Wand-Controlled Robot

Related articles: Parallax Scribbler 2 (S2) | Processing + Arduino + Kymera

Here is a video demonstrating use of the Kymera Magic Wand to send infrared signals to a Parallax Scribbler 2 (S2) robot. I modified ratronic’s Spin code to receive and decode the wand’s signals through the robot’s IR receiver, as Sony television remote control codes.

By the way, Parallax just started selling the BlinkM and FreeM, which can be used together with the Kymera wand to produce gesture controlled lighting effects. I hope to demo that soon here on hyperRitual.

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, hyperRitual.com
 * requires IRremote library by Ken Shirriff
 * http://www.arcfn.com/2009/08/multi-protocol-infrared-remote-library.html

#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, hyperRitual.com
 * 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;