MOVIE REVIEW – NOT FOR RESALE: A VIDEO GAME STORE DOCUMENTARY

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Not For Resale: A Video Game Store Documentary is an interesting and informative film directed by Kevin J. James. It is a documentary film that examines the place of brick and mortar video game stores in a world that is increasingly becoming exclusively digitally focused.

The film focuses on a variety of Retro Game Stores, including two I have had the pleasure of visiting 8bit and Up in New York City and Pink Gorilla Games in Seattle. Numerous owners and employees of these stores are interviewed about the future of these local “Mom and Pop” shops in a world where physical media is becoming increasingly unfashionable and demand for physical retro video games is decreasing year on year (partly due to these retro games being made available on new platforms).

The documentary also examines the rise of the digital distribution of video games and how that affects the customer from a product ownership perspective. From a positive perspective, the digital distribution of video games has removed a massive barrier to entry for smaller and indie developers, who can now release their games alongside the big corporations. There are, however, also negative points. These mainly focus on the possibility that a customer can lose access to a digital product they have purchased if it is removed from the digital distribution platform. Digital products can be removed from digital distribution platforms for a variety of reasons, including the lapse of licensing agreements.

The film also examines the preservation of video games and video game history, an important task undertaken by various organizations, including the Video Game History Foundation and the National Video Game Museum in Frisco, Texas. These organizations strive to preserve all things related to the history of video games, not just merely the game itself but all source code, design documents, and marketing material. The documentary also discusses the Library of Congress of the United States’ video game section, where video games are stored for historical purposes in a similar way to which the Library archives films and books.

Not For Resale: A Video Game Store Documentary is an enjoyable film that, at its core, looks at the impact video games have on our lives and the way this important part of many of our lives will be affected in the future.  Not For Resale: A Video Game Store Documentary is an excellent documentary that comes highly recommended.

MOVIE REVIEW – NOT FOR RESALE: A VIDEO GAME STORE DOCUMENTARY

SURVIVING LOCKDOWN

I had to travel for work to New York City for a week at the end of February (returning early March), and upon returning, I became ill with the flu (I was tested for CODID-19, and luckily tests came back negative). Nevertheless, I was placed on doctor mandated self-isolation. On the 26th March at 23:59, the government of South Africa put the country on lockdown, meaning that you can only leave your house to buy food, get medication, or seek urgent medical assistance. The Army was deployed to assist the police in enforcing the lockdown, and leaving your home for any other reason than the ones mentioned above can result in you being arrested.

This does mean that I have been at home, except a handful of exceptions, for over a month now, and have kept myself busy with a variety of things, such as playing video games, watching some movies, doing a few Python courses and 3d printing a few things.
From a gaming perspective, I have been playing the following games:

Legend of Zelda Link’s Awakening (on the Nintendo Switch)

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I thoroughly enjoyed Link’s Awakening, and it is an amazing remake of the Gameboy classic. The game has buckets of charm and is very enjoyable. It is not a challenging game, except for the last boss that can be a bit tricky. I highly recommend Link’s Awakening, and I enjoyed every second from beginning to end, and it took me about 15 hours to complete.

Animal Crossing New Horizons (on the Nintendo Switch)

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I have been absolutely obsessed with Animal Crossing New Horizons, and I must have logged over 40 hours of gameplay to date, and I am still far from done with this game. It is the perfect game while stuck at home, and it is a fantastically fun and feel-good game.

Afterparty (on the Nintendo Switch)

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A delightful adventure by Night School Studio, the creators of Oxenfree. I enjoyed this game, and I love the art style. The game is about 6 hours long, and I am now busy with my second play through doing alternative paths from my first playthrough. Afterparty is a must for anyone who loves adventure games.

