Quantifying Cloudiness with OpenCV

What Can I see From the Shard?

The Shard is the tallest building in Western Europe, and has a great view of London.  The condos in the building are very expensive, and a tourist ride to the top of the building costs £24.95.

Since the value of the view is so high, [Willem] wanted to quantify the quality of the view at any given time. His solution is the Shard Rain Cam. This device combines a Logitech webcam with a Raspberry Pi to capture a time-lapse set of images. These images are fed to a Python script using OpenCV which quantifies the cloudiness.

[Willem] also had to build a weatherproof enclosure with a transparent window for the camera and RPi. ‘Clingfilm’, which is British for saran wrap, and mineral oil is used to improve the waterproofing of an IP54 rated enclosure.

The resulting data is displayed on www.whatcaniseefromtheshard.com, which provides an indication of whether or not the view is worth £24.95. All of the Python code is available, and is a good starting point for learning about image processing with OpenCV.

DIY book scanner processes 600 pages/hour

Like any learned individual, [Justin] has a whole mess of books. Not being tied to the dead-tree format of bound paper, and with e-readers popping up everywhere, he decided to build a low-cost book scanner so an entire library can be carried in a his pocket. If that’s not enough, there’s also a complementary book image processor to assemble the individual pictures into a paginated tome.

The build is pretty simple – just a little bit of black craft board for the camera mount and adjustable book cradle. [Justin] ended up using the CHDK software for the Cannon PowerShot camera to hack in a remote trigger. The scanner can manage to photograph 600 pages an hour, although that would massively increase if he ever moves up to a 2-camera setup.

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LEGO Mindstorms Sudoku Solver

Swedish hacker [Hans Andersson] is no stranger to puzzle-solving robots. His prior work, A Rubik’s cube-solving robot called Tilted Twister, made waves through the internet last year. [Hans’] latest project only has to work in two dimensions, but is no less clever. This new robot, built around the LEGO Mindstorms NXT system, “reads” a printed sudoku page, solves the puzzle, then fills out the solution right on the same page, confidently and in ink. It’s a well-rounded project that brings together an unexpected image scanner, image processing algorithms, and precise motor control, all using standard NXT elements.

The building instructions have not yet been posted, but if the video above and the directions for his prior ’bot are any indication, then we’re in for a treat; he simply has a knack for explaining things concisely and with visual clarity. The source code and the detailed PDF diagrams for Tilted Twister are as gorgeous as his new robot’s penmanship.

[thanks Eric]

Automated Paintball Sentry

Reader, [Ben Godding], sends in the video for his senior design team’s automated paintball sentry. The frame is made of plasma cut aluminum. The paintball gun uses a custom hopper mounted remotely from the gun body. It has two webcams offering a 160 degree field of vision, and the image processing is done by a dual core pentium CPU booting windows xp off a compact flash card. The computer interfaces with the 1/4scale RC servos using a PIC24. The paintball sentry can either be configured via a computer GUI when a monitor is available or a baclkit keypad and 4×20 charachter display in the field.

Related: [Jared Bouck]’s paintball gun turret