Plug In The HMD
Once you have the Link Box plugged in, you can connect the HMD to it. The Vive headset includes the aforementioned 15 foot-long tether cable that carries data and power between the HMD and the computer. The end of the 3-in-1 cable features a power cable, USB, and HDMI port that correspond to the ports on the Link Box.
Order is important here: Plug the power cord in first, followed by the USB cord, and then the HDMI cable. If you plug in the Vive cables in the incorrect order, the HMD may not initialize properly in Steam VR.
Turn On The Vive Controllers
The Vive controllers come from the factory paired to your headset, and they should ship with a partial charge. All you have to do is press the button below the trackpad on each controller to turn them on.
Make sure that both the HMD and the controllers are within the range of the IR light pattern from the Base Stations when you turn on the controllers. You may have to move the HMD to wake it up before the controllers connect properly.
If you’ve already installed SteamVR, the client should open and detect your hardware. If not, you should get a prompt indicating that Steam detected a VR HMD and wants you to install the SteamVR client.
SteamVR Setup: Room-Scale Or Standing Only?
When you start the SteamVR setup process, you choose which configuration you wish to use, room scale or standing only. Room scale lets you walk around in VR, and it's certainly preferable, but SteamVR and the Vive hardware also support standing-only configurations. Basically, if you can stretch your arms out and spin around without hitting anything, then you have space to use a Vive.
If you have enough space for room-scale, always choose that option, because it also supports standing and seated experiences without the need for recalibration.
Regardless which of the two options you choose (room scale or standing only), the software must establish a baseline tracking calibration. Hold the controllers and the headset within the range of the two Base Stations. The icons for the HMD and controller will light up when SteamVR detects the hardware.
If the icons don’t light up at this stage, ensure that the line of sight to each Base Station is clear and that you have ample charge in the controllers.
Once SteamVR establishes tracking, the setup process for room scale and standing only VR diverge from each other.
Room-Scale Setup: Locate Your Monitor
In the room-scale setup process, you must indicate the location of your monitor in relation to your play space before you can map out the size of your safe zone. This step sounds silly, but it actually accomplishes two things: It marks the center point of your play space and informs the default orientation for games to launch.
This step is somewhat misleading, though. Valve assumes that your display is next to your computer, but if, for example, your PC is in the living room and you’re using your TV as a display, you may need to point towards your computer so that your tether cable is behind you when you’re playing. Don’t get too close to your screen, though, lest you smash a Vive controller into your TV.
To calibrate, stand in the center of your play space with one of your Vive controllers in hand. Point the controller towards your monitor (or PC) then pull and hold the trigger down until the bar on the screen fills up.
Room-Scale Setup: Calibrate The Floor Position
Once you’ve established the Vive’s orientation, set the virtual floor height to match the real world. To do so, place the Vive HMD and the two controllers in the center of your desired play space, make sure that your body isn’t obstructing the view from either Base Station, and click the Calibrate Floor button with your mouse.
If the calibration fails, ensure that the Base Stations are configured correctly (optical vs. cable sync, as described previously) and that they can see each other. The calibration may fail if your room is too bright, or if there’s a reflective surface in the room. It may help to turn off the lights. If you have windows in that room, close the blinds or pull the shade.
Room-Scale Setup: Chaperone Barriers
With the floor height and the monitor direction established, you can proceed to map your safe play area. The HTC Vive includes a feature called the Chaperone that highlights the barriers of your safe play space within VR. For the Chaperone system to work, set the location of the virtual walls.
There are two ways to establish your Chaperone fence. The default process involves tracing the edges of your place space with a Vive wand controller. That works well if you want to trace an obscure shape for a safe zone around your furniture, but if you have a wide open space, you can speed up the process by switching to the advanced setup. With the advanced setup, just point out the corners of your safe zone, and SteamVR will figure out the rest.
Standing-Only Setup: Calibrate Center
The standing-only setup is quite different from the room-scale setup. Once you’ve established tracking, you'll calibrate the center position of your play volume, but not with the controller. Instead, you use the headset.
Stand in the center of your play area with the HMD in your hands while facing the direction you wish to make your default playing position. If you plan to play seated games, face your monitor during the calibration. For motion control games, you may want to set your default orientation to face away from your display to avoid potentially damaging it--it's all too easy to swing your controller outside of your play space when you're involved in an action-packed game.
Once you’re in position, press the Calibrate Center button with your mouse, or pull the trigger on one of the Vive controllers to lock in your orientation. It’s important to keep the HMD as still as possible during this process, because setup will fail if the headset moves around during calibration.
Standing Only Setup: Floor Calibration
The floor calibration process for standing-only setups is the same as the room-scale process, if your Base Stations can see the headset and controllers when they're on the floor. Place your hardware on the ground in the center of your space and click the Calibrate Floor button to lock in your floor height.
Valve added an extra feature to the standing-only floor calibration process that lets you set the floor height manually in case your Base Stations don’t have a clear line of sight to the floor. Place the headset on a sturdy surface, hit the Calibrate Floor button, and enter how many inches or centimeters it is from the floor.
Configure SteamVR Settings
Once you have your play space configured, SteamVR will bring you to a short tutorial environment to teach you how to use your controllers and interact with virtual reality. After the orientation, you're free to start playing VR games, but you may want to run through the Settings menu first.
There you’ll find toggles to enable Bluetooth communication for wireless firmware updates and Base Station power control. You can also enable the Vive’s front-mounted camera, which is disabled by default. The Settings menu also lets you adjust your audio device preferences.
To access the SteamVR settings, click on the drop-down arrow in the top left corner of the SteamVR client window and select Settings.