(A “Whack-a-Mole” game with no implied violence to small animals)
This outline is really only for the prototype, which means there are lots of “band-aids” and room for improvement in the design. But it works and with small adjustments can be readily made more easy or difficult. Also, while the idea and design is mine, I received some critical help on some critical aspects of it, and due credit and gratitude for such has and will be sent where it should go.
Here's how it works.
The player puts on one or both of the conductive-palm gloves and switches the game-board to the “On” position. The six hand-shapes on the board are each accompanied by a single light. After a sequence of flashes cues the player that the round is beginning, one of the hand-shapes’ lights will glow brightly for about a second. The player will have as long as the light is on to slap their palm against the indicated hand-shape. If the slap is well-placed (“palm to palm”) and in time, then the player’s score is increased by one, indicated by the strip of lights on the board’s left-hand side. If the slap is on the wrong palm or not in time, the player’s score is decreased by one. A player wins by increasing their score up to the top light on the strip, and loses by decreasing their score to the bottom light.
Here's what you'll need, and it's a long list.
- Arduino Lilypad (both the board and the “switch” that comes in the “Lilypad Development Board” kit, and the USB-to-Arduino cable it contains as well)
- Neopixel singles (6)
- Neopixel strip (15 of a strip of 30)
- Capacitor (for all power and grounds)
- Resistor (for the strip of Neopixels)
- Copper tape (50+ feet)
- Beading wire, 20+ gauge (must be conductive)
- Solder and soldering iron
- Hot-glue gun
- Needle-nose pliers
- Black foam roll (single sheet of 36” x 60” single sheet, about 1/8 “ thick)
- One section of Masonite peg-board (24” x 36” and ¼” thick)
- Carnival cover card stock paper (3 sheets that are 23” x 35” )
- Translucent white parchment paper (1 sheet at least 8.5” x 11” )
- Gray construction paper (any non-conductive paper that looks somewhat like tin foil)
- Aluminum foil (heavy duty, one strip 18” x 24” )
- Iron-on double-sided adhesive for the aluminum foil (18” x 24” )
- #2 pencil and eraser
- Colored pencils (black, red, and blue)
- X-Acto knife
- Straight-edge (36” long)
- Sewing needle
- Black thread
- Conductive fabric (two sections that are 8” square each)
- Cloth gloves
- Hand-held multi-function electrical test meter with accurate digital display
- Electrical tape
- Other colored tape or two colors of post-it notes
- Black Duck Tape (1 roll)
- Clear gift-wrap tape (1 roll)
- Graphic design software and color printer
- Scratch paper (a few sheets)
- A workbench or table appropriately prepared as a cutting surface (don’t ruin your dining room table or countertop)
The way I approached it was to assemble the board in layers that served to support and insulate the wiring and circuits and also to cover up the project with a nice (-ish) aesthetic playing surface. This will be much easier if (1) one of the sheets of carnival cover is used as a template and (2) one edge of the Masonite base and all succeeding layers of paper and foam are aligned with one edge flush. The flush edge will be referred to as the “spine” of the project, and will work like a book, with the layers functioning like pages until the tape and wire circuits are punched through them as necessary. Also, the goal in this initial design was just to see if I could get a playable prototype working, and to that end the Duck Tape and clear gift-wrap tape were used to hold things in place and complete wiring circuits. I trust that someone with a more long-term, crafty goal in mind than mine will use something better. Once the board is created and the circuits are all functioning, the code can be uploaded to the Arduino and adjusted to fit the desired gameplay.
Note Regarding the Photos of the Template: Be careful following the photos I’ve provided here; they don’t match up perfectly with the instructions, specifically in how I’ve drawn the circuit diagrams on the template before cutting out necessary shapes. The diagrams I’m uploading are more clear and better to follow.
Step 1: The Beginning Template
I designed the board so that it would be played by someone seated before it, but as you’ll see in the attached video, most people that played it did so standing up and looming over the top. Either way, my design created a radial placement of the hand shapes to keep them all within fairly easy reach. Theoretically they could be spaced out in a different pattern. If a larger board than the Arduino Lilypad was used, more hand-shapes could be programmed and used as well, requiring an increase in copper tape, aluminum foil, individual Neopixels, and other supplies as appropriate.
- Using a #2 pencil, a person with a “normal-sized” hand (about 8’ from tip of pinky finger to tip of thumb when the fingers are splayed) will trace the outline of their comfortably spaced fingers and palm on a piece of scratch paper. This becomes the template palm (called the “hand cut-out” when it’s used again later), and will be used on the first sheet of carnival cover to mark where the hand-shapes will be for the template. Once cut out with scissors, the template palm can be placed around the lower central region of the template sheet and traced again with four things in mind: (1) keep about 2” of space between the drawn hand-shapes, (2) orient the hands naturally toward the position of the player’s body, (3) don’t space the topmost hand too far away to make it too difficult to quickly reach during the game, and (4) don’t crowd the space intended for the signal lights, the Arduino, the strip, or the switch.
- In placing the palm shapes on the template, I chose to reverse the hand for those hand-shapes on the left-side as if to afford a player using two hands to play. This isn’t necessary, particularly because it seems a player can perform better in the game by choosing only one hand to use instead of two. Regardless, as long as they are hand-shapes, similarly-sized, and spaced far enough and regularly apart, it should work.
