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DIY SlimeVR Trackers!

Full body tracking is widely considered to be one of the best additions you can get to greatly improve your emersion for VR. But unfortunately, if you’re not already using base stations, it can cost upwards of $1000 just to get some legs in VRchat. Well, that was until the open source project SlimeVR was created.

For those not in the know, instead of using outside in tracking (i.e. SteamVR base stations), SlimeVR uses IMU’s (Inertial measurement unit’s) to try and figure out where they are, based on where they have moved since they last calibrated. Long story short, while less accurate and needing a lot more calibrations, SlimeVR trackers are way cheaper, lighter easer to DIY, and have a much longer battery life.

So, after doing a bit of research, I decided to go all in and buy everything I needed to build the trackers. I decided to go with this guide, as it included a custom PCB that I could get printed, making my project neater. All in all, all of the parts ended up costing $160 (including shipping) and took about a month and a half to arrive from China. I’ll spare you the details from how I soldered and assembled them, but a brief summery is:

  1. Solder the through-pin and electronic components.
  2. Solder on the battery (this was very sketchy and was not enjoyable. I would recommend trying to put on some battery connecter instead of soldering the wires directly onto the board like I did.)
  3. Place in the 3D printed cases.
  4. Use this installer to configure and install the firmware.
  5. Tape the cases together and attach the straps.
  6. Calibrate each tracker
  7. Connect to SlimeVr server
  8. Enjoy!

After finishing this process, I ended up with this: Photo of DIY SlimeVR Tracker

While it may not look the best, that’s not what matters most. What matters most is how it tracks. And well:

“Its fine I guess.” - Jakk (2023)

While it still is a work in progress, and there are definitely some improvements to be made, I would say that the overall tracking quality is quite usable as long as your fine with it being a bit off sometimes. If you’re expecting to do lots of high-octane kicks and dancing, in the state that my trackers are currently in, this probably isn’t for you. However, if you’re just planning on standing, sitting, leaning or laying down, I would say that this is quite a good option for some cheap FBT (As long as you still don’t mind recalibrating every so often, although this only takes 5 seconds to do).

If I was to build this again, I would probably bite the bullet and not use the custom PCB. This is because that specific one only supports an older IMU, that probably wont work as well as some of the newer ones. If there was a PCB that let you use a newer IMU, I would probably go with that one. I would also try and protect the battery a little better from the get-go. As of now, the battery is just sitting there with the exposed pins of the circuit board touching it. I’m just going to take a wild guess and say that that’s not great for safety, so ill probably wrap the PCB in electrical tape to fix it. Also, as I mentioned above, I would probably use a connecter to connect the battery to the board, rather than just soldering on the wires directly.

Overall, tracking quality good or not, this was a really fun project to do and I would highly recommend it if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty and spending a while trying to squeeze the best performance out of what you make.

#gadgets #vr