I have read that printing this model in 0.3mm layers takes like 6 hours.
Actually this can be easily made from wood or plastic sheets. And actually :)... cutting out the parts by hand took around 1.5 to 2 hours. *WIN!!*
Man beats machine...

So I downloaded the plan, took the measurements and constructed a frame using Inkscape.
Yes, Inkscape. Not very much known for it's technical drawing capabilites but the result is nothing to sneeze at.

My fellow students can confirm that ...

The lenses used in the OpenDive can be bought over at Amazon for 7€.
The kit contains 2 lenses and a headstrap.
The wood and velcro I had laying around but all in all this Head-Mounted-Display can be build for around 10€.

The outcome is not that bad ! At least it helps to fill the time until the final Oculus Rift hits the stores.


29. Dec 2013: 3mm plans have been updated. Edges should now align better.
Added a modified version with bigger viewing window (Better for bigger smartphones)
2. Jan 2014: Updated both 3mm versions (0.2 and 0.2b) to 0.3 and 0.3b. They now have stronger edge reinforcement (headstrap) and a nicer eye divider.

Step 1: The Blueprint

Picture of The Blueprint
1) OpenDive 3D model meassured
First I loaded the 3d model into Netfabb and took it's rough measurement.

2) Inkscape box maker plugin
Using Inkscape and a plugin called Tabbed Box Maker I first made a box. Then I looked at the 3d model and modified the box in Inkscape.

I have uploaded three versions.
  1. One is for 4mm thick material.
  2. One is for 3mm material.
  3. The last is for smartphones with a bigger screen. Also for 3mm material.
The viewing window is 110mm x 50mm for No. 1 and 2.
No.3 viewing window is 104mm x 57mm. The Edges can be sanded/cut beveled so that the viewing angle is even wider.

For a complete list of PPI's from different smartphones read the Wikipedia article.


1) I have updated the 3mm plan as there were some errors in it. All edges should now align nicely.
2) Added a modified version 0.2b. The viewing frame has been removed so that phones with a bigger screen don't get cut off. Especially Galaxy S3/4-ish phones.

Step 2: Cutting Edge

Picture of Cutting Edge

Next the plan needs to be transfered to the material of your choice.
Print out the SVG on paper and glue it onto wood or cardboard.

In the beginning I tried to use my Laser Engraver to cut through 4mm cardboard from a TV set but realized that 300mW are to weak to even cut through the first layer of cardboard.

Then I simply engraved the plan onto 4mm balsa wood which work out nice and used a fret saw to cut out the parts.

I found some hobby plastic sheets at my hardware store. This stuff is 3mm thick and a rather soft compared to acrylic glass. It can be cut with a knife so I tried my Frankentein Laser Engraver on it.
The result was okay but not satisfying. The laser could cut through the sheet but takes rather for ever. At a speed of 400mm/minute it can engrave nice fine lines. At 50mm/minute it cuts about the 1mm into the material. I tried it at 20mm/minute in one run but it cut merely 1-2mm. I guess several runs at 50mm/minute could cut it but that would be a torture for the laser.
Besides the very hazardous styrol fumes (see wiki on Styrene) that come up when this stuff melts, I really like the material and with some rework and a sharp knife this could be cut as well.

Step 3: Putting It Together

Picture of Putting It Together

Finally the parts were put together. I used sandpaper to smooth the edges.
When everything fits nice and tight I glued the parts using wood glue.

I decided to cut the lens holder into two and used a rose-head bur to shape a guidance for the lenses.
The lenses were fastened with a hot glue gun.

To fix the smartphone I used velcro. This worked out nice and the smartphone isn't able to slip out.

For the slides were the lens holders go through, cut some piece of foam and pull it over the handles to block out light from the outside.

Step 4: Games - Techdemos - 3D SBS Trailer

Picture of Games - Techdemos - 3D SBS Trailer

So now give me some stuff to do !!!

Here you go...

1) Visit the home of the original OpenDive for games. The range of games is somewhat "managable" but should increase in the next month. Or how about some old school matches Quake 2 in a modded SBS version. Scroll down to get instructions how to get started.

2) Contact Youtube and search for "SBS 3D". A lot of 3D TV manufaturers offer 3D Side-by-Side demo trailers. These are what you are looking for. Don't forget the movie trailers filmed in SBS 3D.
I personally really like LG demo disc 3. All I say is "BASEBALL" ! You will remember we !!!

