Oculus GoBlack - How to improve Oculus Go

Original author: Palmer Luckey
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From the blog of Palmer Lucky, the inventor of the Oculus Rift virtual reality helmet, one of the founders of Oculus VR.

Oculus Go, like many products, is a compromise of cost, release schedule, quality and competency. This is obviously the best of the stand-alone VR platforms on the market, but anyone with a little knowledge of technology can make it even better.

In the past few months I have been working on modifications to my Go, and the resulting device has become a big step forward in terms of its use. After GoBlack, you don’t want to go back! Here is a list of updates, and some explanations of motivation for each of them.


The case of the stock model Oculus Go is made of ABS plastic, and at the joints with the face and on the clasps a mixture of various synthetic materials is used. The color of the device is a nice mainstream gray, well concealing small defects in the casting process. I'm a big fan of black VR helmets, so painting in black was at the top of the update list. This is especially important for all surfaces inside the helmet, given their critical role in controlling contrast and other distortions. Any light from the display, the nasal slit or other gaps is reflected from these surfaces and gets on the lenses and into the optical cavity - and if you do not like these rays, learn to appreciate black matte surfaces!

Painting the case from the outside would only make the device heavier and would not solve the problem with the part adjacent to the face, so I decided to cover everything with dye for polyester. ATTENTION : be careful when doing this. Plastic coating with dye requires working with hot liquids approaching the boiling point, and if you exceed the temperature by just a few degrees, your plastic will deform. If the temperature is too low, the dye will not permeate the plastic. And you can get burned.

Do not drink! Rinse the textiles with cold water, do not let the concentrated plastic dye get on the skin!

On the left - the original front part of Oculus Go, on the right - the part impregnated with dye for GoBlack. Guess which one reflects less light.

I also replaced the retainers around the lenses so that they were smaller. When designing head covers, always minimize the use of surfaces that reflect even a small amount of light. This is one of the reasons why Rift has everything trimmed with a matte black fabric, right up to the lenses, and the open plastic area is minimized.


Oculus Go is quite heavy. On paper, its weight gains from Rift, but by and large it happens mainly due to fabric belts, which do not add much weight and do not put pressure on the skin during head movements. The device itself, placed on the face, weighs slightly more than 400 g.

Several modifications allowed me to reduce it to 280 g, and most of the relief came at the front edge of the device, where it is most felt. Subjectively, it seems that the weight decreased by half, especially during movement. And that's what I did:

Battery replacement: I removed the battery from the front of the helmet and moved it to the top of the head, where it is connected to the top strap with a velcro. Initially, it was not a particularly capacious 2600 mAh 18650 battery, on which the device worked for two hours, but I decided to invest in 3500 mAh, which is able to work for more than three hours. It connects through a spring-loaded plug [pogo-pin connector], which allows me to simply switch to a new battery when I want to continue playing. It is much more convenient to charge during the game, which can lead to overheating. It’s pretty easy to make battery modules that allow you to use the helmet all day, but I don’t think I want to do this.

Heat dissipation / radiator : the cooling system of the Oculus Go is passive, it uses a heat pipe that distributes heat from the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 SOC to the aluminum plate. Unfortunately, this system is heavy and is located in front of the helmet, which maximizes the impact on comfort of use. I firmly approach the weight of the helmet - the head-mounted displays are like rockets in that they greatly benefit from seemingly small weight reductions.

To solve this problem, I put a completely new cooling system. The heat pipe is much shorter and lighter, and it removes heat from the single-chip system to a nearby array of small aluminum plates that are cooled by a small fan. The system is powered from the motherboard, and I replaced the aluminum plate with a light polarized plastic. It seems to me that the result looks good.

I also removed all covers and screens . It saved a couple of grams, but I like this aesthetics, the ability to see all peripheral devices on each chip.

Reducing the amount of plastic: it would be possible to go in a more extreme way, but I wanted reliability, durability, and a look similar to the shop. I managed to remove a large amount of plastic used to support the cooling system and the front panel, but my friend GOROman maximized this idea in his Go !


Interpupillary distance adjustment: I dropped this option for many reasons. This distance at Oculus Go is fixed, therefore the increased resolution is not useful to people who have this distance too large or small. My distance is quite large, about 70 mm, and Oculus Go is not very suitable for me - the wrong geometric distortion, the scale and curvature of the image field cause eye fatigue and blurring. I suspect that for most people who use Go regularly, the interpupillary distance is closer to the average, and it’s too bad that we designed the Rift to fit almost all men and women, and were proud of it. With higher resolution displays, the correct optical adjustment becomes more and more important. The virtual reality revolution should be accessible to all, regardless of the distance between the eyes.

Keyboard for mobile use : one of the most interesting features of Oculus Go, from my point of view, is virtual desktop support ! I can work with Windows almost everywhere I go, using a giant monitor. I assembled a PC inside one of my favorite mechanical keyboards, Happy Hacking Keyboard Professional Type 2 S with keys without text (they are not needed in VR, they are still not visible there!). A full-size keyboard + Windows + GoBlack is superior to any laptop!

6DOF, Oculus Quest, NOLO, etc.: GoBlack is rarely used at the moment, mainly because of problems with interpupillary distance. I am very glad that Oculus Quest has its adjustment, and I am waiting for it very much! If you need it, wait quite a bit of a new vestibular fix, which I told you about.

I was very impressed with the latest version of NOLO VR, the third-party tracking system for Oculus Go, which after several firmware upgrades has become much better to work with.

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