Doom 64 (on the Nintendo Switch)

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Doom64 is a tremendous classic fps, and it plays fantastically in Switch Handheld mode. Initially released in 1997 on the Nintendo 64, it has now been re-released on modern platforms. All the enemies and weapons received a redesign from the original Doom games, and I love how enemies look in Doom 64. Doom 64 is a must-play for any Doom fan.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (on the Nintendo Switch)

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I am busy playing through Mario Kart 8 again, I have finished the game on the WiiU previously, but I am casually playing through it again between Animal Crossing sessions. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on the Switch is the definitive version of Mario Kart 8, with all the DLC included and with enhanced graphics (and a fixed battle mode), it is the best Mario Kart game to date.

Doom Eternal (on PC)

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Doom Eternal is a beautiful game, and it definitely amps up the difficulty from Doom 2016. All the enemies received a redesign from Doom 2016, with the new designs being more closely inspired by the original Doom games (Doom and Doom II). I love the redesigns of the enemies, and thus far, I am enjoying the game. The game has more strategy compared to Doom 2016, with some enemies having specific weak points that can be exploited, and certain kills (glory kill, chainsaw and flamethrower) providing specific pickups (either health, ammo or armor). The game truly looks amazing and performs great, and I am having no issues running the game at 144fps on Ultra Nightmare settings at 1440p on my 9900k and RTX2080. A definite must-play for FPS fans.

I have also watched a fair number of movies, including:

Not for Resale: A Video Game Store Documentary

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I enjoyed this documentary about Video Game stores and physical media, and I will be posting a full review soon.

Indie Game the Movie

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An entertaining and informative look at the indie game industry, a must-watch for anyone interested in the process of creating video games. I will also be posting a full review of Indie Game the Movie soon.

I have also kept myself busy 3D printing a few things, mostly using the CCTree PLA Wood filament. I have had a few requests from colleagues and friends for Baby Groot and Pikachu models, so I printed out a few of each to give away.

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SURVIVING LOCKDOWN

A Tour of Silicon Valley

I recently did a self-tour of Silicon Valley, and as someone who works in the field of technology, it was a fantastic experience.

The first stop of the tour was Apple Park, the Head Quarters for Apple Inc. The only section open to the public is the Visitor Center, which mainly consists of a massive apple store (which was insanely busy as it was 2 days after the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro launched) as well as a sizeable Augmented Reality display of the Apple Park Campus and the famous UFO looking Apple Ring building. This AR display consists of a large model, shown in the photos below, that you can interact with using an iPad Pro which the staff hand out to guests entering the display area. On the iPad Pro graphics are superimposed over the model showing not only a realistic aerial view of the campus but also showing various bits of information relating to the design of the ring building such as how the ring building is designed in a way to take advantage of the environment (wind, etc.) to cool itself in an ecologically friendly manner.

The next stop was the Apple Garage, which is the garage at the house in which Steve Jobs grew up. It is commonly considered the birthplace of Apple. Steve Wozniak (Apple co-founder) has said that this is a bit of a romanticized myth, but it was still great to see.

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Next came the Computer History Museum, a truly amazing museum with items covering the entire history of computers. From the abacus to mainframes and supercomputers to the current day smartphone, the items on display are truly astonishing. Below are some photos and descriptions of some of the items on display.

Numerous Abacuses on display, one of the oldest forms of calculation tools.

A variety of mechanical calculation machines.

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A Curta Calculator, also known as the Pepper Grinder Calculator. One of the most advanced handheld mechanical calculators ever created.

A Selection of IBM Mainframe Equipment.

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A model of ENIAC, the world’s first general-purpose computer.

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A Selection of Fortran Programming Books and Promotional Material.

A PDP-1 Display, Spacewar! one of the first video games ever was programmed on and ran on the PDP-1.

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A 486 DX motherboard.

A display showing the advancement of transistors, microprocessors, silicon wafers, and Moore’s Law.

Various Robots on display. Including expensive toys, industrial robots, and research robots.

Numerous bizarre and unusual computer peripherals on display.

Video and computer gaming displays, with various consoles and games on display.

Apple I, Apple II, Apple Lisa, and Original Macintosh computers.

IBM PC Model 5150 and an Altair 8800.

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A boxed copy of Windows 1.0.

