DIY Dorm: Smartphone Projector

Nowadays, we can do almost anything on a smart phone: send emails, play games, and even watch movies. Sometimes, however, squinting at the small screen can leave our eyes feeling tired. Rather than watch a movie or show on the tiny screen, why not magnify it via your very own projector? Check out this fun and simple addition to our DIY Dorm series:

What You’ll Need:

  • Shoe box
  • Duct tape
  • X-acto knife (works better than scissors)
  • Magnifying glass (try a larger lens – aim for 3-4 inch diameter)
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Phone stand (or something to act as a stand for your phone)

What You’ll Do:

Duct tape any openings.

1.Cover all holes and gaps in the box using the duct tape. You don’t want to allow any light to enter or leave the box except for where you will place the magnifying glass.

Mark around the lens.

2.Go to the front and center of the box (on the shorter side). Place the magnifying glass there and mark around it so you will know where to cut. I suggest cutting a slightly smaller hole that you can push the magnifying glass lens into.

3.Using your X-Acto knife, slowly cut out the hole you just marked. Patch up any rough edges with duct tape.

Push the lens into the opening.

4.From the inside of the box, push the lens into the opening. Tape the handle to the inside of the box (to keep the lens in place).

5.Line up your smartphone or iPod with the magnifying glass and mark this space. This is so you will know where to place the phone whenever you use it. Place your “phone stand” on the spot you just marked and glue it down (if you’d like it to be permanent).

Phone Stands

6.You’re ready to use your new projector! Turn the screen brightness up to the highest setting on our phone and open the video you wish to view. You will have to place the phone upside down in order to have the picture appear right-side up.

** Most phones will continue to flip the image so it is right-side-up. Locking the orientation usually fixes this problem. Find out how to do this on the iPhone here.

7.Just turn off the lights and – voila! – you’re all set to go. A darker room will show a clearer image.

Fancy technology? Maybe not…but plenty of fun just the same! You may have to play around with the project and figure out what works best for you and the specific materials you have.

Try out this project for yourself and let us know how it goes! Do you have any tips to share? Post a comment below!

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Leave a Reply

 

  1. Kristen says:

    This is really cool!

  2. Sara says:

    Don’t iPhones automatically “turn” the image so that it is always right-side-up? How do you make the image up-side-down?

    • Evan says:

      In the description just after step 6 it says that there is a way to lock the image in place click the link and it tells you

    • Callie says:

      All you do is double press the home button, slide your finger to the right as if you were unlocking your phone, click the button to the far left so it has a picture of a lock in it.

  3. Patty says:

    Sara, you didn’t read the whole story above “** Most phones will continue to flip the image so it is right-side-up. Locking the orientation usually fixes this problem. Find out how to do this on the iPhone here.” between #6 & #7,

  4. Dollman says:

    In smartphone accelerometers are used to show direction. Using them the smartphone knows where is up or down.

  5. Graham says:

    Watch out for the older smartphones that can overheat when in use. It might drain the battery, but resist plugging in the phone while using it to project.

  6. Karly says:

    I wish there was an example of how it looks once the project is finished. This sounds like a lot of fun but if it turns out kinda dopey looking I wouldn’t want to invest a couple hours putting this together:-(

    • Jordan says:

      it literally took me five minutes to do. if you are good with an xacto knife, it won’t look bad at all. there’s no need for all that duct tape.

  7. Beth Anne says:

    This is AWESOME!!!! I’m going to try it!

  8. Nick says:

    This is very cool.. I just built a camera obscura. Obviously this works on the same principle. I can’t wait to try it.

  9. Jordan says:

    it got it to work, but how do you make the picture larger? the picture I’m getting is a little bit larger than the display on the phone.

  10. Trish says:

    Can anyone link me to a picture of it in use?

  11. Britt says:

    wish i could play movies on my phone…

  12. Kayla Watson says:

    It didnt work at all for me! I must have done something worng?!?!?

    • J.T. says:

      Kayla, you might have to see if your box is big enough for your lens. If your phone is within a certain distance, it won’t show an image at any distance from the wall. I had to lengthen my box to make it work. A 4″ lens that’s about 1/4″ thick is just too big for the box I was using lol

  13. Rebecca says:

    Mine didn’t work either.. I see a white screen but te actual video does not come through.. I agree a (successful) finished project or video would be so helpful.. Does the size/shape of shoebox come into play??

