Monday, April 21, 2008

Wii Remote Whiteboard pen

I was totally amazed when I saw Johhny Lee's demonstration of the things he's been able to do by hacking the wii remote. I first saw it at

He also has some video's demoing his stuff on youtube. His project site can be found here.

Truly amazing stuff, but most importantly accessible at very low cost to everyone who wants to give it a whirl. So that's what I've decided to do. Luckily there are a ton of people out there who have already tried this and I found a number of useful youtube videos of people showing how they built their devices.

The whiteboard pen is simple enough and has the best practical use with the wii Whiteboard.

My first test was to get the wii remote connected to my laptop via bluetooth. I managed to do this simply enough by enabling bluetooth on my laptop and booting into my Ubuntu Hardy Heron RC (8.04) installation. I then downloaded and installed the wii whiteboard software from here.

I got it connected by simply running the wii whiteboard software, which detect the wii remote after 1&2 button press on the remote to get them synchronised. Then a crack at the calibration. I had to use the wii sensor bar as my infra-red pen. It took a bit of trial and error but it definitely worked. A proof of concept if you will. So I was ready to spend some time and money on this little project.

I started digging around and found I could source all of the required components from a local Maplins in the UK.

However after a bit of scrummaging around I managed to find an old remote which I took the infra-red LED out of.
I found a suitable pen case in a highlighter pen (thanks kids).

The only thing I really needed was a suitable push-to-make switch. I could have easily gotten one out of an old mouse but had unfortunately thrown my old mouse away a few weeks ago. So after a quick trip to Maplins I had my switch. I also purchased single battery cases for a AAA & AA battery. The AAA housing fits perfectly in the highlighter pen housing. Total Cost £1.72.

The most expensive bit of this whole project so far has been the Soldering Iron and Solder - grand total £14.

So a little over 90 mins later I had myself a fully functional infra-red LED pen that looks something like this...

The most difficult and time consuming bit was the soldering and putting it all together. Making sure the was enough space and wiring to allow all the bits to connect together and then all cram together inside the pen casing. So after cutting 2 holes to accommodate the switch (a large whole to allow the whole device to slip inside the case and a smaller for the button to protrude through).

I then used my mini tripod for the digital camera to mount the wii remote in a favourable steady position pointing at the laptop screen. Again no extra cost, I had some spare Velcro cable management strips left over from the my new PC case, which I used to secure the remote onto the handle of the tripod.

I've made a video of my and my 4 year old son playing with it, I just need to do a bit of editing before uploading. Watch this space.

I now need to source a Ubuntu Linux compatible USB 2.0 bluetooth dongle for my desktop PC, so I can get this working on the 22" Samsung - Yeah baby!

Oh and finally, a BIG thank you to Johhny Lee!

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