VRPN driver for Novint Falcon haptic device available - Looking for testers

From: Axel Kohlmeyer (akohlmey_at_gmail.com)
Date: Fri Apr 23 2010 - 16:03:08 CDT

hi everybody,

recently, there has been increased interest in running molecular
dynamics interactively, and in the past people have asked on the
VMD mailing list repeatedly for drivers that would allow to use
the Novint Falcon, an affordable haptic device (= a 3d-mouse with
force feedback), to be used with VMD for interactive molecular
dynamics simulations (through VRPN).
if you don't know what i am talking about, have a look at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novint

i am happy to announce that this kind of driver does now exist
and that it has reached a good enough state to tested by a wider
audience. details and future updates can be found on this webpage:
http://sites.google.com/site/akohlmey/software/vrpn-icms

the driver is maintained as a branch of the VRPN version 07.26
software distribution, but will hopefully be merged with the
official code, since the VRPN maintainers have access to the
svn repository where i maintain the code.

if you are interested to try it out, please drop me an e-mail
and i'll provide you with instructions on how to access the
sources. for people running fedora 12 on x86_64 type processors,
i can also provide a pre-compiled vrpn_server binary and some
test programs. but i am particularly interested in people that
are able to help in debugging and (perhaps) improving the code
(there is still a long TODO list).

at this time the driver has only been tested on linux, so i
would be particularly happy if people running macosx or windows
would respond. pre-requiste is, that you have some experience
in compiling your own software and can send me patches, since
i have no (proper) access to either platform and would prefer
to focus on completing the missing features and optimizing
the code.

if you don't own a falcon, but are interested in buying one,
please note that Novint will give anybody a 20% discount on
one of their "falcon bundles" when they use a suitable referral
code. if you use 'vrpn-icms' as referral code, you will get
this discount and also support the ICMS outreach project that
i wrote this driver for. The Novint folks and particularly
its CEO Tom Anderson have been extremely supportive of this
effort; morally and by donated two devices to the ICMS. A big
thanks also goes to greg and gary scantlen who made the contact
and were the most enthusiastic early adopters ever. ;-)

at the URL from above you can find a few example inputs and
some rudimentary documentation for how to set up a falcon
with VMD and run it in combination with either NAMD or LAMMPS
as MD engine.

comments, questions, suggestions are welcome.

cheers,
    axel.

-- 
Dr. Axel Kohlmeyer  akohlmey_at_gmail.com
http://sites.google.com/site/akohlmey/
Institute for Computational Molecular Science
Temple University, Philadelphia PA, USA.

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