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The NeXTcube workstation from NeXt Computers. NeXt computers were founded by Steve Jobs after leaving Apple in 1985, and Next Computers were acquired by Apple when Steve Jobs rejoined Apple in 1997. The NeXTStep Operating system became the foundation for Mac OSX.

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Waymo Self-Driving Car.

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A scale model of the Mars Rover.

World of Warcraft exhibition.

An exhibition showing the rise of MP3s and the rise and fall of Napster.

The next stop after the Computer History Museum was the Googleplex, the massive headquarters of Google. The Googleplex, which is mostly open to the public, has various significant things to see, such as the Android Statue Lawn, where retired Android statues representing previous versions of the mobile operating system are on display. From volleyball courts to Massive Statues to vegetable gardens, it is easy to see why the Google Campus has a reputation as the best working environment. Here are a few photos of the Googleplex.

The last stop in Silicon Valley was Stanford University, a University that amongst its alumni has various famous people. Stanford has a beautiful Campus, as can be seen in the photos below.

A Tour of Silicon Valley

WINDOWS MIXED REALITY

Today we will have a look at a Windows Mixed Reality headset, more specifically the Lenovo Explorer. First let us have a look at what Windows Mixed Reality headsets are. Despite their naming, Windows Mixed Reality headsets are not a mixed reality technology like the Microsoft HoloLens, but are Virtual Reality Headsets and Motion Controllers based on technologies developed by Microsoft and manufactured by OEMs like Lenovo, HP and Dell to name a few.

Each of the manufacturers made minor changes to their headsets, for example the HP Headset introduced detachable cables, which is a great feature, however also reduced the field of view to 95° (Compared to a 110° field of view for most of the other Windows Mixed Reality Headsets) which results in a rather terrible binocular effect. So, part of the challenge is selecting a headset that meets your requirements based on the differences between the headsets in a variety of areas, such as field of view, fit, comfort and weight.

Below are the high-level results of my research for each headset I considered:

  • Samsung Odyssey: Great headset, however at time of making my purchase it was over double the price of the other headsets.
  • HP WMR Headset: Detachable cables are a great feature, however the field of view (95°) is a deal breaker.
  • Dell Visor: Has a terrible fit and has the worst light bleed of any of the headsets from the headset not properly sitting on the users’ face.
  • Acer WMR Headset: Good all-rounder, however I really did not like the visual design of it.
  • Lenovo Explorer: Good all-rounder and more muted design compared to Acer.
  • Asus WMR Headset: Out of Stock at time of my Purchase, also its price is comparable to Samsung Odyssey.

All the Windows Mixed Reality Headsets have a per eye resolution of 1440×1440@90Hz, except the Samsung Odyssey which has a resolution of 1440×1600@90Hz, compared to 1080×1200@90Hz for the Oculus Rift, 1080×1200@90Hz for the HTC Vive and 960×1080@120Hz for the PlayStation VR.

The three above mentioned headsets do however utilise OLED Displays whereas the Windows Mixed Reality Headsets (except the Samsung, which uses AMOLED) use LCD displays, resulting in the Windows Mixed Reality Headsets experience slightly less colour saturation and contrast, however most people would have a hard time noticing the difference if they did not compare the headsets side by side.

Another area in which the Windows Mixed Reality headsets differ from the other major VR headsets is in the way it handles position tracking. In the case of the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR, these headsets utilize some form of external components, such as the Oculus Cameras, Vive Lighthouses and PlayStation Camera, to track the users position in the virtual world. This is great for tracking accuracy, but it is not ideal from the perspective that additional devices are required, that often must be purchased separately, as well as the additional configuration and cables that need to me managed and kept out-of-the-way.

For many people space is also a problem and setting up a designated VR space is simply not an option and packing up everything between uses is very cumbersome. Thus, with these headsets, although the results are amazing, the setup is tedious, and they are far from easily movable once setup.

