Today is garbage day (and a very happy garbage day to you). This week’s Casualty of the Week: the Doomercycle.
Let’s see. Doom was released in 1993, so it was maybe thirteen years ago I wondered if I could cross-breed a bike with a mouse and come up with a way to get some exercise while fragging zombies. (Whoop! There it goes. I just heard a door slam and looked up to see the Doomercycle ride off into the sunset. That didn’t take long. G’bye…! <snf>)
See, one variety of mouse works like this: it’s got two little spoked wheels inside, one for uppy-downy and one for sidey-sidey. When the mouseball moves, it turns those wheels. Each wheel has an LED on one side and a sensor on the other. So when the wheel turns, spokes interrupt the light, and the sensor sees blink-blink-blink and it knows you’re moving.
That wouldn’t be quite good enough. That would tell the sensor how fast you were moving, but not in which direction. Each wheel actually has two sensors; when it sees AB-AB-AB it knows you’re moving forward, and BA-BA-BA means you’re going backward.
I thought…spokes. Wheels. What if you took the uppy-downy wheel, and put the sensor on one side of a real bicycle wheel and the light on the other? That would give you running forward and backward, all you need for Doom. You could perch the keyboard on the handlebars for all the other commands. I went to Starvation Army and picked up the used exercise bike you see above for $15.
It took a couple of tries, but as it turned out, no soldering was necessary. I was kinda bummed, to tell you the truth. It was too easy. See, there was a little socket where an odometer or something used to go, and all I had to do was jam the mouse’s own uppy-downy wheel into it, and duct tape the circuit board in place around it. Voilà!
I had feared all along there would be a scale problem; that the wheel would move too fast and overwhelm the sensor. But, no…it worked eerily well, right out of the gate. It recognized slow, fast and in-between. It played a kick-ass game of Doom.
I can’t say as I got miles of exercise out of it, though. In order for the wires to reach, all the components were balanced precariously against each other. Too much enthusiasm would’ve put a handlebar through my monitor, or sent me ass over teakettle into the radiator. Eventually, I used it with a laptop balanced across the bars, but that was VERY insecure. It needed a sturdy platform or something, but the proof-of-concept was enough to scratch my itch. Then laptops stopped having serial port and that was that.
But it worked! So nuts to my boss, who laughed! And, dammit, my electric sneakers would’ve worked, too! I’m sure of it!
August 20, 2007 — 6:11 pm