Using a Rasberry Pi as part of a cosplay prop

14 posts
by Rippedshadow » Fri Oct 07, 2011 7:57 pm
Hi, first of all, first post, second of all, I'm probably terrible at any and all kind of programming, including any limits, so bear with me on this.

I've been searching the internet trying to find a way to make a working Pip-Boy 3000 prop, from the fallout series. So far everyone seems to be making glorified flashlights, or just using a touch screen device. I personally think all that effort making a case just to make a fancy flashlight is silly, so I began writing up some possible, legitimate and even maybe useful functions, then searched around a bit for a way to execute them. So far, I have a couple possible parts to use, but not much else, then a friend showed me this project and I looked into it a little.

Now I realize this is probably a bit of a lame project compared to some others on here, but for me, this would be a good introduction into wiring and setting something up in a restricted casing, while keeping it functional.

Anyway, off the list are some things I bounced around, some ranging from ridiculous to implement, to very simple. I'll list a function, then a explanation on what it's for.

-Data storage and transfer: Exactly what it sounds like, a quick way to save and transfer text, sound, and any update files onto (and from) the device.
-Radio: A normal AM/FM radio, as well as a two-way radio, it's probably possible, but I still need to look up how.
-Pulse Moniter: Since you can't have a full body health monitor, and the pip-boy 3k goes on your left arm anyway, this was the next best thing. It would pretty much have a screen with the measurements of the wearer's pulse, and have one of those little graphs right over the number.
-GPS: In hindsight, this one looks pretty difficult. Especially considering how I, for accuracy, plan on having the screen be an old-fashion green for accuracy. It's probably possible, though.
-Dial and button interface: Pretty much, I want to make all the buttons functional, the two dials on the left, as well as the three buttons below the screen will all have a function.

That's just what I have for now. Obviously, the project will take some design liberties, and probably take forever due to the fact I'm a newbie to most of the stuff I'll need to do, but it'll be ironed out.

Thanks for any help, or even suggestions, and good luck on your own projects!
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by liz » Sun Oct 09, 2011 3:22 am
It looks like you can do everything you need aside from the GPS with the Raspberry Pi. (And forget "lame" - I want to use one to make a tricorder.)

Having accidentally booked a hotel room earlier this year at the place that was hosting FurCon, I am these days slightly wary around those in costume. You haven't lived until you've got into a lift to find a minotaur trying to hit the lobby button with his right front hoof.
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by Blars » Sun Oct 09, 2011 3:39 pm
GPS USB modules are fairly cheap and bluetooth ones are available as well. They give you the position, and you can use software like gpsdrive to display it on a map.
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by jamesh » Sun Oct 09, 2011 6:40 pm
Had a quick Google and you can use USB GPS receivers on Linux using the gpsd daemon, plus some other client software. Dongle I looked at was £17, so quite tempted to get one to try out. In fact, I think I will!! Looks like it would be great for simple datalogging on race cars - that kit usually comes > £500. Also, bike route recording etc.
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by Rippedshadow » Sun Oct 09, 2011 8:45 pm
Honestly, I'm not sure how I'm going to fit everything into the device other then the raspberry pi itself, a screen, the buttons and dials, and a rechargeable battery for power. This is all still just concepts, and I have to learn all the programming and such for the buttons.

Most of the reason for posting here was to find ideas for hardware, such as a pulse monitor, and, most importantly, to see if anyone has pointers for the programming of all the functions. (like the aforementioned pulse monitor.)

And, for reference, here's some pictures of the casing I plan on making, as made by another person;
Both halves:
Measurement of the top (screen) half:
Measurement of the screen:

Again, all of this is conceptual, probably going to face tons of changes, and I don't even have the casing made, so It's all open to changes, suggestions, straight up overhauls, etc.
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by Colonel Sorck » Sun Oct 09, 2011 11:03 pm
Quote from liz on October 9, 2011, 04:22
I want to use one to make a tricorder.

Ah well. I won't be the only one with a working tricorder...

