Building an arcade-style puzzle game with Arduino

Games are great and all, but who among us needs another screen in their life?

Many of us, like Grady Hillhouse, have a deep-seated desire to push every button, flip every switch and turn every knob that we see. As kids, that impulse undoubtedly drove our parents nuts. After learning about and tinkering around with some electronics, the Maker — who happens to also be a civil engineer by trade — was on a mission to create an interactive project. One of the ideas that first came to mind was to create an old-school, arcade-style puzzle box that resembled the ubiquitous wooden audio equipment of the ‘70s.

Rather than use the original plastic enclosure that he purchased, the Maker fully committed to go the do-it-yourself route. This include honing his woodworking skills. The custom box is comprised of a few walnut panels and knobs as well as maple veneer meter faces. Based on an Arduino Uno (ATmega328), the unit is equipped with 10 LEDs, three potentiometers, two panel meters, a button and a vibration motor.

To start the game, one random LED will light in each of the meters. From there, the objective is to adjust the three knobs so that each needle points to its respective LED at the same time. However, it’s not as easy as it sounds. Each of the knobs have a unique and random releationship to the meters, so players will have to experiment a bit to discover how to make the needles move to the right location. When the puzzle is solved, the vibration motor buzzes and it resets to a new configuration.

For those out there who like to crunch numbers, the game even has a mathematical element to it. The goal is to find the intersection between two three-dimensional planes. Intrigued? You can watch Hillhouse’s elaborate video tutorial below, or head over to his GitHub repository here to get started on a wooden arcade box of your own.

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