Want Cardboard? Here’s how to make (or buy) Google’s DIY VR headset at home

Clear off a space on your work desk. It's time to get all MacGyver with Google Cardboard.

Google gave developers who attended I/O a cardboard do-it-yourself kit that turns into a virtual headset. The company said it wanted everyone to experience virtual reality in a "simple, fun, and inexpensive way" - even though not everyone was lucky enough to attend the annual conference in sunny California. No worries. If you were one of the many who were left out, you can easily build Google Cardboard at home.

All you need for materials is a printed template, a few household tools and items, and your Android smartphone of course. Still interested? Keep reading to learn more and get started. Pocket-lint has detailed every step of the process below, and we even provided cheap suggestions for the $20 in supplies you'll need.

UPDATE: For those of you who want Google Cardboard but can't be bothered by the whole do-it-yourself thing, you can always purchase a $20 "unofficial" Google Cardboard from San Francisco-based Dodocase. The service pre-cut's the cardboard for you and ships all the necessary parts.

1. Download this compressed template folder from Google. You will see two design files.

2. Print one of the design files. You can print the first design file using a standard printer (and later use the design as a template to manually cut Google Cardboard from cardboard), or you can print the second design file using a laser cutter. It will print (aka cut) cardboard stock into the exact shape you need. Keep in mind that laser cutters and cardboard stock are often pricey, so it will be much easier on your wallet to go the standard printer route.

3. If you used a laser cutter, continue to the next step. The rest of you will need to follow these instructions:

The first thing you'll need to do is to glue the template onto cardboard. Any craft or multi-purpose glue will work. Google also said you could use an extra large pizza box or buy cheap cardboard sheets from Gaylord or Kraft, available for purchase at Amazon and most art supply stores. E-flute corrugated cardboard is preferred because it's thin. Minimum size: 8.75in (22cm) by 22in (56cm), and 0.06in (1.5mm) thickness.

The second thing you'll need to do is to glue the light numbers (as seen on the template) onto the dark numbers. It's like you're doing beginner-level origami. Once that's done, follow the template lines and cut your Google Cardboard from the cardboard sheets. An X-Acto knife, box cutter, or any pair of scissors will work. There's no need to buy specialised craft scissors just for this project. You can also use a ruler to ensure straight cuts.

4. Now that you have your cardboard cutout, you are free to assemble Google Cardboard. Follow the red lines on your template to fold the cardboard cutout. Like magic, you will see the form of Google Cardboard emerge. But you're not done the assembly process yet. You need to acquire some tools and materials.

5. This next part is the trickiest: you must get two lenses that have a 40mm focal distance. Google recommended Biconvex lenses because they prevent distortion around the edges. You can also use the lenses that come with the Durovis OpenDive Lens Kit. The kit costs $9.99 on Amazon in the US or £6.99 on Amazon in the UK. Once you have your lenses, place them curved side down exactly where the template shows on your Google Cardboard.

6. You're not done buying things just yet. Find and purchase one neodymium ring magnet (available at Home Depot for $3.98 and Amazon for $11.99) and one ceramic disk magnet (available at Home Depot for $1.98 and Amazon for $6.99). Approximate size for both magnets: 0.75in (19mm) diameter and 0.12in (3mm) thickness. Once you're all set, affix the ring magnet and disc magnet exactly where the template shows on your Google Cardboard.

7. You're half-way done the assembly process. Now you need to buy two strips of regular strength adhesive-backed velcro. Again, they're available at Amazon and only cost $2.98. Approximate size: 0.75in (20mm) by 1.25in (30mm). Unfortunately, your template doesn't clearly show where the velcro strips should go on Google Cardboard. But the image above - of Google Cardboard - provides a great visual guide, of sorts.

8. Ready to move on? Get a rubber band. You probably have plenty on hand, but if you don't, you can always buy a box of them at Amazon. Minimum length of 3.2in (8cm). The rubber band is just to prevent your Android smartphone from sliding out of Google Cardboard.

9. This last part is optional: Buy a NFC tag on Amazon for $1.50 and affix it to Google Cardboard. If you're tech savvy, you can program the NFC tag to launch Google's Cardboard app for Android whenever you tap a smartphone to Google Cardboard. Again, you don't have to buy and use an NFC tag. You can always launch the Cardboard app manually on your smartphone.

And that's it. You're now free to play with Google Cardboard. Visit the Chrome Experiments for Cardboard site through your mobile Chrome browser to preview and experience virtual reality straightaway. Simply select one of the three experiments, then slide your smartphone into Google Cardboard, and have fun. Simples. The Cardboard app for Android also offers a variety of immersive demos.



>