Performing Magic With A Little High-Tech Help

Doing magic with cards involves a lot of precise dexterity to know which card is where. For plenty of tricks, this is often knowledge and control of a single card or a small number of cards. But knowing the exact position of every single card in the deck could certainly be helpful, so the Nettle Magic Project was created to allow magicians to easily identify the location of cards in the deck.

The system works through the use of computer vision to identify a series of marks on the short edge of a stack of cards. The marks can be printed in IR- or UV-sensitive ink to make them virtually invisible, but for demonstration these use regular black ink. Each card has landmarks printed on either side of a set of bit markers which identify the cards. A computer is able to quickly read the marks and identify each card in order while the deck is still stacked, aiding the magician in whichever trick they need to perform.

The software only runs on various Apple devices right now, including iPhones and iPads, but the software is readily available fore experimentation if you are a magician looking to try something like this out. Honestly, we don’t see too many builds focusing on magic, sleight-of-hand or otherwise, and we had to go back over a decade to find a couple of custom magical builds from a magician named [Mario].

Thanks to [Tim] for the tip!

Raspberry Pi Pico W Adds Wireless

News just in from the folks at Raspberry Pi: the newest version of their Pico has WiFi and is called, obviously, the Pico W. We were going to get our hands on a sample unit and kick its tires, but it’s stuck in customs. Boo! So until it shows up, here’s what we can glean from the press releases and documentation.

The Pico is, of course, the Raspberry Pi microcontroller dev board based on their RP2040 microcontroller. This in turn has two Cortex M0+ cores and a good chunk of onboard RAM, which has made it a popular target for MicroPython. They had some extra real estate on the PCB, so they’ve added an Infineon CYW43439 WiFi chip, and voila: Pico W.

As of now, the WiFi is supported in both the C SDK and the pre-baked MicroPython image. It looks trivially easy to get it working, and it’s based on the time-tested lwIP stack, a classic in the embedded world. The CYW43439 is also Bluetooth capable, but there’s no firmware support for that yet, but we wouldn’t be surprised if it showed up soon.

The price? $6 for the whole shooting match. You can view this two ways: a small $2 premium over the old Pico, or a price increase of 50%. How you see things probably depends on your order quantity. Either way, it’s firmly in the ESP32 module price range, so you’ve got some comparison shopping to do if your project needs a microcontroller and WiFi. And in these days of silicon shortages, it’s nice to have a couple of options.