3D Camera for iPhone

3D is all the rage nowadays. With 3D movies, cameras and TVs being introduced like there’s no tomorrow, we consumers are inclined to follow the trend. So there was no surprised when I found a 3D Camera App for the iPhone. The iPhone has an App for everything. Except maybe to reboot the universe and solve the world’s energy problems.

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The 3D camera is very easy to use. Just take 2 photos a distance apart, align them and the software will convert it to an anaglyph image which you can then view through 3D red cyan glasses.

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Red cyan 3D glasses like these will be required. The good news is, you can get these glasses for free.

It takes a bit of practice to take good 3D photos. The photo is affected by the subject and the distance as well as camera angle. You might need to try several times before getting a good 3D image of your subject. Below are 2 good 3D images, taken by the developer:

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So if you’re tired of taking 2D photos, give this App a try. And post some results in the comments too!

[Link to App]

Mobile Mouse for Apple iPad

I’m back in Kuching right now so stay tuned for updates soon.

The Apple iPad is a versatile device. With thousands of Apps in the App Store, there is almost always an App that does exactly what you want. And developers have really been pushing the possibilities on the iPad with creative and innovative Apps. One App that caught my attention was the Mobile Mouse.

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Mobile Mouse is an App that turns your iPad into a giant multitouch trackpad. It uses WiFi to connect to your computer so your iPad and PC/Mac must be on the same WiFi network. You must install the App on your iPad and a server software that can be downloaded from their website on your PC/Mac. Setup takes about 5 minutes only and it is very straight-forward and easy.

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Installing the server software.

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Running the server. There are a few parameters that you can play around with in the other tabs and they are basically self-explanatory. The only thing you need to make sure here is that the IP address is correct and that it is on the same network as your iPad.

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Launch the Mobile Mouse App and you will be able to detect the server computer and connect to it. Your oversized trackpad is now ready for use.

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The whole surface can be used to move the mouse pointer. You can even pinch to zoom. On PCs, it will launch the Magnifier and zoom into your screen. Two buttons below are used for clicking. There are regions on both sides for scrolling. On the lower region, there is a dock-like interface, similar to the one found in MacOS X. This allows you to switch between applications quickly. For example, if you tap on “Firefox”, the Firefox window will come into focus.

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There are also special buttons on the top region that you can activate. The set shown above allows you to control Firefox with ease. You can go back, reload or favorite a page, stop page loading, and so on.

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You can even turn your iPad into a giant remote control for your home PC. Pause or fast forward through a movie, change the volume, skip video clips and so on. This is indeed turning your iPad into a very expensive remote control.

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If you need to type, it comes with a fully-featured keyboard as well.

Mobile Mouse is suitable for users who want to use their iPad as a trackpad because they do not want to lug a mouse around with their laptops. Or for those rare occassions when they need a bigger touchpad. Also for users who wish to control their home PCs. Instead of getting a wireless keyboard and mouse, the iPad is a more elegant solution. Mice and keyboards don’t belong in the living room.

First FPV Flight

I’ve talked about FPV (first person view) flights on RC before this on my old blog post. My housemate Tan recently bought a very small and light keychain video camera and we strapped it to a RC plane and took off to the skies. Here’s what happened.

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This is the small keychain camera. Velcro-ed and taped to the front of the plane. This was the first setup and there was a very obvious problem. The camera was right behind the propeller so when the propeller was turning, it interfered with the view.

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This was how it was mounted. RC plane is a Cessna 172. Very light. Perhaps a bit too light to survive the strong winds that we encountered today.

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Pilot for today is Tan.

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Doing a few low passes so we will be seen in the video. This was the closest I could get to the plane as I only had my 28mm wide angle lens with me.

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We landed and changed the mounting of the camera to the side to get a bird’s eye view. This will give us a view similar to ones in Google Earth.

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Weather was pretty hot and windy. The plane was too light so it porpoised when flying, making the video very jerky. A bigger, heavier, more powerful plane is under construction and it should provide for a more steady and exciting (aerobatics) video.

After we went home and discovered that the propeller was affecting the videos, we devised a mount to clear the propeller from the view of the camera.

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It’s basically just 2 foam blocks glued together and velcro-ed to the top of the wing. You might think that this large object will disturb the airflow on the wing, but that wasn’t the case. Or it wasn’t obvious enough to be felt.

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Preparing for a video of flying into the sunset.

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Taxiing for a take-off.

Unfortunately the last flight didn’t go so well. Resulted in a crash with a broken motor mount, which luckily can be easily replaced. It was due to a strong wind blowing the plane sideways right after take-off, causing it to go into a death spiral.

Here are 2 videos from the few flights we made. This was from the first flight:

This was from the 2nd flight at another field:

Below are some screen shots from the fly bys. The plane wasn’t stable enough under strong winds so lower altitudes weren’t attempted.

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Hope to get another plane up in the air soon!

Lamborghini Reventon Dash

I tweeted about this a while ago but I’ll put it here for the record. The Lamborghini Reventon probably has the best digital cluster around. There are 2 modes available.

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This is the more traditional styled design, emulating analog meters that we find in most cars. Easy to read and understand. Instead of using moving needles, the circular scale will get filled up.

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The second mode mimics the cockpit of a fighter jet. And rightfully so because the Reventon itself is designed with fighter jets in mind.

Here’s a video of it in action. There are however some errors in the display in the video. The RPM is supposed to be shown in steps of 10, not 1000:

Here’s another video showing the cluster:

Building such a dash should be quite straightforward given the proper graphics engine. A small computer will be needed to run the graphics software and also accept inputs from the car’s ECU. Modern cars with OBDII ECU interface will be really easy to setup as OBDII readers are very cheap now. Older cars will have to manually tap their analog signals from the ECU.

Unfortunately for me I don’t have a car with an OBDII interface so if I ever want to build something like that I would need to get the inputs from the current dash and convert them to digital for the computer. But seeing how cool it is, it will probably be attempted sometime in the future. Perhaps by salvaging a netbook with a decent screen.

Fun with UV

I went to a garage sale recently and picked up some items for very low prices. One of them was a handheld UV light, also known as a blacklight. It was RM10 only and battery operated so there wasn’t much reason not to get it. And this thing is certainly worth more than RM10 of fun!

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Comes with a torch too. Takes 4AA batteries.

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The blacklight gives a very nice purplish glow in the dark. It doesn’t look very bright because it’s emitting light at a wavelength that’s very near to our visual threshold. That’s the reason why it’s called a blacklight.

The interesting thing about a blacklight is that it reveals things that we cannot normally see using a normal light source. As such, hidden markings can be made using special ink which can only be viewed with a blacklight. The most obvious and common example is our paper money.

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Hidden marks on a RM50 note.

With the blacklight on I went around the room looking for things that glow. White pieces of paper glow brightly because of their fluorescent coating. And here are some interesting things that I found out.

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My KLIA pass has got a security marking that is only visible under the blacklight. It’s marked directly across the photo, probably to prevent people from changing the photo and impersonating me.

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Credit card and IC. The credit card revealed the word “MC”. And the IC revealed my IC number and also a small photo of me! This is by far the most interesting piece of item that I have viewed under the blacklight.

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I also got some stuff on my hands. Can anyone guess what that is? If you’re thinking of something else, I can assure you that it is not that. You’ve been watching too much CSI.

Still looking for more things that will glow under a blacklight. Suggestions?