Introduction: Digital 3D Picture Viewer - "The DigiStereopticon"

Picture of Digital 3D Picture Viewer - "The DigiStereopticon"

Stereoscopic photography has fallen out of favor. This is probably due to the fact that people don't like having to wear special glasses to view family snapshots. Here is a fun little project you can make in less than a day to make your 3D pictures more enjoyable to view.

Warning: 3D pictures are ADDICTIVE. You will find yourself spending a lot more time appreciating the simplest snapshots. Next thing you know you'll be browsing ebay for old stereoscopic equipment, blathering on at dinner parties about how much better 3D pictures are than "flat" photos, and spending your weekends making weird stuff to post on Instructables. Read this at your own peril.

Step 1: Buy the Parts...

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If you're savvy with glass and know how to piece together prisms or magnifying glasses to form a stereo viewing lens then you could probably skip this step. The general principle here is that for comfortable viewing, you need to bend the optical path for each of your eyes so that the left image and the right image converge and appear to overlap. This is most easily done with an off-the-shelf stereo viewer by Loreo - a company in Hong Kong that makes 3D lenses and viewers out of plastic.

They cost $24 each (plus $10 shipping) and arrive within a few days.

Step 2: Get a 7" Digital Photo Frame

Picture of Get a 7" Digital Photo Frame

Okay, this isn't rocket science. What we're doing here is basically re-assembling the off-the-shelf Loreo 3D viewer so that it works with a Digital Photo Frame instead of printed photos.

There are many digital photo frames on the market. Since the Loreo viewer is optimized for 4x6 photos, you'll need a 7" digital photo frame. For some reason the 7 inches are measured diagonally so this is the right size. (Note: Some of the 7" photo frames are 16:9 widescreen. I don't know if those would work as well.)

I chose a digital photo frame from Phillips. After much research, I found the Phillips frame to be the highest resolution and brightness of all the 7" frames. It's 720x480, which is decent for our purposes. I found mine on craigslist for $100 cash.

It comes apart quite easily -- simply remove the four black screws in the corners.

Step 3: Measure & Cut Wood

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From here on it is basically a matter of measuring your pieces and assembling a wooden box. I used a $16 piece of oak from Home Depot. It was 1/2" thick, about 6" wide, roughly 3 feet long. You'll find it in the lumber section with the pre-cut project wood.

I did all the cutting with an inexpensive electric jigsaw. For tricky areas, I used a drill to put a hole in the middle of the wood, then inserted the jigsaw bit and started cutting from there.

Feel free to design the box as you like. Mine had 5 pieces:

1) Base. I designed the base with a cut-out to hold the Loreo lens.

2&3) Left & Right sides. I added curves to make it pretty. I used the base of a lamp make the curves clean.

4) Frame. This is what holds the Digital Photo Frame.

5) Foot Rest. A little strip of scrap glued to the bottom to angle the box upwards when resting on a table.

Step 4: Assemble & Stain

Picture of Assemble & Stain

Carefully assemble your pieces.

I used carpenters glue (basically just white wood glue) on all the joints, plus #5 brass screws (1 inch long) to hold it together. If you're using oak you'll want to pre-drill all the holes. Truthfully, I'm not sure if the screws are necessary. The glue is strong and you're not going to put a lot of stress on the box. But the brass screws give it a nice touch.

Make sure to keep a wet cloth handy and wipe off any excess glue that seeps out of the joints. This will ensure the stain is absorbed evenly and you don't end up with unstained streaks where the glue touched the wood.

I don't have photos of the staining step, but it's very simple. I bought a $6 can of Miniwax "dark walnut" wood stain at the hardware store. Wearing rubber gloves (it's poisonous) I spread the stain onto the wood with a folded up piece of paper towel. Let it dry for 4-6 hours.

Step 5: Attach the Loreo Lens & Digital Photo Frame

Picture of Attach the Loreo Lens & Digital Photo Frame

The last step is simply attaching the Loreo lens and digital photo frame.

