How to make a projector for your iPod/iPhone for about a $1

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Picture of How to make a projector for your iPod/iPhone for about a $1
This is a fun easy project that anyone can make in about 15-20 minutes. The whole project only cost me a dollar and works good enough that I can enjoy an entire movie on it. The way it works is the light from your phone or iPod goes through the magnifying glass and magnifies onto the wall. The whole project is very easy to make and easy to understand.

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Step 1: Supplies

You will need a few household items to make your projector. Any supplies that you don’t have you can buy for very cheap. I completed the entire project for a dollar and the cheapest iPod/iPhone projector I could find online cost $90. For this project you will need:
•A shoe box
•A knife
•Duct tape
•A magnifying glass (this was the only thing I had to buy and it only cost a
•A marker
•Hot glue gun

Step 2: Prepare the Box

Picture of Prepare the Box
The first thing that you are going to do is cover any holes in your box to prevent any light from leaving your box or entering  by doing this you will increase the quality of your projector. Cover all the holes on the outside of the box with duct tape then cover them on the inside so none of the sticky tape is exposed. Cover up all the sides so no light seeps out.

Step 3:

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We are using a magnifying glass as a lens any size will work for this. Start by finding the center of the box and marking it. Next put your magnifying glass on the box and carefully trace around it with your marker. After you have a cleanly drawn circle get out your knife. The best kind of knife for this would be an X-Acto knife but since I didn’t have one I just used a sharp pocket knife with a very sharp tip. Any knife will do but one with a sharp tip is ideal. Slowly cut out the circle you just drew on the box be careful so that the edges are cleanly cut for the best results. After you cut the circle cut some holes in the back for speakers and a charging cord so you don’t run out of batteries while using your projector. I covered up any rough edges on my lens hole with duct tape and that worked great. Now line up the magnifying glass and push it in the hole then glue it on. I put the lens to mine a little above the box and used a Lego to hold it up while I was gluing it so it would be stable. If your magnifying glass has a handle tape it to the inside of the box with your duct tape.

Step 4:

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Line up your iPod/iPhone with the magnifying glass and mark it then draw some straight lines with a ruler so you know where to put the iPod/iPhone whenever you use it.

Step 5: Build a Stand for Your iPod/iPhone

Picture of Build a Stand for Your iPod/iPhone
You want your iPod/iPhone to be as vertical as possible. So we will make a stand out of LEGOs if you don’t have any LEGOs you can use play dough and stick it to the box and rest your iPod/iPhone against it. To make the stand out of LEGOs take a platform (the one I used is 6x6) and stick a LEGO that is one high and one wide and long enough to go across the platform. Next figure out how much space your phone or iPod needs and place a 2 wide Lego behind it stack the LEGOs high enough to give the iPod/iPhone support. That’s it for the stand.

Step 6: Use it!

Picture of Use it!
To use the projector place your iPod/iPhone in the box and in the stand. If you haven’t already opened the picture/video you want to use the projector for open it now. Line it up with the magnifying glass so that the light shines through.You have to place the iPod/iPhone upside down, if you don't the picture will be projected upside down.  Turn the lights off and so you can see the screen better adjust the iPod/iPhone until you can get a clear picture. You might want to mark that spot so the next time you use it you don’t have to adjust so much.
• If the screen appears dim turn the brightness to the highest setting on your iPod/iPhone.
• If it still appears dim try going into a room with no windows and turn the lights off so it is completely dark.
• To get a bigger picture move the projector further away from whatever it is projecting on.
• To improve the quality project your image onto a white wall or projector screen so it will show up better if you don’t have either then you can easily make one by taping white paper to a cardboard box.
• If the screen is projected upside down turn the iPod/iPhone upside down in the box.

Thanks for viewing!
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littlej3321 days ago

i want to make it so bad. to bad right now my ipod is broken. it was out in the snow/mud/water for 1 week anybody know how to fix it?

Darkflame703 months ago

I did everything required, flipped the phone over but the screen becomes flipped horizontaly. Do you know how to fix this? Thanks in advance!

Turn off orientation lock:

Well...Turn your device upside down.

jojo_unicorn4 months ago
Do I need to cover all my holes in my box?
EloiL4 months ago

Hi! Which magnification did you use to have a great render?

