TechHive Fall 2017: Day 9 // The Details

While our interns have been working hard on completing their "ARduino Box," two of our volunteers have been working on what we like to call the "PIdestal," our Raspberry Pi with a camera that streams stereoscopic video. Antonin Dighera, an Electronics Engineer undergraduate student at Berkeley City College, and Mary Thompson, a Computer Scientist from Lawrence National Labs, worked on a system that would stream the video to a Google Cardboard headset in a way that could be compatible with both Android and Apple smartphones. The purpose of our "PIdestal" was to be able to place it inside the intern's "ARduino Box" which would allow them to create an augmented reality experience via the Cardboard headset.

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The base of the Pidestal is a servo motor with buttons to control the direction of rotation via an arduino, pictured here without the Raspberry Pi attached. Our control is housed in a cardboard box and made using large arcade buttons. This made it easy and fun to manipulate for both younger and older visitors (because who doesn't love large, brightly colored buttons?). The rotation was limited to 180 degrees as our Pi camera had to have an external power supply wired to it, and full rotation is a future goal for the project.

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The Pi is the most important part of our project. It is a versatile microcomputer that runs a variant of the linux operating system, and has been used by a multitude of makers and educators for various projects. In our project, we used the Raspberry Pi camera module and then 3D printed a small camera holder to hold it. The file can be found on Thingiverse here: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:462019. This camera holder was hot glued onto the Raspberry Pi’s case and then the whole assembly was hot glued onto a cardboard stand that would hold the Pi, Pi camera, and wireless adapter all upright. This entire unit was then attached to the large servo that sat on the base of the Pidestal and allowed 180 degrees of rotation for our camera. Thus, the hardware components for our Pidestal were complete, and it was mostly cardboard and hot glue!

Once the Pidestal was complete and the controls had been worked out, we had to move onto getting it connected to a network and making the Pi give up its camera data. This involved a wonderful piece of Javascript written by Patrick Catanzariti takes the camera image and splits it into 2 images. The documentation for this Javascript and installation instructions for all of the other needed dependencies to get a Rasberry Pi streaming in stereo can be found here https://www.sitepoint.com/streaming-a-raspberry-pi-camera-into-vr-with-javascript/ (Thank you so much Patrick!). To keep things simple and secure, we used a wireless router that was disconnected from the internet. In this case, one of our volunteers took a wifi router that was sitting in the closet collecting dust, and had the Raspberry Pi connect to it. Once the Pi was connected to the wireless network, it could be accessed by any smartphone with a browser by entering in the I.P. address.   

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Once everything was said and done, we had a simple, robust system that was both user friendly and functional. We look forward to integrating our high tech/low tech ARduino Box and Pidestal in order to showcase them to our visitors on the museum floor!

 

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