The Newest Graphing Calculator Game

Certainly everyone remembers passing time in a boring high school class playing games on a graphing calculator. Whether it was a Mario-esque game, Tetris, or BlockDude, there are plenty of games out there for pretty much all of the graphing calculators that exist. [Christopher], [Tim], and their colleagues from Cemetech took their calculator game a little bit farther than we did, and built something that’ll almost surely disrupt whatever class you’re attempting to pay attention in: They built a graphing calculator whac-a-mole game.

This game isn’t the standard whac-a-mole game, though, and it isn’t played on the calculator’s screen. Instead of phyiscal “moles” the game uses LEDs and light sensors enclosed in a box to emulate the function of the moles. In order to whack a mole, the player only needs to interrupt the light beam which can be done with any physical object. The team made extensive use of the ArTICL library which allows graphing calculators to interface with microcontrollers like the MSP432 that they used, and drove the whole thing with a classic TI-84.

This project is a fun way to show what can be done with a graphing calculator and embedded electronics, and it was a big hit at this past year’s World Maker Faire. Calculators are versatile in other ways as well. We’ve seen them built with open hardware and free software, And we’ve even seen them get their own Wi-Fi.

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Whac-A-Banker to relieve your frustration

[Tim Hunkin], builder extraordinaire and host of The Secret Life of Machines is a bit frustrated with the current economic climate and decided to take out his frustrations with a game of Whac-A-Banker.

[Tim]’s version of the classic Whac-A-Mole game uses tiny air cylinders to actuate five banker figurines up and down. The figures were cast with polyurethane and are reportedly holding up well. The cabinet is really interesting. When the game isn’t being played, a really boring front panel is displayed. After inserting a few coins, the panel drops into the machine to show the fun and exciting scoreboard.

If you’re ever around Suffolk, England, you can check out the Whac-A-Banker and a lot of other [Tim Hunkin] creations at the Southwold Pier. Thanks [John] for sending this one in. Yes, we did get The Secret Life of Machines in the states on the Discovery Channel, but it has been replaced with shows about trucking. Here’s an archive of the entire series for your viewing pleasure. Kiss your evening goodbye.