How to Make a Projector for your Smartphone

DIY Phone Projector

This fun little DIY project is easy and inexpensive, and a great afternoon craft for the kids. To get started, you’ll need:

  • Smartphone
  • Shoebox
  • Paperclip
  • Magnifying glass
  • X-acto knife
  • Pencil
  • Black duct tape or electrical tape
  • Optional: matte black spray paint or black construction paper

Step One: Magnifier Mount

cut out

Turn the shoebox on end and trace a circle around the magnifying glass lens. You may want to remove the handle. You can get an inexpensive magnifying glass at a Dollar General for $1. Use the x-acto knife to cut out the inside of the circle you just traced. Mount the magnifying glass lens in the opening. Use tape around the edges to hold it in place.

Step Two: Projector Set Up

For the best results, the interior of the box should be a dark color. If it is not, use black spray paint or black construction paper to coat the interior of the box. Cut a small hole in the opposite side of the box from the lens to have room for a charging cable.

Step Three: Phone Stand

paper clip gif

We loved this little trick for making a phone stand out of a paperclip!

Step Four: Phone Set Up

instructions for rotating phone

When the light from the phone screen passes through the lens, the image will be flipped. For the view to be correct on the projected image, you’ll need to change the screen rotation. For iPhones, go to Settings > General > Accessibility and turn on the option for AssistiveTouch. A small white orb will appear on your home screen. Tap the orb, and navigate to Device > Rotate Screen. This allows you to lock the orientation when it would normally adjust itself. For Android users, you can find the Ultimate Rotation Control app in the app store.

Step Five: Focus

left and right images

Set your phone on the stand inside your new projector. Turn the brightness on the phone to the max, and dim the lights in the room. Find a blank space on a lightly colored wall, or set up a sheet or projection screen. Move the phone forward and backward in the box to find the focus. That’s it, you’re ready to watch your movie or view your slide show. Note: for movies or YouTube, it’s a good idea to have an external speaker of some kind. Enjoy!

This is a great project to upcycle some old shoe boxes. Another way to recycle is to hold rummage or garage sales. If you have several friends who want to do the same, consider renting a storage unit to collect all of the items in one place without sacrificing garage space. Our store manager can help you find the best-sized unit, or check out our handy sizing guide online.