- Now trace the outline of the Arduino Lilypad in its location on the template, followed by the capacitor, the individual Neopixels associated with each of the hands (placed about an inch above the middle finger), the switch, and the strip of lights that will function as the score. Again keep in mind the four issues listed in A, above. The small print on the Arduino made it difficult to keep track of the designations for its pins, so I wrote them on the paper around the outside edge of the traced spot on the template. This also helped me orient the Arduino consistently and plan the paths for the circuits to the signal lights, switch, strip, and hand-shapes.
Step 2: The Signal Lights Diagram
Note that this step and Step 3 are similar, but here we are
creating a six-segment chain of Neopixels and in Step 3 we are only making a one-segment chain. It may help to study the diagrams a bit in advance to anticipate what is coming.
- In placing the path to the individual Neopixel signal lights, it will help to understand what we’re after. We will wire these Neopixels into a strip that is just like the longer strip that is already hard-wired together for our score, but we want these to be arranged and spaced more widely around the board so an actual pre-made strip wouldn’t be appropriate. In order to correctly wire these Neopixels, we need three lines in a chain from the Arduino to the lights. The three lines won’t cross each other—once they are beyond the region around the Lilypad and the capacitor, the positive line will always be on one side, the ground line will always be on the other side, and the signal line will always be between the other two. More than a chain, it’s like a snake winding its way around the board, always belly-down, with a consistent “left-side” (which on my project I made the ground line), “right-side” (the positive line), and “digestive tract” (the signal line).
- Now, using a #2 pencil, draw in the intended paths of the circuits for the six signal lights where appropriate. This will require that you first draw a short path out from the Arduino to the intended location of the capacitor for both the positive and the ground. In hindsight, I figured out that it’s best to not let these cross over the outlines of the objects we’ve already placed thereon (Lilypad, capacitor, switch, strip, hand-shapes, and signal lights). It’ll still work if you do, but it’ll be tougher. From there, the ground line will continue as indicated on the diagram, the positive will move around the Lilypad and continue as well, along with a single line between the other two from the pin we are designating as the “signal” pin for the Neopixels. That pin is 9.
- Further marking our template for this circuit-wiring will help when we apply the Neopixels later. In particular, make sure that the signal line (“snake’s digestive tract”) has an arrow going into each Neopixel in the path moving away from the Lilypad, and another arrow leaving it on the other side of the Neopixel, as indicated on the diagram.
- Since one of our paper layers (“pages”) will be used only for the hand-shapes’ circuits, it’s okay to spread out a bit over where other circuit paths will be located on different layers, but I found it helped to keep all three parallel lines spaced about an inch apart, so that the whole “snake is roughly 2” wide. Once the sketch of these lines is finished, go over the circuit paths with colored pencils (black for ground, red for positive, and blue for signal).
- Also note that a different path for the “snake” could be arranged. If so, it will mean a change in programming from what I/we used and share below.
Step 3: The Light Strip Diagram and the Beginning Template Finished
This step will be done right on the template as well, but
the action will all take place toward the left-hand margin and mostly away from the “snake” we just diagrammed in Step 2.
We’re going to plan the circuit for the strip of Neopixels that will maintain and display the player’s score. Essentially, all we need to do this is a line coming from the positive pin on the Lilypad, a line from the ground, and a signal line from another pin. If you’re going to follow my design, then that pin is 5. Remember that both the positive and ground lines for all circuits in our project are first going to pass through the capacitor, so we need to draw our diagram for this strip accordingly. Again, do not let these cross over the outlines of the objects we’ve already placed thereon (Lilypad, capacitor, switch, strip, hand-shapes, and signal lights).
When I planned the circuit, I found that it was easier just to run the ground line around the outside edge of the Neopixel light strip to match it up with the strip’s black ground wire, while the positive and signal lines both came down the other side. This meant that this one-segmented version of the “snake” we created in Step 2 was actually inside out. The signal line is the furthest toward the inside of the board, the positive is running against the right-hand-side of our space for the light strip, and the ground is on the left-hand (outside) edge.
Since this is only a diagram on our template and we’re not actually placing the light strip at this point, we won’t worry about orienting the hard chain of Neopixels right now, but it will help remind us to do so later if we draw an arrow pointing in toward the bottom of the Neopixel strip at the end of our signal line.
Note that this arrangement may not be the easiest way to do this, but we did get things working fine this way. To reverse the strip of Neopixels so that it starts at the top of the board and moves down would require different circuit paths that would potentially get messed up in the wiring around the Lilypad, which I wanted to avoid. Also, having the connections between the Neopixel strip and the copper tape circuits located at the bottom-left edge of the board made another adjustment much more easy later on (see the inclusion of the resistor detailed in Step 8).
Once the sketch of these lines is finished, go over the circuit paths with colored pencils (black for ground, red for positive, and blue for signal).
When you’ve got the circuit paths drawn, it’s time to cut out the template. Using the Xacto-knife on a prepared cutting surface, cut out the six hand-shapes, the location of the Arduino, the capacitor, the switch, the individual Neopixels, and the Neopixel strip. Your template is now ready for use, though we’ll come back and add more to it later.
