Ivan just got back from TESOL, where the Wiimote-based $50 Interactive Whiteboard was very well received. We started talking about some of the questions that were asked which lead to this post: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the $50 Interactive Whiteboard.
How much does it cost? / Is it really only $50?
The controller for the Nintento Wii is for sale throughout the United States for $40. You can build an infrared pen for $5-6. The software is free to download. The cost of the computer, projector, and Bluetooth adapter (if your computer does not have built-in Bluetooth) are not included in the $50.
I can’t make my own infrared pen. Can I buy one?
Absolutely. Do a Google search and you will find several options starting as low as $6.
Do I have to modify the Wiimote? / Can I still use it with my Wii?
No / Yes. The Wiimote connects to the computer via Bluetooth, the same way it connects to the Wii. You don’t have to open the Wiimote, break it, or reprogram it. So, if you (or your kids) have a Wii, you can use the equipment you already have for both purposes.
Can I take a Wiimote and infrared pen in my carry-on luggage?
You mean if you’re flying to a conference to make a presentation? It turns out you can. Both Ivan and I have recently carried these devices onto flights and had no problems at all.
How do I know if my infrared pen is working?
Check it with the camera on a cell phone.
How do I get started?
Download the free software (Mac version or PC version), build an infrared pen (see my demo) or buy one online, connect to the Wiimote via Bluetooth (open your Bluetooth devices, push the 1 and 2 buttons on the Wiimote, add the device), run the software, calibrate it (push the “calibrate button,” click on the targets), and you are done.
How do I set it up?
Place the Wiimote so that it is at least as high as the midpoint of the screen and aimed at the center of the screen. It should be at a 45 degree angle from the surface of the screen on either the left or right side, depending on how you write — you don’t want to block the Wiimote’s view of the pen with your hand. The Wiimote should be placed far enough away (usually about 10 feet) to be able to “see” the whole screen. You’re ready to calibrate (see above).
What should I do? My writing is choppy. / My Wiimote can’t see my pen. / There are too many infrared dots!
If your writing is choppy or your pen seems to stutter, try adjusting the “smoothness” on the PC version. Mac users have fewer options. Quit as many other applications as you can and / or try moving the Wiimote closer to the screen and recalibrating.
If your Wiimote can’t see your pen, check that the Wiimote is connected to your computer and that your pen is working. Assuming everything is working properly, you probably need to reposition your Wiimote so that it can see the entire screen. The Mac version allows you to track infrared dots that the Wiimote sees, which is helpful, but both versions tell you how many dots are visible. Try the pen at all four corners to make sure it is visible. If not, move the Wiimote and try again.
If you are seeing too many infrared dots, you may be picking up interference. I’ve gotten infrared interference from overhead incandescent lighting. Try moving the Wiimote around to see if you can identify the source of the interference and then eliminate it (in my case, I turned off those lights).
Hope this helps. If you have a question that does not appear on this list, leave it as a comment and I’ll answer it and / or add it to the list.