Hide and Seek

A whimsical bike-to-bike navigator for burning man

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A simple way to communicate position between two bikes across burning man. If my girlfriend see's something cool, she can press the "Call" button and my bike will notify me and use an arrow on a spring to point me to her direction. She'll have a similar device on her bike. At any time we can press "Home" and be directed back to our camp.

This is using GPS/Compass, Long Range 900 MHz XBee, scratch-built multi-turn servo, a teensy and a whole bunch of 3D printed prototype parts.

When the project is done, each of our bikes will have wooden enclosure control panels mounted in the center of the handlebars. There will be a few status LEDs, a large arrow and  4 buttons: "Call", "Seek", "Home" and "Cancel". At all times both control panels will be announcing their GPS location to the other bike via long range xbee.

The Call button broadcasts a simple 1 bit call message to the other bike to come find you. This causes the call LED on that person's bike to start flashing and a noise to sound.

The Seek button will immediately guide you to the other bike via the large arrow that is mounted to a motor via a long spring coming out of the top of the control panel. A 1 bit seek message will be sent to the other bike to let them know you're coming.

The Home button will direct you back to camp from wherever you are.

The Cancel button will cancel any of those three button actions.


Each control panel will be communicating via XBee-Pro 900 XSC S3B, which have about a 9 mile range...line of sight. Burning Man is flat, however, there are many camps, RVs and design installations that might get in the way. I'm not entirely sure how this will interact with the signal. To compensate, I'm considering putting an XBee repeater on a mast above my camp to boost the signals from each bike.

  • 2 × Arduino Mega
  • 2 × XBee-Pro 900 XSC S3B For long range communication between bikes
  • 2 × GPS RF, RFID Hardware / Antennas
  • 2 × Dipole duck antenna 2dBi gain
  • 2 × LSM303DLMTR Tilt Compensated Compass

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  • xbee range problem

    Jeremy07/01/2014 at 00:21 0 comments

    Over the weekend I tried some range testing with the xbees with a pair of 2dBi duck antennas. I only got about a half mile away from my car, in the open, before they started having trouble communicating with each other. Unfortunately this range will not do. I'd like to be able to get at least a mile or two out of them. Now to figure out how to optimize this. There aren't any cement buildings at burning man, but lots of camps, RVs and wooden structures. If you have any ideas, let me know.

  • Borked an XBee

    Jeremy06/06/2014 at 16:39 0 comments

    Last night while soldering the duck antenna connectors (RP-SMA) to the xbees I somehow bricked one. It can can communicate with my computer over USB but doesn't seem to transmit and/or receive over wireless anymore. I checked my soldering and I don't see anything where it shouldn't be. The entire xbee got quite hot while soldering, so I'm guessing that might have done it.

    Since I only have two xbees it's hard to diagnose which one is broken and how bad it's borked. So I just ordered a couple more with the RP-SMA connectors already mounted.

    When the new xbees come in I'll do some range testing to see if I'll need to mount repeater at Burning Man.

  • First Log

    Jeremy06/06/2014 at 16:36 0 comments

    At this point I have both control panels prototyped on breadboards and talking to each other quite well. I haven't been able to test them pointing to each other yet, but that will come soon. 

    The arrow is also done and working. For this I rolled my own servo from a motor and continuous potentiometer that slides around the shaft. This way the motor can go more than 360 degrees and still stop precisely where I want it to. The arrow is 3D printed and connected to the motor via a spring and a couple of beveled gears in an actobotics aluminum channel. The spring is to provide it some flexibility, in case the bike falls over, and the gears are to keep any of that torquing off the motor.

View all 3 project logs

Enjoy this project?



PointyOintment wrote 07/24/2014 at 19:34 point
I think sending a message longer than one bit (preferably with some kind of ECC too) would improve reliability.

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themacman33 wrote 07/08/2014 at 23:39 point
This is a sweet project idea.
You may want to look into security for the GPS broadcast. There are some weird people out there, and sharing your GPS location unwittingly could be unwanted. Just a consideration.

Good luck!

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Adam Fabio wrote 06/23/2014 at 02:52 point
Thanks for entering your hide and seek arrows in The Hackaday Prize! This could come in handy at a lot more places than just burning man - It would be fun to have at MakerFaire as well! Those Xbees do have a long range, but at bigger events the repeater will come in handy. Don't forget to keep uploading videos, images, and schematics as you move forward. the more open, the better your chance to make it to Space!

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