Monday, January 31, 2011

UAVs, POV flying, etc.

I haven't had much time lately to work on my camera on a helicopter project...but I have seen some interesting sites and ideas on the web.

First I have been following the Penn State and UC Berkley autonomous projects. Now the Berkley folks have mounted a Kinectec device on their quad copter and got it to follow a path while avoiding obstacles.

For comparison, here is Penn State's Quad.

The common thread is they are using an Ascending Technologies (AscTec) Pelican Quadrotor. They don't list a price, but for comparison, their hobby Quad RC is $1000...I would expect at least double for the Pelican.

The other common thread is they are using ROS, a Robot Operating System, open source, at the ROS.ORG site.

And while I was looking up those links from the ROS.ORG website, I found a nice page at the CCNY Robotics Lab.

The CCNY site has a nice wiki on the AscTec Quads.

Here is the CCNY Quad in action.

Finally, while randomly sifting through this I found a small website with good info for POV flying. RC Explorer

Here is how I found the RC Explorer site...

Friday, January 21, 2011

Google Earth in 3D - HTPC - part 4a - done

So in the previous installment (literally) I was running the TriDef software with my ATI HD 4550 card, but it would only display on the TV in 3D if it was in the Side by Side settings.

So I got a ATI HD5570 (cheap)...stuck in in and ran the TriDef software (only $24 if you have one of the supported ATI HD5xxx or HD6xxx cards.

The only thing I did to the HTPC is uninstall and reinstall the TriDef software...I don't know if I had to, but I thought the ATI ready software would be different...well there was no different software to download, so I reinstalled the version I had.

My TV's 3D setting was if 3D info was there, it would show it in 3D.

Guess what, the 3D data WAS there, the TV recognised it immediately and displayed the TriDef menu in 3D. So of course I clicked on Google Earth, and this time the TriDef sofware overlay (I assume) on GE said "3D disabled, change to full screen to enable 3D" or something like that...I dutifully did so (F11) and saw the 3D GE world. Amazing!

I haven't used any other options yet (3D videos, games) but GE worked perfectly...well, really well.

There were no weird menu issues or anything like that...but the mouse only shows up in one eye. It's kinda distracting...but nothing like when I was running the Side by Side display.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Google Earth in 3D - HTPC - part 4

In short...Google Earth on a 58" screen in 3D.

Apparently the future ATI (Radeon or whatever they are called now) video cards will have built in 3D playback capability...that seems to mean 3D Blu-ray disks.

I have a last year (or so) ATI card so I know that it does not have built in 3D capability.

Now by 3D, I don't mean a gaming card...I mean the ability to send 3D data that the TV will recognise and display in 3D using the shutter glasses.

I assumed this was not yet possible.

I was wrong.

I happened to be watching ABC's Extreme Home Makeover...a week or so ago I think...part of the build, in the child's room was a HDTV projector showing Google Earth, and apparently in 3D since they were wearing shutter glasses.

Of course I was thinking to way, this can't be true.

So I searched the intertubes for Google Earth and 3D, then Shutter glasses...and I found (DDD).

The TriDef website assumes you already know what the TriDef software it is a bit hard to get the info you want (at least for me).

In short it is a software package that can create images on your computer, that you can then send to the TV, and the TV will be able to decode the info and utilise the shutter glasses to let you see a 3D image.

Now that would be great, if they had better info on what settings to use, etc.

So first you download the software (trialware for 14 days) and install it. After you run the setup it will pop up a configuration window to set up what kind of display you have...and an icon to that window will be in the taskbar.

The problem is it doesn't explain what the settings are if you don't have a display device on their list, you have to guess what to do next. Their website lists the compatible displays and those are the presets on the config window.

There is another preset that says "(standard display types)" and the default for that is 3D anaglyph (red/blue).

Now for background info, I know the VT25 will take standard 3D data, top/bottom or left/right. That means the images for each eye are above each other, or next to each other, with that info the TV will separate the images, and display the proper image to the proper eye via the shutter glasses.

