Making Your Own VR Headset? Consider This DIY Lens Design

Lenses are a necessary part of any head-mounted display, but unfortunately, they aren’t always easy to source. Taking them out of an existing headset is one option, but one may wish for a more customized approach, and that’s where [WalkerDev]’s homebrewed “pancake” lenses might come in handy.

Engineering is all about trade-offs, and that’s especially true in VR headset design. Pancake lenses are compact units that rely on polarization to bounce light around internally, resulting in a very compact assembly at the cost of relatively poor light efficiency. That compactness is what [WalkerDev] found attractive, and in the process discovered that stacking two different Fresnel lenses and putting them in a 3D printed housing yielded a very compact pancake-like unit that gave encouraging results.

This project is still in development, and while the original lens assembly is detailed in this build log, there are some potential improvements to be made, so stay tuned if you’re interested in using this design. A DIY headset doesn’t mean you also must DIY the lenses entirely from scratch, and this option seems economical enough to warrant following up.

Want to experiment with mixing and matching optics on your own? Not only has [WalkerDev]’s project shown that off-the-shelf Fresnel lenses can be put to use, it’s in a way good news that phone-based VR is dead. Google shipped over 10 million cardboard headsets and Gear VR sold over 5 million units, which means there are a whole lot of lenses in empty headsets laying around, waiting to be harvested and repurposed.

11 thoughts on “Making Your Own VR Headset? Consider This DIY Lens Design

  1. I’d be really interested in seeing the optical design, but can’t find it in the build log.
    Is there actually any real optical design here? Or is it more a cut-and-try sort of iterative approach?

    1. It’s a cut and try approach! I originally got the idea from ripping open a few phone VRs to test out the average measurements and how the IPD systems worked, when I got the random idea to stack the lens! It looked like it worked and now here we are!

  2. I try Something similar. Got from Dollar Store two Same +3 Dioptrien glasses with thick frame. Dissembled the Seconds glasses. And Press the glasses Frontside of a Lens to the frontside in the frame. I got a weard but working -6 Dioptrien glasses. 2$ for a ugly short View spectacles.

    I will Test If a got a good VR Lens with +3 in Front and +1 on Backside.

    In the past you could easilily glue glasses together with a transparent colophony (solder Mixed with isopranol). But uv glue ist fast.

      1. What if you Split it? One pair of bigger lenses some Millimeter in front of the Screen. And the second pair as normal weared spectacles on your nose.

        When you increase the distance between two lenses, will the focal lenght decrease?

        I will try that in an old Google Cardboard one.

    1. Thats genius. I am thinkering around about the stereo output to screen, from a microskop. Hmmm maybe the laptop with the screen on the table a box an some lenses… i think, i think that could work.

      I Like this Site one Article inspire another ideas.

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