Might be interesting trying to create a "working" tricorder and possibly even a PADD with a working LCARS interface. :P

With regards to GPS though, are there any existing Linux interfaces/APIs for USB GPS dongles?

I would assume it would be possible to interface one of the TI GPS/Wi-Fi/Bluetooth/FM chips to an RPI through some method (perhaps GPIO?) but it might be difficult to do and obtain the actual chip.
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by amiga65 » Mon Oct 10, 2011 12:17 am
I saw this a while ago, may give an ideal or two.
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by Blars » Mon Oct 10, 2011 3:06 pm
Quote from Colonel Sorck on October 10, 2011, 00:03
With regards to GPS though, are there any existing Linux interfaces/APIs for USB GPS dongles?

Lots of GPS software in Debian. gpsd makes the interface to various devices uniform and lets multiple applications use the gps at the same time. "apt-cache search gps" has 90 hits on my amd64 Debian box, while some are false hits (gpsim), libraries, and multiple packages for a single application, there are still dozens of real ones. gpsdrive is one I already mentioned in this thread.
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by jamesh » Tue Oct 11, 2011 7:19 pm
Just got a USB GPS dongle to try out - works fine on Ubuntu so going to try on the Pi. Cost £18 delivered. It's a BlueNext BN-903S. NMEA device.
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by jamesh » Tue Oct 11, 2011 9:33 pm
Hmm. Works on x86 Ubuntu, but not so good on the Raspi. Not sure why - all the stuff installs OK and runs, just not getting any data from the device. Need to do a bit more investigation, but my Raspi SD card kernel/apps install is getting a bit flakey, so think may need to start afresh with a new kernel - think one was recently released at work so will try that.
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by jamesh » Tue Oct 11, 2011 9:40 pm
I think the usbserial module might be missing.....not sure I built it in to the kernel, or even enabled it as a module.

Something for tomorrow I think!
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by ajford » Thu Oct 20, 2011 1:46 am
For FM, you can use if you want to implement a serial interface to it, or this parallax module if you want i2c:

As for maps, if you know you'll have internet connectivity, you could use the Google Maps API and pass it through some image handling code to change the color. Image Magic or maybe Python Image Library, or possible Cairo.

I've never used gpsDrive, but if you can manipulate the map db, then you can also use image handling code to 'greenify' your maps.

For data, you could also embed an all-in-one card reader, and tuck in a USB port. Bluetooth might also be useful, but honestly I've NEVER been able to get bluetooth file transfer working on ANYTHING. Also, a crazy idea might be to embed a usb 'zipcord' which is tied to one of those USB Host-to-Host cables, but I've never used them on linux before.
Also, I've heard talk of being able to configure linux to act as a USB slave, but I think that depends on your USB controller. Any input from RPi folks as to that?

[EDIT]: Looks like you can have Google Maps do the colorizing for you. Check out the Maps API :
A few screens down shows how to specify the colors of various map items (roads, topography, etc.) as well as markers (even using true-to-F3 markers ;) ).
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by Warringer » Thu Oct 20, 2011 5:51 pm
When you get around to build that thing. Please, PLEASE share how you did it.

Anyway, if you are concerned about not having enough space, remove any cases from the various USB devices. Heck you can even use normal cables and solder then to the devices instead of plugging them into the Pi or USB hub.

I know I did the same to add a few more features to my Aspire One.

For file transfers, why not set up some sort of WiFi server to transfer files to and from via web interface? Alternatively you can also include a USB port.
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by spamel » Sun Jan 01, 2012 9:33 pm
Nice idea, and one that I also thought about so I will be watching this with interest. I have seen the PB3K moulded by Skruffy and they are spot on, but it would be amazing if it could be made in durable aluminium that could be machined thinner and yet be stronger. I agree that touch screens would not stay true to the original design, but if you wanted to do anything overly complex then it may become a necessity. I saw the working version that was made and was overawed, a bit sad it couldn"t be worn though! I look forward to seeing this project develop.
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