Conways’ wall of life and whiteboard emporium

White board beats chalk board, LED marquee beats white board, and an LED white board trumps them all.

This hybrid lets you draw on the surface with dry erase markers while Conway’s game of life plays out underneath. [Bert] sent us this tip after seeing yesterday’s office marquee. This version is quite similar in appearance but the guts are very different. Inside you’ll find a Parallax SX28 microcontroller doing the heavy lifting. The display is multiplexed but they didn’t go with a common 595 shift register, but a beefier MAX6979 LED driver. We’re not too familiar with this part but it does have a lot of nice features like constant current, and automatic shutdown if serial data stalls for more than 1 second. This is a low-side driver so transistors are used to connect voltage to the rows; the opposite from the setup we looked at yesterday. This was built several years ago and is still working happily even though its permanent home is a breadboard. Source code can be found on this page.

Projector introduces augmented reality to reality

[Raj Sodhi] and [Brett Jones] have been working on interactive augmented reality as part of their research at the University of Illinois. What they have come up with is a stylus-based input system that can use physical objects to create a virtual landscape. Above you can see that an environment was built using white blocks. A camera maps a virtual world that matches the physical design. From there an infrared stylus can be used to manipulate virtual data which is projected on the blocks.

What they’ve created is a very advanced IR Whiteboard. There are buttons on the stylus, one of which opens the menu, made up of circles that you can see above. From there, you can select a tool and make it do your bidding. After the break there’s a video demonstration where a game is set up, using the menu to place tanks and mines on the 3D playing field. We wonder how hard it would be to do this using a projector and a Kinect.

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Wiimote driven motion effects

Check out the video above by [Adrien Mondot] for a extensive demonstration of eMotion being used with a Wiimote. eMotion is a physics based visual tool for the Mac. It’s designed to enhance performances by reacting to real world motion. Its grounding in physics makes the resultant motion appear more natural than if they were arbitrarily generated. The video above combines eMotion with the output of Wiimote Whiteboard, a low-cost interactive white board that uses the Wiimote camera plus IR light pens. While the video takes place in a small area, we can see how this could be scaled to a much larger space with IR lights mounted to performers.

[via CDM]

Wiimoteless IR whiteboard


[Eduard] sent in his IR webcam whiteboard project. He wanted something like the Wiimote version, but without the expense of a Wiimote. He added some film negative to the camera to reduce the amount of visible light picked up by the CCD. (He notes that you might need to pull the IR filter from your camera to get a decent signal.) The pen is the usual IR LED with a power supply. To do the actual work, he wrote a custom application in Java.

Mechanical white board


[Romado12187] just posted a walkthrough of his mechanical dry erase board project on Instructables. It was on display in the Microsoft booth last weekend at Maker Faire. Unlike [sprite_tm]’s version we covered earlier, this one is built more like a traditional pin plotter. The construction was done entirely in [Romado12187]’s dorm room and uses plywood and PVC pipes for the majority of the frame. The mechanical components were purchased from SDP/SI and the controller hardware are Phidgets. He included a joystick, but it also has a C# command line program for control. [Romado12187]’s write up also has a lot of improvements to help make your first attempt better than his; buying a premounted board and being very exact in calculating motor power are recommended. Catch a video of the plotter in action after the jump.

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Remote control whiteboard


Whenever [sprite_tm] sends in his latest project, it’s like getting a Christmas present and a night off. He put together a whiteboard, x/y stepper system, serial interfaced microcontroller and added a webcam with perspective correction for the online view. Me? I’m tempted to build one of these for leaving notes for the wife when I’m out.