3) Play PC games streamed to your Android phone. I havn't tried this one yet because my Xperia Sola lacks a gyro. Well how ironic. Anyways, check it out - Kainy


ca6 (author)2015-03-12

cant you just use your phones LED and a computer webcam for LED tracking in placement of a gyroscope?

IdiotDino_ (author)2014-09-01

Where can I get the lenses?

ca6 (author)IdiotDino_2015-03-12

you can order the lenses online

briankho7 (author)2015-02-17

noob here, why is it that whenever i try to print "v0.3b" through google chrome it always gets scaled to a smaller size, im not sure if i chose the wrong file, ill be using it with my xperia z1. hoping for a reply soon. thanks!

ashley.irons2 (author)2015-01-26

These days it is very easy to build a low cost VR headset. In the early
90s it would have cost you a fortune to build such a headset. I built my
own PC Virtual Reality headset using a 8" 1024x768 lcd screen, a sheet
of 3x magnification fresnel lense and a wirless air mouse which acts as a
head tracker. It works great for any PC First Person Shooter or open
world RPG games like Skyrim, Oblivion, etc.

Ashley Irons

ianmcmill (author)ashley.irons22015-01-26

That welding mask is creepy though. :)

magadan (author)2014-10-09

Hello, where is the files for 7" smartphones like LG G3 ?

ianmcmill (author)magadan2015-01-26

This was desgined for smartphones with 3.5-4" displays in mind. Sorry no 7" version.

techknowdroid (author)2014-08-28

Thank you ianmcmill for a very nice instructable. :-)

I have made a similar Viewer using 2mm sheets of particle board wood which were laser cut to the desired shape.
For the lenses I have used optical grade +6 diopter reading glass lenses
which I purchased from my local optician. I also additionally purchased
+5, +4, +3 diopter lenses (in pairs) which can be used to focus on to
wider smart phone screens. The +6 diopter is good for up to 4 inch
screens. I will put up the instructable outlining the steps, shortly.

On a side note......I
have also made a glass prism which allows one to see 3D cross eye SBS
photos and videos on any non 3D monitor or LCD TV. You may wish to
check it out.
Here is the link :

Thank you once again for a very nice instructable. :-)

ikarayilan (author)2014-06-29

I just made googles (cardboard) take on the virtual reality world, they also have an app for it! Although my one needs a lot of work i'm going to try your version when i'm back at uni (i'm a product design student)


dmoeller1 (author)2014-05-29

This looks great. Got some 3mm balsa and a pair of 5x loupe lenses I picked up at a local hobby store so I can try this with my Galaxy S3. Hoping I can get a couple junked S4s so I can pull their displays and build a dual 1080p screen setup in the future.

No1sBoy (author)dmoeller12014-06-24

I asked about this in another post, but, I have a few very nice (and pricey, in their day) handheld video recorders. JVC and Sony micro-cassette type. The screens on them are about 2 or 3 inch square and very high res. Much more so than a smart phone screen. Do you think it would be possible to do the same thing with these types of screens? I would LOVE to give it a shot...

rjong (author)2014-06-13

I'm making this one at the moment. Tip: For the material I'm using pvc
forex, which is very light weight and strong enough at the same time.
I'll post some pictures once I'm done

aqasem (author)2014-06-06

What does make this lenses special comparing to other ??

ianmcmill (author)aqasem2014-06-07

They are just about the right size.

cheesemarathon (author)2014-01-17

Hey awesome project. I have built one myself now out if abs plastic and its great!!! :-) A couple of questions though, on your designs I had to change them a bit. The parts that sort of stick out to slot in to the groves (probably have a specific name but I don't know it) they were A) different heights and B) were more than 3mm. This means that when you cut them out they stick out above the main body. To me that doesn't look great. 2nd of all the diameter of the hole for the lens is too big. Now I'm new to all this CNC cutting and design so although i got mine to work in the end you may have designed it intentionally like this I don't know but i thought i would let you know how i got on anyway. Thanks for posting this brilliant build anyway :-)

P.S: Photos of my build hopefully coming soon

ianmcmill (author)cheesemarathon2014-03-03

Hit the "I made it!" Button and share your build with us !

ianmcmill (author)cheesemarathon2014-01-17

Thanks !

Yeah I know about that glitches. They weren't there in v0.2 but found their way into v0.3. Actually I wanted to get rid of them in 0.3 but instead introduced new ones :)

About the diameter for the lens though I made them smaller then the lens and used a rose-head bur to trim some kind of channeling to hold the lens.

