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£100 Google Glass using Raspberry Pi

DIY Google glass but done properly

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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.

System Design Document

The aim of this project is to create a system which allows anything that would normally be displayed on the Raspberry Pi's screen to be project onto a Head Mounted Display. It is also very important that the project have wireless connections between the two halves (The Raspberry Pi and the display) to allow this project to be as versatile as possible.

Below is the plan we are following.

As can be follow from out project logs, we have now completed this and are still experimenting with the optics layout and the aesthetics.

See the video below for our progress so far:


The beginning:

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,...

Read more »

  • Electrical tape is a valid construction material...

    danielmcgraw08/20/2014 at 22:23 0 comments

    Now we had the electronic components working, it was time to test it out. For this, I only used the electronic components without worrying about the optics. This meant I temporarily mounted the LCDs outside the glasses just to check that they worked.

    This works with the two units separated across each end of the room with now degrading of the image. The glasses were still very light and comfortable, despite the fact they were covered in insulation tape. This has appeared promising so we will now combine this with the optics to make the Mk2 MUCH more aesthectically pleasing.

  • Night Vision - Part 1

    michaelmcdonnell08/20/2014 at 19:17 0 comments

    One of the aims we stated in the description was to have some sort of night vision capability and some functionality to link with other devices around the home. The beauty of these is that they can be linked together very easily. This is due to the fact that both involve at least one IR LED. The camera uses this to project light this is outside the visible range and so unless another person is using another night vision device you will be invisible. For linking with devices around the home, any remote that you use will almost always use IR light to communicate, therefore bring the glasses into the realm of universal remote and the universe of things.

    For now I will be focusing on the Night vision aspect and for this I will be using a simple webcam that I just happened to have lying around. In this case it was a Creative Live! Chat cam HD, though most any one will do. Now I want to point out here that I am not fully integrating this into the project yet, merely producing the capability to be able to do so.

    This first job to do was to take the housing apart, which was simple in my case. There were no screws at all only clips so I could use a knife to get into the gap and lever it open. Once inside I was presented with a circuit board that filled the container, most of which appears like it is needed for the camera unfortunately as this means that it cannot be shrunk very much. The lens assembly covers the sensor and that is the raised section.

    In this block there is the focusing lens and the IR filter (which is what gives it the red tint). This is what needs to be removed, although it may be hidden behind the lens. Great care needs to be taken when removing it if you ever wish to use it again as the filter is very fragile and will smash easily. I myself managed to remove it OK and then dropped it, causing it to smash on the floor. Now there is the option here to place one or two layers of photo negative into the gap where the filter used to be. This will cause only IR light to be passed through to the sensor and render the camera useless in normal light. Due to this I decided to omit this step, but feel free to include it if you wish.

    The lens then needs to be placed back over the sensor, so that images can be formed again. For the time being I have also replaced everything back into the casing for safe keeping until I return to the UK and can find a way to properly integrate it to the project. Also the an IR LED needs to be included so that the camera can see properly in the dark.

    A quick update, I have now managed to get a photo with the webcam using a tv remote to provide the illumination.

  • Optics - Part 2

    michaelmcdonnell08/20/2014 at 11:12 0 comments

    We had one other problem with our current arrangement and that was the fact that, as the image was reflected, it was mirrored horizontally. We realised the solution to this was to reflect the image first before having it hit the glasses and this also ended up solving the first issue. The only final problem was that of the person’s vision being affected by the use of the lens however that was easily remedied by the addition of a further lens from a set of equally strong (+3.50) reading glasses. The rough sketch of the final set up can be seen bellow.

    We are still experimenting with the design and for now have not included the sunglasses in our prototype for the sake of simplicity; however it is something we are looking at implementing in the future. This is both for the fact that less light will reach the eyes making the screen relatively brighter and also that it looks far better and serves to hide all the electronics.

    The reading lenses are from cheap sets you can buy in many local stores and the others are from an online prescription service that allows you to order glasses cheaply to a specific strength. This process can seem complicated but below is an image of how it should look when completed and is in fact very easy. The only number that needs to be modified is the SPH or spherical number, and this needs to be -3.50. The others should be 0 and the PD (pupil distance) is irrelevant and can be any number you like.

    When buying/ordering the glasses buy the cheapest frames you can as they will not be needed at all for the project and can be thrown away as soon as the lenses are removed. To modify this setup for anyone who does require glasses already is very easy, all that needs to be done is to change the strength of the reading glasses so the difference in strength between the two matches you’re prescription and this can be done separately for each eye. For example I have -1.50 eyesight and so I would get +2.00 reading glasses to compensate (-3.50+2.00=-1.50).

    The final consideration with the lenses is to try to find ones that match each other closely in size to avoid as much visual distortion as possible.

View all 10 project logs

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J Groff wrote 12/12/2014 at 11:32 point
rPi seems really underpowered at this point, seems like there are many other SBCs way more powerful in the same footprint

  Are you sure? yes | no

Jasmine Brackett wrote 08/16/2014 at 00:09 point
Hello Daniel and Michael, please review your project documentation to ensure it has everything we require for it to be considered for the next round of The Hackaday Prize.

By August 20th you must have the following info on your project page:
- A video. It should be less than 2 minutes long describing your project. Put it on YouTube (or Youku), and add a link to it on your project page. This is done by editing your project (edit link is at the top of your project page) and adding it as an "External Link"
- At least 4 Project Logs
- A system design document. Please highlight it in the project details so we can find it easily.
- Links to code repositories, and remember to mention any licenses or permissions needed for your project. For example, if you are using software libraries you need to document that information in the details.

You should also try to highlight how your project is 'Connected' and 'Open' in the details and video.

There are a couple of tutorial video's with more info here:

Good luck!

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mistertime wrote 06/11/2014 at 13:44 point
Crap, I was gonna do this.

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Mike Szczys wrote 06/09/2014 at 18:45 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.

  Are you sure? yes | no

michaelmcdonnell wrote 06/10/2014 at 12:39 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.

  Are you sure? yes | no

zakqwy wrote 06/09/2014 at 16:14 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 06/10/2014 at 12:38 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.

  Are you sure? yes | no

zakqwy wrote 06/10/2014 at 15:30 point
Sounds good. Looking forward to the video!

  Are you sure? yes | no

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