Open Source Pizza Compass Will Show You The Way

In Pirates of the Caribbean, Captain Jack Sparrow has an enchanted compass that points to what the holder wants most in life. The Pizza Compass created by [Joe Grand] is basically the same thing, except it’s powered by a Particle Boron instead of a voodoo spell. Though depending on who’s holding the thing, we imagine they’d even point in the same direction.

[Joe] was tasked by Wired to design and produce the Pizza Compass in three weeks, a process which was documented in the video below. Being the Badgelife luminary that he is, the final product looks far more attractive than it has any business being. In addition to the Particle Boron that slots in on the back of the handheld PCB, there’s a GlobalTop PA6H GPS module, a LSM303DLHC compass, and eight NeoPixels that correspond to the points on the silkscreen compass.

From prototype to final product.

Using the device is simple, just press the button and then walk around trying to keep the top-most LED lit. Behind the scenes, the Boron is pulling down the coordinates of the closest pizza place as reported by Google’s API, and comparing that to the user’s current GPS location. In practice that means the Pizza Compass isn’t concerned with nuances like streets or buildings, so its up to the user to figure out how best to stay on the desired heading. So rather than just following some turn-by-turn directions, there’s some proper navigation involved if you want that fresh slice.

If you don’t like pizza, you could reprogram the compass to point to whatever quest-worthy resource you wish. As explained at the end of the video, [Joe] wanted this to be an open source project so it could easily be adapted for different tasks by the community. Though honestly, it’s pretty weird if you don’t like pizza.

We’ve actually covered a very similar device in the past that would point the user to the closest White Castle or Five Guys, but with all due respect to that project, the Pizza Compass is in another league. When you’ve got the talent and experience of [Joe Grand] on the team, even the most mundane of gadgets ends up looking like a piece of art.

18 thoughts on “Open Source Pizza Compass Will Show You The Way

  1. Ah, but does it compensate for magnetic deviation?[1] “The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) provides source code written in C that is based on the World Magnetic Model (WMM)[2]. The source code is free to download and includes a data file updated every five years to account for movement of the magnetic north pole.”[3]

    * References:

    1. Magnetic declination

    2. World Magnetic Model

    3. Magnetic declination, Software

  2. Why does need to be in the middle between the Google Maps API? The cellular modem gives you a TCP/IP connection and DNS resolution, so you don’t need anything else. I don’t know about this Particle Boron hardware which is just an ARM Cortex M4 plus a u-blox cell modem module. Maybe there is some sort of lock-in between the Particle hardware and their Cloud Service? If yes, a better solution IMO is an ESP32 with the u-blox cell modem module. Just remember to turn off the ESP32 WiFi/BLE radios to reduce power consumption when on battery, unless you want to do an OTA update that is.

    1. Particle doesn’t need to be in the middle. But. If you go by tcp ip directly you’ll use up data faster than their particle transaction limit of 100k io to particle a month vs generic data requests that would go through the data limits instead for the free plan. Also you have some nice event monitoring in the particle app/website ui. Definitely a tradeoff and likely wanted convenience for the short project. Running a particle.function call vs setting up another library to use etc. Just my assumptions here.

      1. @Eric: Well put reply. But in the end I’m still wondering if there’s a lock-in between the Particle hardware/firmware and the Cloud infrastructure, which I still consider superfluous in this case.

  3. The trick is not finding pizza but finding GOOD pizza! What would be neat is if you could have somebody else upload a location with a “prize” in it and you have to find it, kinda like geocaching.

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