For the lens, insert it into the hole you cut in the base and use wood glue to fix it in place.

For the frame, make sure it's lined up properly. If any metal parts show through the frame hole you cut, mask them with black electrical tape. I used brass screws to hold the top of the frame in place, then wood glue to bind everything together.

That's it! (I'm thinking of adding a brass plate on the top with the word "Digi-Stereopticon" engraved into it, but my wife thinks that's overkill...)

Leave it somewhere conspicuous. Amaze your friends. Be the coolest person on your block.

Step 6: Taking Photos in 3D...

Picture of Taking Photos in 3D...

Okay, the last step is taking a bunch of pics in 3D. There are TONS of great websites describing how to do this. I've sampled many techniques but the easiest and most satisfying option (in my opinion) would be to buy a 3D lens in a cap from Loreo at the same time as you order the viewer lens. They cost about $75.


techknowdroid (author)2014-04-21

JayDub, here is a link to a 3D viewer which can be made very easily, to view Cross eye side by side photos on any regular TV, LCD, LED or Computer monitor.

This simple viewer is for those of us who find it difficult to cross our eyes to view such cross eye photos and videos. Make one and see how easily you can now view such 3D images and videos. Here is the link to the instructable :-

Happy viewing! :-)

thematthatter (author)2008-03-24

Tool's Ten thousand days album has a stereoscope built right into it. the catch is you have to buy the album, you cant bootleg it off the internet

Creamaster (author)thematthatter2010-01-27

 This CD is actually what I use to view my 3D photos because the little lenses on the case are easier on the eyes that the ones he's used in this instructable.

SteveUK (author)2008-03-19

What would be good is if you could find a little lenticular overlay for the photoframe. Then you wouldn't need so much paraphernalia. You would need to purchase a lenticular sheet that matches the dot pitch of your screen, but that shouldn't be too difficult. I thought about doing it for my monitor. I may give it a go.

slim_jim (author)SteveUK2008-05-21

"That shouldn't be too difficult".

Adding a lenticular sheet to an existing photo frame is completely impossible. There aren't enough pixels to make this work.

Please do not post supposed facts when you don't know what you're talking about.

Grey_Wolfe (author)slim_jim2009-02-17

"What would be good..." "...that shouldn't be too difficult." Perhaps you're correct on this being 'impossible'. I'm not exactly an expert on the topic. Still, your response was awfully harsh due to your assumption that Steve was professing fact. His words are not hard set to say that you can do this and this is how you would. He said it would be good if you could, and that if so it shouldn't be too difficult. He also stated how you would go about it, if you could. If he had said, you need to find an overly, and it wouldn't be difficult, then you might be justified in stating that he was professing facts. Even if he had, though, you could have been nicer about your rebuttal. Still, I have considerable doubt as too the impossibility of anything, however difficult it might be to do, or what adaptations may need to be made. That's just my view on things though.

puffyfluff (author)2008-08-13

Great job! I would have never thought of that.

