Building Video Pong With Discrete Components

Pong is a classic from the very dawn of the video game era. Recreating it remains a popular exercise for those new to coding. However, its simple logic makes this game particularly suited to an all-hardware build; something which [Glen] tackles with aplomb.

Not content to take the easy way out, [Glen] went for a particularly hardcore method of construction. The game uses absolutely zero integrated circuits in its construction. Instead, it relies upon the services of 431 bipolar transistors, 6 JFETs and 826 diodes. Everything is laced together on protoboard, connected with a neatly organised nest of colored wires. Schematics are available for the curious.

It’s a full featured build, too. Video output is in color, scores are displayed at the top of the screen, and there’s even stereo panning for the sound effects. It just goes to show what some humble components can do when put to work in the right way. We’ve seen some of [Glen]’s work before too, for example in this op-amp bouncing ball device. Video after the break.

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DIY Coil Gun Redux: Life Really Is Easier With Arduino

A common complaint in the comments of many a Hackaday project is: Why did they use a microcontroller? It’s easy to Monday morning quarterback someone else’s design, but it’s rare to see the OP come back and actually prove that a microcontroller was the best choice. So when [GreatScott] rebuilt his recent DIY coil gun with discrete logic, we just had to get the word out.

You’ll recall from the original build that [GreatScott] was not attempting to build a brick-wall blasting electromagnetic rifle. His build was more about exploring the concepts and working up a viable control mechanism for a small coil gun, and as such he chose an Arduino to rapidly prototype his control circuit. But when taken to task for that design choice, he rose to the challenge and designed a controller using discrete NAND and NOR gates, some RS latches, and a couple of comparators. The basic control circuit was simple, but too simple for safety — a projectile stuck in the barrel could leave a coil energized indefinitely, leading to damage. What took a line of code in the Arduino sketch to fix required an additional comparator stage and an RC network to build a timer to deenergize the coil automatically. In the end the breadboarded circuit did the job, but implementing it would have required twice the space of the Arduino while offering none of the flexibility.

Not every project deserves an Arduino, and sometimes it’s pretty clear the builder either took the easy way out or was using the only trick in his or her book. Hats off to [GreatScott] for not only having the guts to justify his design, but also proving that he has the discrete logic chops to pull it off.

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