Tetris Clock Gets Talkative Upgrade

Tetris is arguably one of the most popular video games of all time, and its famous bricks have become cultural icons in themselves, as seen in this clock build from [The Electronic Engineer].

The web interface allows the various sound options to be easily configured.

The basic concept of the Tetris clock is that falling bricks stick together in the shape of numbers to display the time. In this case, the clock is based on the version created by [Brian Lough] which we featured previously. It relies on an RGB LED matrix as a display.

However, the build has had a few upgrades courtesy of [The Electronic Engineer]. With the help of an I2S audio breakout board, the clock can play sounds at various times of day. It’s currently set up with clips from various cartoons announcing lunch and coffee break times. There’s also a web interface added in for configuration purposes, and some text tickers too.

It’s fun to see a popular open project get some upgrades as others dive in to build their own version. We’ve seen some other fun Tetris clocks before, too. Continue reading Tetris Clock Gets Talkative Upgrade”

Hard(er) Drives: Impractical, Slow, Amazing, And Incredible

Computer memory is a problem that has been solved for many years. But early on, it was more than just a small problem. We’ve many of the different kinds at Hackaday over the years, and we’ll link to some of them later on. But one of the original types of memory was called Delay Line memory, which worked by waiting for a signal to propagate slow enough through a device that it was essentially stored in the device. This was highly inefficient, but still a neat concept- one that [Tom7] has taken to entirely new levels of amazing and impractical as seen in the video below the break.

Such factors as “harm to society” are artfully considered

Starting with a demonstration of orbiting chainsaws, he then moves on to explaining how radio propagation waves could be used to temporarily store data while it’s in transit. He missed the opportunity to call it cloud storage, but we’ll forgive him. Extrapolating that further, he decided to use the Entire Internet to store data without its permission, utilizing large ICMP packets and even making it available as block storage in Linux.

Not content to use the entire Internet to store a few kb of data, he moved on to several thousand virtualized NES game systems which are all playing “an inventory management survival horror game” commonly known as Tetris. [Tom7] deconstructs Tetris, analyzing its Random Number Generator, gaming the system to store data in virtual NES consoles by the thousands. What data did he store? The source code to Tetris for the NES. And what did he do with it? Well, he mounted it and ran the program, of course!

The last Harder Drive we’ll leave for those who want to watch the video, because it’s a bit on the “ewww gross!” side of things but is also a bit less successful due to some magic smoke being released.

If none of these things we’ve mentioned were enough, then watch the video for an excellent breakdown of the cost, efficiency, and even the harm to society. For fun, he also tosses blockchain into the mix to see how it fares against the Harder Drives. There’s also at least one easter egg in the video, and the whimsical discussion of engineering is both entertaining and inspiring. How would you implement a Harder Drive?

[Tom7] also gives you the opportunity to follow along with the fun and mayhem by making much of the code available for your perusal. For more fun reading, check out this walk down computer memory lane that we covered last year, as well as a look into Acoustic Delay Line memory.

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Tetris Handheld Powered By Tritium Cell, Eventually

The idea of a tritium power cell is pretty straightforward: stick enough of the tiny glowing tubes to a photovoltaic panel and your DIY “nuclear battery” will generate energy for the next decade or so. Only problem is that the power produced, measured in a few microwatts, isn’t enough to do much with. But as [Ian Charnas] demonstrates in his latest video, you can eke some real-world use out of such a cell by storing up its power over a long enough period.

As with previous projects we’ve seen, [Ian] builds his cell by sandwiching an array of keychain-sized tritium tubes between two solar panels. Isolated from any outside light, power produced by the panels is the result of the weak green glow given off by the tube’s phosphorus coating as it gets bombarded with electrons. The panels are then used to charge a bank of thin-film solid state batteries, which are notable for their exceptionally low self-discharge rate.

Some quick math told [Ian] that a week of charging should build up enough of a charge to power a knock-off handheld Tetris game for about 10 minutes. Unfortunately, after waiting the prescribed amount of time, he got only a few seconds of runtime out of his hacked together power source.