quoththealan (author)2008-05-29

Hello again, folks. I was going to ignore slim jim's directed non-constructive (and really not very mean or abusive at all, which is why I was going to ignore them) comments to/ about me and my input, but I was browsing unrelated stuff, and strangely wound up here, so I'm guessing that the stereo gods actually would appreciate it if I did give him a response. He called me an "expert," with lots of haughty oomph on the quotation marks, and to fuel his rhetoric gave the statement: "bzzzt... the grooves are vertical in both cases." Firstly, I don't believe I did call myself an expert. True I was stoned, and I don't feel like rereading everything I wrote, but I don't think that I did. But, well, I sort of am. ....actually. And, for enlightenment purposes, let me argue your statement that the grooves are vertical both ways, for stereo and for "moving pictures." No. They can be, but you will not find many professional, serious pieces of "moving pictures" using vertical grooves, as lenticular moving pictures were historically, traditionally, artistically, and sensibly modelled after flip books, and the viewee would flip the media toward and away from them, creating the apparent motion in the media. Obviously lenticular stereo HAS to use vertical grooves, as the grooves (lenses) work in the same way as the lenses on a stereo-optic device, allowing each eye to see the information meant for each eye. With lenticular movement, you do not have to worry about each eye seeing only its designated information, which allows the grooves to be much tighter, and so as not to create misinformation from your eyes to your brain, (and this is where I really want you, non-expert, to pay attention and maybe some thought...just let it brew and settle a little bit...), it is only sensible to have the grooves horizontal so your brain is not losing appreciation of the media due to the fact that its trying to turn a "moving picture" into stereo. I hope that wasn't overly rude, but you, slim, really put your foot in your mouth.

Yeah! What he said, about being stoned. I also agree with whatever else he said. I forget now though. Do my eyes look red?

Amen Brother =D

pousao (author)2008-08-08

Great instructable

weirdscience (author)2008-08-03

First I would like to say great instructable but your tiltle "The DigiStereopticon" implies that you as many people including myself at one time believe a Stereopticon was for 3-D viewing it was not, the following is a quote from Wikipedia
“The term stereopticon has been widely misused to name a stereoscope. A stereopticon will not project or display stereoscopic / three-dimensional (3-D) images. The two lenses are used to dissolve between images when projected. All stereopticons can be classified as magic lanterns, but not all magic lanterns are stereopticons.”
Your title should have been "The DigiStereoscope" great article none the less.

JellyWoo (author)2008-08-02

wait, how much does the total project cost?

quoththealan (author)2008-03-25

I just wanted to add something for all the stereo-fans out there who might not have thought about or tried this yet -- lenticular. You know, like the "moving pictures" or promo 7-11 big gulp cups. These create, with experience (and thus skill [don't expect great results your first time) very impressive 3-d, without the need for any viewing materials beside the lenticular medium the image is printed on. The difference btwn. the moving picture effect and 3d picture effect is done by the direction of the grooves -- for stereo, the grooves must go vertically, so that you are creating, in essence, a side-by-side (by side-by-side-by-side...) stereo photo, where your left eye receives information intended for the left eye, and the right " ". In fact, a couple companies like nishika, made cameras with four lenses and processed your 35 mm film onto lenticular, sending you back your 3d prints. The service is still out there, but overpriced. I quit using lenticular because my house burned down, taking all my lenticular "lenses" with it. I had a few hundred, which I had bought in bulk over the internet. The stuff, retail, costs a fortune, but if you're interested, I was able to find, with a fair amount of searching, "mediabop" 3d-lenses liquidating at near the price of photo-paper. Anyway, I'd recommend the experience to fans of stereo. Many lenses can be printed on from your own inkjet printer, and there are free shareware programs out there for creating lenticular images. (Sorry about how lengthy and perhaps uninteresting and repetitive this is getting...) Also, for those interested in just getting into stereo photography, the Nishika camera is a good way too go. Super-cheap!!! ebay or thrift store, around ten to twenty dollars. Uses 35 mm film. You can use all four lenses, or cover to up, in creating your 3d pics. When having your film developed, just go to a regular place, as specialty places just cost too much, and tell them NOT to cut your film. Tell them that there are two pictures per frame, and too ignore the fact that the pictures don't seem to logically follow one another. If you have any computer editing software, then you'll want to screw the actual developed pictures they give you. What you want is either the pics on cd, or if you have a negative scanner, just the uncut negatives, so you can scan them in yourself. Okay, sorry, again, I ramble. I have things I need to do, and I guess I'm avoiding those things, and making those of you resolute enough to read to this point pay for it. Last words: I've used a lot of different stereo cameras, and mediums, (but there's much that I haven't), and like the author of this article, I recommend the loreo attachment. I made an attachment myself once, based on the same principles, and I'd have to say, even allowing that there are makers out there 399 times more competent than I am, you cannot make a similar product cheaper or better. Nonetheless, it is a good experiment in optics. .... done.

slim_jim (author)quoththealan2008-05-21

There are so many "experts" here that don't know what they are talking about. For example: "The difference between the moving picture effect and 3d picture effect is done by the direction of the grooves." Bzzzt. The grooves are vertical in both cases.

