While video games have grown more and more complex over the last few decades, TWANG takes things in the opposite direction as an Arduino Mega-based 1D dungeon crawler consisting of an RGB LED strip.
The player—a dot—is controlled via an accelerometer mounted to a door spring used as a joystick. With it, the player can move forwards, backwards, and attack by “twanging” the spring to make it vibrate. The LEDs display a wide array of colors, including representations of glowing lava, water, and player disintegration when a mistake is made.
A delightful version of a clever one-dimensional game has been made by [Critters] which he calls TWANG! because the joystick is made from a spring doorstop with an accelerometer in the tip. The game itself is played out on an RGB LED strip. As a result, the game world, the player, goal, and enemies are all represented on a single line of LEDs.
How can a dungeon crawler game be represented in 1D, and how is this unusual game played? The goal is for the player (a green dot) to reach the goal (a blue dot) to advance to the next level. Making this more difficult are enemies (red dots) which move in different ways. The joystick is moved left or right to advance the player’s blue dot left or right, and the player can attack with a “twang” motion of the joystick, which eliminates nearby enemies. By playing with brightness and color, a surprising amount of gameplay can be jammed into a one-dimensional display!
Code for TWANG! is on github and models for 3D printing the physical pieces are on Thingiverse. The video (embedded below) focuses mainly on the development process, but does have the gameplay elements explained as well and demonstrates some slick animations and sharp feedback.
For those who love to hike, no excuse is needed to hit the woods. Other folks, though, need a little coaxing to get into the great outdoors, which is where geocaching comes in: hide something in the woods, post clues to its location online, and they will come. The puzzle is the attraction, and doubly so for this geocache with an Arduino-powered game of Hangman that needs to be solved before the cache is unlocked.
The actual contents of a geocache are rarely the point — after all, it’s the journey, not the destination. But [cliptwings]’ destination is likely to be a real crowd pleaser. Like many geocaches, this one is built into a waterproof plastic ammo can. Inside the can is another door that can only be unlocked by correctly solving a classic game of Hangman. The game itself may look familiar to long-time Hackaday readers, since we featured it back in 2009. Correctly solving the puzzle opens the inner chamber to reveal the geocaching goodness within.
Cleverly, [cliptwings] mounted the volt battery for the Arduino on top of the inner door so that cachers can replace a dead battery and play the game; strangely, the cache entry on Geocaching.com (registration required) does not instruct players to bring a battery along.
We are excited to announce that UnlimitedHand is now an officially licensed Arduino AtHeart product. Created by Japanese startup H2L, the wearable controller straps around your forearm like an Ace bandage and allows you to actually touch and feel things within the gaming world.
UnlimitedHandconsists of a 3D motion sensor, an array of muscle sensors, a multi-channel electronic muscle stimulator, and a vibration motor, which together, enable you to interact with objects and characters in VR. It does this by syncing the movement of a user’s hand and fingers with its virtual counterpart, and contracting the muscles on the wearer’s forearm to simulate haptic feedback.
With UnlimitedHand, not only will you be able to experience the ricochet of a gunshot or pet animals, but also hack various customized gestures thanks to its full compatibility with the Arduino IDE.
According to H2L:
Arduino, with their commitment to open-source, has reached out with their technology to muster a great force of Makers and inventors. This omni-present community has no doubt supported us in many ways during the development of UnlimitedHand. By joining the program, we can now present our results back to the community.
[Marcelo Maximiano’s] son had a school project. He and a team of students built “The Pyramid’s Secret“–an electronic board game using the Arduino Nano. [Marcelo] helped with the electronics, but the result is impressive and a great example of packaging an Arduino project. You can see a video of the game, below.
In addition to the processor, the game uses a WT5001M02 MP3 player (along with an audio amplifier) to produce music and voices. There’s also a rotary encoder, an LCD, a EEPROM (to hold the quiz questions and answers), and an LED driver. There’s also a bunch of LEDs, switches, and a wire maze that requires the player to navigate without bumping into the wire (think 2D Operation).