Best regards!

hqecigar4 months ago

I had buy a very cheap projector, only 39$, I think this is better then DIY , and not so expensive, why not buy? I buy at, I think it is good

Lilark3 years ago
(removed by author or community request)
nelsnils Lilark3 years ago
Somebody needs to learn resourcefulness.
-Shoe box. If you don't have one ask a neighbour.
-A knife. You don't have a 5 dollar knife laying around?
-Duct tape. If you don't have one, you need one. But ask a neighbour anyway.
-Magnifying glass. 1-3 dollars, can be purchased from a neighbour.
-Marker. Really? Really? Really. You don't have a marker. You need one. Buy a cheap one for a dollar max.
-Legos. Get from ebay (100 pcs for a dollar max) or ask a neighbour (seeing a pattern?)
-Hot Glue Gun. Must-have. Bought one for 3 bucks and a hundred sticks of hot glue for another 3 bucks. (20 pack for 1buck)

Total: Free-$5.
Please be more resourceful, this is DIY, for pete's sake.
I agree with you
no joking. why did he have to be a jerk the dude who made this is my brother
im3733 nelsnils3 years ago
Forget the legos, bend up a wire coat hanger, problem solved.

hot glue gun can be circumvented with a smaller hole, using friction (or tape) to hold the glass in place.

and the marker can be replaced with a pen/pencil/thumbtack/random nail that's laying around (all it has to do is make a mark in the cardboard, I've used each of those to make marks in wood, which is much harder than cardboard).

I ultimately agree with you, though, resourcefulness is a MUST on instructables.
For Lilark, a cheaper alternative would be to use glue from a tube, any good glue would work.

Anyway one thing is certain if one follows nelsnils idea it would be great to have Lilark as a neighbor as he / she must have billions knives, duct tapes, markers, etc, left over as he / she only uses them once for each project !!…
Come on, Nelsnils and Lilark. I am impressed with the 47,000 views so far, how many do you have? :) The prices are all pretty high on his list, but still way less than any projector for sale that I've seen.  You could just take the idea and how-to knowledge, and build it for way less that this person did.  Not bad for a first instructable. At least he's made one before criticizing others'. This isn't youtube :)
I love this instructable!
I just don't like Lilark's lack of resourcefulness :|
Okay, just making sure! :) See you around
jdonor nelsnils3 years ago
Yeah... Obviously yall aren't from Texas. I think I have all these things except the magnifying glass in my dorm room. And you wouldn't need legos. Anything that can keep it up would work :)
raza nasir Lilark11 months ago
many people are gonna flag you considering your being a jerk to this guy
im3733 Lilark3 years ago
Where are you getting your shoeboxes? You do realize you don't need to buy new shoes for this, right?

Just go to a GFS or Aldi's (if they have them near you, bulk food stores), most of them reuse their boxes instead of using bags.
static Lilark3 years ago
Dude; there's a lot that could be said, but it wouldn't adhere to instructables commenting guidelines.
MattBothell (author)  Lilark3 years ago
pretty much every one has those things laying around all I had to buy was the magnifying glass and it cost a dollar.
GhanshyamR6 months ago

very nice

Usman553 years ago
Hello guys, I'm new here. Just wanted to ask, I just bought a Magnifying glass from a local retailer called Al-Rawnaq. It says something like LUPA 50mm on the package. Will it work? And also will this whole project idea work with the mobile N95 8GB instead of iPhone or iPod? Thanks in advance!
MattBothell (author)  Usman553 years ago
I am not sure about the magnifying glass but its worth a shot. and yes the N95 will work but you will have to make sure it doesnt rotate when you place it upside down in the stand
Hey Matt, I tried it and the picture quality is really dumb. Just some big dark colour blobs appear. I think the glass is not good enough. I also the the rotate error you're talking about (FLIPPED IMAGE).
MattBothell (author)  Usman553 years ago
The if you can focus it right you should be able to see a lot better than blobs. And I still haven't figured out the mirror image problem yet but i am working on it.
Focus? How?
move it around picture quality should get better. im answering questions because im his little brother
Tried again... Nothing's getting any better. I went in a room with no light source at all but the pic quality is not good at all. I can't even recognize any faces. Also, the picture is very dark.
hhmm89 Usman552 years ago
I had the same problem, but i followed the lines that i made using my phone and cut out the back of the shoe box accordingly. The problem is that the shoe box isn't long enough, so you need to cut out the back and move your phone further back.
raza nasir hhmm8911 months ago
raza nasir Usman5511 months ago
Hey usman i also got this first don't worry try to make the distance between lens and phone larger!
you never know if it is the magnifying glass wont work
Hi, please answer me too!
I also need more better resolution and a little larger phone is note3 and got on output image of 11X19 inches....?

It's a nice method and thanks for the share. I hope it will work perfectly. It seems some people faced problems while making an iPhone projector using this method. I hope they will figure it out as early as possible.

But buying an iPhone projector is always a good idea as it is a perfect device for watching movies, making presentation, etc.

Nitidus1 year ago

It works pretty well... If your movie doesn't have subtitles. If your movie has subtitles, you better be able to understand the language without them! It is pretty hard to read in mirror.

nickoenen1 year ago

Can someone who tried this and got at least a decent picture quality please let me know what strength their magnifying glass was. Thanks

Mine is too much out of focus and I can't seem to fix it anyway- any ideas please?
razaq3d1 year ago
it comes upside down....:-)
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