Behold A DIY VR Headset Its Creator Will “Never” Build Again

Unsatisfied with commercial VR headset options, [dragonskyrunner] did what any enterprising hacker would: gathered parts over time and ultimately made their own. Behold the Hades Widebody (HWD), a DIY PC VR headset that aims for a wide field of view and even manages to integrate some face and eye tracking.

The Fresnel elements hugging the primary lenses provide a way of extending the display into the wearer’s peripheral vision.

[dragonskyrunner] is — and we quote — “NEVER building one of these again.” The reason is easily relatable to anyone who has spent a lot of time and effort creating something special: it does the job it was created for, but it also has limitations and is a lot of work. If one were to do it all over again, there would be a host of improvements and changes to consider. But one won’t be doing it all over again any time soon because it’s done now.

The good news is that [dragonskyrunner] made an effort to document things, so there is at least a parts list and enough details for any suitably motivated hacker to replicate the work and perhaps even put their own spin on it.

The Hades Widebody has a dual-lens arrangement and wide displays that aim to provide a wider field of view than most setups allow. There’s a main lens in front of the user’s eyes and a cut Fresnel lens providing a sort of extension to the side. [dragonskyrunner] claims that while there is certainly not a seamless transition between the lens elements, it does a better job than an Ambilight at providing a sense of visuals extending into the wearer’s peripheral vision.

The DIY spirit of making a piece of hardware to suit one’s own needs is exactly the sort of thing that would fit into our 2023 Cyberdeck content, and while a headset by itself isn’t quite enough to qualify (devices must have some form of usable input and output), it just might get those creative juices flowing.

Enhance VR Immersion By Shoehorning An Ambilight Into A Headset

Everyone wants a wider field of view in their VR headsets, but that’s not an easy nut to crack. [Statonwest] shows there’s a way to get at least some of the immersion benefits with a bit of simple hardware thanks to the VR Ambilight.

Continue reading “Enhance VR Immersion By Shoehorning An Ambilight Into A Headset”

Everything You Probably Didn’t Know About FOV In HMDs

VR headsets have been seeing new life for a few years now, and when it comes to head-mounted displays, the field of view (FOV) is one of the specs everyone’s keen to discover. Valve Software have published a highly technical yet accessibly-presented document that explains why Field of View (FOV) is a complex thing when it pertains to head-mounted displays. FOV is relatively simple when it comes to things such as cameras, but it gets much more complicated and hard to define or measure easily when it comes to using lenses to put images right up next to eyeballs.

Simulation of how FOV can be affected by eye relief [Source: Valve Software]
The document goes into some useful detail about head-mounted displays in general, the design trade-offs, and naturally talks about the brand-new Valve Index VR headset in particular. The Index uses proprietary lenses combined with a slight outward cant to each eye’s display, and they explain precisely what benefits are gained from each design point. Eye relief (distance from eye to lens), lens shape and mounting (limiting how close the eye can physically get), and adjustability (because faces and eyes come in different configurations) all have a role to play. It’s a situation where every millimeter matters.

If there’s one main point Valve is trying to make with this document, it’s summed up as “it’s really hard to use a single number to effectively describe the field of view of an HMD.” They plan to publish additional information on the topics of modding as well as optics, so keep an eye out on their Valve Index Deep Dive publication list.

Valve’s VR efforts remain interesting from a hacking perspective, and as an organization they seem mindful of keen interest in being able to modify and extend their products. The Vive Tracker was self-contained and had an accessible hardware pinout for the express purpose of making hacking easier.  We also took a look at Valve’s AR and VR prototypes, which give some insight into how and why they chose the directions they did.