Building the Sandbox – Design Questions

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    Hi all,

    I am in the process of building my first AR Sandbox for my school district. I am dealing with some base design issues as I try and weigh all the different options. I am seeking advice for our situation.

    I work at the largest High School in Virginia, which has its own set of problems and issues. When presenting this project to our administration, I was only allotted enough funds for a single AR Sandbox. Now I priced out all of the technology and spent the majority of my funding on that side of the spectrum.

    I got a GTX 970 Graphics Card, and a CPU with an i7 Processor with 12 GB of RAM as well as the BENQ MX631 Short Throw projector. Sadly my Tech office (who had to purchase the items) mistakenly ordered an XBOX One Kinect sensor so unless something has changed, I will need to return that for an older model Kinect.

    Due to the fact the AR Sandbox is immensely cool, and not to mention highly versatile, my entire Science Department can’t wait for me to finish my build so that we can start using the Box. As a result of our incredible size of building, it is fairly unhelpful to have an immobile Box when the Science Teachers are spread out everywhere. As such, I want to build the box to be as mobile as possible.

    Our doors to the classrooms are 36″ wide (where the door only opens to provide a gap of 34.5″) and the height of the doors are 85″, however, the elevators are 84″ tall and 42″ wide.

    In order to make everything mobile, I am trying to go with a double decker build, where the sandbox would be 40″ off the ground and a second box would be 40″ above the sand that would hold the CPU, Projector and Kinect Camera. It would be the exact same dimensions as the sandbox (40″ X 53″ by 9″) and it would also hold a power strip and extension cord that would run down one of the legs that would enable everything to be powered effectively.

    Obviously a 40″ wide Sandbox will not fit through a 34.5″ doorway. So I am toying with two different potential options to solve this issue. I would like some feedback on these ideas to figure out the best course of action for my situation.

    First option: Box remains “standard” size, 40″ by 53″

    Make the Box able to be disassembled by utilizing brackets and supports that would allow the sandbox (with sand) to be taken out of the apparatus by essentially separating it from it’s legs. This requires additional add-ons. I had come up with a cover that would function almost as a sliding glass door that could easily be removed in order to use the Box, and then replaced when a lesson is over. Ideally it would be able to ‘lock’ into place in order to support the 200 LBs of sand if the box is tilted on it’s side to move through a doorway. In order to more easily lift, set down, put on its side slide through the doorway and then put on some cart and move to the opposite side of the building, it needs to have handles that can support 200 LBs. Not to mention needing the man power to lift and move it.

    Second Option: Box Shrinks in size to fit through the door easily.

    Box is smaller and the legs are placed on sturdy wheels. However, I don’t believe a 35″ by 53″ box is feasible for the projector to work with. I haven’t the faintest clue of the scaling system for the camera/projector setup. I have seen on the forum that the camera needs to be as high above the box as the box is wide.

    I assume that the box scales down easily so a 35″ wide box would need to be 46.6″ long but I want to double check on these ideas.

    For the effect on the kids, I’d prefer the larger box (Option 1) for the ease of movement around the building, I’d prefer the more easily mobile box (Option 2).

    Last point to make about the school, as much as I want to just build the box for myself and leave it in my room, and let colleagues disassemble and move as they want to, we are constantly transitioning rooms and I myself spent the last few years on a cart moving between rooms. Since no room is guaranteed, I would hate to make the box so impossible to move that I couldn’t run my lessons using it on the same day if I teach in multiple rooms on the same day if I were to go with option 1, it absolutely would not be moveable on the same day.

    Any help, advice, or thoughts on these ideas would be greatly appreciated.

    Rob Reynolds

    send me an email, we have a good portable design
    Rob at rreynolds@zephyrmarine/org


    Hi TCTitan
    I’m sure I read somwhere in the forum the Xbox kinect 1 is compatable, it’s the xbox kinect 2 that’s not.
    Hope this catches you before you return it.



    That is good to know. I will try to test the compatibility of the new model of kinect (for the Xbox One) before trying to get my hands on an older model of the kinect for the 360.



    Hi all,

    I have a few more small questions as to our design that we are going with.

    We decided to go with a box as 30″ x 40″ does this mean the sand area is 30″ by 40″ with the sandbox sides built onto the edges of the plywood? Or are the edges built on top of the plywood base, making the portion of the box where the sand goes essentially 28.5″ by 38.5″?

    If we are to build the sandbox as a 28.5″ by 38.5″ by building the edges of the box on top of the plywood base, how does that change the positioning of the kinect camera above the sand? Would that also need to be placed 38.5″ above the sand? Or would it remain at 40″?

    Lastly, a question about the camera placement, if the box is 30″ by 40″ would the camera be placed 40″ above the top of the sandbox (the maximum height of the sand), or 40″ above the base of the sandbox (the minimum height of the sand)?

    Thank you all for clarifying these questions.



    It can be any x:y dimension as long as it has the ratio of 4:3, wich is the aspect ratio of the projected image. So 40″x30″ or 38.3×28.8 or 38.5×28.9.

    Note that the the “minimum throw distance” of your projector will be a factor in your sandbox dimensions too.


    We are a K-12 school district and made our portable. You can see some pictures and videos here. If you want any others just let me know. The projector and sensor supports come off the narrow side so it can fit through a 36″ door. We also made it so we can rotate the projector arm. We built the box on a computer table but had to beef up the base and wheels once we add the 300 pounds of sand. IMO the design is working very well. We allow a school to sign it out but only allow it to be moved once a month. This is mainly so our Maint. Dept does not kill me for having to move it around all the time. 😉

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