Randonauting is the pastime of using random numbers to generate a destination to visit, in the pursuit of adventure. Of course, anything that can be done on a website with a script is even cooler with custom hardware, so [Decker] built a rig for the job.
The device uses a USB hardware random number generator to produce truly random numbers through quantum effects; at least, according to our best theories of the universe. These numbers are then used to pick a random set of GPS coordinates and a time in which to be there, a fun twist on traditional Randonauting of [Decker]’s own creation.
At its heart, it’s a random number generator pumped through some Python scripts. Where this build elevates itself is not in the mechanics, but the presentation. The rig runs on a Raspberry Pi, inside a bell jar, with a vacuum fluorsecent display, fairy lights and plumbing components. It plays on the cyberpunk aesthetic, and it’s so much harder to ignore one’s mission when the time and place are given in glowing numerals by an enigmatic, mysterious machine.
Basic geocaching consists of following GPS coordinates to a location, then finding a container which is concealed somewhere nearby. Like any activity, people tend to add their own twists to keep things interesting. [Jangeox] recently posted a video of the OLED Snail 2.0 to show off his most recent work. (This is a refinement of an earlier version, which he describes in a blog post.)
[Jangeox] spices up geocaching by creating electronic waypoints, and the OLED Snail is one of these. Instead of GPS coordinates sending someone directly to a goal, a person instead finds a waypoint that reveals another set of coordinates and these waypoints are followed like a trail of breadcrumbs.
A typical waypoint is an ATTINY85 microcontroller programmed to display an animated message on the OLED, and the message reveals the coordinates to the next waypoint. The waypoint is always cleverly hidden, and in the case of the OLED Snail 2.0 the enclosure is the shell of a large snail containing the electronics encased in resin. This means that the devices have a finite lifespan — the battery sealed inside is all the power the device gets. Fortunately, with the help of a tilt switch the electronics can remain dormant until someone picks it up to start the show. Other waypoints have included a fake plant, and the fake bolt shown here. Video of the OLED Snail 2.0 is embedded below.
For those who love to hike, no excuse is needed to hit the woods. Other folks, though, need a little coaxing to get into the great outdoors, which is where geocaching comes in: hide something in the woods, post clues to its location online, and they will come. The puzzle is the attraction, and doubly so for this geocache with an Arduino-powered game of Hangman that needs to be solved before the cache is unlocked.
The actual contents of a geocache are rarely the point — after all, it’s the journey, not the destination. But [cliptwings]’ destination is likely to be a real crowd pleaser. Like many geocaches, this one is built into a waterproof plastic ammo can. Inside the can is another door that can only be unlocked by correctly solving a classic game of Hangman. The game itself may look familiar to long-time Hackaday readers, since we featured it back in 2009. Correctly solving the puzzle opens the inner chamber to reveal the geocaching goodness within.
Cleverly, [cliptwings] mounted the volt battery for the Arduino on top of the inner door so that cachers can replace a dead battery and play the game; strangely, the cache entry on Geocaching.com (registration required) does not instruct players to bring a battery along.
With the iPhone finally getting legitimate GPS we’re bound to see more widespread use of location based apps. Services like Dodgeball, Brightkite, and a few Twitter clients have been around, but failed to tightly integrate with the hosting phone. Now we’re seeing applications that reach beyond just “finding your friends”. [Merlin Mann] directed us to the version of OmniFocus for the iPhone. OmniFocus is a task management system that’s now location aware thanks to the iPhone. This means it knows to show you your grocery list while you’re at the store and work tasks while you’re at work. Passive interaction could really make similar systems a lot more enjoyable to use.
We think this is just the tip of the iceberg. Imagine alternate reality gaming that gives you a virtual map while you navigate the real world. Geocaching, road rallies, and scavenger hunts could have a running narrative displayed as you progressed. Using technologies like GeoRSS will let us pull data back into the real world making that rare trip outside a lot less painful.