What a time to be alive! VR is no longer the small, enthusiast-driven, niche hobby that it used to be. You could say that it’s on the verge of becoming IT’s next market bubble. VR related companies are popping up all over the place like mushrooms, each with its own ideas. All of them, alongside the hobbyists, are trying to push the technology forward as fast as they can.
Special thanks to Justin Popa for contributing this article. By day Justin is a web solutions architect and by night he is a VR enthusiast, creating small home projects to push the boundaries of virtual worlds within the comfort of his den. Justin’s main goal is to come up with creative and effective ways to replace the home computer experience with a VR experience in which the desktop is no longer a space on the screen, but all the space around you.
But we’re not there yet. Until the release of consumer hardware, it’s people like us that are continuously redefining the boundaries of what can be achieved with this technology that Palmer Luckey demoed back in 2012.
So let’s talk about how you (yes you, you the one reading) can contribute to this lovely world. Today I’m going to show you how to build your own VR chair for those comfortable seated experiences. My goal here is not to give you the recipe for the ultimate VR chair. All I want is to enable you to build your own bottom resting apparatus to best suit your needs.
The image above is how mine looks, but yours will most likely be different.
1. The Chair
Picking a chair is important, as it is the base of your creation. When picking one you have to look for some specific traits to make it a good base for your design. I recommend looking for one that has the arm rests and support leg(s) made of metal bars, that are fully exposed. These are important as they allow for the attachment of other devices, via the use of clamps. I personally prefer clamps because they don’t require any welding, soldering or drilling.
Yes that is a screw wedged in there. It’s like that because the engineering decision behind it was made at 4 AM. The engineer did not have any piece of plastic lying around to pad the interior of the clamp, making it thicker.
Another thing to look for when choosing a chair, is checking that the backrest is made of wood. Mine is not, so I had to purchase a separate table for the VR helmet arm. Should that not have been the case I would have purchased a small shelf complete with the wall mount and then bolted that to the backrest.
Before going crazy with the gear, you have to think about how all of it is going to reach your computer. This is where the backbone comes in. In computer networks a backbone usually refers to the part of the network infrastructure that connects other smaller networks to each other. In our case the backbone is going to connect our chair equipment to our computer. I suggest you acquire the following (you don’t have to use these parts specifically, they are just guidelines):
- 3m / 10ft USB 3.0 A-male to A-female cable [UK] [US]
- 3m / 10ft HDMI male to female cable [UK] [US]
- 3m / 10ft extension cord [UK] [US]
- Usb hub (at least 4 ports) [UK] [US]
- Gaffer tape / Duct tape [UK][US]
Take the three cables and line them up on the floor, put your foot on one side and then gently (I SAID GENTLY!) pull on the other end with one hand while wrapping duct tape around them every foot or so, making sure to leave a foot of slack on each end so that are easily connectible to your computer.
Congrats, you now have a backbone! Connect the male end to your computer and wall socket and then connect the usb hub to the female end.