10 Great DIY Electronic Games
Presented as an RGB LED game for two players, Avantikha Sodhi and
Mayank Grover’s electronic Tic-Tac-Toe game offers minutes of fun for all the family.
Electronic Quiz Game
DIY Network’s Electronic Quiz Game requires a dozen screws, a 7.5v screw-base lamp, duct tape and not much else. The magic is in how you hook it up to a board game of your own devising, by following the instructions at its homepage.
Each answer is linked to each question, hardcoding the logic into the game itself: no CPUs necessary.
Spice the game up by hooking the “WRONG!” circuit into the buttons themselves, offering an additional 9 volts of disincentive to failure.
Hard and Fast
The simplest and least intellectual offering in this roundup,
Mr. Richey’s own DIY electronic game merely counts the number of times you can whack a button in ten seconds.
“I wound up writing 4 different games. The first counts how many times I can press a button in a certain amount of time. The second game is a targeting game. The third game is a two player tug of war style game. The fourth (and the best in my opinion) is kind of a rhythm/pong game. There are some bugs in the software (most noticeable in the 4th game), and hopefully I’ll fix them soon.”
The loser takes another drink, or something.
Pico-ITX motherboard running MAME
Via doesn’t really want consumers dicking around with these expensive, channel-destined boards, which is a terrible shame: it’s the best thing since sliced bread for small-form-factor retrogaming geeks.
Pico ITX is an accessible miniature barebones computer in itself, fully-featured and ready to rumble with only the addition of an I/O daughter board, storage and RAM required. No soldering irons or LED sparklies to be seen.
Knocking something together would be expensive, mind you: about
$300 for the motherboard and $150 for the case. But when you’re done, you can use it as the ultimate classic gaming console, with thousands of games a torrent away.
For bonus points, hack the entire Pico-ITX system into a big joystick, like the X-Arcade. Perhaps it will even fit inside the legendary Dreamcast Arcade Controller (pictured).
Challenge: Build a Physical Toy With the Arduino
Make Magazine’s most popular circuit board is the Arduino Diecimila
PLUS USB board, off the shelf for $35. Described as a tool for “making computers that can sense and control the physical world,” it could be the heart of an awesome hand-crafted toy.
Advanced electrical and coding skills would be needed, but the possibilities are endless: one could buy two of them, and make dueling robots. Or something. The development environment is free to download.
Honorable Mention: Designing Automata Kit
Without an electron in sight, the Designing Automata Kit shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a roundup of electrical toys, right?
Wrong. Embodying fundamental engineering and logical principles, it’s the perfect primer for those who want to build cool machines of any kind.
Check out the $60 kit at the creator’s homepage.
Changing Gears: Startup’s Next Mechanical Game Teaches Electronics
May 26, 2021
Business & Technology
It was shortly after launching his marble-based game to teach computing concepts that Paul Boswell had an ambitious idea. What if a similar game could instead teach electronics—a subject known for its complicated math and hard-to-visualize concepts—in a simpler way? What if that game could run without electricity itself?
“Electronics is a really hard subject to teach because it’s so abstract; you can’t see electricity, you can’t feel it,” Boswell, PhD, said. “It’s really hard to understand it or even to find it all that interesting. But it should be interesting. Electronics is about manipulating energy, making it do cool stuff. ”
Three years later, Boswell—who previously created the Turing Tumble while he was a research assistant professor at the University of Minnesota—and his team have launched a Kickstarter campaign to bring this tangible electronics game, dubbed Spintronics, to life. Thousands of backers have already contributed to the Spintronics campaign, which started on May 20, leading it to surpass its $74,000 goal by hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Spintronics runs on no actual electricity, Boswell explained. Instead, the player pulls back a wind-up string inside of the game that serves as a “battery,” providing a constant force to move the other pieces that make up the circuit, such as capacitors, inductors, and transistors. The player arranges these pieces in custom configurations to create circuits and watch how they work as “electricity” flows through them. In addition to the game pieces, Spintronics includes puzzle books full of challenges the player must address using only a specific list of available parts—essentially teaching them to apply electronics concepts to solve problems.
“It’s the first physical representation of electronics that I think has ever been built,” Boswell said. “Hopefully it will be something that changes the way we teach electronics, because now we have it in a physical form. You can feel the pull of voltage, you can watch current flow. It just makes electronics so much more tangible and relatable.”
