Turn Your iPad into a Home Theater for Under $20

Published on January 18th, 2017

Want to get a movie-theater experience without leaving the comfort of your own home? Easily transform your iPad into a home theater for the whole family to enjoy. It is super easy to build a home theater, and it won’t even cost you a pretty penny if you already have these items at home.

Note: If you use this method, the image projected onto a wall will be a “mirror image” and any text or numbers that appear on screen will be backwards. Also, the light from the tablet is the only source of light, so as the image is made larger and larger, the intensity of the light gets weaker and weaker.

In addition to your iPad, you’ll need three items to make this home theater: cardboard, duct tape and a full-page Fresnel lens.

Cardboard: Pick up a cardboard box from your local grocery- or chain store a couple feet long with the front face a little bit larger than the screen of your device.

Tape: Use duct tape for the sturdiest hold, but packing tape or masking tape will work just as well!

Fresnel lens: You can find a Fresnel lens for as little as $3-4 on the internet. The recommended size is around 8x10 inches. A Fresnel lens is typically used as a full-page magnifier for reading small text.

First, cut a hole in the front of the box that is about a half-inch smaller than the lens. You can use the actual lens as a template to trace around the edges and then draw another rectangle a half-inch smaller inside. Cut the inside rectangle out, which leaves a half-inch ledge to tape the lens onto.

Note: The grooved part of the lens should face the inside of the box, and the flat, smooth side should be facing outward.

When the lens is set, you can close the box and stabilize it on a table or chair. Place your tablet inside the box upside down to be projected outward through the lens. If you are using an iPad, you will need to go into the settings and make sure to lock the rotation of the screen so that it’s in landscape mode. Also, make sure the brightness is brought up to the maximum.

Hold the device in the project with a few textbooks. You can use some rubber bands to secure the device in the “upside-down” position. If you cover all windows and close all doors in a dark room, the image will appear brighter and crisper. You can play around with the set-up until you find a projection  you like best!

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