Introduction: Digital 3D Picture Viewer - "The DigiStereopticon"
Stereoscopic photography has fallen out of favor. This is probably due to the fact that people don't like having to wear special glasses to view family snapshots. Here is a fun little project you can make in less than a day to make your 3D pictures more enjoyable to view.
Warning: 3D pictures are ADDICTIVE. You will find yourself spending a lot more time appreciating the simplest snapshots. Next thing you know you'll be browsing ebay for old stereoscopic equipment, blathering on at dinner parties about how much better 3D pictures are than "flat" photos, and spending your weekends making weird stuff to post on Instructables. Read this at your own peril.
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Step 1: Buy the Parts...
If you're savvy with glass and know how to piece together prisms or magnifying glasses to form a stereo viewing lens then you could probably skip this step. The general principle here is that for comfortable viewing, you need to bend the optical path for each of your eyes so that the left image and the right image converge and appear to overlap. This is most easily done with an off-the-shelf stereo viewer by Loreo - a company in Hong Kong that makes 3D lenses and viewers out of plastic.
They cost $24 each (plus $10 shipping) and arrive within a few days.
Step 2: Get a 7" Digital Photo Frame
Okay, this isn't rocket science. What we're doing here is basically re-assembling the off-the-shelf Loreo 3D viewer so that it works with a Digital Photo Frame instead of printed photos.
There are many digital photo frames on the market. Since the Loreo viewer is optimized for 4x6 photos, you'll need a 7" digital photo frame. For some reason the 7 inches are measured diagonally so this is the right size. (Note: Some of the 7" photo frames are 16:9 widescreen. I don't know if those would work as well.)
I chose a digital photo frame from Phillips. After much research, I found the Phillips frame to be the highest resolution and brightness of all the 7" frames. It's 720x480, which is decent for our purposes. I found mine on craigslist for $100 cash.
It comes apart quite easily -- simply remove the four black screws in the corners.
Step 3: Measure & Cut Wood
From here on it is basically a matter of measuring your pieces and assembling a wooden box. I used a $16 piece of oak from Home Depot. It was 1/2" thick, about 6" wide, roughly 3 feet long. You'll find it in the lumber section with the pre-cut project wood.
I did all the cutting with an inexpensive electric jigsaw. For tricky areas, I used a drill to put a hole in the middle of the wood, then inserted the jigsaw bit and started cutting from there.
Feel free to design the box as you like. Mine had 5 pieces:
1) Base. I designed the base with a cut-out to hold the Loreo lens.
2&3) Left & Right sides. I added curves to make it pretty. I used the base of a lamp make the curves clean.
4) Frame. This is what holds the Digital Photo Frame.
5) Foot Rest. A little strip of scrap glued to the bottom to angle the box upwards when resting on a table.
Step 4: Assemble & Stain
Carefully assemble your pieces.
I used carpenters glue (basically just white wood glue) on all the joints, plus #5 brass screws (1 inch long) to hold it together. If you're using oak you'll want to pre-drill all the holes. Truthfully, I'm not sure if the screws are necessary. The glue is strong and you're not going to put a lot of stress on the box. But the brass screws give it a nice touch.
Make sure to keep a wet cloth handy and wipe off any excess glue that seeps out of the joints. This will ensure the stain is absorbed evenly and you don't end up with unstained streaks where the glue touched the wood.
I don't have photos of the staining step, but it's very simple. I bought a $6 can of Miniwax "dark walnut" wood stain at the hardware store. Wearing rubber gloves (it's poisonous) I spread the stain onto the wood with a folded up piece of paper towel. Let it dry for 4-6 hours.
Step 5: Attach the Loreo Lens & Digital Photo Frame
The last step is simply attaching the Loreo lens and digital photo frame.
For the lens, insert it into the hole you cut in the base and use wood glue to fix it in place.
For the frame, make sure it's lined up properly. If any metal parts show through the frame hole you cut, mask them with black electrical tape. I used brass screws to hold the top of the frame in place, then wood glue to bind everything together.
That's it! (I'm thinking of adding a brass plate on the top with the word "Digi-Stereopticon" engraved into it, but my wife thinks that's overkill...)
Leave it somewhere conspicuous. Amaze your friends. Be the coolest person on your block.
Step 6: Taking Photos in 3D...
Okay, the last step is taking a bunch of pics in 3D. There are TONS of great websites describing how to do this. I've sampled many techniques but the easiest and most satisfying option (in my opinion) would be to buy a 3D lens in a cap from Loreo at the same time as you order the viewer lens. They cost about $75.