Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Wii Balance Board

A few weeks ago I walked into Vinnies to drop off some old clothes and knick-knacks we no longer needed. On display I found an old Wii console, complete with wiimote, nunchuk, a couple of games and a Wii Balance Board, all for $20 ... Bargain! I couldn't help myself so I went ahead and bought it, hence bringing home more junk to fill the space left by the clothes we gave away :).

The balance board is pretty cool: it has four weight sensors on the four corners of the board that allow for a measurement of the total weight of the person standing on the board and also data on their center of gravity in two dimensions. I found this cool app on osx for connecting to the balance board and providing a simple bathroom scales. Worked well on my Macbook so I decided to dig around for libraries that could connect to the board and provide the same data. I found two different solutions here and here, both of which were in python (which works for me), but unfortunately seemed to be Linux only. I decided that perhaps I would make this a Raspberry Pi project. I had trouble getting the first solution to work, as it was a patch to an existing svn repository that didn't seem to be there anymore (at least it seems like the project has switched to a different versioning system, and I wasn't so sure how to go ahead with the patch). I found I could get the second method (Gr8W8Upd8M8) working well.

I modified the code to create a daemon thread that would continuously read data from the balance board and provide it to a queue such that the sensor could be monitored continuously by a background process and interface with an application in the foreground.

The python code that provides the interface to the balance board can be found here: wii_balance_board.py

I ended up using the code in a Global Game Jam game I made using python and pygame (waverider). I'll talk more about that in my next post.

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