  14. Rachael says:

    if, say you wanted to project a video from netflix how would you keep the screen upsidedown?? the link on step
    6 only works for things like messaging… not in apps. also even if i did work in apps i dont see how it would be helpful…. you can only lock it in portrait mode… not landscape… someone please help?!??

  15. Tracy says:

    I didn’t work for us either.

  16. River Man says:

    This video explains it and shows the end result.

  17. Kathryn says:

    I love this! I have a pretty big lens so I had to lengthen my box as well, but I love it! Took me less than an hour and I’m going to cover mine in scrapbook paper to avoid the ‘dopey looking’ concerns of others :-)

  18. Morgan says:

    (stupid question alert!!) Do you think it would work with and ipad if i used a bigger box

    • Sandybn says:

      Hey Morgan – That’s a good question! I’m not sure whether or not that method would work (haven’t tried it!), but it’d definitely be worthwhile to test out. I’m not sure whether you could find a lens big enough or if that image would be clear, but it can’t hurt to try!

      • Safia says:

        I made a projector for my ipad3 with a large box and a magnifying glass that had a 4 in diameter. It worked well, just make sure the back light is all the way up. You may want an external speaker too. I couldn’t hear Netflix very loud unless I sat right next the the projector.

  19. Danielle says:

    Where can you buy the magnifying glass?

  20. Nana says:

    Where can you get a magnifying glass like that?

    • Sandybn says:

      You can find magnifying glasses in a few places. Hardware stores, some grocery stores, and department stores are good places to start.

  21. Homepage says:

    … [Trackback]…

    […] There you will find 70637 more Infos: http://www.thecollegejuice.com/2012/07/diy-dorm-smartphone-projector/ […]…

  22. Sarah says:

    I don’t really understand where/how you’re supposed to position the iPhone? Does it go inside the box too upside down and thats what projects the image, or where’s it supposed to go??

    • Sandybn says:

      Yes, it goes in the box. Line up your smartphone or iPod with the magnifying glass and mark this space. This is so you will know where to place the phone whenever you use it. Place your

  23. Nhaj says:

    This won’t work. For it to project your phone needs to project a super bright light. Your phone doesnt have enough lumens to project a picture to your wall from a distance. Unless you bring the box an inche closer to the wall and get a projection as small as the screen of your phone it self.

    • Sandybn says:

      It works, we promise! I had to increase the brightness on my phone and play around with different lenses to get it to work. The darker the room, the better. Keep trying!

  24. […] DIY Dorm: Smartphone Projector | The College Juice Nowadays, we can do almost anything on a smart phone: send emails, play games, and even watch movies. Sometimes, however, squinting at the small screen can leave our eyes feeling tired. Rather than watch a movie or show on the tiny screen, why not magnify it via your very own projector? Check out this fun and simple addition to our DIY Dorm series: 1.Cover all holes and gaps in the box using the duct tape. You don

  25. lighter says:

    Very gοod blog poѕt. I absolutely love this website.

    Keep wгiting!

  26. Katie says:

    It won’t work.
    Please help! I was so excited but…

  27. Josh says:

    It works but quality aint the best

  28. […] of the 80s, 90s, and 00s. Give your favorite geeky movies a new dimension of coolness by using a smart phone projector that you can make yourself with an old shoebox and a magnifying […]

  29. […] out the complete instructions HERE Like this:LikeBe the first to like this. […]

  30. anne rhodes says:

    Hello,
    I am looking for some photos of this project for a flyer for our teen program. We are doing this for teens at a public library. May we please use your photos if we cite where they came from?
    Sincerely,
    Anne Rhodes, teen librarian
    Mansfield/Richland County Public Library

  31. Alexis says:

    I never knew that i phone could do that
    I should do this this weekend

  32. Victoria says:

    I made one, and although it did project the picture wasn’t very crisp, maybe my magnifying glass was to big, or my box wasn’t lenghthy enough. Either way, it works..

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