This is where Windows Mixed Reality takes a different approach, using what is called inside-out tracking. This technology is based on the learnings and technologies Microsoft refined in the development of the Xbox Kinect. Instead of using external components to track the users’ position, all user tracking happens using sensors, such as cameras and Infra-red, contained within the headset. The results are surprisingly good, with the only real trade-off being that the motion controllers are tracked only if they are in view of the headset. Thus far I have not found a VR game where this resulted in any problems.

As far as configuration is concerned, things are very straight forward and easy with the headset requiring one USB 3.0 port and one HDMI 1.4 (2.0 is however recommended) port.

Microsoft lists the minimum GPU required as an Intel HD620, however what can be run on this GPU will be seriously limited. A more realistic GPU requirement can be ascertained by looking at the SteamVR and Oculus minimum requirements, which lists a GeForce GTX 970, however certain games do require a more powerful GPU. All my testing was done on a GeForce GTX 1080.

Now that we have covered all the hardware related information, let us have a look at some of the content and games available for the headset.

There are three main platforms on which you can get content and games for Windows Mixed Reality Headsets, they are Mixed Reality Portal, SteamVR and Oculus Store.

The Mixed Reality Portal is the Microsoft platform and is designed for Windows Mixed Reality headsets. The games and content available on the Portal is however by far the most limited of the three platforms.

With SteamVR the user will need to install “Windows Mixed Reality for SteamVR” from the Steam Store. Once this is completed SteamVR titles will be playable on the Windows Mixed Reality headset. Titles officially supporting Windows Mixed Reality will have the following icon: wmr_icon

Steam

However, all SteamVR titles I tested, the majority of which did not have official support worked perfectly. So, do not feel restricted to only titles that list official support for Windows Mixed Reality.

To play Oculus games on your Windows Mixed Reality headset you will require an application called Revive. The complete setup instructions can be found here. All titles I tested from the Oculus store worked perfectly.

Now that you know your options regarding where to get games and content, the next question is what to get? I can recommend the following VR games which are my favorites:

  • Batman: Arkham VR
  • Audioshield
  • The Blu
  • Space Pirate Trainer
  • Job Simulator
  • Doom VFR
  • The Brookhaven Experiment
  • Superhot VR

Windows Mixed Reality headsets have a list price of between $400-500 (USD) dependent on model, however most Windows Mixed Reality headsets have been on sale consistently over the past few months on Amazon and the Microsoft store for around $250 and even less if you would consider a refurbished headset.

Given the price of the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift (including the Oculus Cameras) is nearly double that, the Windows Mixed Reality headsets become a very alluring offer for anyone wanting to experience Virtual Reality without breaking the bank.

I am very pleased with my purchase and I have really enjoyed the experience with my Lenovo Explorer headset. I would recommend the Windows Mixed Reality Headsets to anyone interested in getting a VR headset who might be scared off by the $500 price tag or the complicated setup. Windows Mixed Reality gives the user a more affordable, more compact and easy to use alternative, with only minor trade-offs, and I would recommend that anyone in the market for a VR headset give Windows Mixed Reality a serious consideration.

Just as a side note, I use the Skywin Universal VR Holder and Cable Organiser to store my Windows Mixed Reality headset and it works great. It is an inexpensive way to keep your headset safe and looking cool when it is not in use.

WINDOWS MIXED REALITY

BOOK REVIEW – MASTERS OF DOOM BY DAVID KUSHNER

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Masters of Doom tells the story of the formation of ID Software, one of the most influential companies in gaming. It focuses on the stories of the four founders, John Romero, John Carmack, Adrian Carmack and Tom Hall.

Covering everything from how and where they crew up, to how they got involved in game development, to how they met and started ID Software and eventually as most of them left ID Software, what came next for them.

The book covers everything from the early days when they worked at SoftDisk and started Ideas from the Deep (Later renamed to ID Software). Where they worked on Commander Keen and how they constantly evolved, creating revolutionary game after game, from Wolfenstein 3D to Doom to Quake, transforming the industry and what people thought possible along the way.

This book is by far my favourite video game related book, and I cautious writing any more regarding its contents out of fear of spoiling something. But if you are in any way interested in video games give this book a try. It is an amazing book and comes highly recommended.

