Coffee Table Pong Game

Why should coffee tables be limited to magazines and cups of coffee? All that precious space could be used for something far more exciting, like video games!

This DIY project allows up to four players to battle it out in a game of Pong. And it's named accordingly, "The Super Pong Table".

The Game

There is an Atari paddle controller for each player to move their respective 'bat' to the left or right. With five balls to start with, each of them project at different speeds and angles. From there it's just like old school pong; the object being you need to use your bat to 'bounce' the ball away. If a player misses a ball, the ball will re-appear in the middle of the screen.

Each successful hit awards one point to the player. Alternately, a miss will deduct one point. The object of the game is to reach 20 points. The first person to do so will receive a 'YOU WIN' animation. Here's a video of the table in use:

Under The Hood

At the core of the project is a PIC18F4550. The display consists of 900 LEDs which are arranged in a 30x30 matrix.  The four controllers are from an Atari 2600 game system. They are basically potentiometers, easy enough to replicate with other hardware.

There is an instructable for this project which covers the nitty gritty of construction, this article is more-so an overview of the project.

900 LEDs!

Every LED has been manually positioned in a drilled hole and connected to the matrix array. Driving the LEDs are a couple of shift registers and darlington arrays. Here' s a schematic (click to enlarge, might take 10-20 seconds to load):

mt_ignore:pong schematic

It's no easy feat, and keep in mind that LEDs should be tested before installation as a few duds is normal (especially when purchasing from eBay). In the above schematic it becomes clear that the LEDs are grouped into 30 rows and columns. Applying some basic multiplexing, each set of 30 LEDs can be turned on/off for a short period of time. Do this fast enough, and the flickering will not be visible to the human eye.

For this project, individual strands of mains wire was used to connect the anodes for each row and the cathodes for each column. While there's no "easy" way of doing this, there are other ways to do the same thing. Pre-think your tact and experiment at small scale if need be.

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Controllers

As mentioned earlier the analogue controllers are from an old Atari system. You could just as easily use some potentiometers with fancy knobs to do the same job!

With the back of the controller taken off, the potentiometers could be removed. From there, they were attached to the table with hot melt glue.

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Software & Design

This ZIP file has much of the project details in it, which includes:

  • PCB Gerber files - these are so you can make your own circuit boards - you will need gerb magic to view these files
  • Diptrace PCB design file - You will need diptrace to view this file, diptrace is my PCB editing program
  • Diptrace Schematic file - you will need diptrace to view this file, diptrace is also my schematic editing program
  • SuperPongTableVer2PCBBottom - This is an image file to show you what the board looks like
  • SuperPongTableVer2PCBTop - This is an image file to show you what the board looks like
  • Readme_1st.txt - This file contains information on the current release of the zip file
  • SuperPongTableVER1.bas - this is the source code, you will need swordfish basic to open / edit it.
  • SuperPongTableVER1.hex - this is the hex file that you need to copy to your microcontroller
  • SuperPongTableVer2Schematic.PNG - this is the full schematic in an image file

Required Software

The PCB

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You will be able to purchase a Super Pong Table Circuit Board from iteadstudio from around the 15th of April 2011 (they are in the process of making them) They tell me the boards will be approx $3 each.

More Information

Once again, there is an instructable that covers almost every aspect of this project.

Feel free to ask questions or share similar designs!

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