Oculus Rift and Wii Balance Board make Hoverboards a (Virtual) Reality

It’s almost 2015 and still don’t have the futuristic technology promised to us by Back to the Future Part II. Where are the flying cars, Mr. Fusions, or 19 Jaws movies? Most importantly, where are our hoverboards?

[cratesmith] got tired of waiting around and decided to take matters into his own hands. He combined the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset with the Wii Fit Balance Board to create a virtual hoverboard experience. He used the Unity3D engine (a favorite among Rift developers) to program the game engine. It’s a very rough demo right now, but the game comes complete with a simulated town to float around in and of course includes a model DeLorean.

Before you try to play this demo, you should know that it’s not without its faults. The primary problem [cratesmith] has experienced is with simulation sickness. His virtual reality system has no way to track body motion, which means that leaning back and forth on the Wii Fit board does not get translated to the equivalent virtual movement. The game must assume that the player stands straight up at all times, which is not an intuitive way to control something similar to a skateboard. The result is an off-putting experience that can break immersion and lead to a feeling of nausea.

A possible solution to this problem would be to use a camera style motion detector like the Microsoft Kinect. In fact, another Reddit user has recently posted a teaser video of another hoverboard simulator that uses the Oculus Rift, Wii Fit Board, and Kinect. Not much information is available about this second project, but we look forward to seeing updates in the future.

[createsmith] has not published the code for his demo because it’s still in the very early stages, but he has stated that he’s been giving it out to anyone who goes out of their way to ask. The hoverboard is probably the most coveted fictional technology from the 1989 adventure film. We know this because we’ve seen multiple projects over the years that were inspired by the movie.  We’re excited to see it come to fruition in any form.

[via Reddit]

Sci-Fi Contest Roundup: Thinking 4th Dimensionally

Notwithstanding [John Titor] and his time travelling ’67 Corvette convertible, the coolest time machine on wheels has to be the DeLorean from Back to the Future. BTTF is apparently a very popular theme for our sci-fi contest, with a lot of great entries.

You mean to tell me  you made a time machine? Out of a Hyundai Accent?

fluxAfter a careful bit of research, it appears the Hyundai Accent (GLS) has both a higher top speed and faster 0-60 time than a DeLorean, and that’s before the installation of time circuits, a flux capacitor, and plutonium reactor. [docbrownjr] and [Jennifer] decided their Accent was the perfect vehicle for a time machine conversion and decided to add a Mr. Fusion  to the mix.

Like the on-screen version, this version of a Mr. Fusion is made from a kitchen appliance. With the original Krups coffee grinder out of production, the team settled on an iced tea machine. There will, however, be copious amounts of dry ice involved,  as will half-empty beer cans and banana peels.

WiFi-enabled Flux Capacitor

ledAfter knocking his head on a toilet, [Beamsjr] came up with a great idea – a networked flux capacitor, able to display the Teamcity build progress.

This build is going all out with custom PCBs – one for the controller board, and three for the shift registered LEDs underneath the acrylic knobbies in the flux capacitor. WiFi is provided by the TI CC3000 module, with the main microcontroller being an ATmega 328p,

Time circuits on

segmentsHonestly, we’d be a bit disappointed if this contest didn’t have a BTTF time circuit build entry. Luckily for us, [atheros] and [bwa] are on top of things with their time circuit clock, complete with an alarm and FM radio receiver (FM isn’t going to work in 1955, guys).

Unlike a few other time circuit builds we’ve seen over the years, the guys are doing this one up right, with 14-segment LEDs for the month display. They’re etching their own boards for this one, and it’s looking like it’ll be a very cool project when it’s complete.

It’s Not 2015 Yet But Marty and His Hoverboard Are Already Here!

mharti

Okay now this is seriously awesome. [Rodger Cleye] has made a real working Hoverboard.

You guys might remember the recent [Tony Hawk] and [Christopher Lloyd] viral Hoverboard hoax video… Well, this isn’t that. Nope, not even close. It’s real.

The Hoverboard is a quadrotor on steroids — it features four 1200W brushless motors driving 12″ props, a massive 13.4Ah 5S Li-Po battery, and a [Marty McFly] mannequin wearing the classic red vest. He’s counter-balanced [Marty] and the battery around the rotors which makes for a surprisingly smooth flight. It even has a run-time of over 5 minutes, thanks to a whopping 83% efficiency using the 12″ props.

[Rodger] designed and simulated the entire system in eCalc before construction — He had first attempted a bi-copter design, but opted for the tried and true quad-rotor instead. The frame is made of 1/2″ PVC pipe to conserve the mass budget, but altogether it still weighs an unbelievable 20lbs! How close are we to being able to give toddlers the ability to fly?

Just take a look at the following video — we’re seriously impressed.