Step 4: Assembling "the Book," Part 1
It’s time to prepare the Masonite base and the second sheet of carnival cover (the signal-lights’ layer) like the hardback cover and first page of a book. From here on, I will distinguish between the Masonite base (“hardback cover”), the lights circuit layer (“first page”), and the template accordingly.
- Remove the template and place the next page of carnival cover on top of the Masonite, adjusting it to be flush in one corner (I chose the upper-right). It will help to make some marks down the right-hand edge of the carnival cover and side-edge (thickness dimension) of the Masonite to help in aligning things. Once the paper is lined up and marked where you want it, ix the paper to the “hardback cover” below (bypassing the “first page” between them) by applying a small piece of clear tape to the top-right and the bottom-right corners of the template and wrapping it down and around the Masonite. The goal here is just to lock the “first page” in place so that things will stay lined up and not shift while we work.
- Now place your template paper over the top of the two layers and line it up as well, marking it as you did with the carnival cover “first page” beneath it. Fix the template to the “hardback cover” below (bypassing the “first page” between them) by applying a small piece of clear tape to the top-right and the bottom-right corners of the template and wrapping it down and around the Masonite. Again, the goal here is just to lock the template in place over our “first page” so that things will stay lined up and not shift while we work.
- Once that is done, press the template down flat and brush your hand leftward across the surface to get the two layers of paper resting snugly against each other. Then trace the outline of the hands, the lights, the switch, the Lilypad, the capacitor, and the strip through the cut-outs on the template to make an outline on the paper beneath.
- With the #2 pencil, trace the approximate paths for the positive, signal, and ground lines onto the “first page” as well, lifting the template off like another page to eyeball the approximate locations of curves, etc., and transferring the arrows on the signal line, too. Examine your newly drawn diagram the same way you did on the template to make sure the lines are spaced appropriately. When you’re finished, re-trace the circuit paths with the appropriate colors (black for ground, red for positive, and blue for signal), and you should have a near exact replica of your template as the “first page” of our assembled book, save for that nothing is cut out of it.
Step 5: Step 5. Building the Lights' Circuits
Now it’s time to actually create the circuits we’ve diagrammed, but we’re only going to go partway with this, since we won’t be connecting any of these “snakes” to the Lilypad yet. Also, considering that we’ll need to punch holes in later “pages” and draw the ends of our circuits up through to connect them appropriately, we’ll want to leave some slack (about 2” will work) on all ends of our copper tape lengths in the circuit. Check out the photos to see what I mean. I’m sure there are better ways to do this, but this way worked.
- Pull back the template so you can do all your work in this step on the “first page.” Starting with the ground line for the light strip “snake,” draw out an appropriate length of copper tape to map completely over the black line you’ve outlined, plus an additional 2” slack on either end. Cut the length of tape and peel off the backing, bending the first two inches upright and away from the paper of the “first page” and then applying the tape from there along your drawn path for the ground line. I’ve found that purposefully bending a corner or two works better than trying to slowly arc the tape in one direction or another. Ultimately, this should trace the ground path in question and leave you about 2” of slack left at the lower-left end of the “first page” near the traced outline for where our light strip will begin.
- Repeat A for the positive line, then again for the signal line. When you’re finished, you should have six copper tape “spikes” sticking up from the paper—three close to the lower-left hand corner, and three up by the traced future location of the Lilypad and capacitor.
- Now you’re going to do that same thing again for the six-segmented “snake” you created for the individual Neopixel lights for the hand-shapes. In hindsight, I could have saved myself some time and headache if I’d done this a bit differently, and these instructions will reflect that. What we’re going to do is actually to make one long running ground line and one long running positive line that traces the entire black and red paths along the “snake” in question, instead of breaking them up into lengths like the pictures show me doing. The signal line will still be done as six segments that are individual versions of the signal line we applied in B, with 2” of extra tape at each end for each segment between the Neopixels.
- For the outer two paths, however, we’re going to only do one long measurement without breaks. You’ll want to measure it like you did before for the outer two paths, but for the first 5 Neopixels in the chain instead of adding two inches of extra and cutting the tape, you’re simply going to add a single inch (bending it as explained momentarily) and NOT cut the tape before continuing onward. Instead of cutting the tape at each Neopixel, where the paths meet the space intended one of the lights, we’re simply going to bend the tape upward and off the paper for about a half-inch, then bend it back down again on itself, pinching the two lengths of adhesive-coated underside together and then continuing to apply the tape to the paper of the “first page.” We’ll continue on the assigned path as indicated, making bends as appropriate.
- In all cases, upon reaching the end of any of the segments of signal line or on the ultimate ends of the ground and positive lines, make sure to leave the extra 2” before cutting the copper tape.
- When copper tape has been applied to the circuits for both the light strip and the signal lights, we’re ready to move on to the next step.
Step 6: Hand-Shapes Diagram and the Complete Template Finished
We’re going to plan the book’s “second page” now, and it will contain the complete circuits for the hand-shapes and the switch. But we’re not applying any of it or the copper tape for its circuits yet. We’re just planning.
