How to Make a Homemade Projector (Step-by-Step Guide)

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
Get Smarter On Architecture and Design

Get the 3-minute weekly newsletter keeping 5K+ designers in the loop.

Enter your Email to Sign up


Movie nights are all fun when you watch with friends and family. If you do not have a big screen or projector, this should not stop you from enjoying the moment, as you can make your own projector. This article provides a detailed guide on “how to make a homemade projector” alone or with the whole family.

Let’s get started!

Requisites for Creating a Homemade Projector

Collect all of the following simple objects into one place:

    • A large magnifying glass. The larger the lens, the better, especially if you wish to project on a big white wall. To save on cutting, try to stay away from lenses with grips.

    • Spotless, white, flat surface, such as a freshly painted empty wall or a sheet tightly wound.

    • Tape with a washable adhesive, such as masking tape or double-sided tape.

    • Ruler Protractor for Pencil (optional but helpful).

    • A cutting device, like a box cutter or Exacto knife.

    • A rectangular cardboard box or a shoe box.

    • Black matte paint or thick black paper.

    • Strong cardboard or foam core.

    • A mini tablet or smartphone.

    • Tape measure.

    • A strong glue.

    • A mirror.

For you to make a projector at home, you will require to follow the following simple steps;

Step 1: Choose the Correct Mirror and Box for Your DIY Homemade Projector

To produce a larger projected image using the light from your phone, we will build a projector that uses a mirror and a magnifying lens.

Magnifying glass

Image credits:

Your picture will be brighter as more light hits the magnifying glass. Because of this, you should have a reasonably small cardboard box to prevent light from dispersing before hitting the glass.

It would help if you had a lengthy box to change the distance between the projection lens and your phone. In light of this, you should use a box that your phone’s screen can fit across.

We used a 15 x 30 x 10 cm box in our instance.

The mirror should be basic, rectangular, and at least as large as the phone you want to use.

Step 2: Use Adhesive Glue to Strengthen the Box’s Wobbly Edges and Make It More Solid

Every shoebox contains glued-down flaps that help it maintain its form. However, some flaps can become loose with use, which may cause the box to deteriorate. So first, look over your shoebox, then use glue to secure any exposed joints.

Use binder clips or anything similar to hold the glued portions together while you finish the remainder of your DIY project, or hold them together until they are completely dry.

Step 3: Shape the Box

Cutting a box

Image credits:

Cut one of the outer box’s narrow sides using a precision knife or scissors. It is done so that you may change focus by moving the lens in or out of closer proximity to the subject.

Step 4: Apply Black Paint to the Shoebox’s Interior and Lid

Note that noise might emerge from light bouncing off the box’s walls, which could reduce the image quality. Make the projector’s inside sides black to prevent that. You can use black matte paper and adhere it to the projector’s inside to coat it.

To ensure that the black paper has securely adhered to the box, spread the glue out evenly using a brush. You can choose double-sided tape Instead of glue as an alternative.

Consider painting the pack as an option. However, remember that you will need to wait for the paint to dry and use a matte-textured product. In addition, the light box side you previously cut out and the interior of the box lid must also be coated.

Step 5: Remove the Handle From the Magnifying Glass

Select a magnifying glass whose lens can completely fit within the shoebox. It will only work for this project if the lens is larger than the side. To avoid using a sharp instrument, we recommend finding a magnifying glass with a holder that screws off or using a hacksaw to remove the handle.

Removing a magnifying handle

Image credits:

Remember to ensure that the magnifying glass is made of glass. Your very own smartphone projector won’t function with plastic. So instead, trace the lens in the middle of the cardboard box’s one end.

Use one of the box’s shorter ends to hold the magnifying glass Instead of one of the longer sides. Place the magnifying glass in the center of the cardboard box while standing on the end. Draw a pen or marker border around it.

Make every effort to position the lens in the center of the box. Next, cut off the trace from the cardboard box using an X-ACTO knife.

If you want to ensure that your cut is flawless all the way around, you may either accomplish this freehand or attach the X-ACTO knife to a compass. Make every effort to smooth the edges of the cuts to prevent ragged edges.

