Automatic insect followerer

3D printer, USB microscope, bug. What you got to lose?

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This project is devoted to the idea that there's no reason you *shouldn't* automatically follow bugs around with a macro camera. Another byproduct of the LadyBug project for motorized 2+3D scanning microscopy.

  • Follow that ant!

    Ahron Wayne04/22/2020 at 22:02 0 comments

    This video was made possible by two things. 1: A toggle save video feature, which I didn't have in the last video (hence filming my screen), and 2: Cake. Ants love cake, and giving the ant a little piece of something colorful means you can follow that instead of making your tracker insect-specific.

    I am still trying to make the tracker more robust. I followed this guide by Adrian Rosebrock to implement a generic tracker than can except bounding box coordinates of what to keep an eye on. The idea is that you could use your neural network or whatever to identify the bug in just one frame, and then the tracker would handle subsequent frames (as opposed to looking for the bug in every single frame, as I'm doing with color in the video above). 

    But even if you give it the coordinates manually by clicking and dragging, the trackers are just too slow and dumb, and the ants are too small and fast. But I'm still trying on and off. In the meantime, enjoy the above ant footage, which I personally think is pretty cool by itself. 

  • Minimum viable bug tracker

    Ahron Wayne04/16/2020 at 18:08 0 comments

    So maybe you've seen this first video already:

    It's not working perfectly, but it is a bug tracker. It's kind of a minimum viable bug tracker. It consists of three things, really;

    1: A USB microscope. This is what you will use to look at a bug. In my first video I'm alternately using one that costs a thousand dollars and one that costs a hundred dollars. But if you have one that costs 10 dollars, just use that. You also gotta find a way to stick it onto the printer --- I'm using a thing that's 3D-printed, big surprise.  

    2: A 3D printer. It's gonna move the microscope around. In this video it's a tronxy x1 style kind, but use whatever you got! It's GCode controlled, so you don't have to get a new control board or anything. Be advised that this one is Marlin based.

    3: Magic machine vision to identify the bug and a control loop to make the printer move. This is where almost all of the work on the project is going to be.

    In the video shown, the detector is looking for a blob of color --- literally, I took it from code for tracking a green ball. I turned the standalone code into a function that would accept color boundaries and a frame, and then return the frame but with a circle drawn on it the coordinates of the blob of color, if it was found. 

    This is obviously not super robust, so the next step is implementing a detector that's based on something more insect-specific --- still mulling over those options. But it's likely that it'll be the first thing I can find which actually works when I haphazardly glue it into my code. 

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Øystein wrote 04/17/2020 at 10:35 point

This made my day. A literal bug tracker.. Great project :)

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Ahron Wayne wrote 04/18/2020 at 03:12 point

Thank you. It made my day that it made your day.

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Dan Maloney wrote 04/16/2020 at 16:18 point

What are you triggering on here? From the bounding circles it looks like only certain features on the insect are being recognized. 

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Ahron Wayne wrote 04/16/2020 at 17:39 point

It's just looking for a blob of color right now, based around Adrian's code here:

And you can switch between common colors that might be found on a bug. This is obviously not robust in any way shape or form and fails outside of a standard white background (like in the video). If it's not just one blob of color you can give it something with that color to eat, and it might even help it stay still. I would like to do shape-based tracking but it seems a bit harder. 

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