- Undo the clear tape that we used to anchor the “first page” and our template to the “hardback cover.” When removed, place the “first page” somewhere safe where the spikes of copper tape sticking up from it won’t get smashed or the paper torn.
- Now take the last piece of carnival cover paper and repeat the steps we used in aligning it with the upper-right-hand corner of the Masonite “hardback cover.” This will become our “second page.” Draw alignment markings on it as well, and anchor it with a bit of clear tape as before. Then replace the template over the top of it, realign it, and anchor it with clear tape as well.
- Brush the slack and air from between the two layers of carnival cover and then use the template to trace the outline of the Lilypad, capacitor, switch, light strip, Neopixels, and hand-shapes onto the “second page.” Having anchored them all carefully, we are assuming that we will have the “pages” of our “book” lined up pretty well, layer by layer.
- We’re going to draw a plan for the circuits of the hand-shapes on the template, trying to avoid the areas already used on our diagram for the lights. It will help to make these lines dashed to distinguish them from the previous circuit diagram. Also, the hand-shapes’ circuits will only require two lines instead of three. One line will be the ground, and the other will be the “signal” line that connects an individual hand to one of the pins on the Lilypad.
- In placing the paths, it will help to understand what we’re after. Each hand-shape will ultimately be composed of a left-portion of aluminum foil and a right portion of aluminum foil, with a 1” break in between. Electrical current will pass into the right-hand portion from one of the pins on the Arduino, and the ground line will pass from all of the hand-shapes’ left-portions back to the Arduino. In game-play, when someone presses the conductive palm of a glove against the hand-shape, it will complete the circuit between the left-portion and right-portion on that shape and signal the Arduino of a hand-slap. The individual paths connecting each hand-shape’s right portion to a different pin on the Arduino will allow the game to tell if the circuit completed was the “correct” one and if it was completed in time.
- On the template, draw in the intended paths of the circuits for the six hand-shapes with a #2 pencil where appropriate. This will require that you first draw a short path out from the Arduino to the intended location of the capacitor for the ground, but not for the positive. From there, only the ground line will continue to the hand-shapes, as indicated on the diagram, along with a single line from each pin. The pins we are using for this are (starting in the upper-left of the Arduino and moving clockwise) A5, A4, A3, A2, 11, 10. There will be a few places where a “bridge” will be required when the circuit is placed with copper tape, and where I did this is indicated on the diagram by a “U”-shape in the path. Since one of our paper layers (“pages”) will be used only for the hand-shapes’ circuits, it’s okay to spread out a bit over where other circuit paths will be located, but I found it helped to arrange the signal paths from the pins to the right-portions of the hand-shapes toward the upper-right portion of the template and the ground for each in the lower-left. Use the space between the hands to make this as simple and direct as possible. Once the sketch of these lines is finished, go over the circuit paths with colored pencils (black for ground, and blue for signal).
- When the hand-shapes’ circuits are complete, we need to add one more for the switch. I placed it so that the “On” setting was pointing toward the bottom edge of the board, away from the Arduino, but I don’t know if it matters. It worked, anyway. For the switch’s circuit, we need one line from “ground” and one line from the last remaining pin on the Lilypad. That pin is 6. Draw them in so the circuit paths will be relatively removed from the other circuits as shown on our template, again using dashed lines to help distinguish them from what we drew earlier.
- When the diagram is finished on our template, we’re going to use a #2 pencil to transfer it to our “second page” that lies beneath by lifting the template repeatedly and making marks to guide us. Once we’ve got the diagram drawn correctly, we’ll use black and blue colored pencils to go over and complete it.
Step 7: Building the Hand-Shapes Circuits
Again it’s time to actually create the new circuits we’ve diagrammed, but as before we’re only going to go partway with this, since we won’t be connecting any of these circuits to the Lilypad yet. Also, considering that we’ll need to punch holes in later “pages” and draw the ends of our circuits up through to connect them appropriately, we’ll again want to leave some slack (about 2” will work) on all ends of our copper tape lengths in the circuit.
- Remove the template and lay it aside in a safe place (we’ll have to use it two more times).
- Place copper tape along all dashed paths you’ve applied to this layer, leaving 2” of extra at each end as you measure and cut, and cleanly bending/folding the tape around tight corners instead of trying to curve it. This should be done twice for each hand-shape (a ground line and a signal line), and twice for the switch.
- When that’s done, use your X-Acto knife to cut out the shapes for only the Lilypad, the capacitor, the light strip and the six individual Neopixels above each hand-shape. Nothing else should be cut out.
- With that done, remove this “second page” and put it in a safe place.
Step 8: Wiring the Lights
It’s time to place the strip and individual Neopixels. We’ll fix them right to our “first page” and wire them so that the only thing lacking for their circuits to be complete is the direct connection to the capacitor and Lilypad, which we will do later. Again, as I’ve said before, I’m sure there is a better way to do this, but I found one that worked in the short term and took it. With some well-timed help, my way ended up using solder for a few connections (not necessary in this step), as well as a small resistor to protect the rather expensive strip of Neopixels from being burned out by electrical surge (which is included in this step). All of this step’s action takes place on our “first page,” which doesn’t need to be lined up or attached to anything for the time being. Also, note that this step makes use of a resistor which I included at the suggestion of a couple of wise, experienced friends. I have an idea what it’s for, but for anything more in-depth than that, you’ll have to find someone else to explain it to you. When I’m asked about ohms, I tend to think of some meditative chanting word instead of electricity.