His best guess is that he got a bad batch of thin-film batteries, but since he could no longer find the exact part number he used originally, he had to design a whole new PCB for the second attempt. After waiting two long months to switch the game on this time, he was able to play for nearly an hour before his homebrew nuclear energy source was depleted.

We wouldn’t consider this terribly practical from a gaming standpoint, but like the solar harvesting handheld game we covered last year, it’s an interesting demonstration of how even a minuscule amount of power can be put to work for intermittent applications. Here it’s a short bout of wonky Tetris, but the concept could just as easily be applied to an off-grid sensor.

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Tetris On Split-Flap Go Brrr

It hardly seems possible, but engineer collective and split-flap display purveyors [Oat Foundry] were able to build a working implementation of Tetris on a 10 x 40 split-flap display in the span of a single day. Check it out in the video after the break.

This project is a bit understaffed in the details department, but we do know that [Oat Foundry] started with [Timur Bakibayev]’s open-source implementation of Tetris in Python and modified the draw function to work on a split-flap display. As you may have guessed, the biggest obstacle is the refresh rate and how it affects playability — particularly during those tense moments when a player rotates a piece before dropping it. Split-flaps flip quickly from on to off, but flipping back to on requires a full trip around through all the other characters.

We think this is nice work for a one-day build. Should they go further, we’d like to see the same things implemented as [Oat Foundry] does: a high score tracker and a preview of the next piece.

Don’t have a split-flap display? Yeah, us either, but we do have televisions. Turn on the tube and check out this Nano-scale Tetris.

Continue reading “Tetris On Split-Flap Go Brrr”

Arduino Learns The Martial Arts With Nunchucks Input Device

There is a boring part of every computer introduction class that shows how a computer is made up of input, output, and processing. Maybe it wouldn’t be so boring if the input device was a nunchuck. [Brian Lough] thinks so and he belligerently asserts that nunchucks are the best input device ever. With a simple connection to a Wii controller and an associated library, you get access to an analog joystick, two buttons, and an accelerometer.

The nunchuck is meant to plug into a Wii controller and the connection is I2C, so that’s trivial to interface to an Arduino or other small microcontroller. The only issue is making the connection. We might have just snipped the wires, but [Brian] prefers to use a small breakout board that plugs into the stock connector and provides solder points for your own cable. There are options for the breakout boards, and [Brian] has his own design that you can get from OSHPark for about a buck for three boards. You can also just jam wire into the connector, but that’s not always robust.

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Retro Game Bow Tie

[Greg] loves hacking his bow ties. Back in high school, he added some bright RGB LEDs to the bow tie he wore to prom and even won the male best-dressed award. Recently he decided to try another bow tie hack, this time giving his tie some retro arcade game feels.

He decided to use an ATtiny85 and to experiment doing some more lower-level programming to refresh his skills. He wrote all his libraries from scratch which really helped him learn a lot about the ATtiny in the process. This also helped him make sure his code was as efficient as possible since he had quite a bit of memory constraints using the ATtiny85 (only 512 bytes of RAM).

He designed the body of the bow tie with wood. He fit all the electronics inside the body while allowing the ATtiny to protrude out of the body giving his bow tie some wanted hacker aesthetic. Of course, he needed to access the toggle switch to play the game, so he made a slot for that as well.

Nice addition to the electronics bow tie collection on Hackaday. Really aesthetic design if you ask us. And you know how much we love retro games.

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Casual Tetris Comes In At $9

[Michael Pick] calls himself the casual engineer, though we don’t know whether he is referring to his work clothes or his laid back attitude. However, he does like to show quick and easy projects. His latest? A little portable Tetris game for $9 worth of parts. There is an Arduino Pro Mini and a tiny display along with a few switches and things on a prototyping PC board. [Michael] claims it is a one day build, and we imagine it wouldn’t even be that much.

Our only complaint is that there isn’t a clear bill of material or the code. However, we think you could figure out the parts pretty easy and there are bound to be plenty of games including Tetris that you could adapt to the hardware.

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