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Adafruit builds the Back to the Future time circuit display

back-to-the-future-time-circuit-clock

If you were growing up in the ’80s this display panel will be instantly recognizable. It’s the time circuit display which [Doc Brown] built into his 88 mph per hour DeLoren time machine. If this still doesn’t jog your memory (or if — *gasp* — you’ve never seen the movie Back to the Future) take a gander at the montage video below.

The thing is, if you look really closely you’ll find this isn’t an exact match. Hackaday alum [Phil Burgess] put together a guide for Adafruit that shows how to build this version. But the movie actually cheated when it came to the month display. In production the month was displayed as alpha characters by painting glass slides. To make that happen here you would need some sixteen segment modules (like in this project). But we don’t mind the change one bit. The nostalgic look stands on its own even if it’s not an exact replica.

We’re sure you’ve figured out by now that this is backed by a dead-accurate real time clock (chronodot) and powered by a Teensy microcontroller board. Which means you can use it for just about any of your timekeeping needs.

[Read more...]

Start thinking 4th dimensionally with a time circuit tutorial

When [Phil Burgess] showed off a few I2C – controlled seven-segment displays on adafruit’s weekly vlog, the comments immediately turned to the time circuits featured in everyone’s second-favorite time machine, the Back to the Future DeLorean. The time circuits are now active, so now you can easily add a temporal display to your car well before a hover conversion.

[Phil] used these LED displays, conveniently controlled by a four-wire I2C bus. Although the displays are addressable independently, it’s only possible to assign each display to one of 8 I2C addresses. [Phil] figured out a neat way to control the 9 displays of the time circuit with the help of a 74HC138 3-to-8 line decoder.

The case was constructed out of clear acrylic lasercut in adafruit’s shop and spray painted with faux-metal paint. After installing the seven-segment displays, a Teensy, ChronoDot, and a few AA batteries finished up the build.

With any luck, the design files for the laser cut case should be available shortly, so get those I2C displays while they’re still in stock.

Hackday Links: March 10, 2012

We’re throwing money at our monitor and nothing’s happening!

Sometimes we get hacks sent into our tip line that are outrageously awesome, but apart from a YouTube video we’ve got nothing else to write about. So begins the story of the flying Back to the Future DeLorean quadrocopter. Sadly, the story ends with the video as well. (If you’ve got any info, send it in!)

Fine, we’ll throw in another cool car

Mercedes covered a car with LEDs and made the James Bond’s invisible car from Die Another DayThe Mercedes video cost tens of thousands of dollars to produce, so of course there’s camera trickery; we’re just wondering how much credit Adobe After Effects gets for this build.

Microsoft touchscreen demo might be impossible

Yes, Microsoft does care about user experience. Just take a look at this video from their applied sciences group. They did user testing with touchscreens that updated every 1 millisecond, compared to the ~100ms our phones and tablets usually update. Of course the result was a better UX, but now we’re wondering how they built a touch screen that updates every millisecond? That’s a refresh rate of 1 kHz, and we’ve got no clue how they bodged that one together. We’re probably dealing with a Microsoft Surface projector/IR camera thing here, but that doesn’t answer any questions.

Edit: [Philip Rowney] sent in a tip that it could be this TI touch screen controller that can sample above 1 kHz. The only problem is this chip uses a resistive touch screen, instead of a multitouch-enabled capacitive screen. At least that solves one problem.

And now for something that can measure 1 kHz

[Paleotechnologist] posted an excellent guide to the care and feeding of an oscilloscope. Most of our readers probably already know the ins and outs of their awesome Techtronix and HP units, but that doesn’t mean the younglings won’t have to learn sooner or later.

Good idea, except the part about saving it for spring

In a moment of serendipity, [Valentin] figured out how to use touchscreens with wool gloves. The answer: rub thermal grease into the tip of the index finger. It works, and doesn’t look to be too much of a mess. We’ll remember this for next winter.

The last one didn’t have a picture, so here’s this

[Darrell] used a little bit of LaTeX and Ruby to make colored labels for his resistor collection. We’re struck with the idea of using test tubes to organize resistors. It’s cool and makes everything look all sciencey and stuff.

Power laces take us 5 years into the future

Back to the Future Part 2 provided a glimpse of a future that included hover boards and holographic advertisements. But you don’t have to wait until 2015 to get your hands on at least some of the technology. [Blake Bevin] has produced a pair of shoes with power laces as seen in the film. Of course present day technology doesn’t allow him to make the mechanical parts disappear so you’ll have to deal with two servo motors and an Arduino hanging off of your heels.  But hey, at least you won’t have to tie your own shoes like some 20th century peasant. No word on using these for a little theme music as you walk around but maybe that’s something from the more distant future.