- We’ll start with the hardwired strip of Neopixels. It came from the manufacturers with wires coated in black (x2), red, and white insulation. These are respectively the ground (x2), positive, and signal lines. One of the black lines was merged with the white signal lines, which I was told was for different circuit and power arrangements than what I had. In essence, what needs to be done is the lone black (ground) to be connected to our ground line, the red to our positive line, and the white to our signal line, with the remaining black (ground) line “capped.” Use wire strippers to bare a half-inch of the lone black, red, and white wires.
- With that done, we’ll use our small, 20+ gauge conductive craft wire (mine was 26-gauge, I think) to make the connections. We’ll cut three segments of crafting wire that are about 4” in length. We’re going to wrap one end of each of these segments around the copper tape lines stuck to our “first page,” and we’ll wind the other end of each together with the bared end of the appropriate Neopixel strip wire. In order to accomplish the first wrapping, take the segment of crafting wire and loop it around base of the extra 2” left at the end of the copper-tape length in question (start with the ground line) and pinch it tightly into contact. Then bend the extra copper tape back over itself and fix it down with some electrical tape. Repeat this step for the positive and signal lines.
- Now it’s time for the resistor, which we’ll place on the signal line to protect from a surge going through the Arduino (I think). Wrap/twist the exposed craft wire from the signal line tightly with the wire from one side of the resistor, and roll the connection into a pinched segment of electrical tape so that no wire is left bare.
- Taking the resistor’s opposite wire, wrap that up with the bared signal line (white insulation coating) of the Neopixel strip, again rolling and pinching a segment of electrical tape around the connection.
- Now repeat the process with the remaining two wires, connecting the positive line from the copper tape to the positive line of the Neopixel strip, and the ground line from the copper tape to the ground of the Neopixel strip.
- After the strip is connected and bared wires are covered with tape, we need to fix the strip of Neopixels down to the paper of our “first page.” This can be done with clear gift-wrap tape easily enough, trying not to cover over the top of where the actual Neopixels rest. Note that I didn’t remove the strip I used from within the protective rubber coating, but if you do, I don’t think it will change much. Also, even though I only used the first 15 lights on the strip, I didn’t break off the remaining strip portion so that it could potentially be cannibalized as a whole later on if necessary.
- With the strip in place, the individual Neopixels above each hand-shape will be much easier. To accomplish this, simply cut four lengths of 4” for each of the first five Neopixels, and three such lengths for the last one. Then twist the wires individually around all four pins for the first five Neopixels as shown, and around the +, - , and “in” arrow pins of the last one.
- Once this wiring is done, we’ll repeat the process described in Part B of this step to connect the pins on the Neopixel to the extra lengths of copper tape in our “snake.” For the “in” and “out” of the signal line, this should work exactly as it did above. For the ground and the positive lines, however, we already have created some connection points in Part D of Step 5 above. We can wrap the craft wire from the Neopixel around the base of each one of these and then bend it down, fixing it with electrical tape as above.
- Note that no tape should be placed on/above the Neopixel as it may conceal the light.
- This is a good time to use a circuit test meter to test the continuity of the circuits in question. Only the first pin in either of our strips (the hardwired one or the spaced one made with individuals) should have a connection to the appropriate extra length of copper tape that resides back by the site for the Arduino and capacitor. However, the preceding “out” of the Neopixel in each chain segment should have a continuous connection to the succeeding “in” of the same segment, which can be tested. Assuming there are no problems, our lights are ready and waiting for connection to the Arduino, which will have to wait a bit.
Step 9: Applying the Hand-Shapes
I’m assuming that someone building this knows what I’m talking about when I say “adhesive-backed aluminum foil.” Essentially there is this stuff that comes with a wax paper backing on one side, and on the other is an exposed glue side with its stickiness activated by heat. To use it, a sheet of aluminum foil is placed on an ironing surface, and the adhesive is placed over the top of it, exposed glue side down. When the two surfaces are lined up, a heated iron (medium-low setting) is pressed down on the wax-paper backing, and the heat activates the glue on the other side, sealing it to the aluminum foil. After the heat is removed, it cools and can be handled as a single material, conductive aluminum foil on the front and a wax-paper protected adhesive surface on the back. We’re going to use this stuff to make the hand-shapes on our game board conductive as described under Part 5 of Step 6 above.
- Before we can begin wiring our hand-shapes, we need to make a “third page” for our book. We’ll use the roll of black foam for this, measuring out a piece that is 24”+ and 36” wide. Using a straight-edge to produce a cutting mark to guide you, carefully cut the size you need. Once that’s done, place the foam on the Masonite “hardback cover” and line it up as you’ve already done with the other pages, taping and marking it in similar fashion.
- Place your template over the top of the foam “third page” and line it up correctly. Then tape it down and smooth out the slack, warps, and bubbles.
- With a #2 pencil (which will produce a reflective, visible mark on the foam), trace the outline of the Arduino, capacitor, switch, strip, Neopixels, and hand-shapes onto the foam. When you’ve got them all done, remove the template.
