$5 Makeshift Home Theater – Easy Laptop Mod!

$5 Makeshift Home Theater – Easy Laptop Mod!


If you’re looking for a fun and cheap way
to watch events like the Superbowl or March Madness, here’s a low budget life hack that
will convert your laptop, smartphone, or tablet into an improvised home-theatre! I started this project with a cardboard box,
and a roll of duct-tape. I got the black kind. Aside from those, the only other thing we’ll
need is a simple magnifying lens. I got this one online for about $4 with free shipping.
These are typically sold as full page magnifiers for reading small text. The end of this cardboard box is just slightly bigger than the plastic lens. So let’s place it in the middle, and
when it looks about center, we can trace around the edges. Now the lens is gonna be taped
to the inside of this box, so let’s trace out another set of lines about 1/2″ smaller,
and now the setup should look like this. While we’re here, let’s use a credit card or hotel
key to trace out a rectangle in the center. Alright, it’s time to get to work making some
cuts, and scissors can be a little awkward, so I’m gonna try using this steak knife
instead. Let’s start by cutting out the center piece, taking time to make the cuts as clean
as possible. Now we’ll need to cut along the inside edges, and if you’ve done it right
you should be left with a piece that looks like this, but don’t throw it away. Now this
part is optional, but I’m gonna add some duct-tape along the cut edges just to smooth
them over and clean up the look. Now let’s flip the box over to expose the inside, and
add our lens. This gets placed over the hole with the grooved side facing up. Some more
duct-tape is added to secure the lens in position, and now we can work on making the box a little
more sturdy. I’m folding the big bottom flaps in first, so that the smaller flaps are on
the outside. A strip of tape will ensure the inside bottom is flat and smooth, and the
outside flaps are taped down as well. Next, let’s use our knife to cut down the two corners
at the back to make a flap that opens up. The top can now be closed, and tape used to
hold everything together firm and strong. I gave mine a quick paint job, and there’s
the finished projector. Well, that was cheap and easy. Ok we’re gonna need a projection screen,
so I went to a sign supply company and found this sheet of 0.02 hi-impact styrene for about
$2. The sheet is 4 feet wide and adding a little black duct-tape to the edges gives
it a nice looking border. I had just enough tape left to hang the screen on the wall,
and rig up a make-shift theatre room. Now this lens configuration will allow the most
light to shine through, but if your okay with a darker but crisper image, you can go ahead
and add the shroud to the front of the lens. This will tighten the aperture and give a
better focus. At this point we’re about ready to test it out. I’m gonna try it with this
iPad, and we’ll need to go into the settings menu and make sure we lock the rotation of
the screen. We’ll also need to bring the light up to maximum. To hold your tablet upright
in the projector, you’ll need to find something sturdy. This box of tomato paste was the right
size for me, so I used a couple of rubber bands to hold the iPad firmly against the
box and with the screen flipped upside down. This can be slid into the projector, and you may need to play around with the positing
of your tablet to see where it focuses the best. Ok let’s turn off the lights and test
it out. Well there you go. We just made a cheap version of a 50″ home theatre, and it
looks pretty decent. If you try this with your smartphone, the
process is pretty much the same, but your picture will be a little smaller. I found
that a laptop computer gives the best results because it’s got the brightest screen. It
fits together a little differently, but works for all the same reasons. So if you’re trying
to save money there’s a little trick that will hopefully keep costs low, and put a fun
spin on your next sports party. If you liked this project, perhaps you’ll like some of
my others. Check them out at www.thekingofrandom.com

100 thoughts to “$5 Makeshift Home Theater – Easy Laptop Mod!”

  1. Thats pretty cool but I have a big projector already but I have been pricing screens and they aren't cheap I do like that the screen you used was 2$ gonna give that a try I was using a white sheet but thats just temporary

  2. THIS REALLY WORKS!! I made this DIY for under $2! But it will only work if its pitch black!
    Hope this comment helped! Have a nice day!

  3. I made this and when I projected my phone any words would be backwards ex: geometry dash (to) hsad yrtemoeg so basically anything that is on the left will be on the right. How do I fix this?

  4. @the king of Random…have you tried to use this to project a solid image, not a video? if so, how did it work?

  5. Actually pretty handy if you want to project an image on to a wall or canvas for later painting. Kids art projects and all that.

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