jump to navigation

USB Missile Launcher NZ & iPhone 5 April 2009

Posted by David Wilson in iPhone, usb, USB Missile.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Development on the iPhone program for control of USB Missile Launchers has continued this weekend. I have implemented the client/server model that was mentioned in my last post. You can run multiple servers (USB Missile Launcher NZ) with the iPhone application detecting these on your local LAN and by connecting to a server you can issue commands to that server software (USB Missile Launcher NZ).

I’ve tried to make sure that the software will operate without fuss. In the process I managed to find and fix a memory leak in the USB Missile Launcher NZ software (that improved stability!), and I’ve also tried to make sure that the communications between the server and client are robust enough not to have to restart software, client or server, everytime you want to switch from one server to another.

OK I know not everyone is going to have more than one launcher, let alone more than one Mac running the USB Missile Launcher NZ software so that you can connect to different servers. It’s all part of the development process and has helped greatly to ensure there will be a reliable product for release.

screenshot-20090405-203559

The screen shot above from the iPhone should the main view when the application is launched. Yes I know it’s not flash. At this time I’m concentrating on the application communications code to ensure it’s robust enough when released. This screen shot shows that on launch the software has found the preferred default server is running and has successfully connected to it. Your next step is to press the Unlock button (as you would in the software on the desktop) and then you can use the missile launcher directional keys and fire. The Blue line with white text is for messages that are sent back from the server. If you switch launchers through the settings screen, you press the connect button when you return here. This switches the server that you are connected to.

Note: the Unlock (blue highlighted text) and Send button are for testing only. They will be removed.

screenshot-20090405-203605

The settings screen will list the servers (USB Missile Launcher NZ) that are discovered on your LAN. You tap on a server to give it the “tick” which is the preferred/default launcher when the application starts. When you return to the main screen, you press the connect button.

I think iPhone application is good and stable at this point, as is the server (USB Missile Launcher NZ). I’ll do some more testing during the week. What I need next is some fancy graphics.

Lastly the iPhone software probably will not be available anytime soon, it is dependant on an unreleased version of the iPhone SDK, I might have to check that out as I cannot remember why as of writing this.

USB Missile Launcher NZ – Update 29 March 2009

Posted by David Wilson in iPhone, Mac, usb, USB Missile.
Tags: , , ,
2 comments

A few weeks ago I began getting a few messages about the USB Missile Launcher NZ software not working with the DreamCheeky InfraRed launcher. So I decided it was time to update the software so that it would function with this launcher. I’m pleased to report that the software has past testing with an actual launcher. I would like to that those that contributed to the blog comments on what had been done to get things working… now the support for the DreamCheeky InfraRed launcher is built in. As of writing this working version of the missile launcher software has not been publicly released.

Inspired by working with the USB Missile Launcher NZ software again and by the iPhone development I have decided that it is time to get a iPhone client working for the missile launchers. I’ve been thinking about this over the weekend and it seems that directly connecting a USB Missile Launcher device direct to the iPhone would be difficult and unlikely to be allowed by Apple (it seems devices must be “Made for iPod”). Even a home hack as such would be difficult as a minimum requirement would be a female-to-female USB connector would be required or a female to 30 pin dock connector would be required. Even if they do exist hardly anyone would have one.

So… the solution has been to introduce the Bonjour communication protocol into the USB Missile Launcher NZ software. My development version is working and along with my very very rough iPhone program in the simulator it does have control of a Missile launcher connected to my Mac.

If you are still reading and interested in Mac to iPhone client/server communications I can recommend two articles for reading. Very good reading and the examples are available for download as well.

http://macresearch.org/cocoa-scientists-part-xxviii-bonjour-and-how-do-you-do
http://www.macresearch.org/cocoa-scientists-part-xxix-message

Right now the server side implementation for USB Missile Launcher NZ is fairly well complete. The iPhone implementation is as I said very rough and while it works enough to prove functionality it now needs significant work for public use. Guess what I’m doing next. If anyone would like to help with fancy graphics (buttons, interface, etc) I would love to hear from you.

They move 2 October 2008

Posted by David Wilson in USB Missile.
Tags: , , , , ,
add a comment

Finally… I got my “A into G” and did the video I’ve been talking about doing for over a year now. I got all of my missile launchers together connected using two USB hubs, added in the joystick and had them all moving together.