The new educational game follows several years of success with its predecessor, the Turing Tumble. Boswell developed the original game while a faculty member in analytical chemistry at the UMN College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences. He often found himself having to teach students how to code, which showed him how important it was for today’s students to understand computers at a fundamental level.
In 2017, with the design of the Turing Tumble finished, Boswell worked with the Venture Center, part of UMN Technology Commercialization, to launch a startup company to manufacture and sell the game. He then established a Kickstarter in hopes of raising the funds needed to manufacture the game pieces and bring the product to market. Those hopes weren’t misplaced—after only a day or two, the campaign surpassed that goal, ultimately reaching $400,000 by the end of the fundraising period. Boswell quit his job and dedicated his time to producing the game.
Since then, his company (also named Turing Tumble) has sold nearly 200,000 units, with most of the sales taking place directly through the company’s website. The game has also found a home in classrooms, with somewhere between 3,000 and 4,000 different schools now using the Turing Tumble as part of their curricula.
“It’s teaching how computers work, which I think I lot of teachers like because computers are everywhere,” Boswell said. “It’s a real ‘aha!’ moment for kids.”
While he is excited by the success of the Turing Tumble and the strong start in fundraising for the upcoming Spintronics game, Boswell acknowledges that developing the games, especially Spintronics, meant overcoming a host of challenges.
It proved complicated, for example, to develop the Spintronics game’s “battery” because real electricity presents a very consistent flow of energy, while mechanical forces tend to lose momentum over time and slow to a stop. Electrical junctions were also hard to model, since the game uses chains to represent the flow of electrons through wires, but splitting the “flow” of a chain into two different directions is more complicated than splitting an actual electrical current. In total, the game’s design took three years.
Boswell said he would not have been able to work through these challenges and bring his educational games to this point if not for his time at the University, where he did his graduate and postdoctoral work before working as a research assistant professor for a time.
“I wouldn’t have been able to do this had I not had the education that I had there,” he said. “I learned an awful lot about communication and about attacking difficult problems.”
Photos courtesy Paul Boswell/Turing Tumble.
The best microprocessor games of the Electronics series / Computer and mobile games / iXBT Live
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I suggest you remember the Soviet line of portable handheld electronic games that were analogues, copies or even variations of foreign game consoles. There were differences, but mostly they were in the shape of the case and the inscriptions on the case or in the game itself.
Games were named IM from the abbreviation “Game Microprocessor Electronics” and could be produced at several factories scattered throughout the USSR and neighboring countries. Although there were other designations, for example, “Electronic Game” – “Polesie IE”, produced in Pinsk, Belarus, or simply “I”, produced after 1992. If we consider the chronology, the games were released from 1984 to 2000.
The games turned out to be diverse and you may not even have seen some of them. I offer a small selection with the most popular games.
Wait a minute!
Pocket electronic game got a name that gave the designation of the whole series of games “Electronics IM-02”. Perhaps this is the most widely known and massively widespread portable toy with a display on an LCD screen of the Soviet period. Production began back in 1984. Not only the game itself fit in a small body, but also functions, including a clock and an alarm clock, displayed on a small screen.
The idea was to catch the eggs in the basket, which rolled down the chicken trays. 1 point was awarded for the egg caught. At first, the pace of the game allowed getting used to correctly calculating the speed of movement, but with each level, the speed of the game increased and decreased only to 100 points. If the eggs fell to the ground, then a penalty point or half a point was given, it all depended on the “hare” controlling the game, which sometimes looked out.
After reaching 200 or 500 bonus points, the penalties were canceled and the game continued up to 999 points.
There are only 2 levels in the game in terms of difficulty, differing in the number of trays used in the game 3 or 4 depending on the difficulty.
Electronics 24-01. “Mickey Mouse”, like “Just you wait”, is one of the first of a whole line of Soviet games on liquid crystal taps. The engineers did not invent much and created it by analogy with the Nintendo EG-26 Egg.
There is not much difference from the previous game and we can say that only the characters change. You still need to catch the eggs rolling down the trays and avoid them falling. The game lasts up to 999 points, and then automatically restarts with zero penalty points, but at a faster pace. At 200 and 500 points, penalty points are reset to zero. The game has 2 difficulty levels “Game 1” and “Game 2” (in Just You Wait “Game A” and “Game B”) which use either 3 or 4 trays. The game could serve as an electronic clock or an alarm clock and was easily installed on a flat surface thanks to a metal support behind the case.
Secrets of the ocean
“Electronics IM-03”. The continuation of the whole series was the third electronic game with an LCD screen. The principle is similar to the Nintendo OC-22 Octopus. The cases are similar to previous games, except for only 2 control buttons.
