Introduction: My DIY Steampunk Operation Game, Arduino Based
This project is rather extensive in scope. It doesn’t require a lot of tools or prior knowledge, but it will teach anyone (me included) a lot in many different departments of making!
Like Captive-sensing with a Arduino, multitasking with the Arduino and making quick, easy metal parts and gluing simple printer paper on wood.
I also want to encourage anyone making this to adapt the project to your needs and desires. Maybe you want to make it bigger, smaller or with a different picture etc… everything is just a suggestion, let your creativity run free!
So what is better in this game to the classic operation game?
First: No cable on the tweezers, no restriction!
Second: A heartbeat that reflects how hurt the patient is and a flat line!
Third: You can use a picture of any Adonis body that you want and hang the game up on your wall if you don’t play with it!
Because the project is pretty extensive, here is a step index
Step 1: wiring and soldering
Step 2: The code
Step 3: capacitance sensing
Step 4: Arduino multi tasking
Step 5: Tweezers
Step 6: Gluing the Patient
Step 7: Cutting him up and attaching the sheet metal
Step 8: The “organs”
Step 9: Tying up some lose ends
- Two pieces of wood in the size you want your game to make (since I used a printed out piece of DIN A4 printer paper I took the wood just a few cm bigger then that) the thickness of the bottom piece should exceed the thickness of a Arduino, the top piece should be 1-2,5 cm thick
- Wood glue and something like 2 part epoxy/hotglue/superglue….
-Some screws to attach the bottom to the top piece but not poke thru…. Any wood screws in the right length will do and some tiny ones
-A printed out patient on a sheet of paper
-One Arduino (I used a nano)
-Buzzer (piezo speaker)
-LED (not really necessary, but the heartbeat thing is pretty cool)
-Resistors (about 200kΩ and 100Ω)
-Tweezers (magnetic, at least conductive (Step 5))
-A power supply that works for the Arduino (batteries won’t work)
-Also what I expect most people to have already→ some soldering supplies, cables, some thin sheet metal (a bean can or something galvanized steel works fine)
Addition (If you want to make it a little more fancy):
- A picture frame
- Clear paint
- Brass or Brass tubing
- Power plug
- Wood drill
- Wood saw
- Soldering iron
- Some pliers
- Chisel or box cutter knife of some kind
- maybe some brushes
- A rotary tool would be awesome
Step 1: Wiring and Soldering
I put Step first, but you shouldn’t do this first ; ). A breadboard would be awesome for this… I want you to think about this first, because everything else will be build around this more or less. Just keep the diagram in mind IF you don’t have a breadboard. If you have one wire it up to tune the code in the next step.
Actually solder everything after step 8 according to the picture.
R1 should be a 200 kΩ resistor (100 kΩ would also work according to the capsens library)
R2 should be a 120 Ω resistor
Step 2: The Code
Here is the code I used and written. With some hopefully helpfull remarks. You need to flash your Arduino with it...
Step 3: Capacitance Sensing
I am not an authority on this, but everything has a capacitance (you too). So if you touch the metal with your metal tweezers or bare hands you change the capacitance on pin 9. Capacitance changes the time it take (Pin 4) receive a signal (from Pin 9). The Arduino sends a signal very often and checks the delay between send and receive. If the delay changes the Arduino will remember. The Intelligent Part of the code, not written by me, will also smooth the results and self calibrate. If your capacitance sensing is too sensitive or not sensitive enough you can change the relevant parameters marked in the code until it works like you want to.
You can use capacitance sensing in other projects nicely, so I thought I explain it in some more detail and give it more attention in its own step. I didn’t know about it before doing the project.
Step 4: Arduino Multi Tasking
If you have any coding experience with Arduino, you know, that it just works every command line by line and can’t really do things at the same time.
I am also no authority on this, but you basically tell the Arduino (in this case at least): do task A for x milliseconds then task B for y milliseconds. You need that in this case only if you want to have the LED and buzzer heartbeat while sensing the capacitance. I really wanted both, so I took some extra time to code that. The heartbeat really makes a lot of the awesomeness for this project. At least that is what I think…
You can use this “Multitasking” in other projects and it can be very powerful, so I thought I explain it in some more detail and give it more attention in its own step. I didn’t know about it before doing the project.
Step 5: Tweezers
The Arduino uses the tweezers in my code as a start and a stop signal. It detects if the tweezers are removed from their place by monitoring Pin 2 and 12 (you probably don’t need the two… one is used as an interrupt, to wake the Arduino and the other to detect the stop condition, so I don’t know if I could have used just the one pin…). So you need two points where the tweezers can make contact to the game.
