Everyone loves getting something you can play with as a Christmas gift. [Thomas] was the lucky recipient of an Elektor USB weather station kit. But the fun didn’t end once he had assembled everything. He went on to hack the device for wireless data collection.
Shown above is the weather station board connected to the transmitter. The red board with a tiny antenna to the right is a Rovio RN-VX module. It is capable of transmitting serial data to its twin on the receiving end of the setup. The weather station is pretty easy to connect to the transmitter since it feeds serial data to an FTDI USB chip. [Thomas] simply connected power and ground, then added a jumper from the board’s TX pin to the Rovio’s RX pin. The receiving end uses a serial-to-USB converter — getting a signal for its RX pin from the TX pin on the Rovio receiver board.
We know from other projects that these radio modules can connect to a WiFi AP. Perhaps a future revision of [Thomas’] hack will allow the weather station to communicate with his server over the network, doing away with the need for a standalone receiver.
[Chris] was unhappy with the battery performance of his Rovio. It seems that he’s not alone, so he set out to reverse engineer the battery charging circuit to see if there was a fix. Boy is there, what he found is the diode above, apparently installed backwards when compared to the silk screen diode symbol. Now it’s entirely possible that the silk screen is wrong and this was fixed during assembly. We think that’s unlikely because if the closer of the two diodes was supposed to have the same polarity as the one next to it there should have been room to install them both in exactly the same orientation. [Chris] pulled out a soldering iron and changed the diode to match the silk screen. That fixed his problem and he’s now getting better performance than he ever has.
[From our comments section]
Even the most thorough inspection may not raise the alarm that this Rovio has been hacked to include LED headlights. [Adam Outler’s] super clean work puts the two light sources on either side of the camera for maximum effect. It may not provide as many Lumens as our external headlight hack, but we were never all that excited about the black project box that housed it. [Adam] built the circuit on a scrap of perfboard, using a transistor to connect the LED pair to the battery, with the original LED power wire going to the base in order to switch the transistor.
[Robert] at Extremetech was going to write a review of the Emotiv EEG headset but found the bundled software lacking. He decided to write something to really show off what could be done with an EEG in your home. He is now controlling his Rovio with his mind. He had already written a new control program for the Rovio, so redoing the same program with the EEG controls would give him a great comparison. If you recall from the mind controlled TV, meditating on a single thought can be cumbersome for quick controls. Instead, he used facial expression recognition. Maybe this should be called “face controlled Rovio” instead.
Before we get into the how-to, we felt it would be appropriate to explain a little bit about how this came to be. As many of you may remember, a couple of months ago we attended CES 2010. While there, we also attended the It Won’t Stay in Vegas Blogger party and ended up meeting the guys from Woot. After all of us spent a little bit of time appreciating the open bar, a group of us stood ended up standing around and talking shop for a while. All of a sudden, a member of our group, Jeremy Grosser, proposed the idea that Hackaday and Woot form a partnership. Basically, they would give us a heads up on what they are going to sell and we would write up a how-to on how to do something cool or useful with that product. Then, when the day came for Woot to sell the product, we would post our how-to. What you are reading right now just so happens to be that idea in action, the first official partnership between Hackaday and Woot. In this how-to, we’ll be taking apart the Wowwee Rovio mobile webcam robot, adding some super-bright LEDs for better see-in-the-dark action, and see how some software called RoboRealm can give it a little bit of artificial intelligence.
Continue reading “Woot How-to: Let There Be Light! (for Your Rovio)”
[Colt45] shows us some pictures of his Rovio fire extinguisher mod. Being a fan of model building, he built a new shell for the Rovio and mounted a halon distribution system to the top of it. He says he loaded some custom software for identifying and extinguishing flames, which he’ll upload eventually. We really wish we knew more, or at least had a video of it working. We’re a little bit surprised we haven’t seen more done with these things.
[Del] sent us what might be the first in an expected plethora of hacks on the Wowee Rovio. He was annoyed by the poor lighting for Rovio’s camera so he cracked it open and started hacking. He found there was just enough space for a couple LEDs in the head. The most difficult part of this was apparently running the wires for power into the main body of the rovio. He said it took him around 30 minutes just to snake the wires through the neck. The final result is best seen in the comparison pictures of rovio looking at Wall-E.