Take VR to the Next Level With These 3D Printable Accessories
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Immersion is the key to the best virtual reality experiences, so anything you can add that edges it closer to realism will make your experience exponentially better. I’ve talked before about using VR to take your Elite Dangerous experience to the next level 6 Mind-Blowing Ways To Take Elite Dangerous to the Next Level 6 Mind-Blowing Ways To Take Elite Dangerous to the Next Level It's hard to get immersed in space sims with your hands on a keyboard or controller and your eyes on a mundane screen. Here are some ways of enhancing your time with Elite Dangerous! Read More , but today I wanted to take a look specifically at 3D printables. While we’re at it, we’re also going to see which accessories can help you store and organise all those VR bits and bobs, since you’ve already spent ludicrous amounts of money on the headset itself.

Note: I’ve used an original Prusa i3 MK2 (which we declared the best 3D printer What's the Best 3D Printer for You and Your Budget in 2017? What's the Best 3D Printer for You and Your Budget in 2017? If you're looking for a 3D printer, we've got you covered. We've covered the overall best 3D printer, the smallest, the fastest, and the cheapest -- and for all budgets, starting at $300! Read More ) to print items where indicated.

Gun Stocks

One of the things I find most fascinating about VR is that most games require actual, physical skills. No longer do you flick the joystick and auto-lock to a target: if you can’t hold a gun straight in VR, you just aren’t going to be as good. If your reaction time to physically duck behind cover is too slow, you’ll be exposed. Gaming controllers were the great leveler — making every player just as bad as each other until they’d mastered the delicate skills of button mashing and finger flicking. VR takes it all back to the real world where reaction times and physical motion dominate.

Fortunately, you can cheat… sort of. By using a realistic gun stock, you’ll be able to hold your aim steadier. This can give you a huge performance boost in games like Onward.

HTC Vive Stocks

You’ll need a reasonably big printer, but the V36 for the Vive by SGU7 can be printed in three batches on a Prusa i3. The stock is removable, so you can either lock your rifle to your shoulder, or attach a second controller to the end in games that support steadying with a second hand (or both, for extremely steady sniping). You’ll need some small M3 bolts to screw it all together though, and one of your controllers remains locked in position until you unscrew it.

htc vive rifle stock

Somewhat less functional, but still cool looking and giving a slight edge is the Vive pistol grip, designed by Tsuboku Labs, a Japanese mixed media artist. They even provide a version with the system button covered for those who do regular demos, though you’ll need a commercial licence to use this in your own VR arcade. Unfortunately, the bridge between the bottom of the controller and the top is quite thin, and mine snapped in half after a drop (you can just about see the tape I used to fix it, in front of the grip buttons). It’s still functional, but I’d suggest printing this on its side rather than upright as I did, and you’ll need supports either way.

htc vive pistol grip

Bear in mind that the gun to controller angle mapping can vary significantly between games, so check comments on your chosen design before wasting plastic, or check if you can adjust the angle in-game. You may find another design more suited to specific games, like this Sniper rifle for The Nest by Alien_Identity.

Oculus Rift Stocks

There are far fewer options out there for Rift owners who want a realistic shooting experience: the only printable one I could find was this one by Gurgelx. Here’s a video of it in action though, and it looks rather good:

It’s a (Space) Pirate’s Life for Me

Once you’ve played Elite Dangerous in VR, you can never go back to a monitor. However, not all of us can afford fancy metal sim chairs, so this useful Saitek X52 HOTAS office chair adapter by Vendeta44 will ensure you don’t need to buy new furniture. The files include templates for the MDF and where to cut for the mounting bolts, so it’s useful even if you plan to build your special sim chair and don’t want the chair adapter!

hotas chair mount
Image Credit: Vendeta44 via Thingiverse

Controller Stands

Oculus Touch

The Touch controllers are a pretty awkward shape, but there are some great minimalist cradle designs that fit around the sensor rings. I used this one from ClassicGOD (printed at 10 percent infill and no supports) to mount my controllers away to the side of my DIY sim chair when not in use.

3d-printed vr touch controllers

A single screw attaches to the wooden frame. Remember to duplicate and mirror the design for your other controller. If you need to mount to a wall or flat panel instead, the wall mounted version by randommagic is better suited.

For a tidy desktop, these simple “coaster-type” stands work well too.

touch stands ballanux
Image Credit: ballanux via Thingiverse

Vive Wands

I must admit, I don’t care for an elaborate storage solution for the Vive controllers — they just feel a lot more rugged, and sit happily on a shelf or in a drawer. However, if I did feel the need to mount them to a wall, I’d probably go with this ghastly looking object from abombdesigns, available in both single and dual plate design — purely because they’re sure to be noticed for unmentionable reasons.

htc vive mount by abombdesigns

If that’s a little too… unusual for you, this simpler wall mountby SG-O is currently the most popular design.

