Wiimote Controlled Coil Gun

I know it seems like a while since I last posted, but since my Christmas enlistment into the Joint Strike Force I’ve been busy winning WWIII for America! Actually it’s not been all video games, I’ve been working on a Django project that I hope to release in a few weeks, and inspired by ServoBeer I managed to find time for some ioBridge hacking.

However, as you can tell my recent militaristic tendencies have probably gotten the better of me!

Weapons of War

Weapons of War

As you know from my previous posts I’m interested bringing a higher level of physical awareness and capability to my typical computing environment. Embedded systems are usually used to bypass the need for sophisticated systems, and the ioBridge is great for those situations.

Yet, I’m perfectly comfortable with the idea of using a laptop for a command and control system. It might be a more “tethered” solution then some people would like but I figure in a few years my iPhone will be able to fulfill the role my laptop currently has!

I wanted to move beyond some of the work I’ve been doing with passive sensors and in thinking about some ideas for a more active interfaces I realized that the wiimote certainly fits the description of a powerful controller! There are already enough great wii control hacks out there and some programs let you use the wiimote as a mouse!

But I wanted more then to just replace my mouse, and in most of these cases the flow control goes from the wiimote to a computer, or the wiimote to an arduino with lots of wiring. I wanted to both avoid the electrical requirements as well as extend the influence and “reach” of my wiimote beyond my immediate vicinity.

There are certainly times when you wouldn’t want to put your expensive new Macbook in harm’s way. Whether on the front lines or in the basement laptops are sometimes the wrong systems to dedicate to a task, so ioBridge to the rescue!

The ioBridge already has a number of features which make it idea for “remote” situations and so all I needed create was a mechanism to coordinate wiimote events sent to my computer with ioBridge events sent to the module. Luckily the team at ioBridge has created just such an API!

In this setup I use a python script and MoteDaemeon to bring the events into my laptop’s domain. Of course I could script up a number of local events but what I wanted to do was act on that data and sending commands to an ioBridge module.

So I build a website which monitors the position from one axis of the wiimote and extrapolates that position to a servo output on a remote ioBridge module (which happens to be in my office, but doesn’t have to be). I’m also tracking some of the button inputs and can expand easilly to include other axes as well!

Now I just needed something fun to control on the other end! I happened to have an office golf putter lying around and that uses an electromagnetic induction coil to generate the force needed for the ball return when you sink a putt. If you take that apart and replace the metal cylinder with something a tad bit smaller then you’re left with a coil gun capable of some pretty powerful shooting!

I’m not sure it’s up to DoD standards yet but remember the only required link between the wiimote and the ioBridge module is the Internet so if you can sneak one of these into your friend’s house, or a colleagues’ office, then you could be anywhere on the planet with Internet access and stick it to them!

How’s that for “Can you hear me now?”. Check out the video of it in action on YouTube or Vimeo!

About jay

I'm trying to build something interactive where I can learn from others and hopefully share useful knowledge too. thecapacity@gmail.com
This entry was posted in hacks, hardware, iobridge. Bookmark the permalink.

80 Responses to Wiimote Controlled Coil Gun

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  6. thane says:

    Try using a coil from a pinball machine, you should get much more torque out of it.

    • jay says:

      thane, that’s a good idea! I’m sure they’ve got some more power.
      But are they mechanical or electro-mechanical? I only remember those pull back plungers.

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  12. TAZ says:

    I was thinking cute until I saw the target. That book needs to be burned. I brings back nightmares – NP Complete – LOL

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  33. buzzco says:

    Scary. Pretty interesting stuff. How long did it take you to put this all together ?

    • jay says:

      Honestly not all that long but longer as is usual with code, longer then I’d have liked! We had a hack-night and I had it working (other then taping the coil onto the servo) w/in the night, but it took me another few hours over the next two days to tune it.

      For example, originally when I only had 3 discreet positions I found where I’d defined left = ‘iowidget#’ and ‘left’ = -15 (as in left threshold).
      Obviously noone codes their best @ 4am.

      The wiimote monitor I used is a bit unstable but I love how it works. It just dumps the data to a TCP port (vs. the other tools which don’t let you get to the data).

      So a fun project I’d say and “just challenging enough”. The real issues usually end up being mechanical I think so that’s why tape and a coffee mug were the legos of choice for instant gratification, or should I say acceleration! ;)

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