Dr. Boardman’s Color Conundrum

We feel like trumpets should be sounding. Someone took the overused project of connecting RGB LEDs to a microcontroller and produced something useful. [Paul] created Dr. Boardman’s Color Conundrum which works much like a simple mechanical coin-op game you might find at a carnival. When switched on, a random color is displayed by the ping-pong ball covered LED on the left. The player then manipulates three knobs to color-match the two lights.

Inside you’ll find a minimalist set of hardware. An ATmega8 polls the three potentiometers and uses them to mix the appropriate user color. Everything is wired-up using prototyping board and draws power from two AA batteries. He’s using a random seed stored in EEPROM and increments it every time the uC boots up. This keeps the input color different for every game.

Fun and simple, it’s not going to make your guests marvel at the complexity but [Paul's] come up with a unique game that we think has marketing potential.


  1. mrgoogfan says:

    we need a mini skiball

  2. NatureTM says:

    Very creative. A lot from a little.

  3. Josh Malone says:

    So – can I use this to test for tetrachomacy?

  4. Ruxias says:

    If this were marketed as suggested above, I would totally buy one. This looks awesome.

    Mini ski-ball would be awesome, too.

  5. Dave says:


    Why not make one? That’s what this site is all about.

  6. scotting says:

    Now all he needs for a true game is a countdown timer that starts after the first dial is twisted. 3 levels of difficulty of course!

    Awesomely good stuff

  7. I think this is great. A great tool to teach many things, its an intro project to uControllers, and a great project to teach color theory. And its wrapped up in a nice carnival type arcade game. love it!

  8. Mr. Twister says:

    @Michael Bradley: are you in fact the son of Milton Bradley? Careful Paul..make sure Bradley cuts you in. Nice game. The artwork is great.

  9. error404 says:

    Awesome! Looks like he could use a bit of gamma correction, but the idea is just brilliant, and so is the final product.

  10. mesoiam says:

    This would be great for training lighting designers, I do a lot of theatre lighting but I’m still useless at making the colours I want from RGB.

  11. M4CGYV3R says:

    I don’t know if I could justify building one, or if it would be remotely as fun after the hassle of coding and wiring it up, but I have a strong urge to play with that thing.

    I think it would be a good tool to teach people about RGB color mixing as well. I’m starting my senior year of a CS BS degree and it still shocks me how many ‘experienced’ C++ coders in my classes still can’t even guess at an RGB color value, or even figure it out from the hex values.

  12. jeff-o says:

    Very cool. He spelled “colour” wrong though. ;)

  13. CapitalC says:

    I remember a station at the local science centre where they had an RGB mixing game (on a CRT). It was to test your colour perception and matching abilities. I don’t recall if it required 100% accuracy as not all kids can tell if a colour is of by 1 step or not.

    This is a great and totally marketable idea!

  14. private says:

    very nice project.
    but it’s just me or there is no schematic? :(

  15. blizzarddemon says:

    This would be a great device to teach art students about the importance of color matching. Too many of them don’t have a strong awareness of the subtle differences between colors.
    Great work!

  16. pwsome says:

    @jeff-o – bah! Beat me to it.

    Looks like a pretty cool game. Too bad I’m somewhat colour blind, although I can sometimes match up colours if they’re next to each other…

  17. Curtis Ruck says:

    So, I want one. Actually, i’d buy 10 were they available. I’d buy 10 and give them as gifts over the next few years to nieces/nephews.

    So, whenever i can buy one please update this page with where.

  18. PaulBo says:

    Hey all, thanks for the suggestions and positive feedback!

    It hadn’t occurred to me that people might be interested in buying these. I thought that anyone interested in it would also be prepared to make one ;)

    I’ll get round to posting a schematic to make life easier for those interested.

  19. ColorBlindMan says:

    Why do people hate colorblind people so much?

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