For people wanting to have an interactive whiteboard but don’t have the money, Johnny Chung Lee has found the solution. Using a Wiimote, he can track an infrared lightsource (like an LED) and use that to control the mousecursor. I tried some software on the Mac and the PC, and I actually got both to work without too much trouble.
The infra-red pen
Please note that you need some kind of Infra-Red emitting device. In my first tests to see if the software works, I used a TV remote. This is a bit clunky, so next on my list is to build a simple infra-red pen this weekend.
I noticed a lot of people building infra-red pens by directly connecting an LED to a battery, which will possibly ruin your LED very quickly because there’s too much current running through it. An LED is a diode, and it needs to be limited in current. The only right way to do it is follow Johnny’s schematic.
Whiteboard app on the Mac:
I was amazed about how well this worked. I was expecting a lot of experimental stuff, but instead, this is all you have to do:
- Download WiimoteWhiteboard for the Mac by Uwe Schmidt.
- Enable bluetooth on your mac.
- Start the WiimoteWhiteboard.app
- On the Wiimote, press buttons 1 and 2 simultaniously to put it in “detectable” mode. If the Wiimote was already on, you may need to press the red button in the battery compartment.
- After pairing is complete, press the “calibrate” button and follow the instructions.
I did these steps on an intel Mac mini and it worked beautifully. You can pair up to 2 Wiimotes to increase reliability.
Whiteboard app on the PC:
This is slightly more work, but does not include steps which are strange to regular Windows users:
- Download and install the .Net framework version 3.5
- Download Boon Jin’s Smoothboard for Windows.
- Install the .Net framework, and unpack the smoothboard zipfile in a convenient location. It has no setup.exe (thank god)
- In the system tray on your Windows, right-click the bluetooth icon, and choose “Add a Bluetooth Device”
- Click the “My device is set up and ready to be connected” checkbox.
- Press the red button of the Wiimote (in the battery compartement) to unpair it from anything else and get into “detecable” mode.
- Click the “Next” button in the Wizzard
- Select the “Nintendo RVL-CNT-01” device and click “Next”
- Select the “Don’t use a passkey” radio button and DON’T press “Next”.
- Press the little red button on the Wiimote again, so that all blue lights start flashing, and then press “Next” on the wizard.
- In the tray, you should now see popups saying “Found new hardware” and something like “New HID device”. They will dissapear after a while. If the popups did not show, start the whole process again from step 4.
- Press “Finish” in the Wizard, notice that the Wiimote keeps flashing all the lights.
- Start Smoothboard. The Wiimote should stop flashing, and you can click on the “Calibrate” button to start the fun.
I’ve tested the Windows setup on a Dell 530 laptop with the built-in bluetooth device, and it works fine, although I did have to reboot once because the bluetooth stack got confused and refused to detect my Wiimote. Smoothboard also allows you to pair 2 Wiimotes to improve reliability. It also has many features which are tailored to controling Powerpoint and other software, but I haven’t tried that yet.