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Old 17-03-2007, 11:34 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Sensor bar woes

OK.....another installment from me (more business like and boring this time )

I'll start by talking about my living room. It's actually not part of the original house. Being an extension, it is a bit more roomy. About 24'x12' roomy.
Well this is all well and good, but it means something else to me. It means that I can set up my projector (yaay).
PJ's are fairly cheap nowadays. Even the screens are quite cheap. I mainly use it for movies....but then I thought "hey, how about my Wii?"
Being a native 720pHD PJ, it looks quite good at 6ft wide 16:9, and should cope with the lower res of the Wii really well.
erm...component lead - check.
wii - check.
PJ set up - check.
screen mounted - check.
sensor bar - ..........sensor bar........sensor bar?



NOW we hit a problem. Yes, we all have a sensor bar...but Why Oh Why did Nintendo provide it with a measly < 12ft?

Here is the port on the Wii:


Notice anything odd? Yes, you got it, the bleedin' port for the Wii is some silly propriety nintendo shape.
Why is this?
All this port is providing is 2 wires = +ve 9v and ground.
I'll come back to why this is a problem later.

First, it's obvious that most of us with PJ's can't use the standard sensor bar as it can't reach.



So there have been many 3rd party offerings now.
There's this classy offering from Nyko (standard bar above for comparison):


There's this cheap'n'nasty looking thing from wirelesssensorbar.com:


If you wanna go REALLY cheap'n'nasty then you can make your own.

These portable solutions have an advantage in that the LED's they contain are a higher luminescence rating.
The standard sensor bar is basically a set of 10 LED's clustered into 2 groups of 5 led's about 12" apart. They simply project forward and provide 2 sources of IR light for the wiimotes to "key" onto. The wiimotes use these 2 sources of light to triangulate their position. They will now know where they are in 3D space and continuously send this data via Bluetooth back to the Wii.
They should really have been called sender bars .
The 3rd party portable sensor bars have fewer LED's, but they're brighter in the IR spectrum and therefore you can stand further away and still use the wiimote's pointing functions correctly.
The downside is that they chew through batteries like nobodys business. They're even worse than the wiimotes.
Now, I already don't like changing batteries (when I need to) in my wiimotes. Why do I want the extra headache of having to change batteries in a sensor bar?

OK, there's another solution....candles. Candles emit IR as well as visible light. Problem = don't want to set fire to my PJ screen
Well what about lamps and lightbulbs? Well, PJ's throw pictures that are best viewed in dark environments. Adding extra light via candles and lightbulbs would simply ruin the contrast viewable from the picture.....so these are a no-no.

This is why Nintendo chose IR rather than visible as the light to "key" on for the wiimotes.

Going back to the point about the wiring inside the sensor bar, Ninty could easily have used a generic jack like this instead of going the propriety route. This way it would've been even cheaper for them to produce and, the big bonus, is that it's easy to either buy ready made female-male extension leads or to get parts from a hardware shop and make one yourself.
As it is, we have to wait for the other rumoured product of someone to produce and sell 3rd party extension leads specifically for the sensor bar. Even nintendo could do this themselves.
Unfortunately, no-one's done anything on that front yet :(


So what do we have as an alternative? Well an option I've been considering is to buy an extra sensor bar. Pack the original away and get the new one and chop it somewhere in the wire. Now simply get any old Bell-wire and make any length you need and splice into the cable. You have to note the correct polarity of the wires and you can now have any length you want. Also, the wires apparently use some sort of paper like insulation which is wrapped tightly together. When you try to splice it the paper loosens quite a bit and risks a short circuit unless you're careful, but if you take your time it shouldn't be a problem.
The advantage is that no extra batteries are used and that you retain the sleek look of the original bar.
The sensor bars are available separately over here in Europe direct from nintendo for 12

Until then, my Wii is happily sitting under my CRT telly until I can get things back into PJ land again.

For those of you that can't wait, it's worth considering as a cheap and simple DIY project though




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Old 18-03-2007, 08:38 AM   #2 (permalink)
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presuming that you're using the standard length componant cable, your problem is that the Sensor bar wont reach the screen, and if it did the IR's are too dim for the Wiimote to "know" where they are....

Can you mount the sensor bar nearer to you and go through the settings to the bit you point at the screen to set up the Wii's "geography"?
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Old 18-03-2007, 08:53 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I've been reading up on this too. As I understand it the LED's in the official sensor bar are a bit weak, and homemade bars usually have more powerful lights. Also the official bar uses a 12v supply from the Wii; theoritically you could crop the wire and attach a 12v supply of your own, preferably a battery I guess...
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Old 18-03-2007, 11:29 AM   #4 (permalink)
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not being at all technically minded, could you not just splice in an extension to make the cable as long as you want??

a knife, some outdoor light extension, a bit of electrical tape....................


i fully understand the frustration over connector shapes though. but i suppose it reduces the 3rd party sales of these items as (from Nintendos point of view) its less financially viable due to the limited market.

Last edited by captainff : 18-03-2007 at 11:31 AM.


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Old 18-03-2007, 09:02 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amphotographique.co.uk View Post
presuming that you're using the standard length componant cable, your problem is that the Sensor bar wont reach the screen, and if it did the IR's are too dim for the Wiimote to "know" where they are....

Can you mount the sensor bar nearer to you and go through the settings to the bit you point at the screen to set up the Wii's "geography"?
Nope. Screen against a flat wall. There's no furniture in between to put the sensor bar anywhere. The sensor bar should be roughly in line with the screen anyway to work well. The only place to therefore mount it is on the center speaker.
Due to the size of the room, the Wii will be either under the telly (24ft away) or under the PJ on it's own shelf (13ft away).
Either way, the wire is not long enough.

Quote:
Originally Posted by captainff View Post
not being at all technically minded, could you not just splice in an extension to make the cable as long as you want??
erm....yep, that's what I've suggested in my conclusion

The problem with power could be addressed by ninty introducing a higher powered bar, or by you opening the spare bar you've bought and simply soldering high intensity LED's into place (that draw the same current and use the same voltage).

So complete DIY project would be:
1) Buy a spare bar from ninty for 12
2) Buy some high intensity IR LED's (with the correct ratings) from ebay for a few pence (mostly, you can add a resistor in series to obtain the correct v and I draws yourself to most LED's, if you can't find the exact rating).
3) Open the sensor bar and solder extra LED's in parallel to the existing ones to get a better IR intensity.
4) CAREFULLY splice bell-wire to any length you need into the bar wire.


There you go.....you now have a longer, brighter sensor bar (probably not a project for beginners I must admit).



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Old 18-03-2007, 11:59 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I take my Wii around my mates houses quite a lot and get fed up of packing away my sensor bar each time so I like the idea of the Nyko sensor bar, where is the best place to get these from and what do they cost?

I have a component cable for my small HD TV which stays put as I use the standard scart lead when I go around my mates and I keep that in my Wii bag.


Great blog by the way!


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Old 19-03-2007, 07:18 PM   #7 (permalink)
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The only person I know of in the UK with one got his from HERE.

They ship to the UK, and at current exchange rates that's a good price too



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Old 19-03-2007, 11:47 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Thanks for that!



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Old 20-03-2007, 09:54 PM   #9 (permalink)
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If you get one, tell us how you get on please (would be nice to hear how well it works for you)



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Old 21-03-2007, 09:52 AM   #10 (permalink)
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They're on back order at the moment at the site mentioned above so I will see if anywhere else has them in stock and will let you know how I get on...



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