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Displays Toys

Homemade Heads Up Display For Bicycling? 27

An anonymous reader asks: "I am a geek that bicycles in an urban center. After seeing this commercial product, I was interested in the possibility of building a homebrew HUD for a bicycle helmet. I searched the usual places and couldn't find much so I thought I'd ask the readers of Slashdot. A HUD that displays speed, distance, and cadence seems very feasible as many bike computers collect that data. A great longshot would be a range-finder that told you the distance to the object you were turned toward, but I'm not crossing my fingers for that. So what components would be needed to make such a cool device?"
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Homemade Heads Up Display For Bicycling?

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  • Are you nuts? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Otter ( 3800 ) on Tuesday June 01, 2004 @03:37PM (#9306955) Journal
    A great longshot would be a range-finder that told you the distance to the object you were turned toward, but I'm not crossing my fingers for that.

    As an urban bicycle commuter, my suggestion is that the distance to far-off objects is probably less valuable to you than an extra fraction of a second of reaction time to a door opening in your path. If you have sufficient attention to spare to run gkrellm or SuperKaramba on your helmet, you have more than most of us.

    • by daeley ( 126313 ) * on Tuesday June 01, 2004 @04:45PM (#9307966) Homepage
      Unless the range-finder was in fact a laser targeting device picked up by the attack helicopter following you in a support role during your daily commute. This would make cycling even more fun than it already is. Safer, too. [evil laugh]
    • Re:Are you nuts? (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by QuantumG ( 50515 )
      Jesus, did ya ever think that the poster might be a responsible cycler who rides in the suburbs instead of clogging up the streets in the city.
      • Uh, no, because I read the first freaking sentence of his question where he says "I am a geek that bicycles in an urban center."
    • Why does information such as speed, distance etc. need to be given visually? Why not create some sort of artificial speech device that translates the data into an audible signal that you then hear with a set of headphones or speaker in the helmet? Put a button or buttons on your glove or handlebar and it spits out the info for you to hear.

      Of course if you do this, make sure any headphones don't interfere with hearing what's around you, such as a car horn. A quick snippet of "twenty-two k" shouldn't inte
  • Xybernaut (Score:2, Informative)

    by AEther141 ( 585834 )
    Xybernaut [] sell all sorts of wearable computer gubbins. The MIT Wearables Lab [] is a fantastic resource for wearable computing.
    • I am part of the MIThril 2003 project at MIT... some of what you're looking for (i.e. proximity data) is exactly what we're working on... (go to borglab Wiki)
  • by Marxist Hacker 42 ( 638312 ) <> on Tuesday June 01, 2004 @03:45PM (#9307087) Homepage Journal
    The Guy With The Bike [] did this back in the 1980s and early 1990s. I believe all of his tech is listed here. About the only thing I think you could add to his design, that has been invented since he gave up this project in favor of an ocean-going mini-trimeran, is a Laser Range Finder [].
  • Peripheral Display (Score:4, Interesting)

    by FrenZon ( 65408 ) * on Tuesday June 01, 2004 @04:11PM (#9307484) Homepage
    A cheap, easy way to do it would be to go the 'ambient device' route and use a small number of coloured surface-mount LEDs (perhaps placed along the inside edges of your glasses) and train yourself to recognise what they mean when lit up in certain combinations.

    It would be a bit safer than a textual display which requires you to change your eye's focal distance to read. Just make sure you don't blind yourself with it at night.
  • by Single GNU Theory ( 8597 ) on Tuesday June 01, 2004 @05:30PM (#9308644) Journal
    Seeing as how you're going to have to carry this thing on your head (it'll be the stablest platform on a bike, and is aimable), you're going to be limited to something about the size of a readily-available laser pointer.

    Before you spend any serious money on this, I would suggest taking a laser pointer outside to see how far away you can make out the spot. I don't think it's going to be very far at all. Maybe one of those laser tape measures would do the trick, though.

    More powerful lasers, to put a bigger spot farther away, aren't going to be as portable, and will probably be a danger to pedestrians or fellow cyclists if you glance at them to say hi.