In addition to the code and hardware diagrams, there is a PDF file on GitHub describing more about the game. It is in Portuguese, though, so most of us will probably need a little translation help. However, a Brazillian site did have an English post about the game, which might be a good place to start.
You might not want to replicate the game, but it is a great example of how much an Arduino can do with some simple externals devices and some attention to packaging.
Sadly, most of our projects look more like this game (no offense to that hacker). Projects like this are way more likely to spark young people’s interest than a blinking LED or a capacitor meter. If you are more in the mood for arcade play, you can also check out Arduinocade.
The “Navigation Thing“ was designed and built by [Jan Mrázek] as part of a night game activity for high school students during week-long seminar. A night-time path through a forest had stations with simple tasks, and the Navigation Thing used GPS, digital compass, a beeper, and a ring of RGB LEDs to provide a bit of “Wow factor” while guiding a group of students from one station to the next. The devices had a clear design direction:
“I wanted to build a device which a participant would find, insert batteries, and follow the beeping to find the next stop. Imagine the strong feeling of straying in the middle of the night in an unknown terrain far away from civilization trusting only a beeping thing you found. That was the feeling I wanted to achieve.”
The Navigation Things (there are six in total) guide users to fixed waypoints with GPS, a digital compass, and a ring of WS2812 LEDs — but the primary means of feedback to the user is a beeping that gets faster as you approach the destination. [Jan] had only four days to make all six units, which was doable. But as most of us know, delivering on a tight deadline is often less about doing the work you know about, and more about effectively handling the unexpected obstacles that inevitably pop up in the process.
The first real problem to solve was the beeping itself. “Beep faster as you get closer to the destination” seems like a simple task, but due to the way humans perceive things it’s more complex than it sounds. We perceive large changes easier than small incremental ones, so a straight linear change in beep frequency based on distance doesn’t work very well. Similar problems (and their solutions) exist whether you’re controlling volume, brightness, or just about anything else that humans perceive. Instead of encoding distance as a beep frequency, it’s much more effective to simply use beeps to signal overall changes: beep noticeably slower as you move away, but beep much faster as you get close.
The other interesting problems were less straightforward and were related to the digital compass, or magnetometer. The first problem was that the piezo buzzers [Jan] sourced contained no actual piezo elements. They contained magnets – which interfered with the operation of the digital compass. After solving that, still more compass problems arose. When testing the final units in the field, the compass readings were not as expected and [Jan] had no idea why.
After careful troubleshooting, the culprit was found: the AA cells on the other side of the circuit board. Every AA cell has a faint (and slightly different) magnetic field, and the proximity and placement of the cells with respect to the magnetometer was causing the deviation. Happily, the fix was simple once the problem was understood: calibrate the compass every time new batteries are inserted.
[Mathieu] wrote in with his laser target practice game. It’s not the most amazing hack in the history of hackery, but it’s an excellent example of the type of simple and fun things you can do with just a little bit of microcontrollering.
First off, the gun is a broken toy gun that used to shoot something other than red collimated light beams. The Arduino knockoff inside reacts to a trigger pull and fires the laser for around 200 milliseconds. The gun also has a “gas gauge” that fills up with repeated shots and cools down over time. And therein lies the game — a simple race to ten, where each player only has a fixed number of shots over time.
The targets are simply a light sensor, scorekeeping LED display, and a buzzer that builds tension by beeping at you as the countdown timer ticks down. The bodies are made out of 3D-printed corners that connect some of [Mathieu]’s excess wooden goat-cheese lids.
All the code is up on GitHub so you can make your own with stuff that you’ve got lying around the house. The “gun” can be anything that you can embed a laser in that makes it aimable. Good clean fun!
[Dr.Duino] recently completed the latest piece of what he calls “Interactive Furniture” – the GoonieBox. It took over 800 hours of design and assembly work and the result is fascinating. Part clock and part puzzle box, it’s loaded with symbols, moving parts, lights, riddles, sounds, switches, and locked compartments. It practically begs visitors to take a closer look.