When my exams are over I will try to fix the irregularities.

P.S: Photos are always welcome !!

semihmasat (author)2014-02-05


I think i am goind to modify my swimming gogles to do that. ASnd i had to wait for lenses to arrive from china :)

Cannot wait to build this :)

jdos santos1 (author)2014-01-16

¡Thank you for the links! I could not see them, I only saw the big picture of the first model. Thank you for the work. Greetings.

jdos santos1 (author)2014-01-15

I can't see the download links of the 3 versions of the plan. ¿How do I download the 3 versions?

ianmcmill (author)jdos santos12014-01-16

opendive_mod_wider_view_3mm_A4_v03b.svg18 KB

opendive_mod_3mm_A4_v03.svg21 KB

They should be there but I linked them here again. Though remember there still might be some or the other wrinkles. Before glueing it together, try if they fit and use a knife or rasp to fix it :)

akura2 (author)2013-12-29

Can this be edited for use with the iPhone5?...

ianmcmill (author)akura22013-12-29

This should work pretty much with an IPhone. I use it with my 4 and the additional 1cm of the iPhone5 should give you a better view than I have.

HeMa (author)2013-12-29

Any information on what the diameter and focal point for the lens is. I live in China and the only thing that Amazon sends to China is books.

ianmcmill (author)HeMa2013-12-29

The diameter is 2.5cm. I don't know about the focal length, sorry. Those lenses used for dental glasses or better jeweller magnifiers on ebay. Shipping from China as well :).
10X - 12X "should" work well but don't nail me on that.

ianmcmill (author)ianmcmill2013-12-29

AntzyP asked the same and I havn't measured it right now but an estimated focal length of 110mm - 120mm is what you want.

MrE (author)2013-12-27

Very Cool. I have an ecraft paper cutter that accepts .svg files I going to cut this out on paper and use some super 77 glue to tack it to foam board and make one of my own.

ianmcmill (author)MrE2013-12-28

Good idea. Feel free to post some pictures !

Antzy Carmasaic (author)2013-12-26

Cool project! It's great that you used your cutting skills instead of a 3D printer for making this...
I couldn't find in the Instructable if you used just any lens or the ones sold by OpenDive? Can you provide an approximate focal length?

I used the OpenDive lenses. They are available on amazon here. The downside is that they ship from germany so shipping could be disproportionate.

Another option, though some modding would be required, would be to use these 5X or these 7X lenses. Shipping from US. But the costs would exceed the OpenDive lens kit I think.

ianmcmill (author)ianmcmill2013-12-26

Or, if you dare to, you could saw of the lenses of some old binocular like the guy here.

I had the same thing in mind. That's why I wanted to know the focal length of the lens openDive guys are selling. No worries, I'll figure it out with trial and error. The best way there is... ;-)

Take a look at this page. This will help I think.

ianmcmill (author)ianmcmill2013-12-27

Search for "5x pocket loupe lenses" on ebay. Those dental magnifiers are just brilliant.

But those 5X lenses posted in the comment above should work pretty well. I have seen DIY oculus rift builds using exactle these lenses. They even give you a wider FOV.

oldladygrandma (author)2013-12-26

Really wanted to give this a try, waiting for the oculus rift HD to come out. One problem, I can't seem to ship the lenses anywhere. I live in New Zealand so I don't expect them to ship there, but they won't even ship to the US? Just got a note 3 so I need to try it.

alzie (author)oldladygrandma2013-12-26

Cool project.
I want to do this with my nex7.

How bout some hi diopter reading glasses?
Or, stack 2 sets to get the mag.
Reading glasses should be available everywhere.

ianmcmill (author)alzie2013-12-27

I have tried this too. But reading glasses don't have the amount of magnification you need. Old binoculars or cheap aspheric magnifier glasses could work.

simplebeep (author)2013-12-26

Very nice. Some time ago I was browsing for a way to make a personal head-mounted display, but everything I found suggested hacking Myvu glasses, which seems to miss the point entirely. This is just what I need!

wnq (author)2013-12-26

Great and really cute!

hightekhick (author)2013-12-24

that's awesome idea. if the games use the gyroscope, like for first person shooters. you could look and shoot, with the help of a Bluetooth controller of course.

artworker (author)2013-12-23

Cool! This will be best for my images here

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