    I would suggest trying to satisfy your number fetish with a top-line bicycle computer. Mine (a Specialized P-Brain) records heart rate and altitude along with speed and distance, and can download data to a Windows box for graphing (I tried the software under Wine but it didn't seem to work). Other computers use GPS to track your location, or measure the chain tension to record the smoothness of your pedal stroke. Others record your power output with a special hub.

    When I ride, I never do more than glance at my computer. It's not safe when the traffic's heavy- the numbers *always* take a back seat to situational awareness. And on lonely roads, I tend to ride by my perception of my own effort. Worrying over the numbers is for later, in front of a computer looking at the graphs!
    • Uh, I don't know what you read into the question, but no sort of laser device is required. The best solution would be a tiny helmet-mounted LCD that could be glanced up at, or a prismatic system to overlay the display onto their view of the world. A laser or ultrasound rangefinder is useless without an optical sight, but one could easily be built into the display, in a manner similar to red-dot sights on firearms.
      The idea that a hud compromises situational awareness is somewhat naive. Yes, a poorly-design
    • I have a chepa bike computer, and it does everything I need it too, although I wouldn't mid one with a built in heart rate monitor. anyways the my computer has big arrows on the side that tell you if you are going above below, or at your average speed, no matter what mode its in. you can see it by just a quick glance down. Stuff like average speed and distance can be looked at when you get to your destination. I find i can keep my cadence more steady by listening to my body than by watching the number on
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 01, 2004 @06:35PM (#9309506)
    You do not want to mount a bunch of stuff on your hemlet that can A) cause point loading on impact or B) prevent you helpment from sliding across a surface, thereby putting some serious stress on your neck.

    Somebody recently mentioned a guy they know who has mounted a PVC pipe sticking straight up to the top of his hemlet as a light mounting point. Should he get in an accident with an impact on the top of his head, the coroner is going to have a great brain core sample to look at.

    • Virtually all civillian head-mounted-displays weight less than 50g, and therefore crush like a butterfly under heavy impact. I greatly doubt that a tiny LCD would compromise a helmet, and if it does, then why bother with a helmet? If it can't stand up to a tiny piece of plastic shrapnel, what chance does it stand of keeping your brains safe from hurtling steel?
  • I recommend joining the mailing list here []. Search the archives. There are tons of emails that discuss building head-mounted displays (HMDs).
  • by J05H ( 5625 ) on Tuesday June 01, 2004 @11:44PM (#9311540) Homepage
    This is my, umm, naughty dream high tech bike helmet. It doesn't exist yet. Basically this would be a fancy new-school helmet like a Giro Pneumo, with microelectronics that create a short range phased-array radar. Inside the helmet is a grid of small air bladders. As you move through the city, the radar generates a crude map which is translated as pressure around your skull. You feel a constant roll on the right side, parked cars. Behind and to the left, the moving press of a car passing. Alternately, the radar hardware could be mounted on the bike. Hand/Eye free computing (tactile) holds a lot of potential for custom uses.

    On topic, I'd recommend at most getting a decent Cats Eye cyclocomputer, maybe a GPS to go with. As someone who rides almost every day, please take this advice: when riding, just ride. Like the urban rider above, that fraction of a second is all-important. Displays, gadgets, heck even waterbottles are distractions. Work on improving your hearing instead, developing your brain and senses.

    Stay safe on the road,
    • garmin forerunner 201/101. gps logs position every 5 secs. It displays speed and distance, no heart rate or cadence - but you know when you're working hard and when you ain't.

      The deal is you don't need to look at the display at all, just wait 'till you get home and dump it onto your pc. Overlay your route over your favorite topo or street map. It makes it neat little graph with you speed displayed as either speed or pace.

      As far as just getting where you're going, you're better off not knowing - think a
  • But I cycle to specifically get away from stuff like this and get out and enjoy the fresh air and get some exercise.

    A handlebar-mounted cyclo-computer is fine because it's just there.

    Having a HUD while cycling just seems silly to me.

    Besides, when riding down a flight of stairs, I don't want anything to block my vision. =)
  • in order to get speed you need a wireless speedometer, which takes power, beyond that i dont know what you want, and if you *need* that get a handlebar mounted display whichis the best. a bike isn't a car.

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