How To Make A Projector – Big Results On A Budget

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Updated June 27, 2022

Our TVs are only so big. Scratch that. I mean that the TVs we can afford are only so big. This is one of many reasons that people use projectors in their home theater. You can have your entertainment larger than ever before and you don’t even need a TV. But, you’ll want to make sure your projector can connect to your phone or a laptop, or you can even connect a projector to your tablet.

Projectors can be pretty expensive though, often more so than buying and replacing the lenses or bulbs. So if you have any DIY abilities, I can tell you how to make a projector yourself and save some money. It may not be a 1440p projector, but it is fun and it works. To keep things cost-effective, take a look at how to make the best projector screen.

How To Make A Projector - Big Results On A Budget
Learn how to make your own projector.

Learn How To Make A Projector

Making your own movie projector is actually not very hard if you have some basic DIY skills. In fact, you can make a very basic pinhole projector to see a solar eclipse for cheap! Many choose to make a simple one out of a shoebox, but if you want to make it a bit fancier, you can use wood. That’s what the folks over at thriftdiving did. I am going to give you a full rundown here. You can do it.

What Supplies Do You Need To Make a DIY Phone Projector?

You will need:
A tape measure
Cheap magnifying glass
One piece of birch plywood
Jigsaw and power drill
Miter saw or circular saw
T square for straight lines
Glossy black paint

Some duct tape and a utility knife will also come in handy.

Building A Projector

To learn how to make a DIY smartphone projector, first, you are going to get a piece of plywood. Decide how big you want your projector to be, then measure it, mark it, and cut. Remember, your magnifying glass will act as a lens so plan the size of your box accordingly.

Next, cut the handle of the magnifying glass and trace around what is left, on the wood, where you want your lens to be located. Cut out the hole in the middle and use your jigsaw to cut out the spot where the magnifier will go. Make sure that it fits in the hole nice and tight. It should fit flush so that no light is escaping from your homemade projector.

After that, glue and nail your pieces together, creating your projector box. Make a lid if you haven’t done so already. The next step is to paint the inside of the box so that it is as dark as it can be inside. Glossy black paint will be perfect. You can also line it with black paper. Your phone is the light source after all. You can use some foam boards to hole your smartphone in place.

That’s it. You are done. Set your phone inside the box and start movie night! You can use a projector screen or just a blank wall. You can have an outdoor movie night or indoor home entertainment. You now have a projector for your smartphone.

Helpful Tips

  • Measure twice, cut once. This is an important rule.
  • Determine beforehand how big you will need your box to be, by building a rough mockup and testing it with your phone. You can use a smartphone or tablet.
  • When playing movies you have to lock your phone screen rotation on your smartphone.
  • The movies also have to play upside down since the ‘lens” will flip the image right side up again. This is similar to how our eyes work.
  • You can also use a cardboard box and hot glue from a glue gun if you want it even easier.
  • Assuming that you have most of the tools here, this build will cost you about $15.

Also, learn about how projectors work. And if you are still curious, learn the difference between short throw and long throw varieties. DIY projectors are fun to make and easy to use. Although, if it’s still too difficult or doesn’t work right, you can always pick up a device like the Elephas mini portable projector.

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