When making the hole, proceed with caution and never cut yourself. When making the cuts, hold the box and the knife, so the blade is advancing away from your body.

Step 6: Hot Glue the Magnifying Glass Into the Opening

On the interior and outside of the box, hot glue edges where the box and the magnifying glass meet.

The hot glue will ensure the glass remains in place while using the projector. There is a possibility that the lens will fall out if you do not pay attention to this step.

Step 7: Install the Mirror Into the Homemade Projector

The lens concentrates and refracts light to project images from the phone. It implies that the picture on the white sheet for a projector screen is rotated from left to right and upside down.

Placing a mirror in the box

Image credits:

The latter is simple to fix. All you have to do is turn the phone’s screen off from rotating automatically and turn it over. It helps if you have a mirror to create a mirror image in which the lens would flip to rectify the image from left to right.

Place the mirror at a 45-degree angle on the opposite side of the lens. Ensure that you can see the projecting lens from the top of the mirror.

Step 8: Make a Window for Your Smartphone

Measure the screen’s width and length. Then, on the DIY smartphone projector lid, just above the mirror, draw a rectangle the size of your phone screen.

With a sharp knife, trim the rectangle. You should be fine if you cut the rectangle a little larger than necessary, but take care to stay within the phone’s actual size.

Step 9: Get the Ideal Focal Length for Your Shoebox Projector

It would help if you considered the focal length when trying to project your smartphone display through the opening in your box. The focal length is the separation between the phone’s display and lens.

Locate a dimly lit area and turn your phone’s display to its brightest setting. Ensure you put it on a table six inches behind your lens, facing a projector screen or a white pinned paper. You should have enough knowledge to estimate the size of boxes you require. By adjusting the lens, you may alter the focus.

There is still another benefit to this. The dispersion of light increases broader the farther away the smartphone projector is from a surface. It implies that large projections will seem extremely black in all lighting conditions.

When the image appears crisp, stop the lens movement.

Step 10: Enjoy Watching Your Movie

Enjoying movies on a homemade projector

Image credits:

You may immediately use your DIY smartphone projector if everything is in order. The box can be painted on the outside or covered with colored paper. You should turn off the light and watch movies when it’s ready. You can also set up a home theater system with a projector for an amplified sound experience.

Frequently Asked Questions on Homemade Projectors

a) How does a DIY homemade projector operate?

A phone projector works by having light from your phone travel through a magnifying lens set at a specific distance. Consequently, the projected image becomes larger.

b) Why is the image on my homemade projector projected upside-down?

The projected picture is inverted when a homemade projector is constructed with a single convex lens. Placing a mirror between the phone and the lens will correct the image’s inversion.

c) Which lens is applied to a homemade projector?

You require a convex lens to construct a DIY projector. The center of these lenses is larger than the edges. Using a magnifying glass is the simplest method for obtaining a convex lens.

The holder may be taken out and put in your phone projector.

d) How can I enlarge the projected image on my screen?

Most projectors incorporate a zoom ring to magnify the image. You probably won’t have a zoom ring if you have a DIY projector. Placing the projector farther away is the simplest way to make the projector screen bigger. Moving the phone back and forth can be necessary to refocus.

e) Why is my DIY phone projector fuzzy?

A blurry projection

Image credits:

It’s possible that the magnifying glass you’re using has some curvature and produces some chromatic aberration as it’s not a well-built lens. Sadly, there isn’t an inexpensive fix for such problems.

f) How can I improve the clarity of my homemade projector?

Make sure your phone brightness is set to maximum, that there is little light leaking from the box, and that your movie projector is pretty close to the wall if you want the clearest possible image. Ensure you use less destructive lights that spice up your home theater.

Featured Image Credits:

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
Related Articles
best projector for bedroom

Best Projector For Bedroom: Comprehensive Review

When it comes to the improvement of the home entertainment systems, the popularity and the demand for projectors are soaring. ...

best 4k home theater projector

Best 4K Home Theater Projector For An Authentic Experience

A home projector is an ideal way to get a movie theater vibe and an image much larger than your ...

Best Mini Projector For iPhone To Fit In Your Pocket

Entertainment has evolved today in very competitive ways. The pocket projectors are the best way to catch up with the ...