Easy Mods for the HTC Vive

One of the most incredible things about the HTC Vive is how modular the system is.  The cable ports are standard USB, HDMI, and 1/8th" jacks.  They're easily accessible, and easy to replace.  The head strap is removable, and the strap mounts can even be fully replaced in case you want to mount something non-standard.  The facial interface is attached using standard velcro, and anyone can create something that will stick right on without needing to manufacture any plastic mounts.  

Simple changes to the Vive can greatly increase your quality of life and with enough of them in tandem, you can make the Vive feel like a completely different, more advanced VR system.  Modding the Vive is incredibly easy, but until now, there hasn't been an easy to digest resource that lays out all the mods in a simple to understand way, with links to recommended products and where to buy.  That's what this article is trying to achieve.

Headset Mods:

Weatherproof VR Cover: I play a lot of very physical VR games, so I like to wear my Vive tight so it doesn’t slip during gaming, and because the games are so action-packed I find myself sweating profusely from time to time.  The Weatherproof VR Cover doesn't get soggy due to sweat, is thinner so it gets your eyes closer to the lenses for an increased FOV, and because it's so comfortable, I can tighten up my Vive as much as I want, and it won't leave a mark on my face!  In addition, it's non-porous, meaning it can be easily cleaned after demo's with a quick wipe down with alcohol.  This is, by far, my most recommended mod for the Vive.  Here's a link to the one I recommend.

VR Cover.JPG

3-in-1 Cable: The Vive 3-in-1 Cable is significantly more comfortable, and less likely to tangle, and much easier to untangle.  It’s $40 brand new and sometimes they offer them for $30 Open Box.

Here you can see the thin 3-in-1 cable mounted to a Deluxe Audio Headstrap

Here you can see the thin 3-in-1 cable mounted to a Deluxe Audio Headstrap

Deluxe Audio Headstrap:  The Deluxe Audio Headstrap is a significantly more comfortable, stable, and convenient strap for the HTC Vive.  It comes with built-in headphones, and can be tightened with one hand and a turn of a knob, easier than any other VR headset on the market.  Installing it is very simple, unless you have an HTC Vive Pre.  All you do is twist the sides of the strap connectors downwards while applying pressure, until you hear a click.  More importantly, however, is the foam on the back of the Headstrap.  The Headstrap was unfortunately shipped with a manufacturing oversight in which the foam it ships with has a film of powder/chemicals that come off onto your body when sweat and oil come into contact with it.  While not toxic in any way, it does get dirty.  When you first receive it, remove the foam, and wash it under a sink with firm pressure from your fingers to remove the film trapped in the foam, and once you're sure it's all out, ring out the water and run it through a dryer.  After a full dryer wash, it might still be wet.  Give it up to 24 hours to get completely dry.  Or, just start using it while it's a little damp, you'll live.  Here's the link to the Deluxe Audio Headstrap.

LeapMotion:  The LeapMotion sensor is cheap and powerful.  It has a lot of awesome hand-tracking demos like Blocks, and has some great games too like WaveMagic.  In addition, it has lots of utility in adult applications too.  You can plug it into the USB expansion on the Vive headset.  Use an LED cable for extra flair!  Here's a link to the LeapMotion open box for about $50, here's a link to get it and the VR mount new for $90, and here's one for the LED Micro-USB 3.0 cable.

Earbuds with Original Strap: If you don’t have the Deluxe Audio Headstrap, here’s a great way to make using the Vive earbuds more convenient.  Run the included earbuds through the front of the headset, and then run each of the earbuds through the loops made by each velcro strap.  Voila!  Your earbuds will always be easy to reach and put in when you put your headset on.  Here's a link with more details.

Fan in the front:  The Vive has a USB accessory port in the front of the HMD next to where the USB, HDMI, and audio cable ports are.  Some people have connected cheap USB fans to this to keep their faces cool!  Here's a link with more details.

Editors Note: Vive n' Chill has just been announced for $25-$32!  I can't recommend it yet, but once it releases I will update to confirm whether or not it is in fact the premier Vive fan solution.

