We tried making TikTok’s ‘homemade’ 3D hologram projector

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The idea of making a “homemade” hologram projector sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie.

But, according to TikTok, you can pull it off with just two items. Different homemade versions of the 3D projector have been going viral on the app lately, but they almost always include a few key ingredients.

So, if you’re bored at home (and let’s be honest, who isn’t this year), it might be worth giving this hack a try — because when it works, it looks pretty dang impressive.

@imkelsym

for those who asked!! HOW TO MAKE A HOLOGRAM PROJECTOR!! #foryoupage #foryou #DIY

♬ original sound – ✪ kelsy ✪

TikTok user @imkelsym, like many other tech-savvy users on the app, have turned the homemade projectors into a fancy little DIY project.

And since there are about a million different hologram projector videos available on YouTube, the options are endless. Want to spawn some 3D Pokémon in your living room? You can. How about a dubstep-tracked laser show? They’ve got that too.

The editors at In The Know are journalists, not engineers. Still, we decided to give this projector hack the old college try and see how well it works. Here’s what went down.

How to make a homemade hologram projector

First things first, we’d like to offer a cop-out. If you’d like to make some real holograms at home, you might want to consider this 3D Holographic Advertising Projector from Pomya. This thing goes beyond clear tape and YouTube videos — it can actually turn just about anything into a high-quality, 3D image.

Credit: Amazon

For those who are feeling a little more adventurous, here’s what you’ll need for the homemade version:

  • Clear tape
  • Scissors
  • A ruler
  • A sheet of paper and a pencil
  • A sheet of clear plastic vinyl (you can find this at Best Buy, Home Depot or most hardware stores)

To start, we’re going to draw a trapezoid on our sheet of paper. Using the ruler, measure the base of the trapezoid so it’s exactly 4 inches long. Next, draw two equal sides, each of which should be 3 inches long. Finally, draw the top of your shape, which should be 1 inch wide.

Here’s about what it should look like (for more help, check out the video at the top of this article):

Credit: ITK

Now that we have our outline, we’re going to cut four trapezoids out of the plastic vinyl — all with the same exact shape and dimensions. Once those are ready, lay them out side-by-side in a ring shape.

It should make a half-circle, like this (we added numbers to help you see each piece):

Credit: In The Know

Then, tape the sides together and form the pieces into a four-sided pyramid. Finally, tape the last side to hold everything in place … and you’re ready to roll! Your finished product should look something like this:

Credit: ITK

Putting your projector to work

Thankfully, using this thing is a lot simpler than making it. To start, grab a laptop and search for “3D hologram video” on YouTube. Any option will work, but we personally recommend this one, which is strangely focused on Alvin and the Chipmunks-themed projections.

Then, flip your plastic cone upside-down, placing the smaller opening over the center of the screen (the video will start with an “X” shape, which shows you where to center your projector). Finally, cut off all the lights and hit play. Ideally, you should be seeing a “real,” 3D chipmunk in no time.

So, does the homemade hologram projector actually work?

This hack is shockingly effective. Somehow, a tiny cone of plastic really can turn into a fully functioning hologram projector — and to be honest, it’s pretty fun to watch.

In a year where movies, concerts and other shows are almost nonexistent, it’s really exciting to have some high-tech, at-home entertainment.

That said, whether you should make this is a totally different question. The supplies are basic and simple, but, if you don’t have an engineer’s brain (like this liberal arts-educated editor), you might have some trouble (this liberal arts-educated editor did in fact have some trouble).

It takes time and patience to pull off the hack, but on some level, that’s what makes it worth it. Besides, who doesn’t have a little extra free time this year?

If you liked this story, check out this article on how to make a homemade PB&J ‘uncrustables-style’ sandwich.

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