AP3D (author)2008-05-09

I've been working in 3D Stereo for a long time and this is a great way for my friends and family to see my images without the glasses and color distortion from the red green process. I'm going to try and build one this weekend.

PKM (author)2008-03-17

I second the "3D images are addictive" comment! Once you start taking stereoscopic landscape pictures with long baselines and so on you won't go back. The recent stuff about head tracking with a Wii remote has re-ignited my interest.. perhaps there should be a stereograms Instructables group, if there isn't one already? Something I've always wanted to see is something like this linked to twin IR cameras to give 3D night vision- if your brain could handle the correspondence problem it would be a lot of fun to use.

sbot (author)PKM2008-04-07

i third that..they are seriously addictive

quoththealan (author)2008-03-25

Pretty cool, though too expensive for a viewer, I think, and I'm guessing, please confirm or deny as I'm interested to know, that the pictures come out looking pixelated. The focal point on that viewer is obviously short (re-reading my comment, I fail to understand why I might have written that last line, guessing it might be because I'm stoned, but leaving it in because I might have had a good reason for it, but have forgotten it), and that pic resolution, while I'm sure is okay for casual non-scrutinizing glances of unmagnified non-stereo pics, is decent, the very nature of stereo calls for a more active participation when viewing pictures, making, I would believe, the pixels in the digital picture begin to appear like huge clunky boxes.

Creamaster (author)quoththealan2008-03-25

I found the iPod Touch to work great. It's not a high resolution image, but it's a great, simple idea for scanning through your stereo images without having to print have them all printed beforehand. What I like to do is to just get the film developed and scanned to disc, then in iPhoto I can slap them onto my iPod and decide which are working in 3D and which are not - thus only printing out the good photos.

JayDub (author)quoththealan2008-03-25

Yes, you're absolutely right. The pictures are a little pixelated. They call it the "screen door effect" because it sort of looks like you're looking at the world through a screen door. So it's not as high quality as I was hoping for but it's still totally cool. The slide show function on the digital photo frame allows you to view TONS of photos without having to fumble with slides or photo cards. One day I'll upgrade to a hi-def photo viewer. Until then... I got this.

Creamaster (author)2008-03-25

That';s very interesting. I have that exact viewer - it came with the stereoscopic camera I use.

Another quick way to experience this if you have an iPod Touch is to simply put the stereoscopic pictures on the iTouch and drop that into this viewer. It also works well... maybe even better, with the Tool CD 10,000 Days. It has a stereoscopic case complete with lenses:

GeoB (author)2008-03-21

This sounds exciting! I have a digital picture frame just sitting in a box, I picked up after Christmas for $40! Meanwhile, some folks might want to get a jump on viewing stereo digital pics. This works well with scenery, I think up close it gets harder. I take a scenery pic, then move a couple inches to the side, or six inches... it isn't critical when the subject s far away. Later on on my computer, I trim the two pics to show the same area. I simply display them side-by-side, then adjust my eyes to see them in stereo. One way to learn to do this is get the pics ready, displayed side-by-side, hold your finger tip about 3" from your noce, stare at it, and note that you can still be aware of the blurry out-of-focus compter screen. Now, slowly move your finger away from you, watching your finger tip, and at some point you should see the pics converge into a 3-D image. You will learn to adjust size and such to make it easier. I no longer need to use my finger tip. I imagine scenery photos taken as described above will display just fine with your viewer, after being cropped and maybe stitched together. Many photo editing software can do this.

nachobobs (author)GeoB2008-03-23

By crossing your eyes in this method your 3d picture will appear "inverted" or as if you were looking at the inside of a cave. To correctly view them you need to be looking "past" the pictures, trying not to focus on the photo itself but at a point somewhere in the distance behind it. The easist way is to put a sheet of glass or plastic in front of the pictures and try to focus on YOUR reflection in the glass, then bring your attention onto the pictures. Sounds complicated but it is very easy once you know how. Hope this helps, and im not trying to be bitchy!!

