Thursday, January 21, 2010

Progress continues on Upgrades

I've been continuing to develop the ArtooSoundz program that myself and my friend started work on.  While the program could play sounds, it could only play .WAV format sounds.  For R2 to just make the usual beeps and chirps, that was fine. 

However, R2 and I were invited to join in greeting troops that arrive in Bangor, on their way to or from the war front.  I wanted R2 to be able to play patriotic music and being limited to .WAV format wasn't working out.  I'm pretty rusty with my Visual Basic programming but it has been a lot of fun getting back up to speed.  Over an evening or two, I had R2 playing MP3 format sounds and even worked out assigning specific buttons to play patriotic music or contemporary/fun music.

Here's what the program looks like....

Once I had that working, it was on to the next challenge...getting R2 to play the Princess Leia video clip ("Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope...."). 

One of my coworkers had an old Mitsubishi PK20 projector available.  That uses LEDs as the bulb so it runs very cool.  It also has its own battery, so the power system is all self contained.  The netbook inside of R2 is set up to see the projector as a second monitor.

The hard part was coding into the program how to play the video only in the second monitor.  Once that was nailed down, I just had to make the netbook's desktop background black, so that no light is projected until the video to activated.

Now, with the press of a button, R2 can play the video clip on demand.  Due to the serious performance restrictions on the netbook, there is some lag from button press to play. 

Currently I am working on fabricating a mounting for the projector inside the dome.  It has to be very, very snug as we do not want the projector falling out of alignment with the holoprojector.  It's a tricky process but I'm getting there!