VR Controller (Step 1: Trials)

All the fuss theese days about VR really put me in the mood to try at least something from all the offers which appear on the market. Of course you can go directly for a Oculus, but even that is still only a development kit. So I decided to start small not spending too much from the start, since I didnt know if I like it. So I bought a Google Cardboard. This one is about the cheapest VR you can get πŸ™‚ since you put your phone into it, load some special apps and games, and you have VR. And I have to say I was amazed.

If you want more than just cardboard, you can go for Durovis Dive, which is basically the same thing 5x more expensive, but, and here comes the interesting part, it comes with the Dive SDK for Unity3D which allows you to make a 3D world for the glasses in about 10 minutes. And it really didnt take longer.

Ok, now you have a full VR experience (if Oculus, Dive or Cardboard) but your hands still hanging there, your actions are still limited on (in my opinion) very old-school HIDs (keyboard, mouse, gamepad, etc.).

Some times ago I started to tinker around with electronics components. Still have pretty basic knoledge about electronics, and don’t understand most electronics signs πŸ™‚

And it got me thinking. Given an Arduino, a bluetooth module, some sensors fixed on my body (like tilt sensor, gyro sensor, compass module, and a few buttons), what could stop me to make a next gen game/fitness/generic controller?

My ideea is to do a lot of stuff with it: make a fitness app which will be controlled by running on a treadmill (or using a workout bike). Something like the old Nintendo Wii and the running game from Sports. Or a game like Temple Run, in which running the treadmill faster, gets you faster in the game. Or a shooter where you really run… etc.

For this I would like to create a game controller which records the leg movements, direction, body position, etc. which would then influence the actions in the game. A lot of detals I still need to work out.

I would like to be able to record more then a conventional controller does (more than just up, down, left, right, etc) that’s why I would like to build one and not buy one and break it apart and hack into it. That, and for kicks πŸ˜‰

STEP 1:Β  Gather all hardware needed

Well, not as easy as it sounds. I started with an Arduino Uno thinking it will be enough. Had to upgrade to Arduino Mega since it has 3 serial ports, and the SoftwareSerial support on the Uno wasn’t working so smooth. And the reason is the next module. Until now I thought a HC-05 bluetooth module would be enough. And it is up to a point. It only supports SPP for communication. It wasn’t hard toΒ  write a little code on the Arduino, connect it to my smartphone, and use it as a little chat aplication. But as soon as I wanted to connect it as a keyboard or mouse, the trouble started. Using AT commands I configured every relevant flag on the HC-05, only to find out the it actually doesn’t support the bluetooth HID profile, which would allow me that. For that I would need at least a Bluesmirf RN42-HID or a BlueGiga WT12 module, which support both SPP and HID. Or to flash a new firmware on the HC-05 (a really messy solution)

So I can either upgrade to a better bluetooth module, or use the HC-05 in SPP mode, and write an andoid driver app, which converts the messages from Arduino into HID events and deliver them to any Android app. But for this a rooted phone is needed (no problem either).

(… to be continued)

Island City – Starry Night

http://www.instructables.com/id/Island-City-Starry-Night/

This is a project I started more than 6 month ago (not much spare time in my house πŸ˜‰ ). We needed something for the bedroom, which would light up automatically, and not too bright, enough to find your way into bed, and not wake the other one up, which is most of the times my wife πŸ˜‰

Have seen online a lot of solutions for a starry night ceiling and paintings. Gathered all those ideas, took the best ones and put them into this one.

As soon as I discovered the potential of blacklight painting doing this painting, I knew I will probably never do a painting without it. Have a lot to learn on how to mix colors to get the nicest effects, and it really looks good in the dark (way better than all pictures I shoot with my camera).

From all the solutions for the stars I chose the fully programable rgb leds, since I wanted to be able to program some of the starts to go bright randonmly from time to time.

Cupcake cake #1 & #2

Kids theese days don’t care much for old school birthday cakes with lots of creams. Every time, more than half was remaining in the freezer. A real danger to my diet :-).

In the summer we tried the first time a cupcake cake. I have never seen another cake get eaten faster than that πŸ™‚

So yesterday we tried it again.

Paint your walls

http://www.instructables.com/id/Paint-your-walls-parents-only/

Had to wait 25 years to be able to do this … But it’s my house now, and my swagg goes on the walls πŸ˜‰

Just had to paint my son’s room, since it’s the old room of my daughter, and it had pink clouds in it, and for my son … just … no way … had to be done πŸ˜‰

Bioluminescent Forest

http://www.instructables.com/id/UV-black-light-painting-for-everyone/

Since I was a child I was fascinated by fluorescence, phosphorescence and bioluminescence. Seing the movie Avatar was the cherry on top that motivated me to make some of my own decorations.

Some time ago I discovered what UV painting is and decided to try it out. A few Artists I found also tried to merge daylight painting with UV painting. Meaning that by day you see a normal painting, and if the room goes dark, and uv light is on, the painting looks just like a scene from Avatar by night, glowing, shining, … and suddenly I wanted to make this a hobby of my own.

Elven Magic Orb

http://www.instructables.com/id/Elven-Magic-Orb/

It all started with me browsing through Instructables and finding a lot of great ideas. I came across the CapSense Arduino library and a great instructable, and just had to try it out. The idea behind is you create a proximity sensor using just aluminum foil, an Arduino and a 10 megaohms resistor. It is very easy to put the peices together even for an electronics beginner as myself. I got it started and a LED was blinking based on the proximity of my hand. As soon as my kids saw this, it was not my project any more, and I had to stand behing letting them play with it. I got them to back off only by promising them a magic orb based on this … πŸ˜‰