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Engineering...Beyond the Classroom

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Wii Shall Overcome (Wii Whiteboard - Part 7)

Posted October 02, 2008 6:00 AM by ShakespeareTheEngineer

I needed to get a fresh set of eyes on board to see if there was something I was missing from an electronics standpoint, in completing this project. If I had the time to wait for something other than a Do-It-Yourself IR LED device, I would have been more confident.

Workbench Creations to the Rescue

I asked CR4 Blogger Frankd20, owner of the Workbench Creations Blog to help me troubleshoot. He is an avid DIYer (maybe even addicted), so I knew he could look at my wiring and let me know if that was the real problem.

We moved the Wiimote around, experimenting with its position and managed to get calibration efficiency (CE) up to 32% (and then 28% after I got excited and moved the screen, throwing off the original CE). After he turned his keen eye at it and checked Johnny Lee's video, the answer was clear – my LED design was the culprit.

The bracket holding the bulb and the square front of the box blocked too much IR light to get a higher CE. He suggested creating a pen by finding an LED flashlight at Wal-Mart and switching the bulb with the IR bulb I already had. It would increase the visibility of the bulb and fix calibration issues.

Left to My Own Devices

With 48 hours left until the deadline, I picked up an Energizer LED Penlight from Auto Parts America. The idea was to just swap out bulbs and see what happened. It was an easy process. Take the pen apart, switch the light bulb with the IR LED from the other device (which took just a little soldering), and put it back together.

Being that I didn't have time to make a mistake, Frankd20 took care of business. Again, the major problem was that we couldn't tell when the IR LED was on – so we didn't know if it worked. Noting that most cameras can see IR light, I suggested we use the digital camera in my cell phone to look, and it indeed worked.

A Smooth Move – Or Move to Smooth

This was it. We fired up the IR LED and tried it out. Calibration efficiencey (CE) jumped to an all-time high of 40%. It was still choppy to use and didn't track well, so I decided to install some updated software by programmer Boon Jin that I had found in my search on the internet. His program, Wiimote Smoothboard 0.4.6 BETA, is much more advanced than Lee's original program and is only his test run before he releases. After some fiddling with the angle of the Wiimote, I was able to break the 4-minute mile equivalent of Wiimoting: I had broken the 50% plane with a 55% CE! I was able to underline and circle items on PowerPoint, legibly write a co-worker's name on Paint, and even advance PowerPoint slides just by clicking the on/off button. There was some delay in terms of tracking, and Frankd20 suggested that might be from too narrow of a beam of light coming from the IR LED. He recommended scuffing the exposed bulb with fine sandpaper. We also kicked around the idea that since I was still working just with the laptop and not the projector yet, the bigger screen might make tracking more stable.

The Verdict – Building It:

This was not hard to build. The most difficult part was the IR LED pen, which I only had to build on my own (rather than ordering it) because of a deadline. The online forums were helpful and the programs were easy to use. This is something that I could definitely replicate for about $75 (USD). I would recommend that anyone who is even mildly computer inclined to give it a shot. The wealth of online support provides enough information to get you through it, and I learned a lot in the process.

Check back one more time after I give this a go with a projector in the classroom. I'll weigh in on whether or not it provided enough of an added benefit to validate buying the parts, and building one on your own.

Next (and Final) Wiimote Whiteboard Blog: The Classroom Applicability/ Practicality Verdict

Resources:

http://www.boonjin.com/wp/2008/08/14/wiimote-smoothboard-045-beta
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5s5EvhHy7eQ

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#1

Re: Wii Shall Overcome (Wii Whiteboard - Part 7)

10/02/2008 9:20 AM

Was your IR LED carefully chosen? Since IR LEDs come in different 'colors' (wavelengths) I would consider matching it as best you can to the peak of the spectral response of the sensor. Better matching will allow higher power/longer battery life.

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#2

Re: Wii Shall Overcome (Wii Whiteboard - Part 7)

10/02/2008 9:36 AM

Ha ha on me!

I read Part 6 and was writing a reply when I noticed there was a Part 7 already. I stopped my typing to check and found that you'd already come up with a better IR pen. I was going to suggest a relatively fat marker pen in place of your IR LED box but you and frankd20 came up with a better alternative. Super!

Just one comment. I noticed you were using an IR LED with a concentrator. Might an LED without a concentrator work better? I don't know, but it's worth a try I guess.

I got to thinking. I'm not sure if it'll work and I don't know enough to know but, would the Wiimote be able to detect a laser's light? I mean, if you use a laser pointer on the projection, would it function as well as an IR LED?

This far into your blog, I'm convinced that this would be relatively easy to do. I'll give it a go (albeit without my own LCD projector, I'll have to borrow for now). Most expensive purchase for me would be a Wiimote.

Thanks and regards,

Vulcan

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#3
In reply to #2

Re: Wii Shall Overcome (Wii Whiteboard - Part 7)

10/04/2008 10:11 AM

Great point about the concentrator. I guess I'll have to play around with it and see. I also wanted to give a laser pointer a shot. I don't know if it would disperse enough to be picked up by the Wiimote. Once again, there is only one way to see!

