We have a very cool Twilight Zone pinball machine in our garage. I bought it nearly twenty years ago while I was a student, and with a bit of attention, it’s provided lots of fun since then.
My son, Zach, now 9, has been getting steadily better at it, and is keen for me to watch his games. So he and I wanted a way for me to keep an eye on how his game is going, while I do other jobs elsewhere. We decided to make a system to transmit the pinball machine’s dot-matrix display to a desktop or laptop.
One way to do this would be to set up a webcam. But where’s the fun in that? Instead, I suggested we work out how to eavesdrop on the communication between the pinball machine’s display driver board and the actual display, and reconstruct the images.
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, or even use Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for MakeCode, CircuitPython, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.