Introduction: Laser Cut Your Own Google Cardboard With Ponoko

Google Cardboard is a simple and cost-effective headset that allows anyone with a smartphone to enjoy some really cool virtual reality.

This instructable covers how to use the online laser cutting service Ponoko to create and assemble your own laser cut VR Headset.

If you have your own laser cutter, these instructions should still prove useful as there don't seem to be any assembly instructions for the files available on the official Cardboard site (at least not the latest v1.2)

Please feel free to modify and customize the design files to create your own custom Cardboard, and let me know what you come up with!

Note: This build was tested using a Galaxy S5 and should work with any of the Android phones that support Google Cardboard. You'll want to make doubly sure your device will work before assembling your headset.

Don't hesitate to let me know if you have any questions, or if you notice anything that I've left out.


Step 1: What You'll Need

You'll need the following items. You can find most of these in a hardware store or online:

  1. Lenses - This is the trickiest component. you can get these for about eight bucks on Amazon.
  2. Magnets - You'll need one neodymium ring magnet (available at Home Depot for $3.98) and one ceramic disk magnet (Home Depot has these for $1.98).
  3. Rubber Band - This helps prevent the phone from sliding out.
  4. Stapler - You could also use spray adhesive if you wish.
  5. Velcro - You'll need two strips of adhesive-backed velcro. Amazon has a set of 4 for $3.62
  6. Laser Cut Cardboard from Ponoko - We'll cover how to get your cardboard parts in the next step. Making + materials will be less than $10.00

Step 2: Get Your Cardboard

Download our Ponoko-ready design below. You can upload the design as-is, or you can use it as a starting point to create your own custom headset.

Upload your design to your Ponoko account. If you don't already have an account, you can sign up for free here.

Choose Cardboard - Single Layer 1.5mm (0.06") from the drop down menu. For the size, choose P3. Your screen should match up with the second image above. Making & materials should come to $9.93 total.

Choose your custom making speed, add your shipping details, and click "checkout".

Your parts will arrive in as little as a few days, depending on the making speed and shipping methods you choose.

Step 3: Unpack Your Parts

Your custom laser cut parts from Ponoko will come with a protective paper backing. Carefully peel away the backing paper from your cardboard parts.

Step 4: Add Your Velcro

Your laser cut parts will have two sides - The bottom side that had the adhesive paper backing, and the top side with no backing. The top side will become the inside of our viewer.

Add the "prickly" side of your velcro bits to the inside of the cardboard holder as shown. We'll add the fuzzy bits later.

Step 5: Add Your Lenses and Begin Assembly

Fold the lens holder once, and rest your lenses in the holes.

Fold the lens holder again so the lenses are snug between the sheets of cardboard.

Insert the whole lens holder into the bottom of the viewer, so the tabs are snug into the slots.

Step 6: Fold It Up

Add the middle separator - This will keep the images separate while you're viewing.

Start folding the long end of the case, inserting the tabs into the slots as you go.

Keep folding until you are folding the inner panels into themselves

Step 7: Add Your Magnets

Fold up the outer flaps as shown. Tuck the inside flaps up and sandwich them between the two magnets.

The neodymium ring magnet (silver magnet) will go on the outside, and the rare earth magnet (black magnet) will go on the inside.

Staple the outside flap to itself to hold the outer flap in place. When you're done, add the fuzzy velcro to the top of the headset.

Add the rubber band around the outside of the phone cover.

Congrats! Your Google Cardboard headset is ready for action.

Step 8: Download the App and Configure Your Cardboard

You can get the Cardboard app from Google Play. Once you've launched your app, you can scan the QR code above to configure your viewer, or you can just use the default settings.

The Cardboard app has some pretty cool demos to start you out. Head over to the Cardboard Featured Apps to get more.

Have fun!