Saturday, January 15, 2011

Wiimote IWB Revisited

I have started using my Wiimote interactive whiteboard nearly every day recently.  I thought it would be nice to revisit the inexpensive option with an updated blog post.  I remember seeing Johnny Lee's video on TED Talks and racing to Radio Shack when school ended that day to buy the supplies to make my own IR Pens.

I now run the program on a MacBook instead of a PC.  Here is a video tutorial I made when I first started running Johnny Lee's Wiimote IWB program on my HP laptop last year.

This year I am running a new program and using a MacBook instead.  I ran into quite a few problems on the PC.  The biggest headache was connecting the wiimote.  The built in bluetooth capability on the PC worked sometimes and it only connected consistently when I started using a Rocket Fish bluetooth dongle.  Connecting to a MacBook is much easier and requires no additional bluetooth software.  I have also started using Uweschmidt's wiimote iwb program, it is extremely reliable.

Here is a short walkthrough on how to connect and setup a wiimote iwb on a MacBook.

The placement of the wiimote in the classroom is a trial and error process.  When I first started using the inexpensive alternative, it took me quite some time to figure out the correct location and height for my wiimote.  At one point I would place it above the projector that was mounted on the ceiling.  The wiimote was too far from the whiteboard and that resulted in a very low tracking percentage.  I now place it in between the projector and the whiteboard, about 5 feet from the board and 3 feet off the ground.  With this setup, projector--wiimote--board, my iwb tracks at about 80%.  I wish I knew exactly what that meant, my understanding is that the higher the percentage, the smoother the line.

Infrared Pens:  This was probably the most challenging aspect of getting the wiimote iwb working.  I decided to make the pens myself.  All of the materials can be purchased at Radio Shack for under ten dollars (enough to make two pens).  Here is a the video I used to create my infrared pens.  It walks you  through the process and even provides a parts list from Radio Shack!  This is essentially what I used to create my pens.  The pens can also be purchsed:

I haven't purchased IR pens through either one of these websites and can't speak to the quality of construction.  I think that part of the project is the feeling of accomplishment when it is finally up and running, creating the homemade pens is part of the fun.  Embrace your inner child and solder at your kitchen table!

Now what?  The wiimote is placed correctly, the program is running and the wiimote iwb is calibrated...what do you do with it?

My favorite (and free) application is Triptico's application that can be downloaded and run offline.

Although the wiimote iwb is essentially a hack that many classroom teachers will feel uncomfortable with the setup, it is an extremely inexpensive alternative.

Here is a link to a piece in my local paper (Old Colony Memorial) about the cost saving alternative and benefits of creating and setting up a wiimote iwb in your classroom.

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