Thanks for the comment!

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#5
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Re: Wii Shall Overcome (Wii Whiteboard - Part 7)

11/21/2008 10:34 AM

Its been a while since you posted this, but just wondering if you ever tested the laser pointer with this. If this works with a laser pointer where you can be a distance away from the screen then it would make it more useful to me. If this doesn't work with a laser pointer then perhaps I will lend you an IR laser pointer to see if that works.

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#6
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Re: Wii Shall Overcome (Wii Whiteboard - Part 7)

11/21/2008 10:45 AM

Actually, thanks to the recent economy, they have frozen all spending because of the proposed $830+ million budget cuts for this academic calendar year. This means that monies allocated for spending from now until June are essentially not available anymore.

Field trips, speakers, and conferences that have not yet gone off (even if already approved) have all, if effect, been canceled.

I can't buy any parts for this until that clears, although I am looking to just buy the missing parts on my own (essentially, the Wiimote and the bracket to mount it to the ceiling).

I also need to redesign the pen for easier usability, not to mention a higher compatibility with the system, anyhow. It just takes some fast talking to justify to my wife why I am spending money on it.

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#7
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Re: Wii Shall Overcome (Wii Whiteboard - Part 7)

11/21/2008 11:17 AM

Thats too bad, but I guess not terribly surprising. I did some online searching and others have tried it with a laser both regular and IR and didn't get it to work. Then I also found a you tube video where someone is using what looks like a red laser and it works, but they don't have an explanation of what they did.

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#8
In reply to #7

Re: Wii Shall Overcome (Wii Whiteboard - Part 7)

11/21/2008 1:28 PM

Good to know. I appreciate all your help with it and the continuing effort to get this working.

Maybe I will just start with the redesigned IR LED and then experiment with a LP from there.

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#9
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Re: Wii Shall Overcome (Wii Whiteboard - Part 7)

11/21/2008 2:25 PM

I did read that the wii remote responds better to certain wavelengths of IR led's some said around 940nm but then I also saw someone said anything between 700-1300nm is fine. Of course brighter is better, and I did read that some people had sanded the LED to make it more omnidirectional and that worked. Another thing I read was about people removing the dark red window on the wii remote that covers the sensor which lets it see some varieties of led's better. Good luck, let me know how it works, I am almost tempted to buy the remote just to see if I can get it to work with a cheap laser pointer by removing the window, 650nm isn't far off from 700nm.

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#4

Re: Wii Shall Overcome (Wii Whiteboard - Part 7)

11/02/2008 10:30 AM

I'm not sure is it actual yet. I recollect some years ago I've used LED from broken optical mouses to make handi sensors. It's quite powerful in IR spectrum.

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Anonymous Poster
#10

Re: Wii Shall Overcome (Wii Whiteboard - Part 7)

06/02/2010 4:41 PM

Hi,
I want share with you a very beatiful free software called Ardesia
to be used with the electronic whiteboard

http://code.google.com/p/ardesia/

Ardesia help you to make colored free-hand annotations on your computer screen, record it and share on the network.

You can use the tool to make effective on-screen presentation, highlight things or point out things of interest. The tool facilitates the online presentations and demos showing in real time your computer screen to anyone in the network.

You can use this tool to enhance your lessons or courses working with your preferred applications, you preferred operating system.

Create nice tutorial and documentation saving the desktop images with your free hand annotations.

Ardesia works with all the pointing device; you can use a mouse, a graphic tablet, a touch screen, a cheap professional wiimote whiteboard or a commercial whiteboard.

You can draw lines with different strength, select color, erase things and draw arrows.

You can free-hand draw geometrical shapes using the shape recognizer, insert text with the keyboard and highlight screen areas.

You can draw upon the desktop or select an image as background.

It is free as you are; Try it now!

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Anonymous Poster
#11
In reply to #10

Re: Wii Shall Overcome (Wii Whiteboard - Part 7)

06/23/2010 5:08 AM

Ardesia 0.3 is out!
You can use the wiimote whiteboard with Ardesia
to annotate on the desktop
This is avaivable for Linux and Windows
http://code.google.com/p/ardesia/

You can see some screenshoot on
http://code.google.com/p/ardesia/wiki/Screenshot

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Anonymous Poster
#12
In reply to #11

Re: Wii Shall Overcome (Wii Whiteboard - Part 7)

09/11/2010 5:32 AM

Ardesia 0.4 is out!
http://code.google.com/p/ardesia/

Ardesia allows to draw and sketchup everywhere

The binary package is released for Ubuntu Lucid and Windows 7
you can use Ardesia with all the linux flavours, the source code
is free and released under the GPL terms

You can use it with a wiimote whiteboard or a graphic tablet;
in this way the lines are writing lighter or darker depending on
the pen pressure

You can export your work in the pdf format to create simple presentation, tutorial or document

Ardesia allow to record and the stream on icecast streaming server
thanks to the vlc media player and streamer

...Ardesia is free and simple as you are; Try it now!

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