Micro:bit Makes Cardboard Pinball More Legit

What have you been doing to ward off the winter blues? [TechnoChic] decided to lean in to winter and make a really fun-looking game out of it by combining the awesome PinBox 3000 cardboard pinball sandbox with a couple of Micro:bits to handle and display the player’s score. Check it out the build and gameplay in the video after the break.

The story of Planet Winter is a bittersweet tale: basically, a bunch of penguins got tired of climate change and left Earth en masse for a penguin paradise where it’s a winter wonderland all year round. There’s a party igloo with disco lights and everything.

[TechnoChic] used a Micro:bit plugged into a Brown Dog Gadgets board to keep track of scoring, control the servo that kicks the ball back out of the igloo, and run the blinkenlights. It sends score updates over Bluetooth to a second Micro:bit and a Pimoroni Scrollbit display that sit opposite the pinball launcher. She went through a few switch iterations before settling on conductive maker tape and isolating the ball so it only contacts the tape tracks.

There are two ways to score on Planet Winter — the blizzard at the end of the ball launcher path nets you ten points, and getting the ball in the party igloo is good for thirty. Be careful on the icy lake in the middle of the playfield, because if the ball falls through the ice, it’s gone for good, along with your points. It’s okay, though, because both the party igloo and the ice hole trigger an avalanche which releases another ball.

Seriously, these PinBox 3000 kits are probably the most fun you can have with cardboard, even fresh out of the box. They are super fun even if you only build the kit and make a bunch of temporary targets to test gameplay, but never settle on a theme (ask us how we know). Not convinced? Hackaday Editor-in-Chief [Mike Szczys] explored them in depth at Maker Faire in 2018.

2 thoughts on “Micro:bit Makes Cardboard Pinball More Legit

  1. While a little over kill on the Bluetooth connect, this looks like a great project with the kiddos or as a classroom project. I’ve never heard of the Micro:bit but there are articles going back to 2016 on HaD. Most of us could probably do most of this project with spare parts. I wonder why she didn’t look into simple IR interrupter/photo reflective sensor, or even a simple photoresistor instead of all the nylon tape? Either way, a few tweaks could easily make this project a little simpler and put less time spent on the electronics and more on hand drawing those penguins–that’s where I see this project going sideways for me anyway. I never got those drag-and-drop coders but my kids find them super easy than remembering syntax. Good job!

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