Augment Your Reality With the ITorch Raspberry Pi Flashlight Projector




Introduction: Augment Your Reality With the ITorch Raspberry Pi Flashlight Projector

About: Check out my new pages and shop!

UPDATE: May 3rd - Playing Minecraft on the newer iTorch :)

UPDATE: NEW iTorch 3D printed version! && Finally uploaded some videos, hope you like them. :)

Post by ITorch Media Sharing.


Media Sharing

Created By: Travis Higgins
This Instructable is for a prototype homemade projector that can be illuminated by any decent LED flashlight/floodlight.

This is my first published instructable so please leave comments and/or suggestions! Any feedback is very welcome and I will try to respond to everyone as soon as I see it!

At this stage the iTorch is a kit that I hope to be able to make available if I were to somehow get my hands on my own laser cutter. I have been spending a good amount of money using school equipment to laser cut this project, and got a quote to use the 3d printer and the price was astronomical. So needless to say a laser cutter and 3d printer would go to good use and be greatly appreciated.

Though you could probably reverse engineer one of your own. ;)

I designed the iTorch to be a portable and wireless projection system that would allow a user to freely project their media wherever they choose. I am currently working on integrating the iTorch into a gaming platform where the iTorch is both the viewing device (tv) as well as the controller!

The concept for the iTorch came from trying to find a financial solution for another larger scale project I had been working on. A interactive and holographic environment that would have required the use of several costly projection systems.

However financing the project has been an issue. So I tried to redesign the installation on a smaller scale. Though a small scale solution may have conveyed the idea, it would not have allowed anyone to have the full experience.

I needed projectors, and they aren't cheap, so I thought I would build my own.

In creating these projectors I came up with the idea for a portable battery powered projector that was illuminated by the power of a flashlight.

From personal experience with projection, and researching the purchase of several projector units I found that the main issue for projector longevity were their bulbs. The light bulb in a projector seems to be the most common part to break or burn out in the life of a projector, but with the iTorch - if you have another flashlight you are good to go!

The iTorch design was created and built by Travis Higgins for a capstone project in New Media at the University of Maine. In development of virtual reality shared experiences (shared augmented reality). The iTorch was designed to be a portable and wireless projection system that would allow a user to freely project their media ( or augmented data) wherever they choose.



Step 1: Parts!

This Instructable does require a little bit of technical skill (disassembling LED screen) and if you are trying to build it from scratch it will take a little bit of math and access to a fabrication lab.

It takes an hour to cut the wood into a kit in the laser cutter. I use a 4' x 2' piece of Birch that I cut down to 24" x 18" to fit the laser bed. It's $10 a sheet at Home Depot, and costs $10/hr to use the laser cutter.

I've been using aluminum foil from my kitchen for the reflective siding in the light box. So I don't count that.

The Flashlight cost around 50$ + $40 for the batteries and charger I believe. Those can vary.

The 12V fans I get at RadioShack for $16 today, I think they were on sale the first time I went. You can get the male to male couplers there too for about $6-7. I also get the 5V USB rechargeable power bricks there too insanely cheap, usually on sale, today I got one for 4$.

The LCD panel is a 2.0'' TFT from Adafruit at a hefty 45$.

Raspberry Pi at a lovely $35.

SD card 10-20$

So here are the parts you will need to build your own iTorch!

(1)- iTorch assembly kit - (coming soon!)

- Main Body Assembly (body,lcdholder, lens holder)

- Flashlight Holder Assembly (varies depending on flashlight type, for this 'able I'm using the 'SuperBright')

- Raspberry Pi Assembly

(1) Flashlight - For this instructable we are using the SuperBright LED flashlight. - $45-50 + batteries

(1)- Raspberry Pi model B - $35

(1) - USB bluetooth & wifi combo - $20ish
(1) - USB storage flashdrive - $10-20

*(1) - SD card for RPi OS or multiple RPi OS's - $10 - 20

(1)- 2.0" NTSC/PAL (Television) TFT Display - 2.0" Diagonal - $45

(1)- 9v battery

(1)- 12v 8-AA battery holder & 8AA batteries - $4 for the holder

(atleast 1) - camera lens - I used a Canon macro C lens and another Canon lens, the lens cap i used works for both.

(1) rear lens cap for the camera lens you are going to use. I got mine from GoodWill for like 10$, was a Canon SLR.

