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Waspr Project - Inception


Summer 2018 - Inception

After another tough morning working at Versus I go out to have lunch with Ray. This summer the weather is being awesome in Berlin. God bless the global warming. There is just a small problem. I can't enjoy a peaceful lunch in the terrace because the fucking wasps won't stop coming to annoy me and steal pieces of my food. Berlin is full of them. They come, take a bit of rice or whatever, and leave. After a minute, they come again. Germany is not really the paradise they tell to the rest of Europe.

The problem is that you cannot do anything to them. You have to wait there, watching how they just get away with it.

Looking for a solution to this problem, I think that the key would be attacking them or scare them remotely. If they get upset, they should go against some kind of careless object which will not suffer the bites. I can think of several ways to hit them or spray them when they pass by. The problem would be being able to detect them, and then act, somehow. In that moment comes to my mind a video I saw a while ago about some guys who were using lasers to burn the wings of mosquitoes carrying malaria when crossing an invisible fence formed in between two towers. If I just could spot wasps in an image, I could have a laser tower to burn their wings when they get close to my food. Muaaahahahaha

Days pass. News arrive from Homeland. It looks like the problem with the Asian wasps in Galicia is getting out of control. A couple of people died already because of them, and the bee population has dropped disturbingly. People beg to the sky for laser towers to appear, but nobody seems to listen.

Even though I find the idea everyday more interesting, my focus is still for WikiMenu. Now I want to make an app for it. I have already invested a lot of hours in the project and I would like to leave something finished that works. The Wasp Killer will have to wait.

Anyway the project really intrigues me. Would it be really possible? It's a project completely out my field. How can I move the laser? How powerful would the laser need to be? How could I recognize the wasp as a target in front of the camera and aim the laser at it?

I use my hours at the beach to design the future app of WikiMenu and to read things about these topics. It looks like there are lasers easy to find which are used to cut wood. I assume a laser like that would be more than enough to burn wasp wings. I read about the mosquito project. Apparently, what they do is to project a low-intensity laser on a tower full of sensors. When a mosquito crosses the invisible fence it casts a shadow on the sensors. Analysing the shadow they can know the the wing-beat frequency and with it, the kind of mosquito and whether it is female (apparently the one which bites). When the correct female mosquito is detected they connect the laser to maximum power and burn its wings. All this needs to happen in the time that a mosquito crosses a fence as wide as a laser beam. Speechless.

Spending some time figuring out how to move the laser I see that a common solution is to use a device that consists of two mirrors moved by two motors. This way, the laser diode doesn't move, but the beam is reflected on the mirrors. This device is called a galvanometer (aka galvo).

To start with something, the idea would be just to try to move a laser and aim it at something easy to spot on the camera. I would just start with a normal laser and change to a more powerful one later on. Since I have no idea how much laser diodes differ in weight and size, the idea of keeping the diode fixed is very convenient to replace it afterwards.

I read a bit more about galvos. The galvo used in the mosquito project costs 5000 bucks. My solution wouldn't need something that fast and precise. I find another project using a galvo to project images with a laser on a wall. It's really well explained. There is even a link to the same galvo they use. It's 65 euros on eBay.

29th August 2018, I purchase the galvanometer, taking with that the first step of this journey.