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EDTracker

January 15th, 2015 No comments

I’ve recently been enjoying a game called Elite: Dangerous and found out an idea of an affordable head tracking solution had emerged from its forums. I figured this would be a cool project to do and would also be perfect for the site as I’ve been thinking it should have at least some content. So, I sourced a kit:

Kit

Simply an Arduino pro micro, a MPU9150 sensor, headers and a button. I’ll be installing them on a piece of perfboard. But first, the necessary wiring, the guide to which was helpfully provided on the building portion of the EDTracker website

 

WiringTopSoldered

 

I managed to hide all but one of the connection wires under the boards. That is also the reasoning behind the placement and alignment of the headers, i needed a bit of empty space under the sensor and Arduino. I then soldered everything together and since as shown on the picture my soldering skills are not the best, also opted to check each and every connection manually with a multimeter. Happily enough, everything was connected to what it was supposed to be and nothing else. So, time to power it up!

Oo, shiny! Macgyvered

With a shimmering LEDs the board came alive. Duct tape might have been a true hacker’s choice in mounting it but I opted for a rubber band for now. I’ll be building an enclosure for it later but that is just aesthetics, the functionality is already all here. However, the device was still just an Arduino and a sensor. The real magic of this particular kit is the superb software the EDTracker people put together. The newest version at the time this post was written was 3.0.4.0 so that is what I used. I glanced quickly at the options the older 6050 sensor software had but soon just did the calibration of the 9150 which was simple enough: turned the device 180 degrees into every direction in the 3 available axis from the starting position and clicked Save. I then uploaded the actual EDTracker software, in this case EDTrackerII_9150 1.0.0.

I opted for the “Exponential” response scaling, in which I don’t have to turn my head that much to achieve say, a 90 degree angle. When I use the device with Mechwarrior: Online I might opt for a more linear scale if I’m to aim with it instead of just using it for looking around. But that is something to figure out on another day. We’re here for Elite: Dangerous. I fired up the game and quickly set up the ingame controls, that is the headlook horizontal/lateral axis, set headlook to on by default and disabled mouse control of headlook. I fiddled around a bit with deadzones on the axis but finally got the results best to my own liking by not having any. YMMV.

Orienting myself to using the device was surprisingly easy, though I’m yet to try it out in combat. I actually just recently got a X-55 Rhino HOTAS set which I’m still kind of getting used to so combat can wait for a tiny bit. I’ll definitely be using it for my livestreams ( find those at ( www.twitch.tv/digitalta ) but for now here is a sneak peek, as after a bit of flying around took a short video of an undock, lap around the station, redock trip. Find it embedded below:

That is all, thank you for checking out my log and hope you find inspiration to build a device of your own!

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Plexiglass phone holder

November 25th, 2013 No comments

Quick project that I did just to test out heat-bending  Poly(methyl methacrylate) or as it is more commonly known, Plexiglas.

IMG_9340

Not much to say here. I had a holder specific to my old HTC Desire Z. I changed phones recently as the Z started to show its age, a part of the touchscreen not working anymore etc. I had bought the holder before I had access to any tools so it is a shop bought one.  The generic part of the holder is simply a piece of plastic that clips onto a heating vent and includes a ball joint to allow the other part to move to a slight angle.

Now, To make this one, I started off with a small piece of Plexiglas, cut out the side “arms” and the holes for the three screws the smaller ones of which connect it to the existing mount piece and the center one tightens the ball joint between the pieces.

I then took a hot air gun, heated up the arms one by one, then bent them by hand. They are still bendable at a relatively low temperature, so thin gloves were enough insulation and I was able to modify just a single part at a time instead of the whole thing melting. Finally i cut a groove into the bottom part for a charger cable to be able to be inserted to the bottom of the phone while it is in place, and dulled all sharp edges.

Tools used:
Bandsaw
Rotary multitool (think dremel but cheaper) with cutting bit, drill bit, sanding bit.
Philips screwdriver
Heat Gun

This was very easy to accomplish, only took about 1,5h from initial draft and measurements on paper to a finished product. A better looking one will be made though, this was just a test piece. Oh and unlike shown on the photo, the screws are normally covered by some electrical tape to prevent scratching the phone and also to keep it in place. the arms keep it from being taken out of the holder via any other direction than upwards, though.

 

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