Yet Another Arduino Blinkenlight Thing, Actually Pretty Cool

On the Tasmanian Linux User Group mailing list, [Hoolio] read someone complaining about the eventual downfall of their upcoming hackerspace as becoming a club of Arduino fanboys. [Hoolio] asked what was wrong with the Arduino, and this terrible, terrible Tasmanian replied, “there’s far too much boring blinkenlights and not enough actual cool stuff.” [Hoolio] took this as a challenge and created his own Arduino blinkenlight project that emulates Space Invaders on a 5×5 matrix of LEDs

The board is just a buzzer, 25 LEDs, 10 transistors, and a pot and button. Before the game begins, a LED chaser is traced out on the perimeter of the display, its speed controllable by the pot. When the button is pressed the game begins, allowing [Hoolio] to move his ship left and right with the pot and fire his lazor with the button.

Yes, it’s a game written for an array of blinkenlights for the Arduino. This doesn’t diminish the build, though. If this were put in a fabulous beige and transported back to 1978, we’d look on the LED version of Space Invaders as fondly as Mattel’s Football.

You can see [Hoolio]’s game demo after the break.


18 thoughts on “Yet Another Arduino Blinkenlight Thing, Actually Pretty Cool

  1. It’s a fun project, but seriously, don’t let the haters motivate you. Ignore the ignorant idiots and move on.

    I know several hackerspaces that would throw a member out for being so close-minded and non-supportive of member projects.

  2. “Yes, it’s a game written for an array of blinkenlights for the Arduino. This doesn’t diminish the build, though. If this were put in a fabulous beige and transported back to 1978, we’d look on the LED version of Space Invaders as fondly as Mattel’s Football.”

    Indeed. That’s what it reminded me off when I saw the video. Cool project.
    To the creator: ignore the comments from the trolls. They grew up used to pretty graphics and have no clue that portable electronic games started this way.

    1. Rather than knocking the guy/project I’d like to knock your statement if you don’t mind.
      My issue with it is that regardless of the time you live in you do know it when something has severe limitations, I’ve seen games on old phones that were the right up there as the best of its time that just obviously sucked (and which everybody didn’t actually play more than 10 minutes total).
      And the same with old hardware like the first huge cellphones, I’m sure people were aware they were too big, even with the coolness that you could carry a phone with you.
      And today too we are aware of many limitation of devices we have, like for instance LCD displays, it’s nice to not have the huge CRT but we certainly are painfully aware of the various flaws, like having to deal with slow response or bad viewing angles, or squeaking inverters, or poor blacklevels, or poor visibility in sunlight. Neat – but flawed and still in development.

  3. Had Mattel Football in childhood, as well as a few of the single-game LCD handhelds a few years later. They were awful, even in their day. This would’ve been OK in 1978, but 2012 expects more.

      1. Never had any of those, but there were a lot of cheaper knockoffs. The Game & Watch ones may have been a bit more enjoyable, but probably not much so, I’m thinking. (There’s apparently a simulator on Sourceforge for those games, if there’s any kids out there wondering what they were like. Of note, I don’t know whether it simulates the LCD’s crappy response time.)

  4. This is a very nice and fun project indeed.

    I a way, I have to agree with the original complainer in this story. Don\’t get me wrong, I think that an arduino it a great learning and prototyping platform and it has probably pulled more people into electronics than any other thing. I also think that blinkenleds are the easiest way to start with microcontrollersaned it is also the way that I started with it. But…

    I often see projects that use an arduino where only 2 or 3 pins are needed and where maybe an analog circuit or an attiny13 would be a smaller and more economical (they cost less than $2) solution.
    Also a lot of people then stuff the entire arduino into the project when you just can remove the atmega from the arduinoboard and put that into the project. Then you only have to buy a new atmega and that is a lot cheaper.

    I still think that the arduino is great but its versatility and userfriendlyness (is that a word?) has made us a bit lazy. When we design a new circuit, we grab an arduino and just start with it without thinking about other solutions.

    I just wanted to say this as I did all the same things (mea culpa) but while working on an analog modular synth, I discovered that there is so much more than microcontrollers + a few parts.

    1. I’ve done all the same things too, albeit with a Launchpad rather than an Arduino. But I have at least had the good sense not to wave my crayon scribbles around in front of the entire Internet and say “Mommy, Mommy! Look what I did!”

  5. The old saying “if you dont have anything positive to say, dont say anything at all” springs to mind.

    OR even better………

    “Opinions are like Arseholes, every bodies got them”

    He says, putting forward his opinion :)

  6. If an arduino gets your project done faster and/or more efficiently then there’s non problem using it. The microprocessor choice isn’t the project, the thing you’re building with it is.

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