Make Your Own Interactive Whiteboard!

by Abby @ Quaver on May 27, 2013

in In the Quaver Classroom!

Looking for a summer project to take your classroom technology from zero to hero?

If you are still waiting for the IWB to be delivered to your classroom, Quaver Marketing Coordinator Bradley Minnigan is here with a workaround for you!

Take it away, Bradley!

Make Your Own Interactive Whiteboard

I spend lots of time on the road talking to teachers and it often comes up that budget limitations prevent many teachers from getting the technology they want and need in their classroom, including an interactive whiteboard.  I am here to tell you that there is hope!

I discovered that an interactive whiteboard can be made with a $40 Nintendo Wii Remote, a $20 IR (infrared) pen, some free software found easily on the Internet, a computer (with Bluetooth capabilities), and a projector.

The basic idea is that the software uses the Wii Remote to “see” the IR pen, which is being used as a cursor/mouse, and relays this information to the computer.  It’s not as seamless as an actual SmartBoard, Promethean Board, or the like, but it is better than no interactive whiteboard in a budget pinch.

You could even use this solution as a way to prove to your supervisor the effectiveness of an actual whiteboard.

I have tested this set up, and it’s really cool how well it works.

Materials:

  • 1  Wii Remote
  • 1 Infared (IR) Pen
  • Free software – I use software from www.uweschmidt.org/wiimote-whiteboard but you can find others out there by searching the Internet for “Wiimote whiteboard software.”
  • Computer with Bluetooth to run software – If you don’t already have Bluetooth capabilities on your computer, you can find a Bluetooth USB adapter on Amazon.com as well.
  • Projector

You don’t even need a whiteboard for this – just a blank wall or projection screen will do!

Assembly:

  1. Get your projector set up so that you have your computer screen projected on the wall or screen as you’d like it.
  2. If you haven’t already done so, install the software you downloaded on your computer. Make sure the Bluetooth on your computer is turned on.
  3. Pair your Wii Remote with your computer by starting up the software you have installed. With the Wii Remote Whiteboard software I am running, I have to push the 1 and 2 buttons on the Wii Remote to connect.
  4. Position your Wii Remote carefully. It is advised that you put your Wii Remote at a 45-degree angle to the side from the flat projection wall, so that it can accurately read the signal from the IR pen. The Wii Remote might also need to be propped up so that it is properly angled at the projected image.

We’re almost there! But first we must calibrate the Wii Remote Whiteboard.

Calibration is simply clicking on a few targets to define the parameters of the projection.

  • Open up the software and get it running.
  • Click on the “calibrate” button using the computer mouse.
  • Using the IR pen, touch the pen to center of each target and press the button on the IR pen. Once you see the normal computer screen again, you’re ready to go!

Make sure that the software allows the IR pen to be used for the mouse and clicking. This will allow you to use the IR pen to click on objects and drag them, just like the mouse on your computer!

Troubleshooting:

I have noticed a couple things that could potentially cause hiccups in your classroom if you’re not prepared for them. Together, we’ll try to create the best experience for you, your class, and your Wii Remote Whiteboard.

Problem: Wii Controller won’t connect.
After a little research, I found that my Mac (a PowerPC model from several years ago) has some Bluetooth issues with the software.

Remedy: Disconnect the Wii Remote.
Disconnect the Wii Remote from the computer by going to the menu bar (or from System Preferences) and try connecting again by only pushing the 1 and 2 buttons on the Wii Remote.

Problem: Computer won’t respond to IR Pen movement/clicks
Remember, the Wii Remote must be able to see the IR pen.

Remedy 1: Are the batteries dead? Your Wii Remote will show you battery life when you press the “A” button while the remote is off. You can easily test the IR pen’s battery by looking at the IR light through a phone’s camera or digital camera and pressing the button on the IR pen. You will be able to see a light come on if the batteries are still working.

Remedy 2: Position the Wii Remote where there are no obstructions between it and the IR pen. The Wii Remote will need to be recalibrated every time it or the projector is moved.

Remedy 3: The Wii Remote cannot see the entire image. Sometimes the Wii Remote needs to be propped up so it can see the whole board.

Remedy 4: Hold the IR pen parallel to the board so the Wii Remote can see the IR light, rather than holding the IR pen perpendicular to the board.

Give it a try and let us know what works for you.
Bradley is standing by to help!

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Coleen Holcomb June 10, 2013 at 11:39 pm

I like the Wii whiteboard and it would be great on my TV except the fact that I can only use one wii remote that must be awkwardly placed to pick up the infrared from my pen and when I block the Wii remote with my body to write the pen loses connection. If I had two Wii remotes placed on opposite sides of the room and one could pick up where the other left off this would solve this issue. Does anyone know of anything like this?

Reply

2 Penelope J. Riggs June 16, 2013 at 7:39 am

The wiimoteproject.com forums are a great resource for everything Wiimote. You may use this subforum to discuss everything related to my software. The Smoothboard Wiki also contains useful information for setting up your interactive whiteboard.

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3 Carrie August 29, 2014 at 10:31 pm

We have a new audio system in our classrooms that uses infrared technology between the mic that I wear and the speaker in the ceiling. Will this interfere with an IR pen?

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4 Abby @ Quaver September 2, 2014 at 9:29 am

That’s a great question, Carrie! I will find an answer for you as soon as possible and post it here!

Reply

5 Abby @ Quaver September 2, 2014 at 2:13 pm

Hey Carrie, From what we can tell on our end, you shouldn’t have any problems – but there’s no substitute for experimenting in the classroom, or asking the tech support for either the audio or pen producer. Let us know if you run into any problems we can help with!

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