A Beautiful Game Of Lights Out


About a year ago, [Anthony] decided to embark on his biggest project to date. He wanted something with a ton of LEDs, so when the idea of recreating the classic electronic Lights Out game came to mind, he knew he had the makings of a killer project. The finished Lights Out arcade box is a wonderful piece of work with sixteen 17-segment displays and just as many LED illuminated arcade buttons.

By far the most impressive feature of [Anthony]’s project are the two rows of 17-segment displays. These are controlled by two MAX6954 LED display drivers on a beautiful wire wrapped board. The 16 buttons for the game are translucent arcade buttons that compliment the RGB LED strip very nicely.

A great display and a whole bunch of LEDs don’t make a game, though. [Anthony] came across this article on JSTOR that told him how to create new 4×4 games of Lights Out and solve them algorithmically to get the total number of moves required to solve the puzzle. As you can see in this video, it’s a little hard to solve the puzzle in the minimum amount of moves. Still, we have to commend [Anthony] for a great project.

9 thoughts on “A Beautiful Game Of Lights Out

  1. Well Anthony certainly built something that catches the eye. For me a part of the visual aesthetics is that the perf board is visible, something that would be lost if a PCB is used. I wonder how long the 4 AA batteries last. In the event I was aware of JSTOR prior to the unfortunate Aaron Swartz episode I forgot about it, but this post is the first that I can recall being directed to content on JSTOR.

  2. Thanks guys! Keeping the perf board visible was a definite plus. I didn’t want to end up with something that looked store-bought.

    I started with 4AA alkaline batteries but they didn’t last that long, maybe 2 hrs total. I tested the voltage when the lights started flickering, they still had a lot of charge, 1.2v was left. Just under 5v total. The step-down power supply is reducing the input to 3.3v. So I added 4 more AAs for a total of 8 and about 10v input. The batteries are lasting much longer now, haven’t died yet with about 4 hrs use so far. I’m also not running the lights anywhere near full brightness. The MAX6954 drivers have 16 brightness levels, I’m using level 5 in the photos and video. The RGB LEDs are also rarely turned up at the same time.

  3. Looks great! Really like the concept, and how you integrated the mathematical solution. What I think could be improved is the controls of the various features, like the color chooser: I watched the video, and it seems that if you’re not the one who programmed the thing, it would be very difficult to know which buttons to press, or long-press: seems a bit random. Another great improvement would be integrating the lights into the buttons.

    1. Well built! Too bad the led’s couldn’t go inside the buttons. I know I can cram an LED in a big happ arcade button, but those might not fit in this enclosure. I think they might make shorter ones for metal faceplates though?

      1. Putting the LEDs inside the button was my original plan. Similar to http://rainboard.shiverware.com/Rainboard_-_DIY_Dynamic_Rainbow_Isomorphic_Keyboard They are using the same buttons but smaller LED’s. The LEDs I have were too big (12mm instead of 8mm in diameter), just not enough surface area at the bottom to make it work without destroying the button in the process.

        Another thing thats not totally obvious is that the buttons use an opaque white plunger which hides a lot of the light when looked at top down. They are also quite squishy and don’t always bounce back.

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