- Place the foam on a cutting surface and use an X-Acto-knife to cut and remove only the sections outlined for the individual Neopixels, the strip, the Lilypad, and the capacitor. Do not make any other cuts in the foam at this time.
- Take the “hand cut-out” left over from the beginning, and use a ruler to trace two lines straight down through the palm parallel to the outside edges of the middle finger as shown. Use scissors to cut along these lines so that the “hand cut-out” is now in three sections with at least one edge on each that is straight (-ish).
- Ignore the section with the middle finger, and use the outer two sections to measure out a set of appropriately-sized sections for each half-a-hand on the adhesive-backed aluminum foil. Note that a “bleed” of ½” to a full 1” around the outside edges is good, but the inner edge of each half-a-hand measured onto the aluminum should be flush with the straight edge created with the cutting out of the middle finger. Also, if you used both right- and left-hand hand-shapes in your design, like I did, you’ll need to flip the hand cut-out pieces over for some of the measuring in this step.
- Once you have your (12) aluminum “half-a-hands” with adhesive backing for all the hand-shapes, you’re going to use an iron and ironing board to fix them all in place onto the foam. Before using the iron, however, check and make sure that your aluminum cut-outs will be correctly placed so that the inner edges line up in the template-outline on the foam with where they were on the hand cut-out’s middle finger. This should put a gap of almost an inch between the two aluminum sections of each hand. Also check to make sure that the bleeds of each section do not cover up the holes in the foam for the individual Neopixels that will rest on the page below. If they are, see if the hand section needs to be better-centered and if necessary use scissors to trim off a bit of the bleed so that the Neopixel’s hole is unobstructed.
- When you’re ready, use the iron and ironing board on the aluminum adhesive by lifting each section, removing the paper backing, replacing it on the foam, and ironing over it. Be careful to avoid letting the iron rest on the foam, or it will melt the black material. We only need a “fair” seal on the adhesive to keep the aluminum from shifting side-to-side and we’ll fix it down from above in a later step, so go easy on the ironing to be safe.
- When the hand-shapes are fixed in place, take the middle-finger strip cut from the “hand cut-out” and use it to trace six similarly-shaped pieces on the gray construction paper. There should be no bleeds added on the sides here, and only a small one at the top so as not to obstruct the Neopixel slots cut into the foam. But a bleed on the bottom is fine and will allow the application of a bit of clear tape to fix the finger down. Note that the purpose of the gray middle section on each hand-shape is to give the player a full visual hand impression to be the target of their “slap,” without producing a constant closed circuit.
Step 10: Assembling "the Book," Part 2
Here we go. If you’ve made it this far, you’ve got the layers set up to begin putting the whole thing together. The careful attention we’ve paid to aligning it all will pay off here, or, if you weren’t that careful, you’ll feel the pinch of it and have to make some radical alterations to make things fit right.
- Start by placing our “first page” onto our Masonite “hardback cover” and getting it lined up. This time, however, you’re going to fix it down more solidly with some black Duck Tape placed in an area that won’t cover your alignment marks (which we’ll use to correctly place the coming pages).
- Once that’s done, do the same with our “second page,” placing it right over the top of the “first page” and getting it lined up on the edge we’ve used for that. Once it’s correctly in place, use Duck Tape again with the same warning to not cover your alignment marks but still get it solidly anchored along the edge in question.
- Check to make sure we can see all fifteen of the first Neopixels on the strip for our score along with all six individual Neopixels spaced just above our hand-shapes. Make adjustments where necessary.
- Make sure that all copper tape lines coming to the Arduino are visible in the space cut out for it in the “second page.” For those intended for the capacitor, make sure they are visible there as well. It might help to wrap a piece of colored tape around those intended for the positive line at the capacitor and the negative line as well (a different color for the latter, obviously).
- Being careful not to allow the foam to roll or bend too much (potentially unseating some of the aluminum sections), place our “third page” over the top of the second, but do it slowly so you don’t bend and mash the spikes of copper tape that stick up from the “second page.” Working only along the right-hand margin (where we made our alignment marks), get the foam lined up, but don’t tape it, yet.
- Without mashing the “third page” down, get into a vantage point above it and check how well the holes cut into it line up with the Neopixels (strip and individuals) on the board. Hopefully there aren’t any (many), but troubleshooting and correcting for them will be a problem from here on out when we attach the pages together. So, if a badly-aligned Neopixel or strip needs to be shifted a bit, or a hole widened, do it carefully here before taping it down.
- When you do tape it down (now), you’ll do it on the spine with Duck Tape like you did the others, again leaving the alignment marks uncovered and trying not to push on the copper tape extras from the page beneath.
Step 11: Wiring the Hand-Shapes and Switch
This next step is pure “fudging,” plain and simple. There is nothing elegant about it, and I’m fairly certain there’s a better way to do this, but this is how I did it and it worked. “Prototype,” remember? Still, if you were careful lining things up, it shouldn’t be that difficult or ugly.
