Low-Cost Head Mounted Display From FPV Gear

A common complaint we’ve seen on many of the recent cyberdeck builds is that they don’t offer any display technology more advanced than a tablet-sized IPS panel. The argument goes that to be a true deck in the Gibsonian sense, it’s got to have some kind of virtual reality interface or at least a head mounted display. Unfortunately such technology is expensive, and often not particularly hacker friendly.

But assuming you can settle for a somewhat low-tech alternative, the simple head mounted display that [Jordan Brandes] has been fiddling with is certainly a viable option. By mounting a five inch 800×480 TFT LCD to the front of a pair of goggles designed for first person view (FPV) flying, you can throw together a workable rig for around $30 USD. Add in some headphones, and you’ve got a fairly immersive experience for not a lot.

Naturally the display will show whatever HDMI signal you give it, but in his case, [Jordan] has mounted a Raspberry Pi to the back of it to make it a complete wearable computer. With a Bluetooth travel keyboard in the mix, he’s even able to get some legitimate work done with this setup. If he ends up combining this with the ultrasonic keyboard he was working on earlier in the year, he’ll be getting pretty close to jacking into cyberspace for real.

Hackers have been chasing cheap head mounted displays for years now. Back in 2007 the best you could do for this kind of money was a 300×240 black and white monocle. Getting our hands on the good stuff is still harder than we’d like, but at least we’re moving in the right direction.

17 thoughts on “Low-Cost Head Mounted Display From FPV Gear

    1. Yes and no, things like project northstar, magic leaps AR the holo lens stuff – plus all the more common VR headsets are all a good deal better in some ways – just not as homemade and cheap. But I’d still not call them unaffordable. In the same sort of price bracket as that fancy gaming/productivity monitor really – which in many ways is what they are, above average price displays that you only really want/need for specific use cases.

      Heck even the more slimline almost defacto standard fatshark FPV goggles are actually pretty damn good, very much smaller, and could be used as a desktop screen unmodified if you don’t mind broadcasting your desktop in an easy to pick up way.. But mount the SBC (oh who am I kidding, its going to be a Pi) and signal converter right next to them with a directional antenna and it would be about the same as using NFC for anything… Personally I wouldn’t still, but it should work and not be terrible…

      This is quite a neat, effective solution. So I salute the maker personally. Could be really nice with little bit more work to really polish it up, but its a damn good start. And looks very budget friendly. As it blinds you I’d want at least a PIR or maybe opencv camera to alert you to folk sneaking up, perhaps a little array of them for directionality. With just a little tweak to your desktop environment the edges of the active window could play radar range warning. I mean they might be bringing you a cup of tea! if you don’t know they are there you might make it spil, and wasting tea is a terrible terrible crime (plus its probably hot enough to cause some discomfort).

  1. ” Back in 2007 the best you could do for this kind of money was a 300×240 black and white monocle. ”

    Virtual i/o Iglasses released 1995 640X480 full color binocular see through 3d
    Sony Glasstron s700 Released in 1998 800X600 color binocular see through 3d
    Emagin z800 Released in 2005 800X600 color binocular 3d VR

    Thats just what Ive got on my shelf that predates this erroneous statement and exceeds those specs.

      1. New or when I bought them between 2005 and 2010?

        that specific glasstron is a bit hard to comeby. Most of them are A35s, lower res. But the rest have been regulars on the bay, fetching $50-250 when not bid upon by a fool with more dollars than sense. These were all consumer grade products. they are ejunk to most people.
        I paid $100 for a Daqri helmet with thermal imaging last year…thats a $15k unit. ODG was taking deposits On the r9 for almost two years. I paid less than that deposit for mine once they were being liquidated. Magic Leap one $2300…$400-1k. Hololens $3500….routinely sell for $500-1k. MSRP is meaningless with this sort of tech.

