Introduction: Google Polycarbonate
You can have a truly mind blowing virtual reality experience without spending a lot of money. Try it, it's stunning!
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Recently, the Google Cardboard project made much buzz, and motivated me to complete this project. But it is the Durovis Dive project, which exists since several years already, that has been my trigger to start this project.
All these Dive and Google people have made a great job (great and astute hardware design, great apps) and I want to thank them for having made VR so easy!
This is the name of the present project. Similar to Google Cardboard, with the following advantages:
- Much better look than Cardboard. Below Durovis Dive and Oculus Rift, but definitely far above "Happy Meal" Cardboard. And much more durable.
- It's a maker statement. Requires time to build (2 evenings maximum).
- Trains your skills working with polycarbonate (it's quite easy, actually).
- You can set the focus to match your sight.
- You can, well, clean it in the dishwasher. Which is cool.
- The translucent design gives you some clue about the outer world, and this may help you not getting sick.
The basic principle of stereoscopy is to deliver to each one of your eyes an image of the same scene, but with a slightly shifted perspective point of view.
Your smart phone, by means of dedicated apps, will part its screen in two halves, one for each eye. The lenses will allow you to focus on the screen (because at approx a 5 cm distance, your eye cannot focus without help). The head mount, goal of the present project, will hold everything together.
Virtual Reality (VR)
The smart phone can, in addition to just generating the stereo images, use its acceleration- (i.e. tilt) and magnetic- (i.e. compass) sensors, in order to update the viewpoint inside the virtual scene, in accordance to your movements and orientation, creating a true and stunning VR experience.
Step 1: VR Alternatives
Depending on your expectations, you have several other options. Here are a few and what I can say about them:
Oculus Rift - whole hardware included
- $350.00 - available for developers
- Professional product finish
- Up to full HD resolution per eye
- For the serious VR user
- Said to possibly make you sick before you get accustomed; or maybe just a lag issue needing to be solved
Durovis Dive - uses your smart phone
- Around $80, in addition to your smart phone (Android best supported; only 1 demo + 1 game for iOS)
- Professional product finish
- Resolution of your phone. With non-Retina screens, quite visible inter-pixel black lines visible.
- A few games and demos available for Android; poor support for iOS
- For apps requiring inputs, Bluetooth input device needed (USB on-the-go possible?)
Google Cardboard - uses your smart phone
- At $10 (in addition to your Android smart phone), a lot of bang for the buck!
- Requires some work from you (probably no tools required)
- About the look... well... did you get it in a McDonald's Happy Meal?
- AFAIK, you cannot tune the focus to match your sight.
- The input is cleverly implemented by a magnet, to simulate simple clicks. Limited, but sufficient for the provided apps
- A few demos are available on Google Play store, for Android (no iOS, I presume)
- I think they can run apps designed for Durovis Dive
- EDIT: More on the magnet.
In order to interact with the scene (in particular, to select an object or menu item that you look at), they simulate the mouse click (or screen tap) by detecting a quick change of the magnetic field. So, no bluetooth nor USB device is needed. You just to have to slide the magnet up and down again.
Please correct me if the above is inaccurate.
OK, I should also mention toys like this one. Serious alternatives, really. Very cheap, looks a bit above Happy Meal. Need the addition of the magnet (to simulate clicks).
Step 2: Working With Polycarbonate Hollow Sheets
The polycarbonate, as translucent hollow sheets, is a very nice material for crafting.
It has several interesting features:
- Variety of colors
- Easy to work out; a bit like cardboard
- Forgiving; unlike acrylic, scratches and slight dirt will not be an issue
- Very light and sturdy
The above pictures show how you can obtain very nice bends, with the inside forming straight angles, and the outside becoming very nicely rounded:
- Just remove some part of the inner side, at the desired corner location.
- Remove the separation. Temporarily bend in the opposite direction to help during removal.
- Finally bend in desired direction
I used a cutter, a Dremel (but it is really optional), and an X-Acto knife to clean the cuts.
Step 3: Needed Materials
It is necessary to slightly plan your project ahead. Indeed, the only critical part (apart from the smart phone itself, of course) is the pair of lenses. I got my ones from the Durovis Dive project, from Amazon. Currently out of stock, maybe the effect of Google Cardboard...
You will need an Android smart phone with Android 4.1 or above, or an iPhone if you insist on (there is one Durovis Dive game, and one demo). A 4.3" display is ideal. Bigger screens should work too.
