Most people play games for entertainment. Hackers build robots to play games for entertainment. That’s what [piandchips] did. He used a Raspberry Pi and a MeArm kit to build a Connect 4-playing robot. The robot–named 4-Bot–has to do two things: the first is it has to be able to manipulate the pieces. Secondly, it has to be able to see the board. The MeArm imbues 4-Bot with the manipulation ability, and a clever scanning system does the trick.
[Patrick McCabe] is a student at MIT and for his final project in his Microcomputer Project Laboratory course he decided to build a clever Connect 4 Robot.
The only criteria for the project was that you have to use the Cypress PSOC 5LP kit along with a 8051 micro-controller or equivalent (programmed in the same assembly language as the PSOC). All in all, [Patrick] had 5 weeks to work on the project.
He’s using a regular old Connect 4 game along with an assortment of custom parts. A stepper motor drives the token carriage back and forth across a 15″ aluminum channel using a timing belt. A servo releases the tokens, and all the other components, brackets, and other pieces were either made with his very own UP Mini 3D printer, or out of acrylic using the school’s laser cutter. It’s an extremely clean and well thought out build, and he’s actually uploaded all the custom part files (in SolidWorks format) online, for others to build their own.
As part of a class at University, [Emacheen22] and his teammates turned an old Connect 4 game into a binary clock. This image shows the device nearing completion, but the final build includes the game tokens which diffuse the LED light. We enjoy the concept, but think there are a few ways to improve on it for the next iteration. If you’re interested in making your own we’d bet you can find Connect 4 at the thrift store.
Instead of using the free-standing game frame the team decided to use the box to host the LEDs and hide away the electronics. Since they’re using a breadboard and an Arduino this is a pretty good option. But it means that the game frame needs to be on its side as the tokens won’t stay in place without the plastic base attached. They used a panel mount bracket for each LED and chose super glue to hold all of the parts together.
We think this would be a lot of fun if the frame was upright. The LEDs could be free-floating by hot glueing the leads to either side of the opening. Using a small box under the base, all of the electronics can be hidden from view. After all, if you solder directly and use just a bare AVR chip there won’t be all that much to hide. Or you could get fancy and go with logic chips instead of a uC.