- Now comes the hard part. What we have to do, essentially, is bring all the wiring up from the lower pages through the “third page” and connect it appropriately. At first, this will only be done with the ground and individual signal lines to the “hand-shapes,” but we’ll do it for those that go to the switch and also all the lines converging on the capacitor and Lilypad as well. To do this, we’re going to do it in two stages. First, we’re going to place our template over the top of our “third page” and get it lined as well as we can, then tape it with clear tape like we did before.
- Next, we’re going to take our X-Acto-knife and use it to carefully pierce the template at the terminal point for each of our circuit lines, driving it down through the black foam of the “third page” beneath to make a small puncture or incision (no more than ½ “ long). The idea here is that we are trying to put a hole through the foam of the “third page” close to where the extra 2” of our copper tape circuits are placed, and we’ll use needle-nose pliers to pry that hole open, grab the end of the tape, and pull the slack up and through the surface. It might help to slip a piece of cardboard in between the “second page” and the “third page” and to support it with the hand not using the knife. Also, it will make it easier to keep things aligned if we work from the direction of our book’s anchoring “spine” toward the opposite end, where my design places the switch and strip.
- As each copper tape end is pulled through, it will essentially fix our “second page” and our “third page” together. This is okay. If it becomes necessary to unfasten it, the flexibility of the carnival cover and the foam will allow us to “bow” the two layers apart and get inside by only releasing a couple of the copper tape ends and letting them retreat back below. Hopefully, however, that won’t be necessary. Still, once we’ve done pulled all of the hand-shapes’ copper ends through, it is a good place to test our circuits for continuity before moving on.
- Assuming there are no problems to fix with the copper ends for the hand-shapes, let’s fix them down to their respective pieces of adhesive aluminum foil. Following the template diagram at this point can be very helpful in not connecting the wrong end to the wrong place. I found it worked well to bend and angle the copper tape right at the surface of the “third page” so that its non-adhesive side lay on top of and along the edge of the aluminum foil section in question. Note that having a line touch two aluminum sections is not a good idea, though depending upon which it is you might get lucky and everything still works (an issue with a common ground). Once you place a tape end down, tape it lightly in place with clear tape and test the complete length (aluminum-end-to-Lilypad-end) for continuity.
- Next we’ll wire the switch in place. We’ll do this by cutting two 4” long pieces of craft wire like we did for the individual Neopixels and wind them around the pins on the switch so that roughly 3” of wire stand free from the end of it. Then we’ll repeat the process for pulling the copper tape ends through our “third page” with the circuit paths for the switch.
- Wrapping the free craft wire end around the base of the surfaced copper tape end, bend the copper tape back and away from the switch and use clear tape to fix it down. Do this for the signal line and the ground line, and then test both lines for continuity.
Step 12: Wiring the Capacitor and Lilypad
This is it. The final step in getting the guts of this thing set up. Care and caution in keeping track of the placement of circuit lines will make a big difference here, where they all come together.
- Start by cutting 11 segments of craft wire, each 4” long. Individually coil them about the 11 pins on the Lilypad (you’ll use every one of them) like we did with the individual Neopixels back in Step 8.
- Take the craft wire coming off of the positive (+) pin on the Lilypad and twist it around the positive (longer) end of the capacitor, bending the connection out and away from the negative (shorter).
- Take the craft wire coming off of the ground (-) pin on the Lilypad and twist it around the negative (shorter) end of the capacitor, bending the connection out and away from the positive.
- Place the Lilypad and capacitor in their approximate locations on the cut-out section of our “third page.”
- Using the twisting and taping strategy we’ve used elsewhere, connect the ground lines that are indicated by your diagrams and your post-it/tape labels to the appropriate connection. Test each as you go to make sure that you are connecting what you think you are connecting, and investigate/resolve any discrepancies.
- Do the same with the positive lines (there should be fewer of them) to the positive connection between the Lilypad and the capacitor. Test each connection in turn and investigate/resolve any problems.
- Starting in the upper-left, being twisting, bending, and taping the craft wire from each pin to the appropriate exposed end of copper tape oriented toward it. Make sure that they are going to the correct lines or you might melt the whole thing when we turn on the power. Using/following labels and diagrams and testing for continuity along the way is a must for this.
- Once it’s all wired up, with all the copper ends connected and taped down and out of the way, and you know the circuits are good, the whole assembly is ready for programming, which I’ll leave for its own section at the end and move on to the final step in hardware construction.
Step 13: The Fourth Page and a Playing Surface
Before we make and apply the more aesthetically-pleasing playing surface to this thing, it is worthwhile to consider the value of the “third page” we just put down. By creating and placing a “fourth page” over the top of the whole thing, we just created a “goof” layer. This means that if there was a bad circuit line somewhere, we could essentially snip and remove the wires and/or copper lines where they were visible in the cut-out sections of the “third page” and earlier pages, and then create a new replacement circuit line on the “third.” I had to do this for some reason on mine, and it was a very nice relief to be able to just clip what wasn’t working and replace a line to the ground of the lower-left “half-a-hand” ground section right on top of the foam. Putting a covering over it means it’s the perfect “band-aid” layer without having to pry apart the rest of what you’ve built. Assuming, however, that everything works fine, this layer will give us something a bit nicer to look at.
- Cut the remaining black foam to the same size as that of our “third page” either by using the measurements already made or by tracing.
