Building an Arduino Game System

Earlier this year, I made an 8×8 LED matrix Arduino breakout game. The game was inspired by the classic Atari Breakout, but limited to 8×8 pixels for the display.

It was a fun way to test the LED matrix and also show how useful these small LED matrixes actually are!

The project also got my interested in other ways to create more advanced Arduino games and maybe even some kind of Arduino Game System.

Arduino Breakout

As a start I made a new Arduino Breakout Game using a small tv screen as the display. For this project I used the Arduino TVout library to generate a composite video signal in software.

I will be making another blog post about this game at some point, but for now all I have is some pictures and a video of the ball movements from when I started making the game.

Arduino Game System

After working on the Breakout Game above I wanted to start working on a more dynamic game system. This new system will have a start menu where you can choose what game to play, display high scores etc.

I usually only write about my projects after they are finished, but since I have had some very nice feedback on the initial images and videos I have shared on both my Facebook and Instagram pages, I have decided to make a blog series about the project while I am working on.

This blog series will not be a regular tutorial or How-To, but instead give an insight into what I am working on, the difficulties I encounter, the possible solutions to potential problems and the design choice I make.

Stay tuned for the first blog post which will include the schematics and the base code for my first Arduino Game System.

Until then here is a short video of the Arduino game I am currently working on.



How to add jumper wires to your dc motor – no soldering

In this blog post I will present you to a simple no-soldering way to add jumper strips to you dc motors.

This method can be used when you just want to try out a new idea or if you are a beginner with no soldering iron.

For more permanent connections, soldering could however be required.

What you need: 

  • dc motor: the motor you want to connect to your project
  • 2 x jumper wires: make sure one of the ends (male/female) fits to where the motor should be connected later
  • Gaffa tape
  • Wire cutters

Step 1: Strip off insulation

First we have to clip off one of the ends of the wire. Make sure that you clip off the right head, and not the one you need later to connect the motor to your project!

After removing the end, strip off 2-3 cm insulation.

The wire is now ready to be attached to the dc motor.

Step 2: Attach wire to motor

Insert wire through hole at motor.

Fold the wire back onto itself and twist it together.

Be careful with this part. The metal connectors on the motors can be quite fragile, so don’t move then around to much.

Add a small piece of gaffe tape to strengthen the connection.

Repeat step 1-2 for the second wire.

Tips and tricks

Congratulations you have now added jumper wires to your dc motor!

Using this method you can now connect your motor to a male/female header on your project.

Remember that the connectors on the motor can be fragile, so you should be careful not to pull to much in the wires after they have been connected. You could also tape the wire to the side of the motor to decrease the chance of pulling off the metal connectors.

3 Maker’s Muse videos to watch when starting 3D printing

If you just bought your first 3D printer or is thinking about it, these three videos are a must see!

Maker’s Muse is a youtube channel focusing on 3D printing and you will find a lot of valuable information here.

I have been watching tons of videos on 3D printing on Youtube the last couple of months. And about two weeks ago we finally got out own printer 🙂

The following three videos are the ones I found most useful starting out.

10 places to get FREE 3D Printing Files

A good way to get to know you printer is by printing different small models.

This video introduced 10 places where people share free 3D models.

Be sure to check the license of the models you download and give credit where it is needed 🙂

The Best Way to Orient you 3D prints

Okay so you are ready to print your first model, but how should it be oriented when printing?

This video introduces you to pros and cons of different orientations.

Stop the stringing with Retraction

One of the first problems I experienced with my prints was stringing.

Stringing is when there are strings of filament in places where they should not be. This happens when filament is oozing out of you nozzle in places the printer should not print.

The video bellow is an introduction to retraction which can be used to limit stringing.

I am definitly a fan of Maker’s Muse, and if you liked the videos above I would encourage you to like their youtube channel for more cool content!

A note on Slicer software

To prepare a 3D model (in .stl format) for 3D printing you also need a slicer software which help create the .gcode for your printer.