BOOK REVIEW – MASTERS OF DOOM BY DAVID KUSHNER

BOOK REVIEW – BLOOD, SWEAT AND PIXELS BY JASON SCHREIER

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Blood, Sweat and Pixel is a very enjoyable book, containing the stories behind the creation of various video games. It gives the reader insight into how this process is never straight forward nor easy and is rather a perilous journey undertaken by developers out of sheer love for the medium.

The creation process of various video games are covered, from the successful, such as The Witcher 3 and Uncharted 4, to the ill-fated Star Wars 1313.

The book also conveys the sad stories of how many video games outlive the studios that created them, and the reality that very few video game development studios remains afloat in the challenging video game industry.

The reader is also given great insight into the challenges video game developers face, from tight budgets and technological difficulties to dealing with tyrannical publishers. It gives the reader a much greater sense of appreciation for what the developers endure to make their creative visions a reality.

As someone who loves video games and is interested in the development process behind them, I found this book highly entertaining and informative. I struggled to put this book down and would highly recommend it.   

BOOK REVIEW – BLOOD, SWEAT AND PIXELS BY JASON SCHREIER

A Story About A Game

15 Years ago I wrote a small game called Hellspawn and I rediscovered it again when I was going through some old backup discs. It is a top down shooter and was developed in Borland C++ Builder (I think version 6). It was a very basic game (especially looking back now) from when I was still a very inexperienced developer, still studying to get a degree.

So if anyone is interested here it is: HellSpawn

To get it working on windows 10:

Use Hellspawn.exe to start the game, but first in file properties:

  • Set executable to run in compatibility mode  – Windows 98 / Windows ME
  • Reduced Color mode – 16-bit
  • Override DPI Scaling Behavior, Scaling performed by – Application
  • Can also set to run in 640 x 480, however is best to change screen resolution in windows to 1024 x 768 for best experience.

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The controls are as follows:

  • Arrow keys to move
  • Left ctrl keys to fire weapon

Simply kill all the enemies to proceed to the next level.

On another note I have some Steam game keys to give away!

For a chance to win one simply email killerrobotics.me@gmail.com with the subject line ‘Killer Robotics Steam Giveaway’ and for the message content just be creative.

Winners will be randomly selected and announced via twitter.

A Story About A Game

Another VR post and some updates

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In a previous post, DIY VR Part 1, we took a look at apps that allowed a user to stream PC games to a smartphone in stereoscopic 3D, which could then be used with a Google Cardboard compatible headset to experience VR.

This worked well, however the apps examined in the previous post did not support or were not optimized for games specifically designed for SteamVR. For SteamVR to start up a compatible HMD (Head Mounted Display, like Oculus Rift or HTC Vive) needs to be detected, something the apps covered previously did not support, with the exception of TrinusVR which does support this, however it does not support USB tethering with iOS which has a significant negative effect on the experience.

Today we will look at an app that does fully supports this functionality, iVRy.

iVRy is an iOS app that allows SteamVR games to be streamed to an iPhone, and as with the previously mentioned apps, utilizes the phone’s gyroscope and accelerometers for head tracking and movement.

iVRy comprises of a app that is installed on your iPhone and a SteamVR HMD driver to be installed alongside SteamVR on your PC.

The iPhone is then connected to the PC either via Wi-Fi or USB (preferably USB as the results are greatly improved). The next step is to start the iVRy app on the phone and then lastly launch

SteamVR (which will detect the phone as a compatible HMD) and you are up and running.

The app has various settings to optimally configure your VR experience, such as lens distortion correction and field of view settings, with a large list of Google Cardboard Compatible Headsets preconfigured for ease of use.

Another feature of the app is that it auto adjusts image quality to ensure a high frame rates, reducing VR sickness.

iVRy supports a lot of SteamVR titles, working with any game that does not require motion controls, so any game that supports a traditional controller should work. Saying this a controller is pretty much required and any Steam compatible controller will work.

iVRy has a free trial version that does not limit play time, but reduces color saturation after 5 minutes of play time, making the image appear in shades of grey. To unlock the full premium version of iVRy costs $6.99, which removes the 5 minute limitation.

