How to: Make a DIY Image Projector Using a Light Bulb and a Cardboard Box

By: Craftmel Nov 14, 2012

created at: 11/14/2012

Remember those overhead projectors from your K-12 days that allowed you to watch the teacher work as they droned on about math equations or verb tenses?  Yeah, I had stuffed it to the recesses of my mind as well.  Still, since my student days have come and gone, there are other uses for projectors that are more applicable to my current child-rearing, home-sprucing, DIY-ing life.  But those projectors can be hard to come by if you aren't pals with a 3rd grade teacher.  That's why a DIY version can be so handy!   So, basically, a real overhead projector consists of a light, a lens, and a mirror.  The lens lays flat and focuses the image, and the mirror lets you see what is laying flat on the lens.  If you aren't too worried about focus, you can take those two factors out, and what are you left with?  Light!  Who doesn't have a light bulb in their house?

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created at: 11/14/2012

Instructibles user mmelville3 just gave that light a direction, aiming it at their transparent design, using a cardboard box.  It is like shadow puppets, except with transparencies!  Brilliantly simple.

I love finding ways to do things I previously thought I couldn't do... like make an awesome chalkboard typography sign for my family room using fonts already on my computer- no skill involved.

What would you use a projector for? Melville3 used it for a nursery mural, seen here, on Instructibles.

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what if i am getting a double image, i have tried a variety of wattages and box lengths, and distances. Anyone have any idea of what i might be doing wrong?? Also doing my soon to be daughter's nursery. 

You can do the same thing using an iPad, a page magnifier, and a cardboard box. You have to have the room fairly dark but my daughter has been using it for her chalkboard sign business very successfully!

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