empowering creative people

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Introduction

Ever wanted to record a video and be included in it? My children did.

One does parkour, and the other loves to dance, both want to perfect their art by watching their moves during practice. They asked their inventor/tinkerer dad, "can you make something like this dad?"

I said, "Challenge accepted". However, after almost a full year of working just about every night, I got it right.


Project Description

My family and friends asked me to put it up on Kickstarter, so after making a video, we did. Take a look... http://kck.st/2aT52J4

I had seen something on Kickstarter some time ago from IR lock. A smart gentleman took a Pixy cam (small cam that follows colours), and after adding an IR pass filter, could get it to follow IR light source. I thought it was a great way I could use a pixy for my children’s idea.

After many prototypes, I eventually got something that could hold a decent battery, and drive a Pixy Cam, 2 x servo motors, and an Arduino Nano. And with a matching set of IR LED's, I was on my way.

I had to draw up soooo many bits and pieces using Autodesk Fusion 360 (student version for free) and 3D printed about 3 spools of things that looked like Frankenstein and the swamp thing, before coming up with something that started to come together. After cleaning up my act and getting something that looked and worked well, I took my saved USB files with hot top secret STL's with me. I also took the latest 3d printed device that was kind of put together with a drop of hot glue here and there, just for perspective and reference.

The pixy cam reports its IR target (I chose 940um filter and led for no particular reason but availability of both) position in X and Y axis or orientation in a serial format 50 x per second. That is lightning fast reporting, and I know it would be tough for anything to escape its cat like reflexes. There are free pixy Arduino files that can easily retrieve this information. The pixy library/files are built into the latest Arduino IDE.

Now we need to decide what to do with those figures. Well that is a little tricky but thanks to the open source community, I found many examples of code for the pixy all over the internet. I used codes that I could understand (most parts of anyways) and alter for my project.

Basically, taking the numbers reported by the Pixy being 0-200 (0 being far left and 200 being far right) for Vertical position and 0-320 (0 being bottom and 320 being top going off memory) in horizontal position, then putting them through some simple math like halving to know what centre position, and using the results as an position output to my servo using PWM output on the Arduino. The further away from centre, the larger figure went into the PWM output so that we can have some acceleration and deceleration rather than sudden jolts.

Wait a minute.... There is an easier way, the Pixy actually has two servo outputs and is well capable of driving a pan and tilt servo, making the Arduino and all that code completely redundant.

But because of the design of my gadget, both of my servos worked in the opposite direction. I could always count on my luck (and planning skills) for things like that to happen. I know I could change direction of servos by pulling them apart and reversing motor and potentiometer polarities but........I had more evil plans further along this road. A Bluetooth controller.

Now that I have been talked into putting this thing on Kickstarter, I had to have an app. Everything on Kickstarter comes with an app!

I did an online app course, but just didn’t have enough time and patience to polish my skills to be able to make something that looked nice, and controlled a Bluetooth device. This bite was getting too big to swallow, so I hunted around and found a couple of young and clever app geeks in the US to build me an app for a couple a grand.

I would love to share all the technical nitty gritty, and get down to the dirty details but there just are too many details to cover here.

If you do want some particular info, please let me know and I will do my best to explain. [email protected]

However, in the meantime check out the Kickstarter campaign, and if you like, you back?

Thanks for reading :)

Tek