- Once the foam is cut, place the template over the top of it and put the pair on top of the current assembled “book.” Line things up appropriately and place marks on the new foam “fourth page” to aid in alignment later on.
- Remove the template and “fourth page” and then realign them together. Place them on a cutting surface, carefully brush out the slack, warps, bubbles, and use some clear tape to anchor the two layers (only) together.
- Use a #2 pencil to trace a smaller hand-print inside that cut out of the template. Ideally, this would be a little more than 1/8 inch in from all sides, and it would be essentially centered within the hand cut-outs on the template. Do this for all hand cut-out sections.
- Trace a smaller opening within the cut-out sections for the Neopixel lights, the Neopixel strip, and the switch. Come in about 1/8 of an inch on all sides. Don’t cut out a section above the Lilypad and capacitor.
- Remove the template and use an X-Acto-knife to cut the traced sections from the foam (make sure you’re working on a cutting surface!). Leave the “fourth page” for a moment and return to the assembled “book.”
- Use scissors to cut out six small, 1-inch wide sections of the translucent parchment and then clear-tape them over the hole for the individual Neopixels on the “third page.” The idea here is that the clear tape won’t be seen, but the parchment will make a nice, diffused covering for the Neopixels to shine up.
- Do the same thing for the strip of Neopixels by cutting a strip or two that are 2” wide and then aligning them up over the cut-out for the strip on the board. Tape them down using clear tape such that only the parchment will be visible through the narrower section cut out of our “fourth page.”
- Place the “fourth page” over the top of the assembled “book.” Line the markings up and make sure it fits well. Use a long strip of black Duck Tape to anchor the entire spine together.
- Use a couple of drops from a hot glue gun to fix down the border pieces of the hand cut-outs in the “fourth page” to the gray paper or aluminum foil of the “third page.”
- Construct colorful, informative graphics to indicate game functions, print them on paper, cut them out and fix them in place on the “fourth page,” including one that warns players not to strike the area beneath which the Arduino and circuitry are concentrated.
- You're really almost done. You still just need to sew the gloves, upload the program, turn it on, and have fun.
Step 14: Gloves
Quick word of advice: If you are no better at sewing than I am, and you don’t want to spend hours on this step, simply find someone you know who IS good at sewing, explain what you are going for here, hand them the materials, and get out of their way. Thanks, Camille.
- Basically, we’re going to take the two 8’ squares of conductive fabric and draw on them the outline of another handprint just like our original hand template. But for this one, we’re going to create a left-hand and a right-hand (one on each section), and we’re going to do it while we are wearing the cloth gloves we purchased for this project (very inexpensive ones that are simple cotton things). Use a #2 pencil.
- With the outline drawn, cut out the shape and sew each to the sides of the glove’s palm and fingers. Now when a player is wearing these gloves and makes the slightest connection between the left (ground) section and right (pin) section of any hand-shape, the Arduino will definitely register a connection, whereas with bare skin it might not work.
Step 15: The Program
How much of this program did I actually write? Well, about that, a guy can sit at a keyboard and write quite a bit, but knowing what to write is another matter entirely. Also, the university course that was the impetus for this project in the first place wasn’t really a class on programming. Lastly, while I studied programming in Pascal in school, it gave me a rudimentary knowledge of what kinds of operations I’d be looking at and creating for this. But all of that is a looooong, long way from correct syntax. Honestly, if I took half of the credit I would be exaggerating my own part in it. However, I did type most of it into the program while others directed me, and rather than stating that to take some increased measure of credit, I’m stating it simply to say, “Thank you” to those who got this program working. You know who you are.
I will post some comments on the text of the program to try and explain what it’s doing and to point out where it can be changed to affect the game play a bit. In order to do upload the program into an Arduino Lilypad and get the whole High Five game working, a person would have to log in to the codebender site ( http://codebender.cc ), copy and paste the code into a new sketch, name it, save it, verify it, and run it on their own Arduino via a USB or some other connection. This requires a plug-in for the browser you’re using to get there.
I've attached a zipped pdf file with the code and comments.
Step 16: Play the Game
Here’s how it works. You first make sure the switch is in the “Off” position on the play board. Then, connect the USB cable to the Lilypad (requires a converter chip for the connection—one comes with the Lilypad development kit, I believe). Once the program is uploaded, the board will start cycling through an “arcade” mode, like stand-up video games and pinball would do while no one was playing them. Essentially, the light strip and signal lights will cycle endlessly. It’s hypnotic and pretty, and pretty boring. When you’re ready to play, put on one of the gloves and then flip the switch to “On.” The board will finish its current arcade mode cycle and then begin the first round of the game.
Each round (including the first) begins with a quick triple cycle of the signal lights on the hands, first red, then green, then blue, to prepare the player for the lighting of the hand they are to slap. After the three cycles complete, one of the hands’ signals will glow red. The player needs to press their palm against the hand quickly. If successful, the score strip on the left will shift upwards one. If unsuccessful, the score strip will shift downwards one.
A new round will then begin, repeating the triple cycle and lighting up a new signal, and so on. When the player’s score reaches the top or the bottom, the game ends, and the board will quickly run through a new arcade cycle, but only once before starting another round. If the player is finished playing, they should flip the switch back to “Off.”