Talking joystick mouse

Instructibles user [Shadowwynd] shows us a great way to build a joystick/mouse device for people with special accessibility needs. When faced with a case that involved a man with very limited mobility as well as a limited budget, [shadowwynd] set out to find a cost effective solution to computer navigation. They found that his client could use a commercial joystick mouse, but the cost was quite high at over $400. So instead of just purchasing that, they bought a USB game pad and built their own version. They managed to reduce the cost to roughly $45.  While extending the buttons and joystick from a gamepad might not be groundbreaking, we feel that this project is the epitome of hacking. Great job [Shadowwynd] keep up the good work.

Replace an N64’s worn out joystick

As gaming consoles age the controllers will inevitably show some wear, and sadly may give out all together. [Kyle] couldn’t bear to watch his Nintendo 64 controller bite the dust so he replaced the thumb stick with one from a PlayStation. This is a bigger job than you might imagine because the two parts are fundamentally different. The original N64 stick uses a rotary encoder to output data to the control chip, while the PlayStation stick is an analog device. [Kyle’s] solution was to read the analog values using a PIC, but lower in the thread you can read about another user who pulled off a similar hack using an AVR. Both convert the signals into the rotary encoder format that the N64 chip is listening for. From the looks of the clip embedded after the break, this couldn’t work any better!

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iPhone tilt motion controller

Here’s a mounting system that adds mechanical tilt control to the iPhone. It uses two servo motors to rotate along the X and Y axes. An analog joystick is used along with an Arduino to control the movement of the apparatus. As you can see in the video after the break, this works quite well when playing accelerometer-based games. But adding a joystick isn’t the end-goal of the project. [Shane] plans to point a camera at the iPhone and use image recognition to play games automatically. That sounds like a big bite the chew but we’ve seen this work with Guitar Hero so we’re optimistic.

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More bike-controlled Google-travelling

This is becoming such a popular hack we figure someone needs to come up with a name for it like Google-travelling or Google-cising (exercising with Google). It’s a bike controller for Google Earth. [Braingram] broke out his road bike, setting it up in the trainer in front of his laptop. If you already have a computer with a cadence sensor this will be a snap. These measure the crank rotation using a magnet and reed switch. So as not screw up his summer biking [Braingram] spliced into the sensor while leaving it attached to the bike computer. From there it is read by an Arduino which also monitors an analog joystick attached to the handlebars. A little bit of Python scripting and you’ll be ready to go.

Be sure to check out some of the other variants like using an exercise bike, or adding a wearable display.

Interface up to 12 servos using Arduino

[Brian] is using an Arduino to control multiple servo motors. This is nothing new and has been happening since the earliest days of Arduino. But rather than develop a project and share it, [Brian] did a fantastic job of making the code scalable, readable, and even explained how the different parts work.

His code listens for serial commands and manipulates the motors accordingly. He wrote a Python script using pyserial which talks to the Arduino. As an example, he uses a joystick to send data for X and Y axes as well as pitch and roll. Want to know how those serial communications work? He explains that in detail. He also outlines the process of scaling up from the 4 servo demo to 12 servos on a standard Arduino. Sounds like it might be time to build your own version of a mouse-controlled Lynxmotion arm using the tools [Brian] has put together.

Arduino + Java + Joystick

Interfacing your own hardware with a Java app couldn’t be easier than this example. [Pn] created this proof-of-concept using an Arduino, an analog joystick from a gaming controller, and a few lines of Java code. The Arduino reads an ADC value from the joystick’s x-axis and transmits it over the serial connection ten times a second. The Java program triggers on every serial event, parsing the data based on the @ symbol that the Arduino sends as a start and end condition.

We like this kind of example because there’s nothing extra involved. It lets you take the concept and run with it in any project imaginable. Be it a more complicated Joystick, or simple sensors that you’d like to interface with.

Robotic mobility for the little ones

Researchers at the University of Delaware are helping disabled kids by designing robot transportation for them. Exploring one’s environment is an important part of early development. Disabilities that limit mobility can prevent young children from experiencing this. Typically children are not offered a powered wheelchair until they are five or six years old, but adding intelligent technologies, like those found in the UD1, makes this possible at a much younger age. Proximity sensors all around the drive unit of the robot add obstacle avoidance and ensure safety when used around other children. When confronted with an obstacle the UD1 will stop, or navigate around it. The unit is controlled by a joystick in front of the rider but it can also be overridden remotely by a teacher, parent, or caregiver.

[via Robot Gossip]