If you are an Android user a similar app is available called VRidge by RiftCat, which costs $14.99. It does however offer a great deal more functionality, thus the higher price.

Now on a related topic, I recently had the opportunity to play around with a HTC Vive at the Microsoft Store at NorthPark Center in Dallas Texas, and it was an amazing experience. I played through a series of experiences, starting with a tutorial based on the game Portal and then flowing into The Blu, AudioShield and finally Space Pirate Trainer. The experience was extremely immersive and I got goose bumps, it was truly mind blowing. The motion controls and room tracking of the Vive work extremely well and helps greatly with the immersion. If you ever have an opportunity to use a HTC Vive I would highly recommend it.

While I was in Dallas I also went to see some interesting sights, like the Oculus VR Dallas offices, where John Carmack is based.

Now for a quick update on the DIY VR Headset Version 2. I have acquired the parts for the new headset, including two 1920×1280 (60 Hz) 3.5inch (89mm) displays (one for each eye) and a Leap Motion, which I will use to implement motion controls. I have decided for the version 2 to use two smaller independent displays mounted in portrait mode (similar to what is done in the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, post Development Kit 1 which used one screen).

I will also look at using iVRy with the Leap Motion to get motion controls working in Steam VR. So watch this space, some exciting things are coming.

Another VR post and some updates

DIY VR Headset for $80 (DIY VR Part 2)

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The purpose of this series of posts was to look at ways to experience VR at home for the lowest cost possible. In Part 1 of DIY VR, we took a look at using a smart phone and a Google cardboard compatible headset to stream computer games to the phone in stereoscopic 3D. The main problem with this approach was that it was still relatively expensive as it required a smart phone (iOS or Android) to function.

Now in part 2 we will look at building a VR headset from scratch. My initial goal was to do this for under $150(USD), however after shopping around and changing some parts out for alternatives I managed to get this down to around $80. So let us get started.

The parts required are:

  • Toggle Flick Switch
  • 2x LED
  • 1x resistor 150 Ohm
  • 1x Micro USB cable (at least 2 meters long)
  • 1x HDMI Cable (thin ones work best as they hinder movement less, also at least 2 meters long)
  • Some jumper wires
  • DC Adapter plug 5V 3A (Raspberry Pi compatible one works great)
  • Push Button
  • Google Cardboard Compatible VR Headset (I recommend one with a phone compartment door that opens as it gives better access than the ones which uses a tray that slides in)
  • 6DOF MPU 6050 3Axis gyroscope and accelerometer
  • Arduino Micro (can use off brand alternative)
  • 5inch RaspberryPi LCD Screen 800×480 with HDMI interface

All of these parts can be acquired on AliExpress for about $80 ($82.78 to be precise), as shown in the image below:

Resistorflick_switchwireDC AdapmicroUSBHeadsetpushbuttonledMPU6050lcdHDMIarduinoMicrototals

You will also require Tridef3D or similar software (there are some free alternatives, but I have not had a chance to give them a try at present). Tridef3D is used to convert any Direct X 9/10/11 game into stereoscopic 3D. Tridef3D offers a 14-day free trial, which is plenty to give this a try. The full version of Tridef3D retails for $39.99.

Now that we have all the required components, let us begin with the assembly.

The assembly comprises of 3 main elements:

  1. The Arduino Micro circuit (containing the MPU 6050, push button and led)
  2. The Wiring (providing connectivity to Arduino Micro and power to Screen)
  3. Inserting the screen in the headset and connecting the micro USB cables as well as the HDMI cable.

