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£100 Google Glass using Raspberry Pi

DIY Google glass but done properly

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This project was created on 06/05/2014 and last updated 11 days ago.

This is an ongoing project, we will post updates as we progress

Wearable tech is becoming the next big thing in the technology world - tied only with the Internet of things. Many people have tried to replicate the technology used in Google Glass, with some fairly catastrophic results. Many projects took a set of video goggles, removed half of them and said that'll do. Other people used systems where they have the entire project stuck to their forehead which I'm afraid to say isn't a great look. One of the version I have seen involving half a pair of video goggles and a Raspberry Pi advertised itself as "$200 Google Glass" only to say in the notes 3D printer required. I'm sorry but I don't think buying a 3D printer as well comes within a $200 budget. Our aim to is create glasses that don't obstruct vision and look good. We will attempt to do this using ready available parts and with a minimum of test equipment and as we are both students, this will be on a minuscule budget.

As we are just starting out any feedback or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Here is our current plans for the project:

Everything controlled via voice commands using Bluetooth microphone

Camera function

Night vision option using IR LEDs

GPS tracker (able to calculate speed/distance etc.)

Integration with fitness devices (e.g. heart rate monitor)

Possibility for linking with smartphones

Possibility for elements of home automation

I’m Dan and I’ll be dealing with the electronics and hardware side of things, my friend Mike will be writing the software for the Raspberry Pi and doing the physics with the lenses and projecting the image.

First of all we purchased a £50 pair of video goggles off (edit: they have now gone up in price slightly to £65)

I know that sounds a lot but this will be a massive proportion of the money spent. These have composite video input with dual ear buds for stereo sound. They also include a conveniently small battery pack. Then the fun part came, ripping them apart. After a quick test with a Raspberry Pi, the only thing we had lying around with composite video out, to ensure both screens worked, we started to take them to pieces. This was done by bending the frames slightly to remove the lenses in the sun glasses and then undoing the two screws this revealed. The Health and Safety sticker was then cut with a knife allowing the two halves to separate and to let us have a look at the internal circuitry.

As can be seen, this consists of a breakout board at the top which splits the input into the two audio channels and directs the rest to the display board. This is then connected to the LCDs using a ribbon cable for the data and a two wire connector for power. Following the traces on the breakout board showed that the audio signals were directly connected to the jacks, meaning this board could be replaced with wires and then ignored for the audio signals. As the display board was miniscule, we couldn’t make that any smaller, so we left it as it was. 

  • Shrinking the control board - Part 1

    Now we had got a rough idea of how the electronics worked together, I (Dan) started to look at the control board to see if it could be made any smaller. Opening the case (4 screws – 1 in each corner including one under the health and safety sticker) revealed a board mostly populated by....nothing. It was just about empty. Quick testing with a multimeter showed that the video signal passed straight through, the audio signals went through one resistor and then a variable resistor functioning as a volume control and all 12 components on the board were a charging circuit for the battery.

    Yellow Shows the video going straight through

    Red and white are the two audio lines

    I sat down and, using only a multimeter with continuity test, managed to create a circuit diagram for the board. From this, I will be able to rebuild the board much smaller as it only needs to have 12 components on it. This micro surgery may be a little ambitious for some but should be no problem for people with experience with a soldering iron and a good magnifying glass. The simplicity of the circuit is shown in the circuit diagram and tomorrow, I’ll see what I can do to shrink this board and see how small we can go.

    As we are uncertain as to what U1 is, the physical layout is used in the circuit diagram. As both audio paths are identical, the circuit is only shown once with the values in brackets referring to the other line.

  • Speech Recognition - Part 1

    Other than the hardware, the other main aspect to this project is the software and user interface. I am going to be working with the raspberry pi with the Debian “Wheezy” OS installed and doing most of the programming via SSH.

    The first thing that I started to work on in this respect was voice recognition as this would be crucial to our design, mainly because the user will have no other way of inputting information. Having looked around I decided that CMU sphinx’s tool pocketsphinx would be ideal as it is quite ligh Read more »


Project logs
  • Hardware Video Overview

    13 days ago • 0 comments

    Hi guys,

    Just wanted to show you what the project is looking like at the moment. Any questions / advice / things you want to see in this project, just leave a comment and we will be grateful for your feedback. One of the big things was making sure that this worked using any operating system on the Raspberry Pi and by designing it to use the RCA output, once this is built, it should be able to plug into any Raspberry Pi and work instantly so this can be easily combined with any other project.

