One of my favorite Onion articles ever is about a down-on-his-luck man who tried to build a PlayStation 2 in his home workshop as a Christmas present for his game-loving son. I bring that up because Oculus has released open source plans and files for its second Rift Development Kit on Github under a Creative Commons Attribution license. The release comes more than three years after the DK2 started selling for $350 (or what ended up being much more on the second-hand market).
The CAD drawings, firmware files, and electrical schematics technically provide everything you need to know to build the early, 960×1080 Rift prototype from a recovered Galaxy Note 3 screen assembly. There are plans for the tracking sensor, multi-part USB cable, and even the original packaging. That said, Oculus engineer Nirav Patel warns in a blog post that “some of the components of DK2 are challenging or impossible to source today, so it may not be possible for an individual to build a full headset from the provided files.” That said, “we hope that parts of this release are useful though as learnings if nothing else!”
In that same blog post, Patel also mentions cancelled plans for a “DKHD” dev kit that was “smaller and lighter than DK1 and had a fantastic pixel density.” Those spec improvements were scuttled in the follow-up dev kit in favor of improved pixel persistence, refresh rates, latency, and tracking for what would become the DK2.
Today’s release comes three years after the release of open source plans for the first Oculus Rift development kit, and it seems to show a continued commitment to limited tech sharing from the company. Earlier this year, Oculus recommitted to working with Khronos on a set of open source standards, attempting to create common APIs that let competing headsets, trackers, and software platforms work with each other. Oculus has had a mixed record with such openness overtures in the past, and the company has faced criticism for buying up exclusive software for the Rift platform.
The new open source release comes in advance of the Oculus Connect conference, which starts today. Oculus is widely expected to announce a lower-priced, wireless standalone headset among other initiatives, and Ars will be on site for all the news from San Jose.