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    How to : DIY TrackIR


    Snapjaw

    Intro and purpose

    TrackIR tracks for head movement so that you no longer need to use the ALT key; or in the case of a chopper - your POV hat, to look around.
    It is however extremely expensive for the rather simple thing it provides; so this is a guide to do it yourself.
    All in all this DIY probably costed me less than 20$. In other words less than APEX on sale. So I figured it was worth it.
    This is a very rough guide to everything as it would take me a solid weekend to write down all the details. Depending on time and interest I'll update it with more detailed info regarding how I did it.

    So lets get started.

    In order for this to work you're going to need several things:

    • Tracking software to make sense of it all
    • A web camera with IR capabilities
    • An attachment with IR diodes (lamps) 
    • Configuring your software

    Tracking software to make sense of it all

    Download FaceTrackNoIR ( http://facetracknoir.sourceforge.net/home/default.htm ) and take it for a spin.
    You will be using the PointTracker tracker source. You will use this software as you build everything else; to make sure that your camera works and that your circuitry holds.
    More details about optimally configuring it is found later in the guide.

    A word about the FaceAPI (aka facetracking with a webcam and nothing else)
    FaceTrackNoIR is actually a collection of different ways of tracking and conveying the data.
    One of the things that you might want to test is the Tracker Source > faceAPI. This tracks your head with no fixed points using a regular webcam, but comes with several drawbacks.
    First off it is ridiculously slow. 30 FPS is the most you will get out of it.
    Secondly the technique is very unstable. You will end up having to use a massive amount of smoothness (frames to decide where your face is), thus making it even slower.
    Thirdly it is extremely bad at recognizing anyone with a beard or glasses.
    If it still is enough for you; that is definitely the easy way out as the procedure described in this guide requires a fair bit of elbow grease

    Web camera with IR capabilities

    So this is the first big hurdle and in itself requires three things:

    • A webcamera without a IR blocking lens
    • Some sort of IR pass filter
    • Craftmanship

    Personally I settled for the PsEYE ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PlayStation_Eye ) webcamera, which is one of the few that is able to achieve 90-120 fps (compared to the standard 30 fps).
    The downside is that it was meant for playstation and not PC; so I ended up paying a grand 3$ for Windows drivers. https://codelaboratories.com/downloads/
    I felt like they deserve it; but if you're really strapped for cash you can most likely find a free option.

    Secondly, the camera had to be dismembered to remove the IR blocking lens. Most cameras has this, as picking up IR from the background wrecks the image.
    There are a few resources for this, for instance http://nuigroup.com/forums/viewthread/5189/
    Do note that this makes your webcamera completely useless for everyday use, as the IR-cancelling lens also sets the focus for the image.

    Finally an IR pass filter had to be attached. This to make sure only IR would be picked up at any decent level.
    You can achieve this by cutting out a diskette and placing it inside your webcamera.
    Due to the low quality of such a thing, and the expensive nature of proper IR pass filters; I personally just bought an IR cover lens and attached it ontop of the camera.

    An attachment with IR diodes (lamps) 

    You will need:

    If you have wires; great. Otherwise scavange the first usb cable. A usb consists of four cables. What you want is the black and red cables, as they're used to send 5v. The other two are useless.
    Open up the end of the second usb cable. The red one is the 5V, and the black one is ground.
    Make a small circuit with your resistor, leds and and the second usb cable. You're aiming for something similar to this http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/headtracker/f_full.jpg
    Attach the circuit to your office supples in some way. Most likely you'll be attaching your cabling to your office supplies as you go along.
    Put your attachment together.
    Attach it to your headset by some means. Personally I used velcro tape ( https://www.amazon.com/VELCRO-Brand-Industrial-Strength-Black/dp/B00006IC2T ) so I can remove it when I don't need it.

    End Results:

    done.png
     

    Configuring your software

    Once everything works there is plenty of things to try to get right, but the most important ones are the PointTracker tracker source > Settings > Camera > Point extractionPointTracker tracker source > Settings > Camera > Model > Model Dimensions; and the Curves. All of these are very dependent on how your attachment ended up looking, how far you are from your screen, and the light conditions of your gaming room.

    I attached my configuration here. You should likely only need to fiddle with the three items mentioned in the previous paragraph ( armaLoLight.ini ).

    If you went my route with the PSEye drivers you will end up with something called CL-Eye Test. Options < Video Capture Filter of this software lets you manually set the Gain and Exposure. These two together with the Point Extraction mentioned above really sets how receptive your device is to IR. Naturally you want it to pick up as little as possible (to avoid interference); but if you go too hard FaceTrackNoIR might end up losing track of your device. If you're like me and sometimes have the sun directly behind you, it's a fine balance.

    Edited by Sarissa

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