Introduction: Papercraft Automata Race Game LittleBits Circuit

This instructable will show you how to create a game using littleBits. The game will start with a sound trigger. Each player will have to press a button repeatedly. The first person to press their button 25 times wins. A buzzer will sound to end the race while the winning machine will do a victory lap while the losing machine remains still.

You will need the following littleBits modules:

  • 1 Power (p1)
  • 1 Arduino at Heart (w6) with micro USB cable
  • 1 Fork (w7)
  • 1 Buzzer (o6)
  • 1 Sound Trigger (i20)
  • 6 Wire (w1)
  • 2 Button (i3)
  • 2 DC Motor (o5)
  • 2 motorMate (a10)

Non littleBits Materials needed:

  • 4 party crayon packs
  • mounting tape
  • adhesive tape
  • foamboard

Arduino code used in this instructable can be found at:

Note: You will also need two paper rowing automata. We used the Shrimp Boat and the Surfing Bunny from the kit, Gizmos: Paper Machines that Really Work by Rob Ives. You can also find similar paper machines directly from for download to print on heavy weight paper. Instructions are included with your download.

Step 1: Connecting Inputs to the Arduino Module (w4)

Gather the following modules:

  • 4 Wire (w1)
  • 1 Fork (w7)
  • 2 Button (i3)
  • 1 Sound Trigger (i20)
  • 1 Power (p1)
  • 1 Arduino (w6)

On the Fork module, connect the Wire Out end to the first branch and the Wire In to a Button (i3) module

Do the same thing on the second branch and connect a second wire to the remaining button.

On the last branch, connect the Sound Trigger (i20) module. Then, attach the other end of the Sound Trigger to the first input pin (D0) on the Arduino (w6) module.

Take another Wire module and connect the button on the first fork branch and connect it to the the second input pin (A0) on the Arduino. Do the same with the remaining button and attach to the last input pin (A1).

Then attach the Power module to the left of the Fork (w7) module so that it can provide power to all the input modules.

Step 2: Connecting the Output Modules

Gather the following littleBit modules:

  • 2 Wire (w1)
  • 2 DC Motor (o5)
  • 2 motorMate (a10)
  • 1 Buzzer (o6)

Attach the motorMate (a10) to the DC Motor (o5). Repeat with the second DC Motor.

Next, using the Wire module, connect the Wire Out end to Output Pin 1 and the Wire In end to the DC Motor plus motorMate.

Connect the second DC Motor to Output Pin 5 with the wire module like the first motor.

Lastly, connect the Buzzer (o6) module to Output Pin 9.

Step 3: Assemble Paper Automata Platform

Materials Needed for this step:

  • 4 party crayon boxes (or anything sturdy at the right height to connect the mechanism to the motorMate)
  • adhesive tap
  • foamboard
  • mounting tape

Stack two party crayon boxes and tape them together with the adhesive tape. Repeat with the remaining two boxes. These will serve as platforms to hold up the DC Motor modules at the right height so that the motorMate attachments can connect to the cranking mechanism for each paper automata.

Position your paper automata on the foamboard and use the mounting tape to secure the automata and the crayon platforms to the foamboard.

Note: You may want to experiment with positioning before adhering to the foamboard. Be sure that the two machines have enough space between them so that their rowing action doesn't interfere with each other.

Step 4: Putting It All Together: Connecting the LittleBits to the Paper Automata

Taking the DC Motor with the motorMate, connect the motorMate to the crank. The crank has a piece that runs diagonally within in the the crank. You will wedge it into the the slot on the motorMate. Then, secure the DC Motor Module with mounting tape to the crayon box platform. Repeat with the second motor.

Now you are ready to go.

Step 5: Identify Steps Needed for Programming

Now, that the automata and littleBits circuit has been hooked up, we now need to program the game.

Gameplay is simple. Each player has a button that is associated with one of the automata. Each player will need to press their button 25 times. First person to reach 25 wins.

Know what the inputs and outputs are and what we want them to do:

  • The inputs for this game would be the sound trigger to start the game and the buttons that are to be pressed by the players.
  • The outputs for this game includes the two DC motors to run the automata and a buzzer to indicate the end of the race.

Next, how to we want these inputs and outputs to work in the game.

  • We need the sound trigger to activate only at the start of each session and reset at the end of the session.
  • Both motors must run simultaneously and continuously after the sound trigger until 25 button presses are reached. Then at that point, only one motor (the winning automata) must continue running for a short time. Then both must reset until the sound trigger is activated again.
  • The player's buttons must be read and recorded until it reaches the winning number of presses. Then it must reset to zero once the session is done.
  • A buzzer must sound as soon as the first player reaches 25.

Step 6: Get Arduino Code and Upload to Arduino Module

Be sure to have the Arduino IDE installed on your computer. Previously, we laid out the steps that needed to be programmed so you can take a stab at generating the code from scratch but we also have our code available for your convenience.

Once you have the code up in the IDE, upload to the Arduino and you will be ready to play!

Be sure you are set for the Leonardo board and on the appropriate COM: port.

The code can be found at:

Paper Automata Race Arduino Code

The code implements the rules of the game. Animates the race, counts the score, and initiates the winning action.

Step 7: Ready, Set, GO! - Playing the Game

The game will be ready to start.

To begin the game, have someone clap loudly to start the race. Both automata should be moving. (You may need to adjust the sensitivity of the Sound Trigger module).

Once both machines are moving, Player 1 and Player 2 can quickly press their buttons 25 times.

The first player to reach 25 will activate the buzzer and continue to do a victory row or movement while the loser stops.

Want a re-match? Just clap again to restart.

Play around with the code. You can change the amount of button presses to win. Maybe you might want to try 100 or 5.