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How to make a VR headset out of a pizza box

A relatively cheap and fun do-it-yourself project to experience the joys of virtual reality without breaking the bank.

Dan Graziano Associate Editor / How To
Dan Graziano is an associate editor for CNET. His work has appeared on BGR, Fox News, Fox Business, and Yahoo News, among other publications. When he isn't tinkering with the latest gadgets and gizmos, he can be found enjoying the sights and sounds of New York City.
Dan Graziano
3 min read

Watch this: How to make a virtual reality headset

Google announced a do-it-yourself cardboard virtual-reality kit at its I/O Developer Conference earlier this year. Unlike the Oculus Rift and Sony's Project Morpheus, the kit allows almost anyone to experience the joys of virtual reality without breaking the bank. Here's how you can build your own VR headset using Google's Cardboard design template.


You will first need to download and print out the Cardboard design templates from Google. The company notes that the design works best with the Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Moto X, Samsung Galaxy S4, Samsung Galaxy S5, and the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, while the HTC One, Moto G, and Samsung Galaxy S3 are "partially compatible" devices.

As for supplies, I will be using an ordinary pizza box, but Google recommends a corrugated cardboard sheet of E Flute with a minimum size of 8.75in by 22in, and 0.06in thickness. You will also need glue, scissors, an X-Acto knife or box cutter, two strips of adhesive-backed velcro that are approximately 0.75-inch by 1.25 inches, one neodymium ring magnet, one ceramic disk magnet, and lenses that have a 45mm focal distance.

Let's get started

Step 1. Carefully cut out the design files with a pair of scissors.

Step 2. Glue the two light number pieces on top of the dark numbers. Then, glue the design files onto your cardboard.

Step 3. Carefully cut out the design files with your X-Acto knife or box cutter. You will want to cut everywhere there is a black line.

Step 4. The furthest flap to the right should be folded over the piece to the left and glued down. This is where the magnets will eventually go. Next, fold inwards along the red lines on the design templates.

Step 5. Glue the three eyepieces together and slide your lenses into the slot.

Step 6. Connect the ceramic disk magnet to the circle on the far right flap and the ring magnet behind it.

Step 7. Place the eyepiece on the cardboard in the slots near the opening for your nose. Fold the cardboard from the right and attach each slot to the grooves in the eyepiece. Fold the last flap from the left (making sure the ring magnet fits in the circle) and glue it to the headset. Next, don't forget to connect the small divider in front of the eyepiece.

Step 8. Attach the velcro on the left and right sides of the top flap, with the other piece attached to folded cardboard across from it. If you are worried your smartphone may fall out of the cardboard, Google recommends using a rubber band to keep it in place.

Step 9. Download the free Google Cardboard app on your Android device from the Play store, launch the app, place your phone in the front cardboard slot, close it up, and start looking around.

The ring magnet is used to make selections from inside of the Google Cardboard app. Quickly rotating your device from landscape to portrait will return you to the default Google Cardboard home screen.

This is a really cool idea and with enough patience and time, you could pull it off. I do recommend, however, that you take a look at one of the many easy-to-assemble kits that are available. These can be cheaper than purchasing all of the items separately, and it also removes the pain of tracking down the proper magnets and lenses.