Star Wars Training Droid Uses The Force

Star Wars Training Droid

We all know the scene, Obi-Wan Kenobi gives Luke a helmet with the blast shield down. He tells Luke “Your eyes can deceive you. Don’t trust them. Stretch out with your feelings!” Easy for Obi-Wan to say – he doesn’t have a remote training droid flying around and shooting at him. [Roeland] and his team are working to create a real-life version of the training droid for Hackday’s Sci-Fi contest.

The training droid in Star Wars may not have had the Force on its side, but it was pretty darn agile in the air. To replicate this, the team started with a standard Walkera Ladybird micro quadcopter. It would have been simple to have a human controlling the drone-turned-droid, but [Roeland and co] wanted a fully computer controlled system. The Ladybird can carry a small payload, but it just doesn’t have the power to lift a computer and sensor suite. The team took a note from the GRASP Lab and used an external computer with a camera to control their droid.

Rather than the expensive motion capture system used by the big labs, the team used a pair of Wii Remote controllers for stereo vision. A small IR LED mounted atop the droid made it visible to the Wii Remotes’ cameras. A laptop was employed to calculate the current position of the droid. With the current and desired positions known, the laptop calculated and sent commands to an Arduino, which then translated them for the droid’s controller.

Nice work guys! Now you just have to add the blaster emitters to it!

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Inconspicuous guitar hack adds a lot of control to Max/MSP

[Sam] is working on his Interactive Technology Degree and he made some alterations to this guitar as a class project. It doesn’t look much different, but closer inspection will reveal a handful of extra buttons, and a camera module. He actually added a Wii remote to the guitar which is used to control Max/MSP.

His pinky is pointing at one of the buttons. That one is red and triggers the Bluetooth sync function for the Wii remote. The other four buttons are wired to the up, down, A, and B buttons. In the video after the break [Sam] talks about the Max/MSP front-end which is used to connect the remote to the computer. Once communications are established the accelerometer sensor data is continuously streamed to the software, and the other four buttons are used for controlling the patches.

The camera module that is mounted in the guitar can be used to stream video but it appears to have no effect on the sound. In fact, the live video feed can be mixed with a waveform generation. Sound characteristics like volume affect the cross-fade between the two video signals. [Sam] talks about this feature, but when the playing demo starts about 6:10 into the clip we don’t seen any of the live video on the projection screen.

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Wii remote controling the vehicle you’re riding in

Make sure your health insurance premiums are all paid up; if you decide to replicate this project you may need it. [Corey], [Kris], and [Jess] built their own go cart which is controlled with a Wii remote. The website has a poor navigation scheme, but if you hover over the horizontal menu bar you can get quite a bit of information about the build.

The cart has two motors which use a chain to drive each of the rear wheels. A pair of H-bridge controllers let the Arduino interface with them. It’s also has a Bluetooth module that makes it a snap to pull accelerometer data from the Wii remote. The front end looks like it uses rack and pinion steering, but you won’t find a pinion or a steering column. Instead, a linear actuator is mounted parallel to the rack, moving it back and forth at the command of the Arduino.

We can’t help but think back to silent movies where the steering wheel comes loose in the middle of a car chase. See if you get the same image while watching the demo after the break. This doesn’t seem quite as dangerous as adding remote control to a full-sized automobile, but we’ve played MarioKart Wii before and know how lousy the accelerator performance can be. Hopefully the firmware kills the motors if the batteries in the controller die.

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Walking motion analysis using Wii remotes

WiiGait is not a political scandal, it’s a project that records motion data while walking. [Bilal Chishti] and [Zassa Kavuma] are strapping a Wii remote onto each leg and recording the sensor data while making video of the walker at the same time. The two are using an Ubuntu box to pull the sensor data from the Bluetooth-enabled devices and utilizing its built-in webcam for the video. They graph the data for each axis and we’re sure that syncing up data anomalies with the video is just a matter of matching timestamps.

So what good is this? The creators are keeping us in the dark about an end-goal for collected data; this may just be for the experience of using the hardware. But we could see it having uses in making distance runners more efficient, or teaching that bipedal robot how to balance.

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Wiimote controlled Ruben’s tube

While we could be content following our “kiddie d-day” as [Caleb Kraft] suggested. We know you can’t continue such an awesome Friday without trying to blow yourself up first.

This Wiimote Rubens’ tube caught our eye. A PVC Aluminum irrigation pipe is drilled with holes and propane is pumped through. A speaker on one end creates changes in pressure and a neat light show follows suit. [ScaryBunnyMan] went further though, with a collection of software and a Wii Remote he “plays god” controlling the music, and thus, the fire. Check out a fun video after the split.

[Via Make]

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Flight simulator but you’re the plane

[Rafael Mizrahi] built a flight simulator that lets him fly like Ironman. As you can see in the video after the break, the hardware involves an automotive crane, hang gliding harness, plus the wings and tail from a UAV. A giant fan pointed at the wearer allows him to use the wings and tail to maneuver while the Wii remote strapped to his chest tracks the movement and feeds it to Google Earth Flight Simulator which is seen through the head-mounted display. We’re used to seeing intense flight simulators but this is something completely different.

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Embedding an accelerometer and XBee in a guitar

[JP Carrascal] hacked his guitar by adding motion control while removing the need for wires. He’s using a dual-Arduino system with an Mini Pro inside the guitar and a Duemilanova for the receiver connected to a computer. Wireless is provided by the XBee module seen above and a gutted Wii remote accelerometer is in there for motion sensing. Check out the artfully blurry demonstration of the motion effects after the break.

While he added some potentiometer-based controls there is also an automatic power-down feature. [JP] replaced the mono pickup with a stereo one and used the extra conductor as a switch to activate the additional electronics. We wonder if he also winds his own pickups or builds his own effects pedals.

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