Build a homemade projector largely with simple, household items. Making a homemade projector is a fun, educational project to do with the whole family, and kids will delight at the illuminated and wondrous images displayed before them on the wall. A simple projector is also useful if you are an artist and want to enlarge and trace an image on a canvas or a piece of paper, and don’t have access to digital projector.
Paint the interior walls, lid and floor of a shoebox with matte, black craft paint.
Measure and mark the center of one of the ends of the shoebox. Center a magnifying lens over the mark and trace its outline. Cut out the traced circle with a craft knife.
Measure and mark the center of the other end of the shoebox. Center the butt of a flashlight on the mark, trace the outline and cut out the circle.
Insert the magnifying lens into the first hole. Tape around the perimeter of the lens to connect it to the box and to seal light leaks, using electrical tape.
Insert the handle of the flashlight into the other hole, from the inside of the box so the base of the flashlight head is flush against the wall of the box.
Place a small chunk of wood, foam or cardboard under the head of the flashlight to hold it up and point it at the lens. Tape the chunk to the bottom of the box.
Tape around the flashlight handle where it comes out of the hole to hold it in place and to seal light leaks.
Tape a binder clip to the bottom of the box by its wire arms, 1 inch from the lens. Position the binder clip so it is parallel with the box end.
Print the desired images on transparencies. Size the images to be approximately the size of a celluloid cell or a 35mm slide. Insert the bottom edge of a transparency into the jaws of the binder clip. Position the image upside down and backward.
Turn off the lights and turn on the flashlight. Place the lid on the shoebox and point the lens toward a wall. Move the projector back and forth until the image comes into focus.
Things You'll Need
- Matte, black craft paint
- Magnifying lens
- Craft knife
- Electrical tape
- Binder clip
- Image transparencies
To create a more attractive, long-lasting projector, forgo the shoebox and instead build the box out of wood. Use a strong flashlight for bright, clearly visible projections.
Mason Howard is an artist and writer in Minneapolis. Howard's work has been published in the "Creative Quarterly Journal of Art & Design" and "New American Paintings." He has also written for art exhibition catalogs and publications. Howard's recent writing includes covering popular culture, home improvement, cooking, health and fitness. He received his Master of Fine Arts from the University of Minnesota.