Make a Shoebox Projector from Your Smartphone

Do you want to protect your phone's screen on a wall or screen? This is how you can make your smartphone projector using a shoebox. It cannot be easy to share the display from your smartphone. Mirroring and wireless HDMI are great options. But what if your TV does not have a screen? You could even turn your phone into an electronic projector. Yes, that's right. All you need is an old shoebox and a lens. You can create a smartphone projector for as little as $10 using things you already have in your home.

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How a Projector works

It isn't a new idea to build a DIY smartphone projector. The Luckiest Smartphone Projector is a flatpack cardboard system you can make yourself. It has been around for a while. It is a DIY version.

This device is a camera Obscura - a black box with an opening that illuminates an image.

5 Minute explanation - How does an LCD projector work?, Source: Youtube, Kris Cochrane

A small hole can be made in a box, or room, to project an image. The opposite side of the image can then be rotated 180°. It is unlikely that photography or the photographic camera would have been possible without this optical phenomenon.

Projectors use this principle. They use a lens to rotate an image and then right it so that it can be viewed. This is the same for any projector you purchase, including a cinematic projector or a home theater LCD projector.

These devices can be built at home because they are essentially a box with lenses. Let's see how to make a shoebox projector that you can use with your iPhone or Android smartphone.

What You Need for Your Phone Projector

You will need the following items to make an iPhone or any other smartphone projector:

  • A lens. It could be a magnifying or biconvex lens, perhaps from another projector.
  • This is a method to position and secures your phone.
  • Use matte black paint or duct tape in black (or dark) colors.
  • Pencil.
  • Craft knife or similar cutting tools
  • Useful cutting surface

5 Best Projectors for your Phone | Mini Projector 2022, Source: Youtube, HowMuchTech

You might use tissue boxes or shoeboxes to make your boxes. It would help if you had them all the same size, with one small enough to fit in. A biconvex lens is what you'll need for this project. These lenses can be bought at specialty retailers or online and on Amazon. These glasses are often used as magnifying glasses for toys.

Step 1 - Get an Idea of the Football Length of Your Shoebox Projector

The focal length is your phone's display distance to the box. Switch your phone's brightness to the maximum in a darkened area. Place the phone on a table about six inches from your lens—the point at a blank wall or pinned sheet of paper.

Making HD Film Projector using Smartphone & Shoe Box at Home, Source: Youtube, Romeo and Science

Two boxes are necessary because you can adjust the focal length by moving the lens. This has another benefit. The spread of light is more significant the further away from the Projector from a surface. Large projections will appear very dark, even in pitch darkness.

Step 2 - Install the Lens in Your Shoebox Projector

First, place the lens on the box you wish to mount and draw around the edges. The craft knife can be used to cut the hole. Next, use the craft knife to make the second box. Use duct tape to secure your lens. There are other options. For example, hot glue can hold a lens in its place and adhesive putty.

Step 3 - Mount your phone to the Projector.

Now that the lights are dimmed, it is time to plug your phone into the Projector. A box that is slightly smaller than the phone might be preferred. You might have cut slots through the sides of the box to accommodate the phone. The phone should be able to slide into place and stay in place for as long as necessary.

Connecting your Phone to a Projector, Source: Youtube, Open Air Cinema

If you have a larger box, you can attach your phone case to the back wall. You might need hot glue or tape to do this. The Projector should now be ready for you to snap your phone in when you need it.

Step 4 - Make the Projector brighter with a dark interior

Many boxes are lighter colored inside. However, this will not affect the quality of the image. This will allow you to test the functionality of the box. After the lid has been removed, lower the brightness and inspect the quality of your projected image. The light bounces inside the box, causing the image to be washed out. Darken the interior of the box to direct the light through the lens. Use black duct tape or matte black paint to make the interiors dark. Both are not quick solutions, but duct tape does not need to dry. This allows you to save time. No matter what material you choose, blacken your interior. The area behind your phone can be skipped. The duct tape will slightly increase the inner width of the outer box. Paint is an option, but duct tape can help add friction to the focusing mechanism.

Step 5 - Set Up Your Smartphone for Projection

Now you can test your build. Please turn on your phone and slide it into the correct position. Then, lower the lights.

Connect your Projector With your smartphone in simple step, Source: Youtube, BITS 'N' BYTES

Take a look at the image and take a moment to consider the results. You will almost certainly notice the upside-down projection of the picture. It is like the camera obscura. What can you do?

Invert the Display of Your iPhone

On iPhone, open:

Settings > General > Accessibility

Tap Touch > AssistiveTouch to set it to

How to invert screen color on iPhone X -, Source: Youtube, Fliptroniks

You'll now see a small white dot that you can drag around the screen. You can tap it to select Device and Rotate the screen. This will rotate the screen to be upside-down when placed in your Projector. Next, go to Settings > Brightness and Wallpaper. Finally, turn off Automatic-Brightness. After that, turn on Auto-Brightness to increase your screen's brightness to its maximum setting.

Step 6 - Put Your Homemade Smartphone Projector Together

You're done with the orientation problem. Now you own a smartphone projector made from boxes for pennies.

To get the best results, project onto white screens in darkened rooms. You could use this to watch Netflix or YouTube. It doesn't matter; the quality will not be perfect.


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