The USS Quad Damage

Another dimension on the cheap

Here I talk about going 3D with no money and very little sense

Most PCs now have twin connectors on their video cards. Connecting it up should be a snap, but getting 3D onto it may be a touch harder

If you’ve seen Avatar, you may have come to similar conclusions as me. That is, while I won’t be buying a 3D TV soon, as a gimmick, it’s pretty fun, and it may be interesting tinkering space. To that end, I’ve devised a mechanism for getting cheap / free 3D for everyone. This requires a few things, but on the whole it shouldn’t be too hard. Note that I haven’t actually done this, so I’m only talking from theory here.

Speaking of theory, the basic dealio is that light is a transverse wave, and our eyes can’t directly tell which direction the light is waving around in. This is fairly amazing if you think about it. Normally light is going in all manner of directions, but you can get filters (called polarising filters) which will only keep light in a single direction. So, to get 3D, all you need to do is to get light going in one direction to one eye, and light going in the other direction to go to the other eye.

Those 3D glasses you got at Avatar are basically polarising filters, with a horizontal filter on one eye, and a vertical filter on the other. The most instructive way to think about this is to wear the glasses, look at someone else wearing the glasses, and wink one eye. One of their glass parts should become pitch black. Now switch eyes, and the other glass parts will become pitch black.

Speaking of which, you’re going to need one of those 3D glasses. Get em now, because while it’s going to be easy as long as there’s a 3D movie going around, as soon as there are no 3D movies, getting polarising glasses like those is going to be more expensive.

Second, you’re going to need two (2) projectors. Hopefully they’re the same model, but it shouldn’t make a huge difference, as long as you can adjust brightness / contrast. You might think it’ll be hard getting two projectors, but if you think about it, a lot of people who tend to give presentations will almost always have a projector, and a bunch of people will have them at work. Ask around, you’ve probably got a bunch of friends who have a projector.

Third, you’re going to need polarising filters. These should be around $20 each. Make sure they’re made of metal and glass, not plastic, because you’ll be putting them in front of the projectors, and that can get really hot. Stick the polarising filters onto the projectors somehow. You might need to use tape, but think it through. Like I said, it gets hot, so if you’re going to end up with a sticky mess, try and come up with another solution. The important part is, while sticking the polarising filter on, keep your glasses on and make sure that it’s as dark as you can get it on one of your eyes. On the other projector, make sure that it’s the other eye that’s as dark as it can get. Mark which eye corresponds to which projector, somehow!

Stick the two projectors next to each other (as close as possible, and pointing at the same spot) and power them on. Use a test pattern like a checkerboard to correct the images using keystone, etc. so they’re exactly on top of each other. Using opposite checkerboards (where the black on one projector is the white on the other projector) will be ideal. You can do this by making images and connecting the projectors up to your PC. The end image should end up looking perfectly grey, or close. Once you have the keystone, size, position, brightness, and contrast set up correctly on the two projectors you’re ready to go 3D.

Most PCs now have twin connectors on their video cards. Connecting it up should be a snap, but getting 3D onto it may be a touch harder. You can do images by using your favourite slide-show program and showing the left image on the left projector, and the right image on the right projector (this guy has some samples). These images should now look 3D. Try doing video if there’s something on the internet, or if you can rig up two video cameras next to each other and play the video back at the same time.

Of course, the most fun thing to do is play video games. Quake 3 should have 3D glasses mods, as should a handful of other games. If you can manage it, try and get something like modern warfare in 3D, and see if the depth perception will make you a knifing god.

If you add two wiimotes, you can instantly have a virtual reality UI thingie like in the movie with Tom Cruise which I’ve blocked out of my memory because it had Tom Cruise in it. These might be fun things to try and put on youtube. Maybe you already have and I’m writing this article like an idiot. I mean, nvnews have already talked about this in much depth, with pictures, after all.