Build a Pong gaming console

A lot of thought went into [Patrick Mccabe's] Pong gaming console build. He used components we’re familiar with; an Arduino as a controller, 8×8 LED modules as the display, and potentiometers (with fancy knobs) in project boxes as the controllers. But every step along the way he took care to build this cleanly and robustly. Even the MAX7219CNG drivers for the six LED modules reside on PCBs from a fab house. The finished project is something you’d be proud to pull out and play when you have friends over. Even if they’re not part of the geek elite we think they’d enjoy a game or two. Great job [Patrick]. We hope to see an internalized microcontroller and scoring in your next update!

Want to do this but the cost of the matrix drivers scared you away? Follow our tutorial to build your own display using an AVR for the multiplexing.


  1. This is a Pong game table. All craftsmanship is of the highest quality. It menaces with spikes of awesome.

  2. Egonis says:

    Uhmm… where do I buy the kit? :P

  3. You would like to see an “internalized” microcontroller? Really? You want to hide the brain away inside that box? Well, I guess we can’t all have good taste…. For the record, the Arduino is right where it should be –out for the whole world to see… I wish all the beautiful PCB’s pat designed were able to be shown as well! Nice work, Pat.

  4. NatureTM says:

    You can get four 8×8 matrices on a board with a serial interface for $10 on eBay.

    I prefer made from scratch, but I’m lazy, so I usually just get carry-out.

  5. fluidic says:

    Matrix drivers? You could probably do that entire thing in sweep mode with a few TLC5940s and a mux. The GPIO overhead for driving even a large matrix array is pretty low with this approach.

    If you only have a few values to choose from, you can do it more cheaply by setting up a few signal sources with the duty cycles you want (555s), buffer / amplify the result, and then use a few GPIOs to control a mux array which maps source to output.

    Oh, and latched-output serial to parallel shift registers are a lovely thing as well. You can grab two dozen for about five bucks, mux the input, and then drive that whole mess off a bare handful of GPIOs again (while having lots of leftover ICs).

  6. Tweeks says:

    A guy in our user group built a multi-color version that uses the 8-core propeller uController that does real time text scrolling (font ripped from the C64 ROMs) on a tri-color 64×32 LED panel:

    And that was his old version.

    The new one is made up of 2 or 4 of these panels and plays breakout! hehe.


  7. Bill says:

    Yay Patrick! I love it.

    @Tweeks, This Pong was made by a person significantly younger then the one you linked. It is a good accomplishment, not ‘weak’.

    @fludic, I agree, I would have liked to see cheaper driven method, though Patrick got the chips for free, the rest of us aren’t so lucky.

    @Egonis et al. I’m making a ‘kit’ for a cheap Arduino powered matrix driver. One AVR for 10 matrices, and only using 6 IO pins. I plan on partnering with Patrick (for code) when I finish, and could very well sell a ‘Pong’ game kit.


  8. Hirudinea says:

    I love old school games and old school craftsmanship, just stain the wood.

  9. merser says:

    Nice Job Patrick. @tweeks… there’s probably a million different ways to implement pong, lets see yours instead of saying someone else’s is better.

  10. Erik Johnson says:

    @Tweeks That panel is a preassembled unit, being driven by a preassembled mcu. The only thing he did was put potentiometers in a box, wire it up and code it.

  11. Onelix says:

    I was trying to make a electromecanical version of a pong. any ideas?

  12. Erik Johnson says:

    @Onelix pinball bumpers & a pinball, plus the ball return mechanism. Mount the bumpers on a cable/pulley system.

  13. strider_mt2k says:

    That looks like it would be fun to play.

    It also looks very nicely built.

    hey uh…next game?


  14. strider_mt2k says:

    -and yes the stuff is pre-assembled.

    -they just removed the bits that didn’t resemble their project and added ones that did is all. ;)

  15. AO says:

    Looks great! My only suggestion would be smoked/tinted acrylic.

  16. Tweeks says:

    Sorry all..
    Nice job Patrick. :)

    Keep up the good work man!


  17. Paul Potter says:

    Very nicely done.

  18. rik says:

    @onelix: This EM Pong made all the blogs some time ago:
    or perhaps it was this one:

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