Tag Archives: Games

ATmega32u4 MCU powers littleBits Arduino module

LittleBits has debuted a programmable ATmega32u4-powered Arduino at Heart Module. The new component will allow Makers to easily incorporate sketches into their littleBits circuits.

According to a LittleBits rep, the Arduino Module is capable of reading two types of input signals.

“The first is digital, which is a simple ‘on’ or ‘off’ signal. This is the type of signal you will get from a button or trigger. In the Arduino coding language, on is a HIGH signal and off is a LOW signal. All three inputs on the Arduino Module can read digital signals,” the rep explained.

“The other type of signal is an analog signal. Analog signals aren’t just ‘on’ or ‘off.’ They work like a dimmer switch or a volume knob. In the Arduino coding language, analog signals are given a value between 0 and 1023. If you connected a dimmer module to your Arduino and turn the knob up (clockwise), the value would slowly rise from 0 to 1023. The inputs on the Arduino module marked a0 and a1 both accept analog signals.”

As Engadget’s Jon Fingas notes, the programmable module gives Makers much more control over LittleBits’ existing modules, such as the oscillators in the Synth Kit.

“However, it also opens the door to interaction with your computer. Since the Arduino module has USB support built-in, you can create Etch-A-Sketches, Pong games and other programs that have LittleBits and your PC working in harmony,” said Fingas.

“[Plus], many existing Arduino projects should work with only a few slight tweaks to pin assignments.”

The stand-alone Arduino module can be snapped up for $36, although LittleBits is currently offering an $89 starter bundle that includes a total of 8 prototyping modules.

Interested in learning more? You can find additional information about the new LittleBits module here.

Retro gaming DuinoCube goes live on Kickstarter

Developed by Simon Que, DuinoCube is described as a portable platform that allows Makers and gamers to develop their own retro titles using the popular open-source Arduino environment.

Essentially, DuinoCube comprises two shields: GFX (audio and graphics) and the Atmel-based UI (file system, extra memory, on-board controller chip). Currently, DuinoCube is compatible with the Arduino Uno, Mega and Esplora.

“When you combine a GFX shield and UI shield with an Arduino board, you get a DuinoCube. The UI Shield goes on top of the Arduino and the GFX Shield goes on top of the UI Shield,” Que explained in a recent Kickstarter post.

“With DuinoCube, your Arduino becomes a retro gaming system with the capabilities of classic game systems like the SNES and Gameboy Advance. DuinoCube is highly portable so you can show your friends the games you’ve made.”

Key platform technical specs include:


320×240 VGA graphics (higher resolutions expected soon).
  • 256 independent objects (sprites).
  • 4 independent tiled layers.
  • 18-bit color in four palettes, each with 256 colors.
  • Hardware scrolling.
  • Hardware collision detection.
  • Stereo audio output.
  • MicroSD card file system.
  • USB gamepad support.

Powered by Atmel’s ATmega328P microcontroller, the UI shield for the Uno/Mega is equipped with an SD card, extra RAM, USB host and controller chip.

Similarly, the UI shield for the Esplora features Atmel’s ATmega328P, SD card, extra RAM, controller chip and Uno-style headers.

“The UI Shields can [also] be used as a generic file system, or as a USB host controller for the Arduino Uno/Mega version,” Que confirmed. “[Plus], the GFX Shield can be used as a generic FPGA shield [by] reprogramming the FPGA with an Altera USB Blaster cable.”

Interested in learning more? You can check out DuinoCube’s official Kickstarter page here.

Super Mario question mark lamp lights up Maker Faire

The light of nostalgia was burning bright at Maker Faire last week, thanks to product designer Adam Ellsworth of 8bitlit and his Super Mario question mark block lamp.

The custom-made, touch-activated lamp brings your room one step closer to Mushroom Kingdom, not just with its funky yellow aesthetics, but also its classic Mario Bros. sounds.


Every time you touch (or punch) the lamp on, it rewards you with the classic coin “ding” sound, while every eighth punch triggers the extra life “1-UP” sound for added happiness.

The lamp is made from laser-cut plexiglass and uses four energy efficient LED lights. It comes attached to an 11 foot power cord, but can also double as a bedside lamp with the additional purchase of a custom acrylic stand. Best of all? It runs on Atmel’s AT Tiny Chip.


Building an Android pinball game controller with Arduino

Who doesn’t love an old-school game of pinball? Sure, most of us probably don’t have the space or cash to splash out on a genuine pinball arcade machine for the living room, so we have to make do with playing a virtual version of the game.

Credit: Pacific Pinball Museum

Now I admit, I miss the satisfying thwack of the flippers just as much as anyone else, but we pinball wizards can’t always be in a bar drinking a cold beer, listening to bad heavy metal and stale classic rock tracks.

That being said, I’d be the first one to say that playing pinball on a tablet or phone leaves something to be desired, because you don’t even get the feeling of physically connecting with the game like you would with a PC or console game controller.

Then again, you could always build your own game controller, just like the folks at FunWithDCCircuits who designed a sweet electronic mashup for their Android tablet. Components include a Bluetooth modem, arcade buttons, an NTE 74LS00 Quad2-input NAND gate, 10k 1/6W resistors and an Arduino Uno.

For the uninitiated, the Arduino Uno is a microcontroller board based on Atmel’s stalwart ATmega328. It boasts a total of 14 digital input/output pins (of which 6 can be used as PWM outputs), 6 analog inputs, a 16 MHz ceramic resonator, a USB connection, a power jack, an ICSP header and a reset button.

Credit: Funwithdc.com

On the software (code) side, the owner of the blog chose not to implement a polling mode driver, as it is too easy to miss events, and the code isn’t quite as clean.

“Instead, I wired the outputs from the SR latches to pins 2 and 3 on my Arduino Uno, which are the external interrupt pins. Any change (press or release) on these pins will trigger an interrupt, and the registered interrupt service routine (ISR) will be called. In the ISR, I simply add the event to a ring buffer, and increment a counter indicating there is work to do in non-interrupt context,” the owner of FunWithDCCircuits explained.

Credit: Funwithdc.com

“Then, inside the loop() function, I check this counter and, if it is non-zero, pull an event off of the ring for processing. In this way, we can ensure that events are processed in the order in which they were received. And given how little code executes in interrupt context, we can be fairly certain that we won’t miss events. One thing to be careful of, though, is disabling interrupts when checking any variable that will be accessed by the ISR.”

Interested? Head over to the source code for a closer look at the software side and the FunWithDCCircuits blog for additional hardware info.