(1)- 5v Enercell 5v 800mah PowerBank $5-15 usually on sale

Tape - painters or electrical.

(1) 12VDC microfan

** velcro!


Laser cutter



Step 2: Main Body Assembly

In your iTorch Kit you will have a 'Main Body Assembly'.

Included in the MBA will be:

- four side panels (top, bottom, fan, other)

- (4) fillets for the flashlight holder

-(1) stopper/fillet for the flashlight holder

- (1) LCD frame

- (1) Lens Mount / Raspberry Pi mount

First you will want to line up the four 'Side Panels' like in the photos. They will interlock.

Make sure that the small fillet holes on either end match up!

Step 3: Inserting LCD

1) Locate the LCD frame holder.

2) You will notice the front of the LCD frame holder has been etched out to hold the LCD panel as well as accommodate for the controller board wiring. ( When you get to inserting the LCD panel be very careful it is very fragile!)

3) Place the LCD holder into the 'Top Panel' center fillets as shown in the photo's. The FRONT of the LCD holder should be facing the closest edge. (as pictured) This edge is where the Camera Lens will be.

4) Place side panels into interlocking positions as shown.

Taping can be useful, but the body should snap together quite nicely and hold.

Step 4: Main Body Sides

This step is easy.

As long as you have the side panels linked as shown in the previous step, you should be able to simply fold them up and snap them right into place.

Use tape if necessary to hold in place for the time being.

*** It's at this point where you would want to line the Light Box portion of the Main Body with tin foil, and also insert the MicroFan into the Fan Side Panel. However, I don't yet have photos of this. Though it is fairly common sense, and it is not a difficult process, I would like to have photos to show you how. And I will shortly :) ***

*** Test fan before installing to make sure the air is blowing OUT not back in! ***

Step 5: Lens Mount / Pi Holder

Last step for the Main Body is to attach the Lens Mount / Pi Holder

Make sure that the Fan Side Panel is on one of the sides, doesn't matter left/right, and that the Top Panel slit is up.

Tape to secure.

Step 6: Flashlight Mount

Here we will place the fillets that hold in the Flashlight Mounts, the holes for the fillets are located at the rear of the iTorch just behind the fan.

Depending on what type of flashlight you have you may have a different size/shape fillet assembly, as the iTorch can have flashlight mounts for many types of flashlights.

Parts: From Main Body Assembly

(4) Flashlight Mount fillets

(1) Flashlight Stopper/fillet

1 - The 4 fillets fit snuggly into the inner fillet holes of the 4 Side Panels. In the picture above I show the easiest way to get all 4 in at the same time.

2 - Slightly loosen side panels at the rear of the iTorch body assembly (opposite of lens holder).

3 - Insert all 4 fillet inserts into the inner fillet holes as shown in photos.

4 - close main body assembly, might have to wiggle fillets a bit to get them to slide in.

5 - place the Flashlight Stopper/Fillet into the notches remaining in the rear.

Step 7: Main Body Complete

Your Main Body Assembly should now look like this!

Step 8: Flashlight Holder Assembly

Now that you've completed the Main Body Assembly we are going to put together the Flashlight Mount for your flashlight.

For this instructable we will be using the Mount for the SuperBright LED flashlight.

In the Flashlight Holder Assembly you will find:

(2) Flashlight Holders

(4) Flashlight Holder Panels

This step doesn't need a lot of explaining. The Mount, like most of the iTorch can only be assembled one way, and fits together nice and snug.

1 - Fit one of the Flashlight Mount Panels to the fillets located at the rear of the Main Body Assembly. On the bottom works best (shown in photos).

2 - Insert a Flashlight Holder into the inner set of holes of the Flashlight Mount Panel you attached.

3 - attach the remaining 3 Flashlight Mount Panels as shown. Simply line up the holes, the panels will only fit on one way.

4 - insert the remaining Flashlight Holder to the remaining holes/slots of the Flashlight Mount Assembly as shown.

You can secure with tape or glue if you plan to use only one type of flashlight.

Step 9: Raspberry Pi Assembly

For the Raspberry Pi Assembly, I simply modified a file from thingiverse to fit to my iTorch body assembly. Link coming when I find it again. I also had to modify it to the type of wood I use because of the thickness I had to modify nearly the entire case in order to get the pi to fit.

