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Thread: Please help a biologist gather data on penguins

  1. #1
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    Please help a biologist gather data on penguins using Wii balance board

    Last year I created a scale that weighed penguins going to and from their nests and saved the saved the data to a microSD card. I used 4 load cells with a control board designed by an in house guy and placed them inside a box made of marine-grade plastic. I time stamped and saved the data using a microprocessor (an Arduino to be exact), a RTC module and a MicroSD module made by Libelum.

    I took it to the field this season and had mixed results. It recorded plenty of data, but the electronics proved to be a bit glitchy, particularly the load cells. When I got back I resolved to find a better solution and someone from another message board recommended that I try using a Wii Balance Board, as it is rugged, proven and cheaper than the scale I made.

    I have just a few questions about the feasibility before I push forward with this. If I do decide to continue, I'll have a lot more .

    1) How compatible is the Wiii with the Arduino? Does anyone have experience using the two together? I don't need a Wii console to use it do I?

    2) Can it be powered in the field via an external power source? Say a 6 volt lamp battery? Will it stay on once I turn it on? I need it to be on for a week or more at a time.

    3) Can you have more than one balance board in the same vicinity or will they cross-talk? If not can I work around the Bluetooth and send the data via good old fashioned wiring?

    Thanks in advance.

    Marc Wiseman
    Last edited by marcwiseman; 06-03-2010 at 03:18 PM.

  2. #2
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    In what way has the wii been scientifically proven?

    Do you need the data in a digital format with multiple readings? Depending on the level of accuracy you need, you could probably use an older scale with a pencil and avoid the hassle of microprocessor malfunctions in the arctic.

  3. #3
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    Dear Marc,

    I do have a very basic understanding of your project needs and your desire to leverage the Melbourne validation data against the requirements of your specific project.

    The Arduino has been reported to have been used with the Wii Remote, the MotionPlus Wii Remote add-on, and the Wii Balance Board. The only reference I located was a project, from the OpenCV Study Group, that used the Wii Balance Board with the Arduino unit to control a wooden labyrinth.

    I suggest you look on the Internet for this demonstration project HERE and also see if the specifications were reported back to the Arduino project or are provided on their own website. As you know, the Arduino is rather unusual as an open source hardware project with expectations that users give back to the community after developing new uses. I hope the labyrinth demonstration folks were good Arduino community members.

    There are third-party replacement rechargeable battery packs for the Wii Balance Board with the following specifications: 2800 mAh; Input 5.0 V; Output 4.8 V. Recharging of these third-party battery packs is via a USB cable. Thus, adaptation to an external power source does appear to be feasible.

    As Bluetooth specifications are for device specificity, I am confident that you would be able to find a way to work with multiple units in the field.

    I hope the information provided will be of some help to you. I wish you good luck and success with both your specific project and with the Penguin Sentinel Projects overall. Best wishes for success on your next trip to Antarctica.



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