  • Wireless Success

    16 days ago • 0 comments

    I have now tested the two wireless modules and things are going very well. For testing the transceiver modules were powered of 12V to ensure they worked before modifying them and everything was connected up using the provided connections although this made the test project quite large. 

    In the room next door, I assembled the receiver section to make sure that it worked.

    This worked very successfully with no problems with the image. Now to shrink both of these portions down. The optics STILL have not yet all arrived so that has had to be put off again. 

    Both the wireless board use a 7805 regulator to provide 5V. 

    This is the large IC on the left of the board where 78M05 can just be read. We will provide power on the bottom right pin which is the 5V output to prevent us having to step up the power only for the 7805 to waste energy stepping back down. I will then re-run the battery test program to see how long the battery lasts doing what will be typical for it in this project. EDIT: This has now been complete with a battery life of 192 minutes (just over 3 hours) so this is looking very promising.

  • Testing, Testing 123

    16 days ago • 0 comments

    The first thing we wanted to test was the battery life when the Raspberry Pi was powered from our 2500mAh battery. The Raspberry Pi is advertised as drawing 700mA so we expected about 3.5 hours. To test this, the Raspberry Pi was powered from the battery and boost converter with the only other thing connected being an Ethernet cable to receive the data. The setup is shown below with the battery on the left, the boost circuit on the breadboard providing power to the Raspberry pi via the GPIO.

    I ran this simple python program which sent data to my desktop via SSH. (parts after # indicates an explanation, not the actual code)

    import time #time library allowing the RPi to wait a certain length of time

    x=0 #set up a value for x

    while(1): #forever loop

    print int(x) #send x to desktop

    x=x+1 #increment x

    time.sleep(60) #wait for 60 seconds or 1 minute

    This was then left for about 6 hours to run and the last value of x received on my computer was 248. This means the Raspberry Pi was on for 248 minutes since the program was started so the battery lasted about 4 hours. This is more than expected but that is probably due to the fact that this was the only thing being run by the Raspberry Pi so the processor could run on very minimal resources. When the transmitter and Bluetooth are connected and the Pi is running a more complex program, I expect this to reduce to about 2.5 hours.

    Our microsurgery on the charger circuit has proved to be unsuccessful as the metal parts came off certain components so we have purchased a Li-Po battery charger from Pimoroni (though they appeared to be Adafruit products) along with the large battery for the Raspberry Pi and 2 boost circuits. Once we have the Raspberry Pi working, I shall try and shrink it down but this will be done in small steps and now exams are over, I will try to update this page much more regularly.

     Test software (Top) Results from the test program (Bottom)

View all 5 project logs


mistertime wrote a month ago null point

Crap, I was gonna do this.

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Mike Szczys wrote a month ago null point

This is an awesome topic for The Hackaday Prize. I excited to see it take shape! I especially like the thought of moving the bulk of the computing power somewhere other than the frames of these things.

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michaelmcdonnell wrote a month ago null point

Thanks for your comments. The moving of the computing power somewhere has made things slightly more complicated in terms of the actual displays as everything needs to be controlled wirelessly. However, with Bluetooth and other standardised wireless protocols this is not too much of a problem. Our aim is to make the glasses themselves as small as possible and our current designs for the layout for the Raspberry Pi (and battery) result in a device about the same size as an iPhone. As can be seen from our video, the components that actually require placing on the glasses are all tiny. These are the battery (with charging circuit), the smallest display board and the LCDs themselves. The only other device required is a receiver for the video display and this can be made very small as tiny wireless RCA receivers and transmitters are available on Amazon for a very reasonable cost. We will probably buy one of those for testing and then see if we can reduce the size any further ourselves.

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zakqwy wrote a month ago null point

It sounds like aesthetics are important; have you started putting together a model of the final product? How do you plan to construct the hardware enclosure?

Are you sure? [yes] / [no]

michaelmcdonnell wrote a month ago null point

Aesthetics are obviously very important but how the final project looks will be determined mainly by the arrangement required by the optics i.e. the system of mirrors and lenses to project the image into your eye. We pretty much have this finalised and we aim to release another YouTube video and update showing a first design of the layout of the actual glasses very shortly.

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zakqwy wrote a month ago null point

Sounds good. Looking forward to the video!

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