Though this is also a big part of 3D printing, I have not included a video about it in this post.

When you first get your printer it doesn’t matter much which slicer software you use. Instead of spending a lot of time selecting the perfect slicer, just pick one and start printing models.

After the first couple of prints you can start looking into different slicer software if you are not content with what you started with 🙂


Happy 3D printing!

Copenhagen Maker Festival 2016

Copenhagen Maker Festival was on this weekend. I went with the family on Saturday.

Here is some of the highlights from our trip.


We arrived around shortly after they opened. The atmosphere pictures are from when we arrived. After lunch the place was packed!

copenhagen maker

copenhagen maker

No maker festival without 3D prints

The 6-year-old maker was really exited to finally see a 3D printer in person. Luckily there was a lot of models at both Labitat and

When I first told her about 3D printers, her response was that she wanted one, so she could print a Pikachu. had this one on display at Copenhagen Maker.

img_1061 also had free 3D printed diamonds. Being able to print diamonds is not on the 6-year-old makers list of reasons for buying a 3D printer.
3D prints at
3D printed shoes at
My favorit 3D print at the festival
3D prints at Labitat
The 6-year-old maker is exploring 3D prints at Labitat
3D prints at Labitat
More prints at Labitat

MyLogo Game – with DIY Hama beads

Making a Logo for the My Logo Game
Making a Logo for the My Logo Game
my logo
The point board for the My Logo Game

IoT pen-plotter (

Final adjustments before the 6-year-old maker had her portrait printed on the IoT pen-plotter

Printed ceramics

This was really cool. Making ceramics in to ways: the old school way and using a 3D printer.

Old school ceramics and 3D printed ceramics. Laura Penman

Polygo: Geometric Creatures

Really cool laser cut triangles which can be puzzled together to form many different geometric shapes and creatures.

These were also used to make a huge LED flower, which can be seen in the video at the top of this post.

Polygo: Geometric creatures. Simion Iulian Belea
Of course all the signs at the faire was laser cut.

DIY t-shirt printing

Makershirt brought two heat presses so the kids could make their own t-shirts. Definitely the 6-year-old makers favorite DIY-activity at the festival.

DIT t-shirt print at

My favorite DIY at the Maker Festival

InfinityPV brought lots of their cool flexible printed solar cells. I am definitely using this for some kind of wearable project at some point.

Inside it generates 3V and outside it reached 6V.

Defiantly the coolest freebie at the festival!

Time for a break

Of course we also needed a lunch break at some point. Or well, someone would much rather play than eat 😉

She wore a dress I made out of an adult t-shirt we bought at the DTU RoboCup competition earlier this year.

Active break at the playground
Active break at the playground

Thats all for now.

I am going to Berlin Maker Faire next weekend, so expect more cool maker festival pictures and videos in October!

Lego lock and puzzle boxes – Video Day 36/16

Lego lock and puzzle boxes

One of the projects on my never ending projects-to-do-list is a secret puzzle and mystery box. You know one of those where the lock of the box is a combination of different small puzzles.

On my search for inspiration I found the following three cool Lego videos. The first is a Lego safe with a combination lock mechanism. The two last are a simple and a more advanced Lego puzzle box.

I showed the two Lego puzzle box to the 5 year-old maker (soon to be 6 year-old maker!), and she can’t stop asking if we got the parts to make them. And if not, when we can buy the remaining parts.


Working LEGO Combination Safe

How to Build a LEGO Puzzle Box | BRICK X BRICK

Lego puzzle box

How old school graphics work – Video day 35/16

Today is all about old school graphics.

September is here, which means no more vacation and lots of studying!

And of course also new Friday Videos here at Maker Tech 😉

I am currently working on projects about getting different kinds of tv outputs from the Arduino. Mainly for games but the same tricks could of course also be used for other applications 🙂

So todays videos are also about graphics. Old school graphics.

How old school graphics worked – by 8-Bit Guy

I found this 8-Bit Guys channel on youtube some time ago. He has a lot of interesting videos, but the three below are especially good if you are into graphics, retro gaming, programming tricks and so on.