7 USB Missile Launchers

1 x Joystick (Wireless)

2 x USB Hubs

1 x Mac

Here’s the video…

USB Missile Launcher NZ v 1.4.11 Released 2 June 2008

Posted by David Wilson in USB Missile.
Tags: , , , , ,
5 comments

This release has a bit of an interface change… That’s the cosmetic stuff. Behind the scenes though there is been some improvements as I’ve mentioned in a previous post:

  • Distribution created by automated build
  • Changed application identifier from “com.david.USB Missile Launcher NZ” to “com.david.USBMissileLauncherNZ” – this resolves issues with PackageMaker 3.0 – preferences are also reset as a result of this. Users could also delete the file “~/Library/Preferences/com.david.USB Missile Launcher NZ” if they want to.
  • Enhanced deployment package so that System Extensions (Kext) files don’t always need to be installed, and thus don’t need to reboot
  • Code Cleanup in USBMissileControl, DeviceNotification procedure
  • Found and fixed an issue with menu controls for the launcher – specifically move up/right
  • Fix an issue in Germal localisation language translation file
  • Major internal engineering change with main window and NSResponder
  • Modified driver code to handle USB device connection issues better and in a more friendly way to avoid application crashes
  • Video window can now be closed and re-opened
  • Main application window cannot be closed
  • Fixed a bug in MissileControl for handling multiple launchers – only impacted there was DreamRocketII style launcher connected
  • Launch controls drawer now has background picture (yea, big deal – I know).

Click on the download link on this page to get the latest version

USB Missile Launcher NZ – Update 18 May 2008

Posted by David Wilson in USB Missile.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment

It has been a while, coming up on six months, since the last update to USB Missile Launcher NZ. Occasionally I look at the program source code and make some changes and some fixes. This usually means that I get to find something that doesn’t quite work the way I want it to and then figure out some improvements or enhancements. Currently I’m sitting on 12 fixes/enhancements, though not all are visual or effect missile launcher operations. I was listening to an episode of Late Night Cocoa on automated builds which inspired me to do something in that space and in turn had me playing with the command line interfaces to many of the Mac Development tools. This means that I can “push the GO button” and automatically build a package for distribution… 

Until I do publish a new version of the launcher software, have a look at the enhancement/fix list:

  • Distribution created by automated build
  • Changed application identifier from “com.david.USB Missile Launcher NZ” to “com.david.USBMissileLauncherNZ” – this resolves issues with PackageMaker 3.0 – preferences are also reset as a result of this. Users could also delete the file “~/Library/Preferences/com.david.USB Missile Launcher NZ” if they want to.
  • Enhanced deployment package so that System Extensions (Kext) files don’t always need to be installed, and thus don’t need to reboot
  • Code Cleanup in USBMissileControl, DeviceNotification procedure
  • Found and fixed an issue with menu controls for the launcher – specifically move up/right
  • Fix an issue in Germal localisation language translation file
  • Major internal engineering change with main window and NSResponder
  • Modified driver code to handle USB device connection issues better and in a more friendly way to avoid application crashes
  • Video window can now be closed and re-opened
  • Main application window cannot be closed
  • Fixed a bug in MissileControl for handling multiple launchers – only impacted there was DreamRocketII style launcher connected
  • Launch controls drawer now has background picture (yea, big deal – I know).
And a note about the Wireless USB Missile Launcher. I have received reports of the software not working with this launcher. I cannot confirm this as I don’t have one of these launcher. I have requested detail from the manufacturers and are currently waiting to hear back.

MSN Missile Launcher and Camera – Update 3 May 2008

Posted by David Wilson in Mac, USB Missile.
Tags: , , , ,
add a comment

Further to my last post on this subject, I discovered last night that the while the camera does work with maccam, it only seems to work correctly when plugged directly into the computer. In other words it does not function when plugged into a USB HUB (and it was a 2.0 HUB). This was tested while the hub was powered and un powered.

 

MSN Missile Launcher – Camera Support for Mac 21 April 2008

Posted by David Wilson in USB Missile.
Tags: , , , , , ,
1 comment so far

If you’ve got one of the DreamCheeky MSN Missile Launchers (you know the ones that come with the camera on top and would like to get the camera working on your Mac… Here’s how.

Download the MacCam software from sourceforge. Make sure you get the latest version (I got the CVS build of 2008-03-13). This includes support for the camera (specifically the ZSMC ZS211 USB PC Camera (ZS0211). Actually the camera seems to have come from Vimicro.

Once you have downloaded MacCam, unzip the archive. You will need to manually copy the file maccam.component into the /System/Library/Quicktime folder and copy the MacCam application into your Applications folder.

Plug in the Camera only to a spare USB port and run the MacCam program. You should get a black window with a right pointing triangle in the top of the window. This is for “Play”. Press it. You should now see web camera images on the screen.

If you’ve got this far and it’s all working… you can now use the “Missile Camera” with the USB Missile Launcher NZ software. It will be automatically detected and if you open the video window, the onscreen target will be what the camera sees.

