Picture of The Nova—A DIY Oculus Rift!

Hello, Instructables! Today, I will be showing you how to make your very own DIY Oculus Rift called The Nova!

In this instructable, I will be walking you through the design of The Nova's headset, the build process of said headset, and the head tracking techniques used in order to create the illusion of virtual reality.

Without any further ado, let's get to building!

Step 1: First Things First: Why go DIY?

Picture of First Things First: Why go DIY?

Good question! With the Oculus Rift releasing sometime within the next year or so, and plenty of Oculus Rift Development Kits available for sale and preorder, making your own Virtual Reality Headset would seem a bit absurd.

However, there are many reasons why you'd want to make your own:

  • You don't have to wait for the official release.
    Let's face it—the Oculus Rift won't get here soon enough. Why wait, when you can make your own?
  • You want to learn more about VR.
    The Virtual Reality market is growing at an exponential rate. You can get in on the VR craze and learn a thing or two by building your own VR headset—you could even brainstorm a new VR concept that you can implement into your own VR headset and share with the world.
  • You can create your own design that fits your needs.
    The Oculus Rift has many great features and looks pretty slick, but what if you could come up with a better design? One that suits your face better, maybe? Or maybe make one in a different color? The sky's the limit: this is YOUR VR headset!
  • It's a great weekend project.
    The total build time is ~30 hours, including cutting out the pieces, hot gluing everything together, soldering the head tracking LEDs, and setting up the software. You can start making your own VR headset on a Friday afternoon and be up and running by Sunday afternoon!
  • You can make one yourself without being bought out by a sketchy third party
    Looking at you, Palmer. I don't blame him though, 2 billion dollars is a lot of money to go into making a high-quality and affordable VR unit, so maybe things will work out in the end. Until then, you can still make your own VR headset for less than half the cost of the current development kit!

Are you convinced yet? Great! Then let's go on to the next step: Parts and Tools!

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itsbhenry made it!5 months ago

Alright guys! As soon as I found out about this DIY Rift, I just had to make it and use it while I wait for the Oculus Consumer version!

Let's start by telling you what I actually made. Yes I could buy all the equipment for the exact replica of the Nova, but I found that unneccesary in my opinion. I already owned an iPad Mini 3 which has a 7 inch HD screen so I just used it.

My version of the Nova, I'd like to call the iMini Nova works pretty good. I made it out of cardboard and it's pretty strong. The only thing is, my iPad is a bit heavy so I'm going to have to add another strap down the middle to hold it up when I'm wearing it. It's not that big of a problem first. I have another more imminent problem.

First I'll talk about the problem I'm having now and then I'll tell you all about some of the fixes that I have made for some people who may not be able to get the whole VR thing working for them.

My problem right now is that I can see the image as one, but it's blurry and low quality even though my screen is HD and the lenses are the sames one's tom used(http://www.ebay.com/itm/251148139033?_trksid=p2059210.m2749.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT).

Any solutions to this would be greatly appreciated.

Now as for the problems I managed to fix.

I read in the comments that for people who have wide eyes, having the lenses close together doesn't work for them. I am one of those people. The google cardboard doesn't even work for me because they don't fit my ipd. My eyes are simply too far apart.

My fix for this was to take out the visor of the welding goggles completely. After that, I cut off the rubber ends that were left to completely open the front part of the goggles. Then I just placed the lenses at the very end of each side of the goggles and I could finally see the image as one image, but again, it's blurry.

I'll be using this to play games and such once i fix the blurry vision problem:


That's all I can think of for now. I'll answer any questions down below if you have any and happy DIY'ing!


UPDATE: I fixed the blurriness. It seems the lenses were too far away from the screen to clearly show the image on the iPad. I simply cut off about half an inch of the side and top/bottom panels, extended the side panel(about the same length that I extended the top/bottom panels), and then remade the iPad holder/frame.

That worked perfectly and now my official iMini Nova is complete. It works like a charm, no lag. My iPad mini is the perfect screen and all is going well. Will try screening my PC onto my iPad tomorrow to test out lagging and such and see if I can play my games.

harryl2 made it!9 months ago

awsome project!

Nov 17, 2014 5-12-04 PM.jpg
millmore made it!1 year ago

I've made a version of this using my headMouse (which you link to above) as the motion controller. I used the polystyrene box that the screen came in to make a holder for everything - I just sliced it in a few layers, fitted everything at the correct distances, then taped it back together.

I found that I got dreadful distortion using the sort of lenses you described originally - the ones that are basically designed for LEDs. However, I got some cheap fresnel lenses, and they worked much better. They don't have the best optical properties in the world, but are easy to work with, and don't suffer much distortion or chromatic aberration.

Tomcat94 (author)  millmore1 year ago

Wow, that's fantastic!

I'm sorry to hear about the lenses, though. At the end of the parts and tools step, I warned not to use the lenses I initially used:
"I also don't recommend buying the lenses I bought, because the distortion around the edges is awful and I had to buy a new set of lenses--specifically, these lenses here."
I left the lenses I bought in the description for documentation purposes only, but it appears I may need to remove them completely to avoid further confusion.

Anyway, what's done is done. Your DIY Rift looks great, and I'm sure both you and your family enjoy it! Great job!

Instead of completely removing the original lens information, maybe just a strike-out tag around it... and bold or underline the new lens info. That way it's there for documentation, and prevents future confusion.

If we were going to search for the lenses, would we be looking for aspheric lenses? I'd like to shop around, unless you're confident the one you have in the link is sufficient.
Yea, I ordered my parts before you updated the guide. I did consider also buying the loupes when I saw your update, but they weren't available to ship to the UK in a reasonable time, and I was impatient to get on.

