Adding words to Catch Phrase

[Brandon Meyer] spared no expense in modding the Catch Phrase game to use custom word lists. The altered version of the game, normal sold for around $25, now comes in at a whopping $230! That’s because the internals were gutted and replaced with an Arduino, 20×2 LCD display, and some other interesting bits. The device now features an SD slot for storing your own lists and a USB port for programming.

At first glance we were hoping some simple EEPROM hacking had unlocked the secrets of the device but that wasn’t he case. We’d love to see some more economical versions of [Brandon’s] prototype. Perhaps reusing the original LCD, replacing the Arduino with the ATmega168 that makes up its core, and using a diy SD cradle for a card reader.

So yes, this version is a bit of overkill but still very nicely done!

[Thanks Zoidberg]

19 thoughts on “Adding words to Catch Phrase

  1. yeah, not sure where he’s shopping, but this can def be done much cheaper.

    And I guess not so much a hack in the sense that the original system was replaced rather than modded, but still cool.

  2. At that price you can just buy a Nokia N800/N810 (under $200 on ebay) and neoprene sleeve (for padding from drops). The program itself would be a piece of cake to write, if it doesn’t already exist. Then of course, you’d also have an n810 to play with.

    @Agent420
    Totally agree. Interesting build, not really a hack, though.

  3. Hacking the original catch phrase (the one with paper disks) is much easier and extremely cheap; I made a template and then grabbed random words from urbandictionary to make it more interesting. Cool project though. It’d be nice if Hasbro duplicated this and let us all have smarter/more customizable toys.

    1. Hi Kevin, I’m a high school Teach for America teacher in Baltimore, and it would be a HUGE help to have that template that you made. Could you send it my way? My email is shepm23@gmail.com if you can help with this. Thanks.

    2. You know what, Kevin, this would be so great for my students that I’d be willing to send $10 in the mail to you if the template works like it should.

  4. By the looks of it, that thing would not survive five minutes in any game of catch-phrase I’ve ever played. Hasbro’s internals seem able to survive an amazing amount of torment including being frisbee’d into the neighbor’s back yard 3 houses down and chewed by their rottweiler. You might consider a game ‘tame’ if it ends more subtly with a conference call to Hasbro customer service demanding arbitration.

    I agree the non-electronic game is much easier to customize; unfortunately it’s less durable than the electronic game (though it doesn’t fly as far or hurt as bad)

  5. I’m not the only one who’s wanted to wing this game into the woods… – run after it and stomp on it until it surrenders. There is a hate / mostly hate relationship with this electronic device at game night, so I’m not surprised that ripping it open naturally happened.

    Changing the content without replacing the internals would be the elegant solution here, but sometimes getting exactly what you want in a short amount of time costs more.

    – Kris

  6. At one point I considered trying to add words to one of these electronic versions of the game. If I remember correctly, there was a single chip covered in epoxy or whatever. Has anyone looked into decapping that puppy?

  7. If you didn’t use an Arduino that would save you boatloads right there. For displaying something to a screen or random number generation, it’s totally unnecessary.

  8. Does anyone know what happened to the original site? Google’s cache didn’t catch it, and I can’t seem to find any of the info otherwise. I’ve been looking to do this for YEARS.

    That’ll teach me to fall behind on my RSS feed. :-(

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