The additional good news here is that now you have the camera working, it also works with Skype. No fiddling or configuration changes are required.

If you are using a machine that also has a built in iSight, you will need to alter the video settings in USB Missile Launcher NZ so that the source for video input is the USB Web Camera mounted on the Missile Launcher.

Good Luck. Happy shooting!

DreamCheeky MSN Launcher Review 8 April 2008

Posted by David Wilson in USB Missile.
Tags:
add a comment

With much anticipation I awaited the arrival of my 7th USB Missile Launcher, or was that 5th – I’ve lost count. What I was keen to confirm was if my Mac software, USB Missile Launcher NZ, would drive the launcher or if I needed to make coding changes. So first onto the unboxing.

  

  

In the box are: 1 x Launcher, 3 x nurf missiles, giant Target, instructions, and installation CD. This is the first launcher that I have received that has 4 pages of instructions. 

The first two pages of instructions guide you through the installation of the windows software noting that the software must be installed before connecting the launcher to the USB port(s) on your computer. There is a special note that says “Using an external USB HUB or docking station may result in the loss of power to the MSN missile launcher. The unit may not work properly”. I suspect that this is because the devices do not supply their own power, they draw it from the computer and connecting the devices to one USB port may cause an issue. My recommendation is that you use this unit with a powered USB Hub.

The outstanding key difference between the MSN missile launcher and its predecessors the USB missile launcher are that this one comes with a USB Camera (web cam) mounted very nicely on top of the launcher. This web cam is separately and thus has it’s own USB connection to the computer. So, that’s one USB connection for the web camera and one USB connection for the missile launcher.

How easy is the MSN missile launcher to set up? Well I gave the missile launcher to my 10 year old and asked him to set it up on his Windows XP machine (I didn’t give him the supplied documentation). He had it all up and running within 10 minutes or so after installing the software, and he even asked me for a USB Hub. I was impressed.

He ran up the missile launcher software and has been firing missiles at me, with great joy, all afternoon. There is a separate application to run to get the camera view from the camera on top of the missile launcher. And you can manually press a button on top of the camera to get a freeze frame picture. The web camera has a ZS211 IC in it, so I thought a little experiment was in order – I can confirm that the camera does work with Skype. And it works really well. Now I particularly like the design of the web camera and launcher fitting. It is easily interchangeable between the MSN Missile Launcher and any of its older family members.

If you’re into MSN there is one and a half pages of instructions on how to install and use the missile launcher through the MSN service.

Back on the Mac the internals of the missile launcher are the same as the “Rocket Baby” – the previous USB missile launcher (green one). This means that the USB Missile Launcher NZ software simply just works. I have not yet been able to get it working with the camera and will issue a new release of the software if needed or instruction on what you need to do to get the camera working on the Mac.

 

PROS

Works with existing Mac software (aka RocketBaby)

Camera mount is great camera works well with Windows 

MSN integration is unique

 

CONS

Windows software still the same

Not easily able to integrate Camera support on the Mac (yet)

May need a powered USB hub if you’re running short on USB ports

 

SUMMARY

I like this new launcher and the slick camera integration. I admit to being somewhat surprised to see two USB leads for the device, though it is actually devices and makes software implementation very easy. It also means you can use the camera as a web camera and its already mounted. Nice implementation DreamCheeky, can we get an ICMB integrated with Google Maps next? ;-)

iPhone control of Missile Launcher 15 March 2008

Posted by David Wilson in USB Missile.
Tags:
3 comments

Here’s an idea…

Now that the iPhone SDK has been released it’s time to start thinking about how the iPhone or iPod Touch could be used to control and fire missiles from the USB Missile Launchers. So I’ve been thinking…

1. Missile Luncher(s) are connected to a Mac running USB Missile Launcher NZ software

2. iPhone/iPod Touch software uses accelerometer to control axis movement of the launcher and touching the screen fires the launcher

How will it work internally?

We’ll I don’t know nearly enough about the SDK yet. The USB Missile Launcher NZ software is AppleScript enabled. So the thought is that if the iPhone application can send through AppleScript events to the Mac running the USB Missile Launcher NZ software then we have a winner!

The hard bit here is that I don’t have an iPhone or iPod touch with which to test and I live outside the US and cannot enrol the iPhone developer program at this point. If anyone wants to try developing this idea I look forward to hearing from you.

- David

DreamCheeky have forums 19 February 2008

Posted by David Wilson in USB Missile.
add a comment

DreamCheeky have forums!

Looks like they have been up since mid December and anyone is free to register. Here’s the link http://dreamlink.info/dream/forum

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 103 other followers