This Instructable was authored by our member Ben Finio after we hosted an Instructables Build Night featuring the Dodocase VR Kit at the SoHa SMART makerspace in Haddon Township, NJ. We didn't make any whiz-bang additions to the VR kit, and decided to go with something more simple based on feedback from some of our members - a fully illustrated assembly guide and description of how it works.
The VR kit does come with a very short IKEA-style assembly instructions card, and you can also find the directions online (including a video with a very short 10 second clip showing the assembly process). We have several members with combined decades of teaching experience in both in-school and after-school settings, including a science teacher and an art teacher; and for his day job (when he's not writing Instructables) Ben writes DIY project directions for the K-12 science education nonprofit Science Buddies. Between the three of us, we agreed that the brief directions included in the kit had a few potential points of confusion, and could be improved to make the project more accessible, especially to kids and non-techies. So, we hope this Instructable will be useful to people using the kit who get a little stuck on the directions, and maybe that our feedback will be helpful for the Build Night sponsor, Dodocase. If you didn't have any trouble putting the kit together and think this is silly, skip to the very last step - you might find the part about how the magnetic switch works interesting.
If you see any mistakes or have a suggestion for improvement, please leave a comment! And, if you're in the southern New Jersey area, feel free to check out SoHa SMART in person and sign up for one of our classes (see website for details)!
Step 1: Materials
To do this project, you will need:
The picture above shows all the individual parts contained in the Dodocase kit. There are two "mystery parts" that are not used in the directions at any point. Internet points to whoever leaves a comment explaining what those are for!
Step 2: Attach NFC tag and velcro
This step corresponds to "Step 1" of the instruction card included in the kit and the online directions.
NFC stands for near field communication. The flat NFC card actually contains an antenna and some electronics that allow it to communicate with your phone, so the phone knows when it has been placed in the headset. This is the same technology used in "contactless payment" systems, when you just have to "tap" your phone up against a reader to make a transaction (note that NFC is not the exact same thing as radio-frequency identification, or RFID - here's an article explaining the difference).
Here are the detailed sub-steps for this step. Follow the pictures above:
Step 3: Attach lenses to the faceplate
This step corresponds to step 2 of the kit's instructions. Check the notes in the photos above if you get stuck.
Step 4: Pop out all the little cardboard slits
This isn't included in the written directions for the kit, because it's probably supposed to be obvious. But, just in case, it's easier to do this in advance: pop out all the little pre-punched cardboad slits on the main structure and the faceplate.
Step 5: Attach the magnet
This step corresponds to step 3 of the kit's directions. Now you'll be attaching a magnet to your headset (we'll explain more about what the magnet does later). Remember to follow the annotations in the images above if that helps.
Step 6: Attach tape to panel B
Here's where my instructions aren't totally synced up with the order of the Dodocase instructions. I don't think the order of their steps 4-5 in the written directions really makes sense, since the nosepiece doesn't stay connected to the faceplate on its own (their step 4). In fact, if you watch very carefully from the 10-13 second mark of the video on this page, you'll see that how they do it in the video doesn't match the written directions. I also think it's easier to put the last piece of double-sided tape on first, before you try to fold the whole thing up - so, this and the next step are my version of the directions.
So, FIRST, place the second piece of double-sided tape in the spot labeled "tape" on panel "B" of the main cardboard structure, as shown in the pictures above.
Step 7: Fold up the headset
This is the trickiest step! You sort of have to fold and hold several things in place all at once. If you're having trouble, I definitely recommend carefully watching the first 15 seconds of this video, especially around the 10-13 second marks, to see how it folds up. Hopefully, my photos and notes will be sufficient though.
Step 8: Attach the magnet ring
Now we're kind of back to step 5 of the written directions. Place the silver magnetic ring into the slot on the left side of the headset. It should snap into place since it's attracted to the other magnet inside the headset.
The cool part about this ring? You can slide it back and forth in the slot. Try sliding the ring down and then releasing it. It should automatically get pulled back up, because it wants to be aligned with the other magnet. This lets you use the magnet as a "switch" when you're using one of the apps designed for the headset (more on how that actually works later).
Step 9: Mystery pieces!
We're left with a mystery sticker and two mystery pieces of cardboard. The cardboard pieces have adhesive on one side, so they're meant to be stuck to something...not sure what though. I also didn't see these pieces appear in the assembly video. I didn't spend a ton of time trying to figure out where they go, so if you see an obvious answer, please leave a comment.
Step 10: Install software
Here's where the Dodocase instructions (steps 6 & 7) are a little out of order again if you're following them literally - unless you already have it, you need to install the app on your phone before you insert the phone into your headset. The Dodocase VR app (screenshot above), acts like a "portal" to let you download other virtual reality apps and games. I just decided to go with Google Cardboard for now, so the rest of this Instructable will assume you're using that.
Step 11: Launch Google Cardboard
Step 12: Navigating in Google Cardboard
Now, hold the headset up to your face and look through the lenses. You should see a menu with several different icons. You can navigate the menu by rotating your head to look at the different icons, and by sliding down the magnet ring to select one. To go "back" and exit out of an application, tilt the entire headset to the right.
The controls are generally similar in each app - rotating your head rotates your view in the app, and the magnet switch offers some level of control. For example, in YouTube the switch lets you select a video, and in Google Earth the switch lets you toggle between slowly flying forward and holding still. Have fun exploring! If you're curious about how some aspects of the headset work, check out the next two steps.
Step 13: How do the optics work?
If you remove your phone from the headset while the app is running, you'll notice that it displays two nearly identical images, but the images are actually offset slightly (see pictures above). The nosepiece inside the headset serves as a divider, so each one of your eyes can only see one image. Since each eye is shown a slightly different image, this creates a 3D effect.
Step 14: How does the magnetic switch work?
I thought this was the coolest part of the whole build. You might be wondering: how in the world does my phone know when I slide that magnetic ring back and forth? It turns out that most modern smartphones contain a magnetometer, which can measure not just the direction (like a compass), but also the strength of a magnetic field. Normally, this would just detect Earth's magnetic field, but a nearby magnet can "override" the Earth's magnetic field (the same reason a compass will point towards a magnet held very close to it, instead of pointing north). So, your phone can use its magnetometer to detect changes in a nearby magnetic field - which is what happens when you slide that magnetic ring back and forth.
I found an Android app (just called "Compass") that also displays the magnetic field strength (measured in micro tesla, or μT), and used that to take readings in three different conditions. Here are the results - you can also see the pictures/screenshots above. Note that these values are approximate (if I wanted to be really scientific about this, I would do multiple trials and take an average):
So, it looks like we can draw two conclusions from this:
But I would be careful about generalizing the second point. The magnitude of this change probably depends on the physical location of the magnetometer inside the phone, and thus its position relative to the magnetic ring. I'd be interested to see how the results vary on different smartphone models, if anyone else wants to test that out and post it in the comments.
Anyway, if you've gotten this far, thanks for reading! Odds are many users of the Dodocase will get by just fine with the included directions. We hope this Instructable will be useful for people who get stuck or want to know a little more about how it works. If you catch an error or have a suggested improvement, please leave a comment.