GeoB (author)nachobobs2008-03-23

I think we haven't achieved clear communication. My 3-D pictures do not appear inverted. They appear correct. By some kind of eye movement (focusing at a different depth?) I can look at up-close shrubbery in my scencery pics, and I can look 'outward' at the canyons and mtns, not exactly the same eye movement one would use to see the real thing, but I do see the proper subjects at the proper 'apparent' depth and locaton. I am not really sure what you mean about looking at the inside of a cave. I think what you are describing happens when I have swapped sides with the two pictures for some reason. It sure looks weird then. > you need to be looking "past" the pictures, trying not to focus on the photo itself but at a point somewhere in the distance I believe this is what I am doing. I cannot see 3-d when I focus on the picture. I don't have one of my stereo pairs nearby to check my eye movement with, sorry.

macrumpton (author)2008-03-22

I think it would be great if you made a removable version of this that would work with a standard computer monitor. That way there is no additional screen investment, and the image quality would probably be better.

bravebaker (author)2008-03-21

I own one of those. It's, well, okay I guess. Some things to keep in mind: no auto focus, no auto exposure. It has a small slider for focus and a switch for selecting one of two apertures (f11 or f22, as mentioned in the photo there). Using it is a lot like shooting with an old polaroid camera. If you are not familiar with manual photography, you are not going to get good photos. Also, the left and right half of the image are slightly misaligned on mine. hopefully they're not all like that. Having said all that, its still a bargain and easier to use when compared to synched digital SLRs :-)

Whatnot (author)2008-03-21

This is more an ad (70%) than an instructable (30%) in my view, but I don't mind because how many companies support 3D viewers? So they deserve a little boost and it can't be helped to mention them really.

Kegtapper (author)2008-03-21

heres a cheaper set. Harbor Freight- had a magnifing headband with dual magnifyer for 5.77USd you can use those lenses and save even more.

gomiboy (author)2008-03-20

gmjhowe mentioned moving pictures. Are you taking digital photos, or are you scanning? Also, does your frame do video clips? I have one that does, but it's larger, pricier, and generally I wouldn't want to take it apart (yet - you give me good reasons to try!). At the least I want to get the Loreo lens - I've got a film camera I love, but this is waaaay cooler! Great Instructable!

gmoon (author)2008-03-18

A clever blending of old and new....well done.

gmjhowe (author)2008-03-18

so simple, and carried out well. Just need to make a moving picture ones now!

lgcalex (author)2008-03-17

a film image printing on glossy warmtone fiberbased paper in the chemical darkroom can appear 3d. Thats just because the tones are so beautiful. Hehe, i will deffinilty keep my eyes out for a viewer i can scavange. Viewing 3d photographs with goggles is lame

threecheersfornick (author)2008-03-17

Hey! An instructable that gorillazmiko hasn't commented on! "Awesome. i mite have to try this. +1 (favorited)"

not for long i betcha haha

GorillazMiko (author)bumpus2008-03-17


bumpus (author)GorillazMiko2008-03-17


GorillazMiko (author)2008-03-17

Awesome Instructable! Done very neatly, amazing job, photos are great too. I probably won't be able to do this *cough* threecheersfornick *cough*, but I wish I could. Great job. +1 rating.

Darn, you didn't favorite it.

mspark400 (author)2008-03-17

interesting idea great Instructable +1

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