Headset Storage

In my video on setting up the perfect VR room How to Set Up the Perfect VR Room How to Set Up the Perfect VR Room If you've got an HTC Vive or Oculus Rift, crafting an awesome VR room will make your virtual reality experience even better. Here are some important tips for setting yours up. Read More , I mentioned the importance of having somewhere to store your headset. It’s critical that you and anyone who uses the VR system learns to put the headset back in the correct place after use. If they leave it lying around in a room with a window, it’s very easy for a direct sunlight to hit the lenses and cause permanent damage.

Oculus Rift Stand

I printed this very simple hanger by booopidoo for my Oculus sim setup.

3d-printed vr headset hook

It looks like it wouldn’t be substantial enough to actually hold a headset, but I promise it works, and is keeping my Rift safe from sun!

3d-printed vr headset on hook

HTC Vive Stand

My custom rack-mount flight case How to Build a DIY Rack Case (and Why) How to Build a DIY Rack Case (and Why) The cheapest rack case will cost more than the cheapest conventional tower case, and a rack-mounted socket strip will cost more than a standard one. So why not build your own? Here's how. Read More has a nice shelf that I use for my Vive, but this wall-mounted hanger by oneaday would be my first choice otherwise. As well as providing a solid place to hang your headset, it should stop dust getting onto the lenses.

Don’t actually print in the orientation shown in the photo below however, or it’s likely to break at the layer joins. Print flat and it should be perfectly rigid.

htc vive

Prefer lightweight and minimalist designs? Quintesse made this HTC Vive wall-mounted rack if you want something more understated.

PSVR users: This stand looks like a work of art and matches the PSVR headset nicely.

Save Money

You’ll find a lot of useful little bits and bobs to 3D print that would otherwise be unreasonably costly for what’s essentially just a small bit of plastic. Here’s some we think are just too useful not to mention, even if they aren’t particularly exciting.

  • Vive headstrap buckle — A straight up buckle replacement. Twist into place then thread your head strap through this instead.
  • Vive Base Station tripod mounts — The Base Stations actually have a standard tripod screw thread, but you need to buy a moveable ball head to position them correctly, which can cost around $5 to $10 each. Instead, you can print a pair of these tripod mounts, and save a little money by using the standard wall fixing plates that came with your Vive.
  • If you’re demoing your VR system regularly, and don’t quite trust visitors not to break the controllers, try these: from Kf52t comes a Vive controller protector — A ring of plastic that acts as a buffer. This minimalist design shouldn’t get in the way of the sensor tracking, but might just save you $100 for a replacement controller!

htc vive controller protector

  • Wall mount for the Oculus cameras by MikeVR — Oculus continues to supply all their sensors mounted on a small stand, suitable for use on a desktop. But anyone who wants a room-scale or 360 experience knows that the ideal sensor location is similar to the Vive’s Base Stations: mounted high on the wall, in the corners, angled toward the center. Thankfully the Oculus sensors also have a screw thread for attachment to standard camera kit, but you can save yourself a little by printing these wall mounts instead.

Now You’re Just Being Silly

We’ve covered some useful additions and immersive accessories, now let’s indulge in some moments of “Huh, that’s weird.”

Scvette made this fantastic looking portal gun from Rick and Morty in preparation for the Virtual Rickality game. He probably should have waited until after the game was released though, because at no point in the game do you actually get to use a portal gun. Still, it looks awesome!

rick portal gun

Dwooder made this golf club adapter for his Vive controllers. It’s so realistic that you’ll need to cut off the functional part of a real golf club to use it. We’re not keep on the idea of swinging your Vive controller around like a madman, which is why probably he recommends keeping a hold of the safety wristband anyway.

vive golf club adapter

On the other hand, this Vive sword by FredMF is something we can totally get behind. It’s a work in progress, and it looks like he’s the only person to have made one so far, but we commend the effort to make hack and slash VR roleplay games that much more immersive. In fact, in my One Year Later: Vive vs. Rift comparison, I noted how much I prefer the Vive controllers precisely because they’re heavier and bigger than the Oculus Touch, which just feels better for guns and swords.

htc vive sword

The VR market is so small right now that being able to 3D print your own niche but useful accessories really does make sense. Here’s hoping the marketers don’t catch on and treat the controllers like a WiiMote.

Have you printed any accessories for your VR system? Have you designed your own parts that you just can’t buy? Let us know what you printed in the comments below!

Image Credits: YAKOBCHUK VIACHESLAV/Shutterstock, VitaminCo/Shutterstock

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