The lenses are by far the most tricky part of this in my opinion, and it really needs almost binocular quality optics and adjustability to give a good display - i.e. for optimal display, you need the lenses at the correct distance and angle with sub millimetre precision, and for different people's eyes you ideally need adjustable eye separation, and different focusing in each eye. I mounted the fresnel lenses in binder clips, which make sure it is perfectly flat and allows for eye width adjustment, and I think it would actually work really well with better quality lenses (mine were £1 "mini magnifier sheets"). It's given me a new respect for the Oculus Rift developers though.
edmogeor1 year ago

For anyone (and you tomcat for future builds) intrested in using Arduino to track the head position, I found a brilliant project called 'EdTracker' at http://edtracker.org.uk/ its an arduino project, a custom board can even be bought from the people behind it that creates a small little tracker. It connects via USB and displays on a Windows PC as a joystick, so in theory should work with games such a minecraft, if not software can be downloaded to convert this signal into mouse movements, all parts can be bought for around £10 ($15) so is a similar price to some of the airmouses available, this will also improve latency as it is connected via usb rather than wirelessly. Have not yet built this tracker but may post an instructable at a later date.

Thought people may be interested

I'm going to be using this, thank you! If you want to buy them all separately (cause they're currently out of stock), I've found the boards for 9 and 5 dollars + shipping. I've got some spare circuit board and button, but they should be a negligible price.

Pro Micro: http://www.ebay.com/itm/New-Pro-Micro-ATmega32U4-5...

Gyroscope: http://www.amazon.com/GY-521-MPU6050-Gyroscope-Acc...

DarkSeaDog4 days ago

Hey whoever has made this if you see this comment, i was wondering. Are you able to look behind you with this? I've heard that with the DK1 that was a problem because the tracker lost sight of the LEDs help would be appreciated thanks!

nickn61 month ago

I had a question about the air mouse head tracking in some games you cant control it with mouse control like windlands or discoverie so how do i get that to work? thx

nickn61 month ago
kwebber3212 months ago

Would this be good with the original smaller google cardboard?

JesseW62 months ago

The vireio link is dead. The page says it has been bought by cheapname.com. A google search found the drivers available here:


Spyname13 months ago

Hey guys, I found this arduino that has a 10 DOF Sensor built in, maybe this can do.


VirajS13 months ago

Hey, great instructable. Ill be making this during summers. Anyway, i have a question, have you tried adding some 3d motion sensor to complete the virtual reality feeling? I was planning to add a 3d motion sensor and create an application that would record my motions and map them to keyboard keys. I tried getting some cheap 3d motion sensors and came across IRCF360 but the sensor isnt available in the market yet. do you have any suggestions how to go about it?

Coolvlad3 months ago
Why buy the real thing?
the Lego man4 months ago

woops, never mind. found it

the Lego man4 months ago

were can I actualy get the software to use it?

DiogoS24 months ago

Could I use this display ??? It's 2k but I don't know if it can be used for the project.


dgateley4 months ago

I saw these last night (5/20/15) and
came away deeply impressed. I think they will be of interest to anyone
considering DIY VR. Their CTO said they fully expect DIYers to pop out
the lenses for their projects. I'm not affiliated, just impressed.


knexpert17004 months ago

A much better 2560x1440 6" display with the HDMI driver board: http://www.alibaba.com/product-detail/2015-HOT-display-5-98-2560x1440_910100392.html

atomdude14 months ago

HI, your information is very informative. i am trying to get it to work with digital combat systems (dcs) it is a flight sim. i am using TrackIR. i downloaded vereio, but it is not working, what am i missing?

knexpert17004 months ago

I'm not sure about the difference in quality, but a new Instructable came out that is about the same price but smaller and lighter. http://www.instructables.com/id/OpenVR-Opensource-...

I only mention this because I provided a bunch of links that brought that Instructable down to a little less than $100. I think I can do the same for this one, considering it has a lot of high-priced items for what can be cheap on sites like aliexpress. It can also be brought down in size/weight by using a 5.6" panel instead.

So I decided to go the IR route with this project and I learned a little something about the PlayStation Eye. There are actually two versions of it. Only one version of the eye can be modified for detecting Infrared light. There is a little information about it at here. I accidentally bought the wrong one the first time so I learned that the base of the wrong one says it is manufactured by another company.

cullnean5 months ago

was a big help in making templates

Sanz of Time5 months ago

I've had this project sitting in my favorites for a while now, but I'm finally getting around to it. I managed to get the price down to less than $110 clean (+no shipping). I've got the link below. This does not include any tools or housing for the HMD.

You should only be able to view this document, but if you have the ability to alter it, please don't.


hkerr1 year ago

As long as they're infrared (IR), you should be fine.

stinky16788 months ago
what lenses would I need for a 7 inch 1920x1080 screen?

Try these http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00524H8MC/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o07_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

kdinis7 months ago

are you gona see two screens like in the video?

No, because each eye is going to see one screen, therefore it'll look like it's in 3D

BartoszK6 months ago
Hey its me again, if i use this screen:
and it says that its 1080p, so does that mean its resolution would be 1920x1080? Thanks for any help in advance
crows005 BartoszK6 months ago

afraid not mate , the screen is only 800x480

stinky16788 months ago
Also, would this work? http://m.ebay.com/itm/171280831162
Its a really good screen i think, it says its 1080p which means it should be 1920x1080, right? But in the description it says its 800x400
TheCoolDad6 months ago
I know what I'm doing at work over the next week or so..... Lol. Well written, thank you for sharing!!
reHgoc made it!6 months ago

Hello friends! I'm made it and it's really strong!
Thank you very much for you idea!

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