A homemade projector is a fun and easy craft that allows you to project images and videos onto any flat surface. With just a few supplies, you can make your own projector and enjoy movie nights, craft vivid visuals for presentations, or simply explore the wonders of projection.
To make your homemade projector, you’ll need just a few basic supplies:
Box or Container
- Cardboard box, shoebox, oatmeal container, or other small box
- Needs one side cut out to allow light to pass through
Magnifying Glass, Lens, or Optic
- Glass or plastic magnifying lens, fresnel lens, phone screen magnifier, or optics from an old CD/DVD player
- Bends and focuses light for projection
Smartphone, Media Player, or Light Source
- Smartphone, tablet, computer, or media player to project images/video
- Use device’s built-in flashlight for simple projections
- Small LED light can also be used as light source
- Duct tape, masking tape, or double-sided tape to attach lens and affix phone or light
Scissors or Box Cutter
- To cut a “window” out of the box for projecting
Paint or Construction Paper (Optional)
- Black spray paint or construction paper to line the box interior
- Helps absorb ambient light and improve projection quality
Follow these step-by-step instructions to build your own homemade projector in just a few minutes:
Prepare the Projection Box
First, take your cardboard box, shoebox, or other container and cut out one of the sides to create a window. Make sure the opening is big enough for clear projection.
Use black spray paint or construction paper to line the interior of the box. This will help absorb ambient light and improve the projection clarity.
Mount the Lens
Next, attach your magnifying glass, fresnel lens, phone screen magnifier, or other optic over the window cut-out in the box.
Carefully align the lens and use tape to secure it in place. Make sure no light can leak around the edges of the lens.
Insert Light Source
Now insert your smartphone, media player, or light source into the end of the box opposite the lens.
Use tape to hold the device in place, angled toward the lens. Make sure the screen or light is directed squarely at the lens for optimal projection.
For best results, dim other nearby lights. Close the end of the box around the device to block out ambient light.
Focus and Project
To focus, slowly move the projection box forward or backward from the projection surface while your media plays.
Fine-tune the focus and angle as needed. Project your homemade videos, images, or presentations onto any blank wall or flat surface and enjoy!
Tips for Better Projections
Here are some tips for getting the best projections from your homemade projector:
- Use a dark or matte projection surface rather than light or glossy surfaces
- Project in darker environments for better contrast
- Add aluminum foil sheets inside to further reduce ambient light
- Experiment with different lenses for wider or more focused projections
- Adjust projection distance from surface based on image size and focus needs
- Clean the lens carefully to avoid blurred projections
Fun Projection Ideas
A homemade projector opens up a world of possibilities! Here are some fun ideas to try:
Backyard Movie Nights
Turn any blank wall into an outdoor theater. Project movies onto the side of your house for family movie nights.
Arts and Crafts Projector
Project coloring book templates or stencils onto paper or canvas. Tracing projected images makes arts, crafts, and tracing easy.
DIY Galaxy Projector
Use a convex lens to project dots of light onto your ceiling. Create a virtual starry night or galaxy inside your home.
Project educational videos, science visuals, math lessons, history maps and more for engaging new ways to learn.
Waterproof your projector in a sealed plastic bag to project sea life videos into a swimming pool.
So grab a box and lens and try making your own homemade projector using the steps above. Have fun unleashing your creativity and exploring the possibilities of projected light!