Augmented Reality Pinball

Pinball machines are fascinating pieces of mechanical and electrical engineering, and now [Yair Moshe] and his students at the Israel Institute of Technology has taken the classic game one step further.  Using computer vision and a projector, this group of engineers has created an augmented reality pinball game that takes pinball to a whole new level.

Once the laptop, webcam, and projector are set up, a course is drawn on a whiteboard which the computer “sees” to determine the rules of the game. Any course you can imagine can be drawn on the whiteboard too, with an interesting set of rules that no regular pinball game could take advantage of. Most notably, the ball can change size when it hits certain types of objects, which makes for a very interesting and unconventional style of play.

The player uses their hands to control the flippers as well, but not with buttons. The computer watches the position of the player’s hands and flips the flippers when it sees a hand in the right position. [Yair] and his students recently showed this project off at DLD Tel Aviv and even got [Shimon Perez], former President of Israel, to play some pinball at the conference!

Flocking behavior using Mindstorm robots

flock-behavior-with-mindstorm

Do you ever wonder why geese always fly together in a V-shape? We’re not asking about the fact that it makes the work load much less for all but the lead goose. We mean how is it that all geese know to form up like this? It’s is the act of flocking, and it’s long been a subject of fascination when it comes to robotics. [Scott Snowden] researched the topic while working on his degree a few years ago. Above you can see the demonstration of the behavior using LEGO Mindstorm robots. That’s certainly interesting and you’ll want to check out the video after the break. But his offering doesn’t end with the demo. He also posted a huge article about his work that will provide days of fascinating reading.

We can’t begin to scratch the surface of all that he covers, but we can give you a quick primer on his Mindstorm (NXT) setup. He uses these three bots along with a central brick (the computer part of the NXT hardware) which communicates with them. This lets him use a wide range of powerful tools like MatLab and Processing to recognize each robot with a top-down camera, passing it data based on info harvested with computer vision. From there it’s a wild ride of modeling the behavior as a set of algorithms.

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MIDI Swiss Army Knife built from an MSP430

Hot off the heels of his web server for the TI MSP430, [Rob] shared a MIDI booster pack for the MSP430 LaunchPad, an exceedingly inexpensive and ever more capable microcontroller that is getting somewhat of a cult following.

[Rob]’s MIDI booster pack contains a MIDI in and out port as well as just about whatever MIDI manipulation apps his mind can dream up. So far, [Rob] has a MIDI arpeggiator, a harmonizer, an echo, filter, s MIDI monitor that displays incoming messages on a Nokia LCD, and a controller that interfaces with a light sensor or joystick to manipulate MIDI variables.

Back in the 80s (and 90s, and even into the aughts), a dedicated MIDI arp or harmonizer was a crazy expensive piece of kit, especially considering how simple the device is. Those dedicated rackmount boxes can now be replaced with a TI LaunchPad and [Rob]’s booster pack.

You can check out the arp and harmonizer in action after the break.

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CV Sequencer with a TV out

[gijs] sent in the control voltage sequencer he’s been working on that uses the TVout Arduino library to provide a graphical interface.

The sequencer doesn’t produce any sound on its own. Instead, it outputs a Control Voltage so other synths can be sequenced with [gijs]’ TVSCV. Before MIDI came around, CV was the standard to connect synthesizers and drum machines together. Even today, a lot of boutique synths have at least one jack for CV. [gijs]’ build is really interesting because of the user interface – the TVout Arduino library was used in conjunction with a tiny CRT to change values, timing and speed of the CV output. The TVSCV is able to sequence two different channels of CV at 10 bit resolution with 16 steps per bank.

From the video after the break, the TVSCV sounds like it can produce what would be the trippiest soundtrack ever conceived for an Atari or NES game. It’s a great bit of kit, especially when connected to an Atari punk console or a TR-808 and a glitch delay.

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