Codebits 2014 - 3 days of fun

on Monday, April 14, 2014

Wherein I spend three days demo'ing the Oculus Rift, hacking on a portable VR rig with a Raspberry Pi, riding RiftCycles, and mobilizing the entire medical emergency and firemen staff on call due to an extremely nuclear chili experience (rumours of my demise were greatly exagerated).

This year our usual group occupied the usual couple of tables at Codebits and split up into three projects - Pew Pew Pew!, an attempt at building a portable VR experience of a First Person Shooter with an Oculus Rift, a Kinect and a Raspberry Pi; Wolf of Codebits, a stock exchange built on top of the Meo Wallet infrastructure using the "money" that was distributed for testing to everyone at Codebits; and Nelo, the winner of the event's top prize, a Knee Lock for Polio patients to replace the metal harness that they traditionally have to use, using free and open technology like Arduino, Bitalino sensors and 3D printing and based on the idea of a chinese finger trap.

It was awesome fun, as it usual is, even though I spent a lot of time cursing at SD cards, and the Pew Pew Pew! project, which I did with Bruno Rodrigues, didn't end up fulfilling all its goals. The portability was the primary goal - getting a Raspberry Pi connected to the Oculus Rift and both feeding off a portable USB battery so that the whole thing could be stuffed in pockets and the user could have freedom of movement without worrying that he might drag a laptop with him if he turned too much or moved too far.
Bruno killing some critters with the Raspberry and the Oculus control module in his pockets
It turns out that the Oculus sucks so little power that the USB batteries we had would turn off because they thought they weren't in use... So instead of using two batteries - one for the Raspi and one for the Oculus - we used one for both, so that the Raspi would ensure that the battery would not turn off.

We managed to get the whole thing portable and Quake compiled on the Raspberry before the SD card troubles started and killed off the remainder of our schedule, where we ended up spending most of the time replacing cards, reinstalling Raspbian and trying to get things up and running again. We did manage to do a presentation in the end to show off the concept, Bruno going up on stage, pockets stuffed with cables and boxes, to show off the rig fully portable and running. So now you can guess what I'm going to be working on for the next few days ;)

Congratulations are in order to everyone at the organization for putting together another amazing event, and to everyone that managed to pull together a project while being constantly distracted by all the awesome stuff going on around them! And a special congrats to the Nelo team for pulling off such an amazing idea and stealing the show! Now I wish I were in Portugal more often to play with the Bee 3D printer that they won :-P

Update: A lot of other things happened at Codebits, to wit: RiftCycles (, Nuclear Chili experience (, talks and workshops, Presentation Karaoke (where you have no idea what the next slide is going to have), the Amazing Quiz Show (wherein we learn what 2002::/32 is), Retrocomputing (where a bunch of people have fun with old consoles and computers, including my ZX Spectrum), and so much more!