So I drilled down the list of display types under the (standard display type) list, and found two that are "side by side" one is "parallel" and the other is "cross-eyed"

So I set it to "parallel" and stood back to admire my work...

Nothing I went back to the webite, read the installation etc again...

Well the part they don't mention is you have to run another piece of software to actually get the 3D output...the icon is just for the configuration.

So I started looking at the list in the Program Files and found a number of icons. The only one I needed was the "TriDef Experience"

So I started that one, and got a nice doubled blurry image on my I put on the shutter glasses and a 3D menu popped out. I will have to do some kind of adjustments because it took a second for my eyes to adjust...I don't need to do that for the 3D Blu-ray movies.

On the menu were 4 choices, play games, use Google Earth, Watch 3D movies, Look at 3D pictures. Obviously I clicked on Use Google Earth.

So good news and bad news. The good news is I was greeted with a very nice 3D fly by of the Matterhorn. The bad news is...well let me explain.

So a normal HD image is 1920x1080 (1080p) so apparently they put two images side by side in that images to get the 3D 860x1080 x2. Well in the process, it trashes the menus etc...they stay at their original you close one eye to see half the menus/status bar etc, and switch eyes to see the other half.

Maybe it is in some setting I missed, but I have to hide all menus to get a display that doesn't make me want to puke...oh and navigating with a regular mouse is a test of willpower.

I will continue to play with settings, maybe there is a top/bottom setting or something else...

But at least I can fly around Google Earth in 3D on the big screen.


So after doing some reading, the "Native" 3D mode for the VT25 is sequential image. The "side by side" and "top bottom" are OTHER methods that are not HD...makes sense.

I am starting to think that the Hz output setting on my video card is not allowing the sequential image method to work...

in progress...

...time passes...

So I was digging around the ATI site, and found that the 5xxx and 6xxx cards have "HD3D" which allows them to output3D data...I have a I have to get a new card. (I had assumed that only the 6xxx cards had the 3D out...they have Blu-ray 3D out...I have a 3D blu-ray player so I don't need that?

In addition, on that page the website is linked, and there is a version of TriDef that is specifically for the ATI HD3D capable cards.

I have a slim HD5570 card on hopefully I can test this out.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

HTPC - Home Theater PC - part 3

So the Mrs. gave me a new TV for Christmas...or she allowed me to get a new all depends on how you look at it.

So we got the new Panasonic VT25 the 58" version.

That is not the point of this post.

In a previous episode we saw the hero setting up his HTPC, sucessfully playing ripped Blu-Ray disks, streaming over a 100BT network card from a NAS @ 480P.

The real question was what happens at 1080P...well the answer is it looks fantastic! No heavier load on the processor, no network bandwidth problems, and it automatically set the output to 1080P once it saw the TV connected. (I know because the TV will show the resolution of the input)

So we (I) are happy with playback. But I will admit, the remote control interface is still rough. I am playing with the settings on the Harmony remote to get the most usability, but I haven't had much time lately to tweak it (especially since I had to reprogram the thing after getting the new TV and BD player).

I did find a webpage with all the codes the MCE remote will use, and the appropriate keystrokes here at Microsoft. I will work on that a bit more later.

However I was watching HD Nation (a video podcast on the Revision3 website...itself an offshoot of the TechTV/Screensavers shows, unofficially) and Robert Heron who has been building an HTPC for a while now showed an Apple app called Hipporemote. You install a (free) custom VNC server on your HTPC, start up the free app (there is also a paid version with more options), point it to your HTPC and you have a remote touchpad/keyboard. It works very well, is extremely useful! Using that app I was able to easily watch some HD Vimeo videos on the big screen.

So next...well this Panasonic is the 3d one, and came with glasses also apparently has the capability to play back MKV files directly to a USB HD...So I will be attempting addition I will be seeing if I can rip a 3d disk, and play it back directly on the TV using the USB HD.

But for now, other than some tweaking, I couldn't be happier in how things turned out.