The game has only 2 buttons, so it seemed simpler than its counterparts in the beginning. When controlling a diver, you need to take one of 6 positions in order not to fall into the tentacles of an octopus. Having reached the chest, collect gold in a bag and return to the boat without hitting the dangerous tentacles. Points as well as penalty points are similar to previous games. Resetting penalties at 200 and 500 points. As the game progresses, the speed increases and continues up to 999. If this number is exceeded, it starts again, but at a faster rate.
The game became the fourth IM-04 in a large series of Soviet pocket toys and is an analogue of the foreign Nintendo FP-24 Chef.
Strange as it may seem, but the stated age limit is from 7 years, what is the reason for this, it is not clear.
The “action” of the game has taken place in a makeshift kitchen, and on the sides you can find racks with kitchen utensils. The fishing tool is a frying pan, with which he must catch falling products. When an edible product falls: sausage, cutlet, fish on the floor, a mouse picks it up and you are awarded 1 penalty point. The game goes up to 3 penalty points. When you collect 200 or 500 points, the fines are cancelled. The main character is hindered by a cat that can grab food and steal a score.
“Electronics IM-09”. In short, this is an analogue or clone of the Nintendo FR-27 Fire.
The plot unfolds on a foreign planet, where, after a volcanic eruption (located in the background of the screen), the base of earthlings is cut off from the only way to escape from the planet – a transporter. Rivers of lava flow between the astronauts and using a makeshift bridge you need to save everyone jumping out of the base. If the astronaut falls, then a penalty point is automatically added to the piggy bank. And in the rest, according to the accrual of points and the cancellation of fines, everything is similar to the previous analogues. The case has a clock and alarm function, which are activated by the corresponding buttons.
Electronics IM-10. The game was already interesting not only for children, but also for adults, because everyone could feel like a cool goalkeeper and catch all the pucks sent into the goal by other players. The game has been produced since 1998 and was an analogue of the Nintendo EG-26 Egg. All other functions, scoring and penalties were similar to other games.
“Electronics IM-11”. The toy received 3 variants of names and even managed to be produced at several factories. It was quite popular and it was difficult to find it on the shelves of the store. The game has become a complete analogue of the foreign electronic model BIGTRAK with programmable functions developed in 1979 year. Circulation abroad was more than 1 million copies.
On the Soviet version, a keyboard with the ability to program actions was placed on the body of the “planetary rover”. In addition, depending on the version and manufacturer, the all-terrain vehicle could get different colors and even lineup. The toy could be equipped with a trailer, a propeller that fired on command, illuminated headlights and parking lights.
The game was widely used, but unfortunately not everyone got it.
Electronics IM-12 with replaceable cartridges
The game was conceived based on the well-known “Just you wait” or “Mickey Mouse”, but with a more advanced processor and replaceable cartridges. The toy is an analogue of the Nintendo CJ-93 Donkey-Kong JR released back in 1983. There are several cartridges that were not realistic to get in the USSR, since the game was not widely used. The game was displayed not just on the screen, but through a system of mirrors, so it was voluminous and in color. For example, in the game with Winnie the Pooh, you had to go around all the obstacles and dodge flying bees. Quite difficult to set up, since the screen worked from an external light source and was displayed through the light.
I have never seen such a variation of games before.
Cheerful football players
“Electronics IM-22”. The game is also based on Just You Wait, but with a modified display. Became an analogue of the foreign version of Monkey Goalkeeper. The game is based on the control of the goalkeeper “monkey” which must catch as many balls as possible. The balls are launched from different directions, so it is quite difficult to jump all over the screen. The balls are launched at a low speed, so at first they are quite easy to catch, but each time it gets faster and faster. After 200 and 500 points earned, penalty points are deducted that can be received for conceded goals. The game can be launched in 2 difficulty levels and has the functions of a clock and an alarm clock to be installed on the table.
Most of the games in the series received the same cases with LCD screens and applied silhouettes that change depending on the situation in the game. The color gamut was created by a special transparent film applied under the glass of the screen. Power was supplied from batteries STs-32 or MTs-0, 105, depending on the series and time of production, at the moment you can install a modern analogue of LR-44, AG-13.
Perhaps the first portable electronic games that really caught the eye and made you freeze for a long time. I had Nu pogodi and rallies, but the very first and favorite rally lasted the longest.
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all types and varieties of Soviet electronic games USSR
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