Hello everyone, I’m back with part 2 of building my AR headset designated as the Triton Project. Part 1 of this journey was documented and published only a couple of weeks ago. I’ve accomplished a great deal since then including a from the ground-up rebuild of the headset enclosure. Fair warning there won’t be any software in this part as I chose to instead focus on getting the mechanical design done.
At the end of this article is a proposal and sign up list for a Triton assembly kit. Feel free to skip to the end to see the proposal.
Straight to the point, the AR box I ordered from Aliexpress was not 3d print-friendly. Meaning it was too difficult to make modifications and add sensors with its mechanical enclosure. I needed something more flexible so I drafted some concepts for a design based on the AR Box mixed with aspects of the North Star.
Heres what ended up being my main design goals:
- Hackability => users should be able to plug in whatever peripherals they see fit. The power to “jack it up”.
- Modular => The headset should provide a design that accommodates the users’ ability to add/remove stuff from the headset without risking comfort or destruction of the headset
- Comfortability => The headset should be comfortable to wear for multiple periods/sessions. The user should be able to have full 3Dof head movement and not have cables in the way or feel sensitive to the headset (meaning they shouldn’t have to be careful when making fast movements)
- Replicable => The design should be able to be easily distributed via 3d printable files. Anyone in the community with a 3D printer should be able to print out their own parts. There shouldn’t be too many additional parts that the user can’t already get.
- Extended functionality => Give developers as much liberty to experiment with as much hardware or software as possible to extend the functionality of the headset.
Using this as my frame of reference I used Fusion360 to begin work on developing a hardware piece called the Halo. The Halo would serve as the centerpiece on which everything else would be attached too it.
This was the outcome, it started with just a rounded rigid box that had yet to be sculpted. Next, I worked on an interesting proposal to attach the Leap Motion controller with the use of magnets.
While this turned out very elegantly it took up way to much space on the Halo and it would’ve forced everything to be designed around 1 sensor. I threw that out thus freeing up more space for me to attach the reflectors.
The reflectors slid perfectly into the Halo but using a 5mm fillet around the outer edges did not print well. Instead, I used a 5mm chamfered edge that resulted in a sleeker aesthetic.
Furthermore, I designed a new sturdy mount system for the Leap Motion. I also made a cut to allow for a new piece called the top cover. The top cover will be like a nice level bed for the LCD driver to sit on.
Next, I made arrangements for the use of a head strap. I had to derive 3 designs to get this right. The head strap pieces slid into the sides of the Halo and are locked in with a bolt & peg.
This turned out nicely and I felt it was aesthetically pleasing. Next, was to figure out how to get the 6" display safely attached to the Halo.
This took a few days of playing around with prototypes and working through angles by drawing. I arrived at 2 pieces that were 51mm and 61mm in length both angled at 40-degrees that would screw onto the bottom of the Halo.
The 6" display slides into a makeshift case I designed and then the unit slides down into the bracket making for a tight fit.
The last major push was to figure out designing the head press. The head press would need to fit the curvature of a human forehead that is where it would be resting. To do that I took a few pictures of my friend's heads from the side and did some more drawings to work out the necessary curvature.
I got my head press designed but still had to figure out how to get it attached to the Halo. For that, I came up with a piece I called the Rosen bridge. The Rosen bridge was screwed onto the Halo and its pegs reach into the head press. Most importantly was how it cradled the FPC/MIPI connector board.
I also created a nice enclosure for the driver board. Then for the head strap, I ordered an HTC Vive replacement strap from Aliexpress. An over the head strap was a good choice as it adds for support as well as reducing strain on the neck.
Then done, the Triton Mark 1 is born! From concept to reality in a little over 30 days.
Here is a list of the remaining tweaks that need to be ironed out:
- Display trey peaks out from the Halo
- Need to select appropriate foam for the head press
- The weight needs to be more evenly distributed
- Leap Motion needs to be angled downward
- Universal mounting systems for additional sensors (e.g Intel Realsense, Structure Core, etc.)
I’m confident I will be able to solve these tweaks in the coming weeks. If you have any suggestions or would like to help with the project please reach out.
Lastly, If you’re interested in seeing the Triton becoming a purchasable kit please sign up with your email here so I can gauge interest.
Part 3 of this series will come sometime April with more progress. Thanks for your interest!