The concept of Interactive Furniture led [Dr.Duino] to want to create a unique piece of decor that visitors could interact with. That alone wasn’t enough — he wanted something that wouldn’t require any explanation of how it worked; something that intrinsically invited attention, inspection, and exploration. This quest led to creating The GoonieBox, named for its twin inspirations of the 1985 film The Gooniesas well as puzzles from the game “The Room“.
Embedded below are two short videos: the first demonstrates the functions of the box, and the second covers the build process. There’s laser-cut wood, plenty of 3D printed parts, and a whole lot of careful planning and testing.
Puzzle boxes let people show off their creativity over a wide range of different executions, like these simpler laser-cut puzzle boxes and on the other end of the spectrum is this timed, multi-stage puzzle rigged to blow. Not only is this build one of the more complex ones we’ve seen, but I don’t think we’ve ever seen a puzzle box so carefully designed to also serve as a functional piece of decor. Great work!
Kids love Minecraft, and a clever educator can leverage that love to teach some very practical skills. The summer class offered by the Children’s Museum in Bozeman Montana would have blown my mind if such a thing existed when we were younger. (Rather than begging one of the dads in my Boy Scout Troop to pirate Visual Studio for me, which was delivered in the form of an alarmingly tall stack of CDs.) The kids in Bozeman get to learn hardware, software, their integration, and all while playing Minecraft.
Minecraft is an immersive universe that has proven to suck in creative minds. It’s the bait that pulls the kids into the summer class but Serialcraft delivers on making the learning just as addictive. This is accomplished by providing students with physical objects that are tied to the Minecraft world in meaningful ways we just haven’t seen before (at least not all at one time). On the surface this adds physical LEDs, toggle switches, potentiometers, and joysticks to the game. But the physical controls invite understanding of the mechanisms themselves, and they’re intertwined in exciting ways, through command blocks and other in-game components that feel intuitive to the students. From their understanding of the game’s mechanics they understand the physical objects and immediately want to experiment with them in the same way they would new blocks in the game.
The thing that makes this magic possible is a Minecraft mod written by [John Allwine], who gave us a demonstration of the integration at Maker Faire Bay Area 2016. The mod allows the user to access the inputs and output of the Arduino, in this case a Pololu A-Star 32U4, from within Minecraft. For the class this is all packaged nicely in the form of a laser cut controller. It has some LEDs, two joysticks, buttons, potentiometers, and a photosensor.
As you can see in the video below the break, it’s really cool. The kids have a great time with it too. For example, [John] showed them how they can attach their unique controller to a piston in the world. Since this piston can be controlled by them alone, they quickly figured out how to make secret safe rooms for their items.
Another troublesome discovery, was that the photo transistor on the controller set the light level in the game world by altering the time of day. Kids would occasionally get up and change the world from day to night, by turning the lights in the room on or off. A feature that has a certain appeal for any Minecraft player, is rigging one of the LEDs on the controller to change brightness depending on proximity to a creeper.
There’s a lot more to the library, which is available on GitHub. The kids (and adults) have a great time learning to link the real world with the world’s most accessible fantasy world creation kit. Great work [John]!
The Interaction Awards published the shortlisted projects for 2016 and up to five finalists in each category will be announced during the event on Friday evening, March 4, 2016. In the Expressing category, showcasing projects enabling self expression and/or creativity there is a project called Step representing an innovative and engaging way of approaching music production for children between 6 and 100 years old.
To prototype the user experience we’ve used an Arduino Leonardo connected to a processing sketch that handle the recording and playback features. Using a Mux Shield 2 we managed connecting 25 IR sensors, 16 LEDs, 1 knob and a button to a single Arduino board. We needed a quick and effective way to test the experience and by using Arduino we managed to design and build the whole product in three weeks.
Most of the music toys on the market are trying to fake the sounds and the experience of real instruments. Step has a different approach as it’s designed to give children the opportunity to create real loops and beats using whatever sounds they like from objects of everyday life.
Players can record any sounds and match them with coloured tags, and then create melodies, loops and and beats by placing tags on the track and by adjusting the tempo!