The Raspberry Pi assembly has:

1 - Top & 1 - Bottom

2 - sides (component side & hdmi )

1 - back panel (usb / ethernet)

the front is part of the LENS holder, so don't worry about that ;)

Step 1 - You're going to want to start with the back panel (usb/ethernet) its the tightest fit.

2 - Wiggle back panel onto your Raspberry Pi.

3 - Now attach the HDMI panel, you may want to tape it.

4 - Insert the bottom panel into the corresponding holes on the HDMI panel.

5 - You can now put on the Composite and Audio Panel. You may want to tape this also.

6 - Finally, add the top panel.

You should now have a Raspberry Pi case with 3 sides, a top and bottom and NO front.

Step 2 - Set to the side for now.

Step 10: Inserting LCD Panel

This part can be a little tricky, and where technical know how comes into play.

1 - The LCD panel needs to be disassembled. (photos coming soon, couldn't do this one handed)
First you should remove the LCD from the controller board. (detach the thin sheetlike wire)

The tricky part is removing the LCD digitizer from its aluminum/plastic casing.

If you got the 2.0" TFT LCD from my link, it should be fairly easy. Simply loosen the tabs holding the LCD to the aluminum casing and gently pry the LCD forward. There might be glue holding it in in some cases, in which case you should use a sharp edge or credit card to separate the glue from the LCD.

Be careful removing the Fresnel and Diffusers from the LCD, depending on your flashlight you may want to use these later on.

( If you're not familiar with Camera Obscura it may be confusing why we need to do all this. With projection, the Image is flipped and reversed, so we need to do the same to the LCD to give us a normal image.)

2 - Once the LCD and ribbon are free from the casing you can insert the LCD as shown into the LCD Frame Holder of the Main Body Assembly.

Make sure to place exactly as shown in the photo!

The back of the LCD is now the front, as well the bottom is now the top.

3 - Secure lightly around the edges with tape.

4 - Now slide the ribbon through its hole in the Top Panel of the Main Body.

5 - If you had to loosen the sides to get your fingers in there that's ok, just tighten it back up and move on to step 6.

6 - Using double sided tape you can attach the LCD controller board to the Top Panel in its etched-out position.

7 - Connect the LCD ribbon to the controller board.

8 - Now you can re-attach the Lens Holder mount.

Almost Done!

Step 11: Pi 2 ITorch

Remember that Raspberry Pi Assembly, well it just slides right into the Lens Holder.

You can take the lens holder off to attach the Raspberry Pi case or leave it on, its not hard either way.

You may want to tape, its not as tight as the rest of the build.

Step 12: Lens Mount

This is the only thing you will need to fabricate on your own with this kit.

For this step all you need to do is remove all but the walls of the rear lens cap.

What should remain of the lens cap is a ring and the locking mechanism. (photo)

Then simply slide it into the hole of the Lens Mount Panel.

You can now attach and interchange lens' that fit that style/brand lens.

Step 13: VELCRO

No photos really.

I used velcro to attach all of my batteries and battery packs.

5V rachargeable - on top of RPI case

9V LCD PWR - on Side Panel

12V fan batteries - on Bottom Panel

Step 14: Attach Lens

Your lens should twist right in like it would if you were attaching it to a camera and detach the same as well.

Step 15: Raspberry Pi Setup

Now if you didn't buy a Pi with a SD card already formatted for you, you're going to have to do that to get the pi working.

I would suggest running NOOBS for first time users, and XMBC or Raspbian for an OS.

You will need SDFormatter to format your SD card. All the instructions can be found through raspberry pi user community forums.

XMBC will allow you to quickly get in to playing movies or slideshows instantly on your iTorch.

* You have two USB ports available with the Raspberry Pi

I used one of these slots for a Wifi/Bluetooth USB module so I could control the iTorch with a mini keyboard mouse.

This is an iTorch instructable not a Raspberry Pi instructable, however if you have any questions feel free to ask. ;)

Step 16: Get It All Connected and Powered Up!

1st - Plug in the 9V power source to your LCD power. ( Power on ).

2nd - Insert SuperBright LED flashlight into flashlight mount.

3rd - Power up the Raspberry Pi with the 5V 850mah rechargeable PowerBank from radioshack. (powerOn RPI).

4th - Plug in/power on Fan for cooling.

