DIY Oculus (Head Mounted Display) Build Pt. I

DIY Oculus Rift

Have you been interested in VR lately? I wrote a post about the Google Cardboard a couple months back and a lot has happened since then. The Gear VR and Playstation VR ar much talked about products, soon ready to be commercial household names. The Cardboard was that innovative project that brought the whole world a step closer to the VR revolution that is preparing to take place as we speak. VR in my opinion will become the next best place to reside in the internet therefore attracting a lot of popularity along with influence. The cardboard offers a nice experience but it’s just the beginning of what the possibilities with VR could be. I find VR very helpful in the field of 3D modeling. If 3D modeling was a whole body concept, then creation of new 3D models will be a lot more fluid and creative. To truly do that is to truly immerse the artist into his imagination.

The Google Cardboard is a good introduction to the world of VR. A couple Android apps keep you a little busy and you start asking yourself; how can I make the experience better? Is there a way to access this from my computer? Can I access all the content in my computer? Do I have to keep it tied to a computer?

oculus_tear

Oculus Rift Teardown

The answer to that is they are thinking about solutions. By they, I mean the VR enthusiasts. Oculus Rift is one of the startups that has taken the liberty to really deliver a one of a kind Virtual Reality headset that can answer all the questions above. You can visit the iFixit teardown here
The Oculus Rift is a platform that really provides a solid VR experience all around. It works with your computer and works as an extension of your computer. It functions almost as a second monitor which you can send content to and experience a different way.

So, I started looking around around the net for a solution. I want an immersive experience like this, but I don’t really want to pay $700 that Oculus is asking for it so I decided I would build a DIY HMD headset similar to the Oculus Rift. Here are the instructions to build your own DIY VR headset

Introduction

The Oculus Rift was developed with a PC in mind which is what VR is centered. The most content exists on the computer and it should be the first place worth taking serious attention to. The first step is to decide what you need and how you are going to undertake the project. I looked at the DK1 and how it was done and there are some things to notice about the headset. It’s a monitor meaning your pc outputs video that has to go thorough some video controller to be outputted to the Oculus. The video controller has to be programmed to be stereoscopic (side by side). The screens go in your HMD. It also needs motion trackers for head tracking, axis rotation,motion etc. You also have to have a way to program the controller board. After searching around the net: I came up with this list of materials.

Building the HMD (Head Mounted Display)

The first part of the design process involves finding the right head mounted display to start your build. You have several options here but I decided to look for the lcd based on the requirements of the oculus rift DK1. I found that the specs of a 7″ LCD with at least a resolution of 1080p. I chose the following LCD monitor to power my DIY Oculus. (You could use these controller boards for all sort of neat things, such as powering your old laptop screens).

Head Mounted Display Assembly. Try to find a screen that has a resolution of 1280 x 800. I found the LCD + Controller board assembly for ~$85.


LED Controller Board $38
7″ TFT LCD Display 1280×800 $44

You also want to make sure the chip that drives this controller is a RealTek Chip. There is a variety of boards you can choose but I made sure mentioned this because I will plan on flashing the EEPROM to the Oculus DK1 EDID. This is what will make the VR headset compatible with alot of the software out there for the Oculus Rift.

Display Case

The LCD and the electronics have to build and outfitted into a VR case. I had lots of options to choose for the display case so during the first build, I decided to go ahead and modify an aftermarket plastic VR headset. I used the headset in conjunction with 3D printed parts to make the final test headset. I looked at the NOVA DIY tutorial then I made the cardboard cutouts of the HMD headset. I then scanned the cutouts and processed them into a mesh so I can 3D print it. I will experiment a lot with this part because of the multiple upgrades I will have to add to the headset. The main parts needed for the display case build are the lenses,3D Modeling and Printing,Cardboard Cutout Sheet

3D Printed Parts

lenses

5X Pocket Loupe with Aspheric Lenses. We need 2 of these. $30.00


5x Loupe with Aspheric Lenses. $30

Head Tracking

To take full advantage of the headset, you need to have a way of having tracking the headset. There are many solutions on the web but there are two solutions that appealed to me the most. I decided to go ahead and use the STM32F3DISCOVERY as the tracking unit for the custom HMD I am building. This and a spoofed video controller should allow you do test your headset with the latest Oculus demos

motion

STM32F3DISCOVERY motion tracking board. $25


STM32F3DISCOVERY Tracking Hardware $25

Build Instructions Overview

Before you can start building the HMD headset, you will have to start doing a bit of research. I will list some resources where to get some good information on the build. Before I head there, I think it’s important to go over the premliminaries of the headset. The software of the headset should be Oculus Rift compatible and give you the ability to use your Windows desktop in VR. Look up some of the abilities of the oculus rift. The end goals is to have the headset you build emulate all of those functions. This should allow you not only to experiences some awesome demos, you can also take full advantage of Youtube 360 AND the content on the Immersion platform. I can attest, there’s great content I am thinking of releasing that takes full advantage of the 3D web. The headset build consists of 3 parts.1) The display and lcd assembly, 2) The Rift Tracking unit assembly 3)Spoofing the EDID

The 3 stages above go from building the VR HMD to programming it. The end result should be a DIY Oculus Rift HMD. I will also include some software to test out the new HMD headset. I will break this article into 4 parts because each part of the build focuses on a specific aspect of the HMD. The estimated cost of the parts is around $150. Not bad for the quality of this HMD. Without further ado, click here to start the build.

Useful Resouces

Here are some guide resources that will help you with this build

Useful Softwares

This is some software that can help you with your build. After you assembly the display and connect with with your computer through hdmi, You need some Rift type software to show the power of VR with the second monitor. Here is some software that can help:

Conclusion

By this point, you have enough information to go out and build your own HMD headset. Have fun and please feel free to comment with links and pictures of the headsets you built. The next part of this guide will focus on the actual build and any thing you might need help/troubleshooting with. Thanks and until next time

DIY Oculus BOM

I would like to thnk my family and the various authors, guides, and websites that made this possible. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for an awesome project.

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