Eye-tracking: 7invensun has an eye-tracking accessory for the HTC Vive called the aGlass.  As of now, there are only a few applications that support foveated rendering, but if you’re a scrappy hacker, you can add it to your own in games with modability like Robo Recall or Nvidia VR Funhouse.  Buy the aGlass DK2 here. 

7invensun aGlass DK2

7invensun aGlass DK2

Microphone Pop Filter:  The HTC Vive has a pretty awesome mic built in, but if you're playing intense multiplayer games, you might start breathing heavily or talking too loudly in a way that will distort the audio or pick up your breathing(which as anyone who's played with a heavy breather online knows, is crazy annoying).  Here's a link to a good pop filter, and here's a video of /u/hailkira from reddit unboxing and applying it to his Vive's mic.

Vive Controllers:

Controller Skins:  Adding Hyperkins awesome controller skins to the Vive adds some color, protection, and grip to the already awesome Vive controllers.  It makes activating the Grip buttons easier, gives a little extra height to the menu button making it easier to hit when you want to(but enough protection on the sides of the button so it’s harder to activate accidentally), and of course let’s you know exactly which Vive controllers are yours just by looking at them.  They’re available in White, Red, Blue, Grey and Green.  Buy Hyperkin controller skins here.

Vive Controllers with white Hyperkin Controller Skins and magnetic Micro-USB Cables

Vive Controllers with white Hyperkin Controller Skins and magnetic Micro-USB Cables

Magnetic Charging: One of the least convenient parts of the Vive experience are plugging the controllers in with a Micro-USB cable, especially in the dark.  Because Micro-USB isn’t reversible, this can lead to fumbling around, and because Micro-USB isn’t all that sturdy, you can break the cable or even your Vive controller if it’s accidentally stepped on while plugged in or if pressure is applied to it.  And if it’s a hassle to plug in, you may not want to plug in after you’re done playing, which may lead to dead batteries the next time you have that VR itch.

Solve all these problems with magnetic USB cables!  Magnetic cables are reversible, and they break away when pressure is applied.  The cables I recommend have lights on them, which makes them easier to plug in when in the dark.  And most importantly, they are way faster to connect than traditional Micro-USB cables.  Get your controller charging in 2 seconds flat!  Here's a link to some magnetic cables.

VR Environment Improvements:

Cable Leash & HMD/Controller Hooks: The HTC Vive cable is said to be one of the most immersion breaking factors of VR, even though the majority of users don’t seem to mind it.  While waiting for fully wireless PC VR, try using some cable leashes mounted to your ceiling.  In addition, these come with hooks that will allow you to hang your HMD and controller up on the wall.  This way, you can keep your HMD lenses out of the sunlight and get the controllers and headset out of the way so people don't step on it.  Here's a link to the cable leashes I use.

Editors Note: /u/Esoteir from Reddit mentions that hanging your Vive from it's strap can weaken it's elasticity and should only be done with that in mind.

Vive Headset on hook with cable leash attached

Vive Headset on hook with cable leash attached

PSU Mod:  The Vive Link Box is useful for extending the length of your Vive cable and providing a breakaway point in case the headset cable is tugged on.  However, if you’re doing Vive demo’s or are using the Vive in a smaller play space, it could be more trouble than it’s worth, especially since it takes up an additional outlet to use.  To eliminate the need for the Link Box and extra outlet, do this fantastic Vive PSU Mode on your PC, which converts a spare molex connector from your power supply into a Vive power cable available directly in your desktop PC!  Here's a link with more information.

Battery-powered Base Stations: The Vive Base Stations are said to be much easier to use than the Oculus Rift Constellation Cameras because unlike Constellation, they don’t have to be plugged into a PC, just any old electrical outlet.  But what if you didn’t even have to do THAT?  Here’s some details on how to create Vive Base Station to USB cables, which will let your Vive Base Stations run off of USB battery packs.  Here's a link with more information.

Finally, here’s a link to the Reddit /r/Vive Wiki on unofficial Vive mods.

It isn't updated often, but maybe if you fall in love with modding your Vive with these simple mods, you might try out some of the other, more complicated mods like the welding mask mod, or even make your own mods and contribute to the wiki!