The Arduino Micro circuit

The diagram below illustrates how the different components need to be connected to the Arduino Micro:

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The push button uses digital pin 5 and the MPU 6050 is connected to the Arduino Micro as follows:

– MPU 6050 SCL pin to Digital Pin 3 on Arduino

– MPU 6050 SDA pin to Digital Pin 2 on Arduino

– MPU 6050 VCC to 5V pin on Arduino

– MPU 6050 GND to GND pin on Arduino

The code to be loaded on the Arduino is as follows:

#include <Mouse.h>
#include <Wire.h>
#include <I2Cdev.h>
#include <MPU6050.h>

MPU6050 mpu;
int16_t ax, ay, az, gx, gy, gz;
int vx, vy;
int inputPin = 5;
bool enableMouse;

void setup() {
Serial.begin(9600);
Wire.begin();
mpu.initialize();
enableMouse = true;
pinMode(inputPin, INPUT);
if (!mpu.testConnection()) {
while (1);
}
Serial.println("Running...");
}

void loop() {
int val = digitalRead(inputPin);
if (val == HIGH) { // check if the input is HIGH
//Place logic here to execute when button is pressed
//Disables mouse movement while button is pressed, this allows you to set your view angle easily.
enableMouse = false;
}
else
{
enableMouse = true;
}
if(enableMouse)
{
mpu.getMotion6(&ax, &ay, &az, &gx, &gy, &gz);
vx = -(gy)/150;
vy = (gz+100)/150;
Mouse.move(vx, vy);
delay(20);
}
}

Just note that the orientation of the MPU 6050 makes a difference to which of the axis of the gyroscope will be used. For the above code the MPU 6050 was mounted on the side of the headset as shown in the pictures below:

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In the event of the MPU 6050 being mounted with a different orientation you might have to substitute between the gx, gy and gz values until the desired configuration is achieved.

For my configuration I am rotating around the Y and Z axis.

Also the numbers associated with calculation of vx and vy might have to be tweaked to get the results (movement speed etc.) you desire.

I also added a push button, that when pressed temporarily disables the gyroscopic mouse movement. This is useful when you want to reset you point of view in games.

I attached all the parts of this circuit to the VR Headset using double-sided tape.

The Wiring

In order to have as few cables as possible connecting to the VR headset I modified the USB cable so that it pulls external power from a DC power adapter (a single USB port will not be able to power both the Arduino and the 5 inch LCD) as well as splitting into 2 micro USBs on one end (one only provided power to the LCD and the other one both power and connectivity to Arduino.) the below diagram shows how the wiring is connected:

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For reference a USB cables contains 4 wires:

  • Red wire – +5V DC
  • White or Yellow – Data connectivity
  • Green – Data Connectivity
  • Black – GND

I also included a switch to turn the power on and off (this is useful to turn off the mouse functionality until it is needed, otherwise it will interfere with mouse movement when it is not desired) as well as an LED to show when the headset is powered on.

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Inserting Screen in Headset and connecting all the wiring

The LCD screen is held in place by the clamps in the headset used to hold a phone (it is a snug fit). Then simply connect the 2 micro USBs to the LCD and Arduino respectively (ensuring the plug with the data connections is plugged into the Arduino and that the power only micro USB is plugged into the power socket on the LCD display). Try to run the cables in the extra spaces in the Headset around the screen in order to keep them out of the way.

Lastly connect the HDMI cable to the LCD.

The assembly is now complete.

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Connecting headset to PC and setting up software

To connect the headset to your PC do the following:

  1. Plug the DC adapter into mains power.
  2. Plug the USB connector into an available USB port in your PC.
  3. Connect HDMI cable into and available HDMI port on your PC graphics card (You can use a DVI port with an adapter)

Go to display settings and click on detect displays, then set Multiple displays to “Duplicate these Displays” and make sure your resolution is set to 800×480.

Open up Tridef3D and start-up a game.

You might have to play around with each individual games graphical settings as well as mouse sensitivity to get the best results.

For future enhancements I will look at getting a higher definition LCD screen and also work on head movement tracking by using infrared LEDs and a Wiimote (Wiimote used as a IR Camera).

And there you have it a DIY VR Headset for $80. Give it a try.

Here is a short demonstration video:

DIY VR Headset for $80 (DIY VR Part 2)