Their are several possibilities:
- You form two metal hooks that extrude from the game and are connected to ground / the pins (Sketch 1) probably the easiest and one of the best solutions. For this solution the tweezers don’t need to be magnetic.
- You also can use magnets behind some steel or glue some magnets behind some non ferrous metal (Sketch 2-3)
Because I have a metal lathe I made them like I show in Sketch 4. I made some brass parts that protrudes thru the front panel and that house some magnets inside. The magnets and wire can be clamped by a grub screw simultaneously.
Probably there are better and/or easier ways, be creative!
Step 6: Gluing the Patient
Putting some picture on wood should be hard, right? Nope, you need hardly anything for it! I searched the internet on how to do it, but all options seemed too complicated to me.
Of course you can also try those to get your patient on the top piece of wood (laser, burning, transfer paper, milling or carving…).
I for one just took normal wood glue (after a partial success with spray on glue) covered both the wooden surface and the picture I printed on normal paper with a thin but consistent layer of glue. This is kind of hard, but since material is cheap and you can just pull it of, you get a few do overs. First cover the back of the paper, so the glue can really soak thru. Apply a thin layer to the front of the front panel next. By the time you are done the glue is probably a little dry, that is a good thing. Now put the paper on the wood starting from one edge to avoid bubbles. Most likely some bubbles will be there, don’t panic. You can press the bubbles out with a cylinder of some kind, that you roll over the paper. That way you press the paper evenly and don’t rip it apart. After some drying it should be done and you can paint your wood/paper with some varnish to protect it, if you want.
You can use this in other projects where you want a random image on wood, so I thought I explain it in some more detail and give it more attention in its own step. I didn’t know about it before doing the project.
Step 7: Cutting Him Up and Attaching the Sheet Metal
You need some holes in the front and the back piece.
In the front piece you can just drill or saw out some holes in the size and shape you want and fit your patient. In the picture you can see, where I made the holes (just for your inspiration). I used a big “Frostner” bit, but you can make them any way you like. Because I didn’t want the sheet metal visible, I drilled a slightly bigger hole from the back, not all the way thru and a smaller hole from the front, as shown in the sketch above !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! . Hopefully you left some place for the Arduino and the wires. Yes? Great! Now mark down where they need to be and cut a V-grove to every hole in the front piece to the Arduino. The grove needs to fit whatever cable you want to use. Groves to the Heartbeat LED, the power plug, the switch and the tweezers can also be cut now.
In the back piece you just need to make room for the electronics. It´s probably best and easiest to cut that part out to make room, but I didn’t want to make the electronics as visible form the back so I only made a blind hole.
All the wiring and electronics should be attached to the back of the front piece of wood. I regret, I didn’t do it that way. Now it´s time to cut the sheet metal in strips to clad the inner walls of the holes. Before gluing them in attach (solder) a piece of wire to them that is long enough it reaches the Arduino. After gluing soldering is messy, so do it before. Test if the metal is conductive or if it´s coated with something. If it´s coated, remove the coating with some abrasive or heat.
Now you can glue the sheet metal and wires in place. Also attach the other electronics according to Step 1.
You can screw your backside to the front now also.
Step 8: The “organs”
I thought about these for a long time after everything else was done. I needed something conductive in shape of a bone ore a screwdriver or something. First I wanted to cut it out of sheet metal and you can totally do that, but it´s a lot or work. I ended up casting them from tin (just some soldering tin). You can just carve something in hard (hard for the details) wood and meld some tin directly in the cast with your soldering iron and pull it out afterward. That is what I did. I also bend some copper wire in shape with some pliers. That also works quite nice and some good organs can be made that way.
It´s a lot of fun and I bet not only the child in me likes it. Real children would like to see a real metal produced in minute, I’m pretty sure. Just be careful with the fumes. The soldering tin releases some fumes and the wood slightly burning is probably also not healthy. So do it in a well ventilated room, outside or something where you (or your kid) don’t breath in the fumes.
Step 9: Tying Up Some Lose Ends
I framed mine, maybe you want to consider that as well ; )
I also drilled a hole in the back to hang it on the wall
How to play:
you can play in several different ways, but I think, it´s best when you say a number of tin pieces that needs to go in and come out of the patient before you lose and they Flat-line and then your game partner has to top that number until someone loses
The tweezers should probably be put on their place between rounds.
Have fun making and playing!
I think this is a cool project for kids/teens to do with their parents, because you can learn a lot and you get to play what you build afterwards.
Participated in the
Arduino Contest 2020