VCU Libraries

Research Guides

Virtual, Mixed and Augmented Reality in The Workshop

The Workshop has a variety of tools and resources for creating content for and in Augmented, Mixed and Virtual Reality

Physical Location

Workshop logo red square.jpgThe Innovative Media department is located in The Workshop on the lower level of the James Branch Cabell Library.

804.827.3594
901 Park Avenue, Suite 078
library.vcu.edu/workshop

HTC Vive in The Workshop

The HTC Vive is available for in-house use to the VCU Community. If you need assistance beyond this guide, email theworkshop@vcu.edu or call 804.827.3594 to set up an appointment.

Google Blocks on the HTC Vive

Required for checkout: Gaming Studio, Alienware accessories, HTC Vive case.

In the Vive case you will find a Vive headset, a Link Box, a Link Box Charger, an HDMI cord and USB cord for the Link Box, two Vive controllers, two USB chargers with two Micro USB cords and two USB extenders for charging the controllers and an HDMI-to-DisplayPort adapter (for emergencies). NOTE: The Vive's two Sensors are permanently attached to Gaming Room wall.

The Vive does not have build in headphones, you will need to bring your own earbuds to plug into its 3.5mm jack in the back of the headset. 

Connecting the HTC Vive in the Gaming Studio

Alienware PC and logging in

  1. Set keyboard and mouse on table next to PC, plug them in to any of the top four USB 2.0 ports in the back of the PC (the front USB ports often do not work).
  2. Turn on monitor with remote (be patient, it takes a minute).
  3. Boot up PC and set HDMI switcher to Alienware (far right button).
  4. Logging into the PC as Admin automatically logs Oculus, Steam, Unity, Unreal and more into Innovative Media accounts (ask Service Desk worker to you log in as Admin). By doing this, you will have access to all Innovative Media's resources, including paid apps. Logging in as individual user is an option, but user will need to have their own accounts for programs that require login (most do).

Attaching the HTC Vive

  1. Attach the Link Box from the case to the Velcro on top of the PC with the orange inputs facing out.
  2. Plug the Link Box power adapter from the case into the the back of the Link Box and into the wall on the right.
  3. Plug the USB cable from the case into the back of the Link Box and into one of the USB 3.0 slots in the back of the PC.
  4. Plug the HDMI cord from the case into the back of the Link Box and into the open HDMI slot in the SAME graphics card that the monitor is plugged into in the back of the PC. NOTE: The monitor is plugged into a Display Port using an HDMI to Display Port adapter.
  5. Plug the HTC Vive headset from the case into the front of the Link Box using the color coded ports.

Room Setup and Steam Library

Setting up your space

  1. Launch Steam from the PC Desktop, it will run a quick update, always does, then close the pop-up ad.
  2. Launch SteamVR from the View menu or by clicking the VR icon in the top right and wait for SteamVR to load (takes a minute). SteamVR should indicate in yellow that it has recognized the base stations and headset. It will recognize the controllers by holding the System button on each controller for a few seconds.
  3. Click the down arrow next to SteamVR and launch Run Room Setup. The room is small enough to use the Standing Room Only option. Follow instructions, then you are ready to put on the headset.
  4. The trick to getting a clear focus is to use a combination of the lens spacing knob on the lower right (when on) and moving the headset up and down until you find the sweet spot. Use the Velcro straps to keep it tight in the right position.

Steam Library

  1. You can launch apps from the Steam Library directly from Steam on the PC or you can launch them from within the headset by clicking Library.  NOTE: It often takes a few minutes for an app to close when you launch another one, and occasionally you will get a message alerting you that its taking too long, but just be patient and it will eventually close so the new app can open.

Tips

  1. Most of the apps have tutorials on how to use the buttons on the controllers. 
  2. Some apps allow you to export your work to social media or on the local computer. The local location varies from app to app, but the first place to look is C:\Users\Logged-in-user-name\Documents\Name-of-app.

Unity

Importing projects

  1. If you wish to import a Unity project into the Vive, open Unity from the Desktop and open your project. It is recommended that you create your Unity project on the PCs D:\Saves drive to assure that it will always open on this system. Others have saved to the cloud with success, but some have had issues with projects saved on USB sticks that had nothing to do with version compatability.
  2. With your project open, go to the Unity Store and search for SteamVR (you will get no results from Steam VR, it must be SteamVR). Click Install.
  3. Downloading takes a little while, then you will see an option for importing into your project. Import All, which takes even longer.
  4. Once SteamVR has imported, drag the CameraRig plugin from the PreFab folder into your project menu. Now your project should be visible in the headset, but you will need to tweak the controls to get it to do exactly what you want. NOTE: Sometimes the Steam camera conflicts with the Unity camera and you may need to move it to the top.