Beating Simon

Virtually everyone has played Simon, that electronic memory game from the 70s, but who among us has actually beaten it? That was the goal of [Ben] and his 7-year-old daughter, and after a year of work, an Arduino, some servos, and a few Lego bricks, they’ve finally done it.

Instead of the large original Simon, [Ben] is using a key chain version of the game: much smaller, and much easier to build a device to sense the lights and push the buttons. The arms are made from Lego bricks, held up with rubber bands and actuated with two servos mounted on a cutting board.

To detect Simon’s lights, [Ben] connected four phototransistors to an Arduino. The Arduino records the pattern of lights on the Simon, and activates the Lego arms in response to that pattern. [Ben]‘s version of Simon has only a maximum of 32 steps in the final sequence, but that still means each game takes 528 button presses – and a lot of annoying beeps – to complete.

Videos below.

26 thoughts on “Beating Simon

  1. I dig watching these builds, mostly because they are deliciously over-complex. I am lazy, I would have just tapped into the buttons and LEDs. But what is the fun in that?

    1. See Futurama, Season six, episode 18 “The Tip Of the Zoidberg” for an excellent tribute to Rube Goldberg and his deliciously over-complex builds.

  2. “[Ben] and his 7-year-old daughter, and after a year of work,”

    The daughter left the project after the first weekand the father had a new project for the rest of the year while his wife rolled her eyes when he calls for Dinner. I garantee it. :D

    Besides that: I’m with RooTer from above. Neat idea to use one servo for two arms.

  3. Neat project, better still spend some time rummaging in the rest of this guy’s blog…a serious tinkering sort; jam-jar lid mechanical oscillators, simulating a fourier-transform based laser image projector(!) and “most clichéd adjectives and nouns”.

  4. The article says “(plastic chopping board)” and not “polycarbonate cutting board” like in the writeup. Cutting boards are typically HDPE (High density polyethylene) and naturally colored HDPE is white-ish while polycarbonate is usually very clear.

  5. I’ve had a similar idea but for a different game, I got this football shaped game by Tiger Electronics, one of a few Game Balls they made.

    It has 3 buttons corresponding to 3 players that light up and a speaker says “Pass!” so you press that player’s button until the game says “Shoot!” and then you hold that button down and shake the ball to score.

    It gets progressively quicker and difficult and I’m sure soldering in some temporary wires would enable a microcontroller to play it flawlessly with the right programming.

      1. There is a video on the page that shows the robot playing the winning tune at the end before it was programmed to not do it.

        “This one was shot before we updated the code with the knowledge that 32 flashes is the longest sequence Simon produces before conceding. The robot therefore continues to mash at the buttons after the end of the game:”

  6. I still have a Simon I got 35 years ago. I still remember that it the win on the full size game is 31 flashes.

  7. It’s a great build but I always heard that when you beat Simon it exploded, I’m kinda disappointed.

    1. I guess you could always hack in the exploding feature. The instructions say:

      For the tough skill level 4, repeat the 31 signal sequence and SIMON blows its mind, loses its memory and gives itself the RAZZ sound

  8. If these two decide to build another game playing robot, I hope they choose BOP IT! :P

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bop_It

    It would definitely be a much more complex build than this, but seriously, how many people have actually gotten to the 100 point limit on that game?

    Wel,, probably more than I think, but I wanna see a robot do it! Not really bad enough to build my own, but…

    “I’m also pleased not to have exhausted my daughter’s enthusiasm for this kind of thing: a few minutes after this one was working, she asked

    ‘what robot will we build next?’.”

  9. I made my family crazy but I beat simon like 35 yrs ago, the sequence was 99 flashes. It did not emplode ;) I only beat one of the seqences though I think there were 4 different ones that randomly started that had 99 flashes each. I would cycle through till I got to the one sequence I was memorizing. That was always the annoying part!

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