For those who love travelling around the world, life hasn’t been great for the past two years. World-wide lockdowns and travel restrictions have kept many people stuck inside their own homes when they would rather be jetting off to distant cities. If you’re one of those bothered by Wanderlust, [Alex Shakespeare] might have a solution for you: a window that shows a live image from another location around the world.
To make the experience as lifelike as possible, [Alex] used an actual window in his London home and mounted a large TV behind it. A wall-mounted map enables him to choose any of five locations by moving a little magnetic plane across the map. LEDs show the available spots, while magnetometers detect the motion of the aircraft. An ESP8266 then instructs a media server to connect to the appropriate livestream, which is subsequently displayed on the TV screen.
All of this is clever enough already, but [Alex] decided to go one step further and added a thermal sensor that detects the location of any persons standing near the display and shifts the image a little when they move. This simulates the perspective of looking out a real window, and should give the image a more life-like quality than if it were simply static.
The whole design is available on [Alex]’s GitHub page, ready to be replicated by anyone who wants to look out over some exotic location. If, instead, you want a way to reminisce about the places you’ve visited in the past, check out this cool souvenir globe. We’ve also seen a neat Google Maps based one a few years back.
We all have our own preferences when it comes to travel souvenirs — that little something that brings back the memories and feelings of a past holiday every time we look at it, whether it’s the cliché fridge magnet, some local speciality, or just the collection of photos we took. But then there are those journeys that can’t be summarized into a single item and may require a bit more creativity. For [Jonathan], it was last year’s trip around the world that took him and [Maria] to locations all over Europe, Asia, and Oceania, and he found a great way to remember it: an interactive, laser-cut travel globe displaying all the places they went to.
Building a sphere is of course a bit tricky with a laser cutter, so [Jonathan] went for the icosahedron shaped Dymaxion map projection (think of a large d20 dice) and burnt the world onto it. Inside the globe is an ESP8266, an MPU-6050 IMU, and a bunch of LEDs to light up the travel locations using the WLED library. Taking the data from the IMU, he customized the WLED library to determine which way the globe is positioned, and highlights the top-facing location in a different color.
This is a great way to reminisce about a memorable journey even years down the road, and while it may not be flexible to extend, it seems like the kind of trip that deserves a standalone device anyway. Plus, the Dymaxion map is definitely an interesting projection — so here’a a foldable one, just because. And If you like tracking things on a globe, here’s one that shows the location of the ISS.
Purposely choosing obsoleted technology combines all the joy of simpler times with the comfort of knowing you’re not actually stuck with outdated (and oftentimes inferior) technology. The rotary phone is a great example here, and while rarely anyone would want to go back to the lenghty, error-prone way of dialing a number on it on an everyday basis, it can definitely add a certain charm to a project. [Caroline Buttet] thought so as well, and turned her grandma’s old rotary phone into a time-traveling, globe-trotting web radio.
The main idea is fairly simple: a Raspberry Pi connects via browser to a web radio site that plays music throughout the decades from places all over the world. [Caroline]’s implementation has a few nice twists added though. First of all, the phone of course, which doesn’t only house the Raspberry Pi, but serves both as actual listening device via handset speaker, and as input device to select the decade with the rotary dial. For a headless setup, she wrote a Chromium extension that maps key events to virtual clicks on the corresponding DOM element of the web site — like the ones that change the decade — and a Python script that turns the rotary dial pulses into those key events.
However, the phone is only half the story here, and the country selection is just as fascinating — which involves an actual world map. An audio connector is attached to each selectable country and connected to an Arduino. If the matching jack is plugged into it, the Arduino informs the Raspberry Pi via serial line about the new selection, and the same Chromium extension then triggers the country change in the underlying web site. You can check all the code in the project’s GitHub repository, and watch a demo and brief explanation in the videos after the break.
Sure, listening radio through a telephone may not be the most convenient way — unless it’s the appropriate genre — but that clearly wasn’t the goal here anyway. It’s definitely an interesting concept, and we could easily see it transferred to some travel- or spy-themed escape room setting. And speaking of spying, if [Caroline]’s name sounds familiar to you, you may remember her virtual peephole from a few months back.
Maps can be a great way to get a message across when the data you’re dealing with affects people on a country’s population scale. [jwolin] works for a non-profit organization, and wanted a way to help people visualize the extent of their operations and the causes they deal with. To do that, he created a nifty smart map wall display.
The display consists of a world map cut out of MDF, and affixed to a brick wall. There’s also two 4K Samsung monitors included as part of the system. The top monitor displays headings to contextualise the data, while the bottom screen displays related full motion video. A series of DMX-controlled lights then shine on the world map in various configurations to highlight the area of interest.
The system requires delicate coordination to operate cleanly and smoothly. There are three Windows 10 computers in the system, one for each monitor and another for the world map. An AutoHotkey script runs on the first computer, which selects a random video, and then sends out a command over serial to an Arduino Nano. This Arduino nano then communicates with two others, which make sure the second screen and DMX lighting rig then play the correct matching sequences, in time with the main video. Special care is taken to ensure that transitions are as smooth as possible, with no gaps in between each sequence. The entire installation is simple to update just by uploading additional content to a Dropbox folder, a crucial touch to future proof the project.