5th - Turn on SuperBright flashlight and have fun! :)

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    4 years ago

    what exactly does your iTorch allow you to do?


    8 years ago

    Hello nsuarez19, good question, I'd really like to make it into a commercial product and put it on the shelves at best buy or something haha.. I would also love to be able to mass produce kits, both laser cut and 3d print versions. I'm just not 100% sure if anyone would be interested. Plus I'm constantly working on the design, redesigning reprinting and always going back to the drawing board. More comments like yours are a definite help to motivate me and potentially get my butt in gear getting the iTorch out there and available for people. :)


    8 years ago

    This is what I've been working on mostly though, newest model of the iTorch! Over 50% smaller, wayyy lighter, far less light bleeding, 3 step build kit. :)

    14, 9:25 AM.jpg

    8 years ago

    Thanks for the input plucas1, I have been experimenting with tying everything into one power source. Unfortunately my local radioshack has a very limited selection. Which leaves me to make my own battery pack, like the ones you can find here at!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    hey nice work, I really like your work so far

    I would change one thing though and use a 12volt lipo pack with a regulator for the 5v and 9volt rails. the reasons for this is 2 fold, I really don't want to pay for 3 battery packs and pi's and LCD's like a constant voltage. the fans will probably take up to 15volt depending on quality, make, etc.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    actually your LCD handles 6-15volt so you could run that of the 12volt too saving on precious room. yes the batteries will deplete faster but if its about portability then downsize on batteries


    8 years ago

    Thanks Jim. I was using it for reflection and heat dispersal. Maybe I will paint it white for a better effect! On the first model I used half reflective tape and half tin foil.


    8 years ago on Step 7

    You will get better results using white paint inside, instead of foil, unless your foil is serving an additonal function as heat dispersal. Foil isn't actually all that reflective.


    8 years ago

    I am familiar, currently that is on the back burner for now. We have a objet printer here at school, unfortunately pricing is quite high. So die to that and the fact that I'm working on a newer version that has improved performance, getting a finished 3d model made to print for this build may have to wait another week or two. Thanks for taking the time to comment aternes1!


    8 years ago

    if you are familiar with CAD programs, you can probably design your housing in 3D the get it printed from the website Shapeways.


    8 years ago

    I have thought about it Blue_Hawaii, I don't know if anyone would give me money though haha. It has been a struggle to find the funds to keep developing. But that only makes things interesting, and let's me try to find creative ways to solve arising problems. :)

    Blue Hawaii
    Blue Hawaii

    8 years ago

    Thought about doing a Kickstarter to get the funding you need to go big time?


    8 years ago

    Thanks for the comment craftclarity! I have had a hard time choosing between lead images and keep switching between the logo and the cutout of the actual prototype.. Now that you've mentioned that I think I'll leave the prototype up more!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I really like this project—I bet it would get more attention if the lead image told the story of what it actually is, though. I wouldn't have known what you were talking about if I hadn't clicked through...You might consider putting a nicer lead image up.
    Other than that, cool build, great 'ible! Keep 'em coming!


    8 years ago

    I'm currently working on using the iTorch in a game platform. Where the iTorch is both the viewing device as well as the controller!


    8 years ago

    Thanks Ron! You certainly have a grasp on what I'm going for, many possibilities indeed. Some of them I talk about in my blog has more info.
    And thanks for pointing that out about the prices, i added links to most of the items but forgot prices, I should add that right away! :)
    LCD - 45$
    Raspberry pi - 35$
    SD card - 10-20$
    SuperBright flashlight - 50$ + batteries = 80$
    Wood material( all together for prototyping builds) 250$
    One iTorch wood material - 3-4$
    Total fabrication lab time (r&d access to laser cutter) 10$/hr- 150-250$
    Fab time for 1 iTorch - 5$
    Misc parts from RadioShack - fan/ batteries / adapter - $40

    So I guess for one iTorch without all the research and development time in the lab would cost approximately $200-220.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I was thinking "iTorch" in the sense of computer-enabled flashlight (the British call a flashlight a "torch").

    Being able to make your own DIY handheld projector is fun, but what is most exciting to me is the possibility for sharing a media experience with friends in a dark room or city at night. Make a dozen of these and I can see kids using them to create a puppet or planetarium show; or perhaps each person has a puzzle piece and needs to coordinate with the other participants to complete the puzzle.

    How much do all the ingredients currently cost?