FPV drones with an Oculus Rift

FPV

It was only a matter of time, and now someone’s finally done it. The Oculus Rift is now being used for first person view aerial photography. It’s the closest you’ll get to being in a pilot’s seat while still standing on the ground.

[Torkel] is the CEO of Intuitive Aerial, makers of the huge Black Armor Drone, a hexacopter designed for aerial photography. With the Rift FPV rig, the drone carries a huge payload into the air consisting of two cameras, a laptop and a whole host of batteries. The video from the pair of cameras is encoded on the laptop, sent to the base station via WiFi, and displayed on the Oculus Rift.

Latency times are on the order of about 120 ms, fairly long, but still very usable for FPV flight. [Torkel] and his team are working on a new iteration of the hardware, where they hope to reduce the payload mass, increase the range of transmission, and upgrade the cameras and lenses.

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3D Printing sensor mounts for the Oculus Rift

While browsing an oculus rift thread on reddit, I saw someone mention how nice it would be to have some actual mounts for external sensors on their Rift. The idea is that adding additional sensors or cameras will allow us to expand the capabilities of the rift. With something like the Razor Hydra, you can add quick positional tracking (the rift only tracks rotation, not position). With some webcams, you could theoretically do some stereoscopic augmented reality.  Unfortunately, attaching all these things to the rift is a bit of a pain at the moment.

I had all the things right here in front of me to make this happen, so I did! I’ve quickly tossed together two accessories for the Rift.

1. a small bracket that feeds onto the velcro on the back. People will likely use this for “heavy” position sensors. They may be fairly light, but any additional weight on the front of the rift is unwanted.

2. A snap-on face plate that has a modular design. This wold be for mounting cameras on the front of the rift.

All of these files can be downloaded here.

Hacking the Oculus Rift: the Oculight

Our Oculus Rift finally arrived in the mail. I’ll spare you my thoughts on the item itself other than to say it is amazing. There are tons of videos to choose from that show people’s thoughts and reactions, and Ifixit has their usual detailed teardown as well.

The mod I decided to tackle first was the horizontal peripheral vision lights. The shape of the Oculus means that it feels like you are wearing a skii mask, or diving mask. There are big black borders at the far edges of the sides. It would seem that a simple mod would be to add some RGB LEDs and run a simple ambilight clone.

I downloaded the Adalight code and plugged in an RGB LED strip I had sitting around. The rift has some mesh areas at the 4 corners to allow air to move around in there. I took advantage of this so I didn’t even have to cut into the rift… yet. I simply strapped the strip to the rift with the proper LEDs shining through the holes.

The result was decent. Since the LEDs are further back in your peripheral vision than the edge of the screen, it looks like maybe a little light from the surroundings is just “leaking” into the headset. It gives the impression of seeing things that are far beyond the edge of the screen.  A better installation, allowing lights all the way up the left and right sides instead of just the corners might yield even better results.

Powering the Oculus Rift with USB

rift

Oculus Rift dev kits are starting to make their way onto the workbenches of makers around the globe. Some are even going so far as to tear open the hardware and see how they can improve it. [Mike] didn’t like the fact the Oculus Rift needed a wall wart power supply, so he modded it so it can be powered over a USB port.

The key insight for this mod comes after [Mike] put a Kill-a-Watt between his outlet and the Rift’s power adapter. He found only 600 mA of current was being used by the Rift, assuming 100% efficiency in the adapter. A USB port is supposed to provide 500 mA of current, so with a soldering gun, [Mike] bridged the DC input jack and the USB port on the Rift. Perhaps unsurprisingly, everything worked perfectly.

In case you’ve forgotten, Hackaday is getting one of these Oculus Rift dev kits. We’ll post a teardown when [Caleb] learns to share. You can check out a video of [Mike]‘s modded Rift and some dolla dolla billz after the break.

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DIY oculus rift VR

For those that absolultely can’t wait to get to experience the Oculus Rift, you can follow these plans to build your own.

MTBS3D forum user [Rfurlan] pledged in the oculus rift kickstarter (which concluded last night), but simply couldn’t wait till November/December to get his developer kit. That, and he’s probably only getting one, and who can live with only one? Since [Palmer], the creator of the oculus rift has been very open about parts, [Rfurlan] was able to compile build instructions for your very own Oculus Rift! Keep in mind though, this is only the immersive display, not the tracking component. It is also, possibly not exactly the same as the oculus, but rather the same as a recent prototype.

At one point he was having issues finding the correct lenses and [Palmer] jumped in to make some suggestions to keep things going. That’s the kind of enthusiasm that we love to see from an innovator, even when he’s in the middle of a kickstarted for the very item that [Rfurlan] is creating. This is a testament to the VR community.

Lets take a look at what makes this thing tick, and why it is such a big deal.

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The Simulacrum, an innovative solution to walking in Virtual Reality

If you’ve been following along with immersive gaming, even casually, you’ve probably considered the difficulty in trying to do a comfortable and believable “walk” in a game. The first thing that usually pops into peoples minds are Omni Directional Treadmills, or ODTs. There are many problems with these, one of the biggest simply being cost. They’re very expensive.

[Zalo] at the MTBS3d forums has been working on his own very cost effective solution called the “Simulacrum”. He has built this for under $100 and it allows for a walking motion to be translated into the game. As you can see in the video below it works fairly well, even when one is out of commission for repairs (hence the limp).

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We’re getting an Oculus Rift Dev Kit

Before you get jealous of the massive amount of sway that hackaday must’ve tossed at these guys to get a dev kit, don’t be. We just funded the kickstarter like everyone else. This is exciting news though since, as you probably know, I’m very fond of immersive gaming and have always craved a strong VR rig.

We are expecting our dev kit some time in December. I have no idea exactly what we’ll do with it. Right now [John Carmak] has made the iD engine work with it and it ships with Doom3. They’ve stated that it will work with the Unreal engine as well. Even though I saw [Gabe Newell] from valve in the video, I don’t see any source engine compatibility in the list. I really would love to see that one added, especially since Valve released the source film maker for free.

So, who has ideas about what to do with this? I’d like to build a telepresence rig with stereo vision, possibly mounted on a radio controlled car chassis.