Introduction: Bender Operation Game

Finally, the classic game Operation has been updated to reflect the sensibilities of today's modern child.  The red-nosed gentleman has been replaced by the lovable scamp Bender Bending Rodriguez from TV's Futurama, and the chintzy cardboard replaced with shiny futuristic acrylic.  Rescue Bender from the things which have gotten stuck inside him including a gear, a beer, Fry's stolen wallet, a Robotology symbol, and a lit cigar, but if you touch the sides Bender's "Problem" light will turn on to let you know you really screwed the pooch!

Here we will outline the steps necessary to make your own Bender Operation Game so that you too can bite bender's "shiny metal ass."

laser cutter
some kind of vector graphics software
2 12"x12"x1/4" acrylic boards greyish (we used one smoky grey and one mirrored)
metal tweezers
thin insulated copper wire
heavy duty aluminum foil
elmer's glue
1 9V battery (we actually used 3 AA batteries taped together)
1 red LED
acrylic bonding solvent
electrical tape
wire cutter/stripper

Step 1: Design Bender

This illustration was made in Adobe Illustrator CS5.
the outline was sized for 12" acrylic boards
internal game pieces were drawn inside Bender's body with a few mm cut out around them so that tweezers could reasonably be expected to fit in to grab the piece, but not so much that it would be TOO easy!

the top board has a hole to put an LED through which will serve as the notification that you touched the side.
the bottom board has grooves for the simple wiring as well as trenches underneath each cutout to make the holes deeper and more challenging.

Step 2: Cut Acrylic With a Laser Cutter

we brought two 12" squares of 1/4" acrylic to cut with a laser.  the first serves as the top surface and carries the illustration of our ailing hero.  the second serves as depth for the game pieces to sit inside and to house the game's internal wiring.

Load the images from step 1 into the control software for a laser cutter and cut out the top and bottom Bender boards.  We used an Epilog laser etcher/cutter.  In our software hairline vector lines were cut straight through the board while any heavier line was rastered and etched lightly into the acrylic surface.

For the upper layer this worked to cut out the boundary of the project, cut the holes and cut out and etch the game pieces, and etch Bender himself into the acrylic.

For the lower layer, we significantly decreased the speed of the laser and increased its power in order to carve deep trenches into the acrylic.  these were roughly 1/2 of the thickness of the acrylic and formed lanes for the wires to lie inside, and trenches to give extra depth to the game piece holes while still containing them inside the board.

Step 3: Combobulate and Seal Bender's Insides

line the inside edges of the top-board's cutouts with elmer's glue using a toothpick.
apply a 1/4" thick strip of aluminum foil to the cutout so that it creates a conductive surface there.  Set the top board aside for now.

lay down wires in the trenches of the bottom board.  Each hole needs a wire to extend from it to the LED.  Some electrical tape can hold the wires in place while you work, but take it out before sealing the boards together.   in the game-board holes, leave 2cm of wire stripped which later will be bent to make secure contact with the aluminum foil sides.

under the spot where the LED goes, twist all of the wires together neatly so that they contact eachother, but are not making a big wire lump.  twist this group of wires together with one prong of the LED.
The other prong of the LED extends out of the game board where it should be twisted to attach to the + electrode of the battery.
extend a wire from the - electrode of the battery and attach the wire to the tweezers with electrical tape such that there is firm contact between the copper wire and the metal of the tweezers.  this is critical for current to pass when the game-piece hole sides are touched.  Now by touching the tweezer to the foil lining any of the holes, you should complete the simple circuit lighting bender's "Problem" light.

Now fit the top board down over the bottom board.  Once it fits snugly, use a little bit of extra foil and some more glue if necessary to securly attach the wire ends which are sticking out of the game piece holes to the foil lining the hole edges.  Once this connection is made, Bender's "Problem" sensor will be fully armed, and fully operational.

using clear acrylic bonding solvent, bond the edges of the two boards together to ensure solid and durable construction of the game.

Step 4: Enjoy Bending!

Now you are ready to enjoy Bender operation and Bend like Bending is your middle name!

Armed with this simple framework, one could easily add in even more features like maybe a simple sound board to bring Bender even closer to life (or as close as a robot can get)!

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