How to Make a Homemade Projector With a Mirror? [Simple Guide]

There are countless ways to spend your Saturday night. Most people will choose to party over anything else, so, this article isn’t really for them. It’s for the ones who would prefer to stay at home snuggled up with a good movie over anything. Now, we don’t all have the financial capability of installing a home theater or even wasting money at the theater every week.

Another thing is that you want the freedom to choose what movie you want to enjoy. Maybe rewatch a classic or a foreign film that’s never been in the theater before. The solution we are offering you is to help you build your very own projector with simple materials mostly found at your home or the nearest market and a flat wall.

There are three ways to go about this; the first one is the simple projector which will, unfortunately, end up with the words on your images being upside down. However, with some tweaking and tailoring, we will reach a more sophisticated version of a that will allow you a perfect image. The third method will rely on recycling a vintage slide projector if you happen to own one.

Mirror, Version One

how to make a projector

This projector explains the main concept which we will later tweak into something a little bit more evolved. What do you will need here is:

  • A shoebox
  • A magnifying glass
  • Your smartphone
  • Craft cardboard
  • Double-sided tape
  1. Cut a hole the size off your magnifying glass in one of the sides of the shoebox.
  2. Fix the magnifying glass in the hole using tape.
  3. Get the piece of cardboard and fix two pieces of tape to form loops to its front so that this could serve as a place to set your smartphone.
  4. Make sure that the cardboard piece is snug against the shoebox while maintaining the freedom to move it back-and-forth to correct the image.
  5. Install your smartphone and there you go!

This is the most straightforward homemade projector that you could ever make. The thing about this projector is that the image will be flipped. So, an easy fix for this is for you to flip your phone while placing it. Although you cannot call the image great, it is relatively good for not having spent anything in the process. Nevertheless, we can reach a much better result was some simple tweaks.

Mirror, Version Two

In this version, things will get a little bit more sophisticated. You will need:

  1. Craft cardboard 
  2. A marker 
  3. Straws 
  4. Thick dowels
  5. A cutting knife/Scissors 
  6. Duck tape 
  7. Some printables
  • With a marker, make the following lines on your craft cardboard — three vertical lines, one in the middle and two on either side of it at equal distances. And, two horizontal lines dividing the cardboard into three equal parts.

    The front part will be the front of the cardboard box, the middle section will be the bottom, and the last part will be the backside of the card box.
  • Next, take your magnifying lens and put it on in the middle of the front part of your cardboard box. Mark around it with your marker, then, using your scissors or your cutting knife, you will cut that hole so that when you put your magnifying lens there, it will suit perfectly.

    About the lens, it should be a bi-convex lens, as that’s the same as the one used in any magnifying glass. One piece of advice is that you should go with a bigger lens rather than the smaller one as it’ll give you a brighter image.

    Secondly, you should always check the focal length when shopping for the correct lens. If you choose to go with a higher focal length in order to get a bigger image, the trade-off will be a dimmer image. However, going with a smaller focal length will grant you a brighter image, even if a bit smaller.
  • An optional thing is to cut a small triangle in the back third that can serve as a hanging spot if you want to hang your projector on a wall.
  • The next step is to score over the lines where you’ll fold the cardboard into a box. These scores will be very light indeed, yet they’ll facilitate the folding procedure.
  • If you want to make the newly made box a little bit more durable, you can fix some cardboard pieces on the side using a glue-gun or duck-tape.

    You have various options to choose amongst; one of them is to decorate the box through drawing, doodling, or even applying some decorative paper on it. 
  • The basic most important thing to do is to spray the inside of the box black to prevent light from escaping it.

    All the previous steps seem quite similar, even if a bit more sophisticated. What we want to achieve here is a sharper, more focused image. How will we do that?

    The answer is that we will create our very own focusing system, which will help in perfecting the image that comes out of your homemade projector. This will be achieved through the use of dowels, straws, concertina, which we’ll make from scratch, and the mirror.
  • Poke four holes at the angles of the bottom side of your projector. These holes must fit the dowels snuggly.
  • Glue your straws at the same angles using a glue gun or any sort of glue that you have so that the dowel will be inserted into the straw.
  • The main object of the straws is to act as sliders and fixators to the dowels. So, after you fix them, you can cut off the excess off and thread the dowels through them.

    Next comes the mirror. It ought to be fitted to the box as not to fall over. A safety tip is to have the borders of the mirror covered by tape or rubber or anything that will not cut your finger when dealing with it.
  • Insert your mirror and make sure that it’s leaning in the cardboard at a 45° angle.

    The easiest way of making sure that your angle is correct is to look at the mirror and see that the vertical straw is being reflected in a horizontal way in the mirror. It will look as if you have one vertical straw and one horizontal one, both perpendicular to one another.

    Now, we have to make sure that your smartphone will be safe and well placed in your homemade projector, so we have to fashion a place for it.
  • This is one of the easiest steps. All you need is cardboard with the same dimensions of the bottom of your cardboard box, the dimensions of the screen of your phone, and some glue. You’ll cut a rectangular hole, the size of your screen, in the middle of the cardboard.
  • Then, fix the cardboard at the edges on the top of the dowels with glue.
  • Place your phone up so that the light comes down from your phone, reflects on the mirror, and comes out through the magnifying lens.

    To the last and most creative part of this project. You see, the light leaving your smartphone headed to the mirror, then the magnifying lens passes through the space provided by the long dowels. This space allows the lights to escape, so dark coverage is essential.
  • The idea here is to make a concertina. You can easily find templates for it that you can print. Start folding along the zigzag lines to make the connections, and then to make the longer side, you can fold the paper as if you’re making an elementary fan.
  • This should be sprayed in black and fixed from the platform, holding your smartphone at the top all the way down to the cardboard box.

    This will ensure that all that light stays in and at the same time allow control over the focus as you can move the box, and the concertina will fold and unfold over itself.

Slide Projector

This version includes only an extra part in relation to the first version, which is a lens tube and its housing you. You’ll be needing:

  • A mirror 
  • A craft cardboard 
  • A shoebox 
  • Black tape
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Lens tube plus housing
  • A smartphone
  1. The steps are very similar, but what you will do is that you will place the lens tube plus the housing in the place of the magnifying lens.
  2. Make sure that the shoebox fits the lens tube and secure it using glue.
  3. Place the mirror behind it at a 45° angle.
  4. Cut a hole the size of the dimensions of the screen of your smartphone at the other end, above the mirror.
  5. Place your smartphone in its designated place.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are several ways to make a homemade projector, and all will not cost you anything above 15-20 bucks max. You can easily find all your materials at your closest market, all you need to enjoy the fruit of your work is a wall.

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