  2. This isn’t a whole lot different than Palmer Lucky’s early Oculus Rift prototypes, or even the first dev kit for that matter. I think the most important improvement over early designs (and implemented soon after in commercial devices) is not keeping the displays fully illuminated, but rather refreshing the display and then briefly illuminating it. This prevents perceived smearing when moving your head. Everything else such as higher resolution, slick software rendering techniques, better optics and motion tracking were a natural progression. Without the illumination technique, HMDs would still kind of suck regardless of everything else, unless ridiculously high frame and refresh rates could be attained.

    1. Low-persistance backlight driving (or display drivel for OLED panels) is fairly down the list of issues with this HMD if you want to use it for VR. Top are:

      1) Lens compensation (Orthostereo, or throw it in the trash with PiMax. Zero excuse for failure) AKA pre-warp, to correct for optical aberrations (chromatic, spherical, etc)
      2) Orientation tracking
      3) Orientation tracking with sufficiently low latency (you have a 20ms motion-photons budget to go from measuring movement to the display being updated to match that movement)
      4) Position tracking
      5) Position tracking with sufficiently low latency (20ms motion-photons budget)
      6) Low-latency display driving (‘Direct Mode’ rather than presenting the panel as a regular monitor at the end of a compositor stack)
      7) Low-latency pixel switching (if your panel can’t even fully switch before the next update in sample-and-hold mode, low-persistance mode is just flat out not going to work)

      The OP device is a panel that sits in front of your face, but it is no way related to a VR HMD other than sitting on your head. A shopping trolley and a BDRM both have 4 wheels and a welded steel chassis, but are not otherwise related.

      1. I have to agree. This wasn’t designed to be VR even though it shares much of the same HMD aspects. I considered splitting the screen to use VR goggles but found it to be too much of a hassle given my end goal.

  3. That reminds me, another project currently on the other side of the ADD merry-go-round is $10 in the hole with nothing happening. That is one is a “cardboard” type headset picked up on sale and two identical, older, smaller phones, which I was planning one per eye. However, there’s an e-reader with HD capable screen that would cram in like the above. The screen is great, for some reason the only thing this e-reader can do is play movies, (books crash it LOL) and there’s no blur or lag in the action. So I could go this way if I could figure out the display, the rest of the e-reader hardware is a fustercluck.


    I have been using my own custom box goggles for years using a 5″ LCD Screen and a visor type dual lens magnifier, with a good degree of satisfaction. During this time, I came across several Oculus style VR goggles that I thought I could use in a custom FPV Fatshark style goggles and adjust them to my particular eye prescription inexpensively, so I acquired quite a few of them over the years, However, and to anyone who has tried to make these work for FPV with a regular screen (not a cell with and app) knows that it is not feasible, because of the binocular lenses that require independent screen display to each lens or eye and when viewed through these types of goggles the image is combined as one.

    I recently came across an original Oculus Gear VR, in perfect condition for pennies and I could not pass the opportunity to buy them and see if I could use them for FPV, once again, getting back into FPV flying which I do mainly in my large back yard.

    If any one knows someone that has already done an FPV headset with these types of binocular VR goggles, but using a regular high resolution LCD screen I would appreciate knowing. I know as probably many who have tried these, in similar application, that these goggles work great with a modern cell phone and apps that split the screen, but I do not want to use a cell phone as the viewing screen.

    I want to use the Oculus Gear VR, with a single screen that I can connect to a regular and more common FPV 5.8GHZ RX like a an RC832 or similar , since I already own a few of these receivers and I have a setup in the works that uses DIY diversity circuitry.

    I guess what I am asking is for a way to split the more common 5″ true FPV LCD screen video image that are 800-400 or higher resolution so that they can be used with any of the dirt cheap binocular Oculus style VR goggles and bypass the phone completely. Why not use a phone, because a phone records everything you do and say and while I have nothing to hide, except my not so attractive bald head, LOL, I want the privacy of view for my eyes only and those I deem sharing with. Makes sense?

    Ok, so perhaps the obvious option may be to use small 1.5′-2″ high resolution LCD screens with the video split from the RX and each screen placed in front of each of the Oculus lens. This is how I stumbled on this thread, I am still searching.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.