Processing + Arduino + Kymera

Related articles: Wand-Controlled Robot

As a symbol of the magician’s intentionally directed will-power, the wand is an excellent interface for ritual computing with multimedia, and facilitates physical activity in ways that keyboards and mouses do not. Imagine projecting a giant digital sigil onto a wall, and after using the wand to banish the ritual space, you intone an incantation and thrust your wand toward the sigil which promptly ignites in a blaze of virtual fire. Or you could manipulate a virtual poppet, activate a robot servitor or eldritch machine, etc. There are nearly limitless possibilities.

Here is an example of using a Kymera Magic Wand to manipulate an icosahedron on my computer (sorry the animation is so difficult to see):

The Kymera wand is a programmable infrared remote control device developed and sold by The Wand Company in the UK. It is marketed for television RC.

Kymera Magic Wand

The Kymera can transmit up to 13 distinct infrared signals in response to these distinct actions:

  1. Rotate anticlockwise
  2. Rotate clockwise
  3. Flick upwards
  4. Flick downwards
  5. Flick left
  6. Flick right
  7. Tap on top
  8. Tap on side
  9. Big swish
  10. Push forward
  11. Double tap on top
  12. Double tap on side
  13. Pull back

The wand contains a vibrator that pulses a number of times to let you know what state the wand is in, similar to the haptic feedback in video game controllers and cellular telephones. Signal programming is a cinch as the wand records signals from other RC devices. For the example in this article, I programmed my wand with a Sony television RC.

To interface with my computer, I am using an Arduino microcontroller with a Parallax IR receiver from Jameco, and Ken Shirriff’s outstanding multi-protocol infrared remote library. The Arduino translates the IR signals into hexadecimal values which it sends to Processing over the serial port. The Processing sketch draws and animates the icosahedron in response to the hex values received.

Arduino Infrared Decoder

Source Code

Here is the source code for what is shown in the above demo video.


 * Wand Test 1 (Arduino)
 * by Joshua Madara,
 * requires IRremote library by Ken Shirriff

#include <IRremote.h>

int RECV_PIN = 11;

IRrecv irrecv(RECV_PIN);

decode_results results;

void setup()
  irrecv.enableIRIn(); // start the receiver

void loop() {
  if (irrecv.decode(&results)) { // if there is something to send
    Serial.println(results.value, HEX); // send current value to Processing
    irrecv.resume(); // receive the next value


 * Wand Test 1 (Processing)
 * by Joshua Madara,
 * requires Dimension3D, Shape3D, and Icosahedron by
 * Ira Greenburg
 * Processing \ Examples \ 3D \ Form \ Icosahedra

import processing.serial.*;

Serial arduinoPort; 

Icosahedron ico1;
float xRot = 0;
float yRot = 0;
float zoom = 0;
int sw1 = 0; // switch state variable

void setup(){
  size(800, 600, P3D);
  arduinoPort = new Serial(this, Serial.list()[1], 57600);
  ico1 = new Icosahedron(100);
  stroke(255, 0, 0);

void draw(){
  translate(width/2, height/2);
  switch(sw1) {
    case 1: // rotate down
    case 2: // rotate up
    case 3: // rotate left
    case 4: // rotate right
    case 5: // zoom in
    case 6: // zoom out
  translate(0, 0, zoom);

void getWandState() {
  while(arduinoPort.available() > 0) {
    String inBuffer = arduinoPort.readString();
    if(inBuffer != null) {
      String theValue = inBuffer.trim();
      if(theValue.equals("210") == true) { // flick down
        sw1 = 1;
      } else if(theValue.equals("A10") == true) { // flick up
        sw1 = 2;
      } else if(theValue.equals("410") == true) { // flick left
        sw1 = 3;
      } else if(theValue.equals("C10") == true) { // flick right
        sw1 = 4;
      } else if(theValue.equals("E10") == true) { // push forward
        sw1 = 5;
      } else if(theValue.equals("610") == true) { // pull back
        sw1 = 6;
      } else if(theValue.equals("110") == true) { // big swish
        sw1 = 0;

10 Replies to “Processing + Arduino + Kymera”

  1. Joshua, I am located in London, seemingly that part is hard to come by via RS or Maplin and delivery from US is about £12 alone… I will research a bit into it but if anyone got this working with another sensor, let me know.

    1. This stuff is absolutely marvelous. I’ve been using games and digital media for magic for a long time, but I didn’t know this kind of hardware (and people who were willing to spend the time on it) existed.

      Your work reminds me a lot of the music of Coil in visual format. Those two were pretty artistic pioneers in the meshing of tech and magic :D

  2. Great stuff. I am trying to get the wand working on my arduino uno with a TSOP382 Vishay IR receiver. The code seems to be running but no data. Any idea if there is something wrong with my setup? Does OSX have any effect on this?

    1. Marcus, thank you for your comment. You certainly have a different setup than I, but I see no obvious problems, although I do see two other people have reported problems with the TSOP382 on Arduino (1, 2). Not sure what the capacitor was for in the first example there; looking over the receiver’s data sheet, I see no need for one, at least not for this application. Here is some code from Sparkfun, that you can use to test the receiver without the wand — is that part working OK for you?

      If you would post your technical details and code to the Arduino forum, I could help you troubleshoot from there.

        1. Given that, what receiver model DOES work? DO you have a list of those by any chance? Or should I be able to just rip one out of an existing remote?

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