The DIY $5 Laptop, Tablet, or Smartphone Home Theater Projector

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I highly recommend Grant Thompson's Random Weekend Projects series over at YouTube for some inspired how-to projects. Where else can you learn how to "light a fire with your pee" and "how to make a battery using pennies"? His latest project is a bit more down to earth, outlining how to take that tablet screen video and blow it up to a 50" screen using just $5 in parts...

You're just going to need three things to make this super-sized entertainment setup happen: 
  • A medium sized cardboard 
  • Macguyver's equipment of choice: duct tape 
  • A full-page Fresnel lens
Everyone knows the first two of the items listed above, but the Fresnel lens might be something you've never heard of. Named after French physicist Augustin-Jean Fresnel, the compact lens with a large aperture and short focal length design was originally designed for lighthouses and most commonly found inside classroom overhead projectors. Fortunately for you, you can get one online for about as little as .60 cents. You'll need one in the vicinity of a page size to create a simulated big screen effect, available via Amazon or eBay.

As you can see in the video and images above, the results aren't going to threaten any HDTV manufacturer's livelyhood, with the clarity and color saturation compromised by both the modest quality of the lens and the general dimness of an image/video projected from a tablet, smartphone, or laptop. But at the least, this should be a great weekend project with the kids, if not a humorous solution for someone in the family complaining for a "bigger TV".

(Images/video: Grant Thompson)