- 1 polycarbonate hollow sheet, 6 mm thick (0.24")
- Two times: 1 x M4 screw, 1 x wing- or regular- M4 nut, 2 x washer
- 1 rubber band, 15 cm long (6")
- Thin iron wire (e.g. bag tie wire)
- 2 headless nails; not too hard steel; paper clips should be fine too
- 1 neodymium magnet, cubic, side 5 mm (0.2")
- 1 ferrite magnet (for magnetic board)
Step 4: Needed Tools
- Cutting mat
- Metallic ruler
- Sand paper, medium grit
- Permanent marker, fine
- Masking tape
- Hot melt glue gun
- Hand drill and drill bits: 4 mm (0.1"), 1.5 mm (0.06")
- Dremel with mini disc saw
- Drill press
- Drill bit, 2.2 cm diameter (0.9")
- Hole saw drill bit, 2.5 cm diameter (1")
- X-Acto knife
Step 5: Choosing Your Blueprint
In this Instructable https://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-3D-Head-Mounted-Display-using-your-smartphone/ they have done a great work providing (in Step 1) several blueprints for various phone sizes.
Carefully choose the one matching your phone size.
Step 6: Cutting the Frame
From the chosen blueprint you will need to cut out the top, bottom, and the two lateral walls.
- Print and cut along a frame that is enclosing the dents that they defined for the joinery.
- Align the paper pieces on the polycarbonate. Very important: The sides of each piece must coincide exactly with an inner wall of the polycarbonate sheet. Tape.
- Allow approx 1/2 cm extra length on the bottom wall, to support the phone.
- Draw the cut line. Do not care for the curves yet.
- Tape the opposite side, and draw well-aligned cut lines on the tape.
- Cut along the lines.
- Use a Dremel (easier but will need some sanding),
- or use a cutter and a metal ruler (need many passes; mind to not loose alignment; be careful).
- File, sand and clean the edges of the cuts.
- Cut the curved parts away.
Step 7: Making the Frame Bends
As explained in step 2, mark and cut away the inner separators corresponding to the frame bends.
Step 8: Clipping the Frame
With pliers, bend the two nails.
Make a short cut into the bottom wall to allow the nail properly meet the side wall.
The frame is done.
Step 9: Making the Lenses Holder
- Measure the inner size of the frame.
- Measure the distance between the center of your two eyes (form me 6 cm).
- Draw the lens holder, adding lateral space for two flaps.
- To determine the exact position of the flap bends, keep in mind that the holder with flaps folded at 90°, will have to exactly fit into the frame.
- Drill the two holes with a diameter slightly smaller than the lenses. If you do not have a drill bit of that size, use a file or a jigsaw.
Photo 4: the result
Step 10: Making the Lenses Holder (cont)
I needed to have the lenses slightly nearer to my eyes than the holder would allow, so I had to cut two polycarbonate rings.
The rings are glued on the holder with hot melt glue.
Then the lenses get carefully glued on the rings, by means of four drops of hot melt glue.
Step 11: Making the Tightening
Drill a long hole on each side of the frame, in order to be able to adjust the position of the lens holder.
Drill a regular hole in the holder's flap. align and mark the proper height of the hole's center.
Install the M4 screw with nut and washers, connecting the lens holder to the frame.
Step 12: Adding the Rubber
Drill small holes in the frame, and tighten the rubber by means of iron wire.
Step 13: Resulting Polycarbonate Pieces
Now our polycarbonate pieces are done.
With this design and materials, the object can be disassembled and re-assembled as many times as desired with no problem.
I attached my design as SVG file, for a Sony Experia Z1 compact phone. But keep in mind that your dimensions may differ, depending on your chosen blueprint to match your phone.
Step 14: Adding the Magnets
The 4 mm cubic neodymium magnet can freely move inside a chamber of the polycarbonate sheet.
The regular whiteboard (ferrite) magnet is ideal to pair with the neodymium one: The ferrite one is big enough to be manipulated, strong enough to hold very well. Using two neodymium magnet would make them very difficut to move.
One could seal the chamber by one drop of hot melt glue on each side.
Step 15: Finished Product
The product is now ready to dive into 3D virtual reality!
The 2nd picture shows all the finished parts.
It could bear some more improvements such as:
- using the belt provided along with the Durovis lens kit
- adding some Sugru on the edges in contact with the face, for increased comfort...
But really, like me, you're way too impatient to use it, so it can be done later!
Step 16: Set the Focus and Enjoy
Get a good focus for each eye. At best, rest the whole on a table, phone facing the table top, and move each washer of the holder to get a good focus for each eye.
Start your Google Cardboard or Dive app, and enjoy. Two android apps to start with:
- Dive Unity Demo
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