They are also really good to watch if you want to do graphics on a small micro controllers like the Arduino etc..

From the videos you get an insight into what simple tricks were used to create relatively complex graphics with a small processor.


8×8 LED matrix – Atari Breakout inspired Arduino game

In this post you will find details on how to start making your own 8×8 LED matrix Arduino breakout game.

The gameplay is simple but still entertaining because of the different ways the ball bounces when hitting the paddle.


  • Three buttons:
    • L: move paddle left.
    • R: move paddle right.
    • Action: release the ball
  • Increases speed of game for each game won (max. three times).
  • Blinking sad and happy smiley for when you lose or win the game
  • Ball bounce in the different ways depending on where on the paddle it hits:

In the middle: ball bounces directly upwards

Ball hits paddle in the middle

On either end of the paddle: ball continues in same x-direction but the y-direction changes. Exception: If the balls x-direction was 0 is will be changed to either -1 if it hits paddle on the left and 1 if it hits the paddle on the right.

Ball hits paddle on left
Ball hits paddle on right

On either side of the paddle (not directly over the paddle): ball bounces back to the direction it came from. Changes both the x- and y-direction. 

Ball hits comes from the left and hits the left side of the paddle
Ball hits comes from the right and hits the right side of the paddle

It is only possible to hit all the bricks by combining the different ways the ball can bounce.


This is mainly a software project and thus only require a few parts.

  • 1 x Arduino Uno
  • 1 x Adafruit Small 1.2″ 8×8 LED Matrix w/I2C Backpack – Pure Green
  • 3 x 6 mm tactile switches (buttons)
  • 3 x 10 kΩ resistors
  • Solderless Breadboard (830 point)
  • wires

You can also use a LED matrix without the backpack, but this will require additional code and connections. I will try to make a post with inspiration on how to do this at a later time – but it is a more advanced project.

Circuit and schematics

Pins used:

  • 9: L button
  • 8: R button
  • 7: Action button
  • A4: I²C D (data)
  • A5: I²C C (clock)
  • 5V power
  • GND

Bellow is photo, illustration and schematics of the connections and circuit. Hopefully this will be enough for you to assemble it correctly. Do not hesitate to leave a comment if you need additional information 🙂

8x8 led matrix arduino game photo

8x8 led matrix arduino game drawing
Drawing of the connections (the LED matrix on this illustration is a bit smaller than the model I am using).
8x8 led matrix arduino game schematics

Source code

The code for this project can be downloaded here on GitHub.

I use a 8×8 char array to keep track of where the different objects of the game is positioned at a given time.

The reDraw function in game.ino then uses this char array to visualize this using the correct pixels on the led matrix.


  • game.ino: this is the Arduino sketch that starts the program. It holds the loop function which controls the game according to the current game state.
  • Breakout.h + Breakout.cpp: This class holds most of the game rules and reactions on different player input.
  • Ball.h + Ball.cpp: Hold information on a balls position and how the ball bounces in different directions.
  • Paddle.h + Paddle.cpp: Determines how the paddle moves left and right in addition to store where the paddle is located and how wide it is (size).
  • Config.h: Defines the Arduino pins used, start values of different objects and enums in the code.
  • Faces.h: Layout matrixes of the sad and happy faces used for game lost and game won.

The source code is released under the GNU GPLv3 license.


In addition to the source code you also need the Adafruit Backpack Library and the Adafruit GFX Library installed.

Next Moves

Additions you could try to implement:

  • Make the game harder by decreasing the size of the paddle after a certain number of wins.
  • Add a scoring system to the game.
  • Make it possible to move the paddle before sending the ball on its way.
  • Bring the prototype to the next level and make some kind of case for the game.
  • Add sound effects
  • Tired of playing the same game over and over? Why not make a full-blown 8×8 LED Matrix handheld gaming console? Snake, pong, space invaders, car game, Simon Says, Tetris or maybe even an adventure maze game?


For information about how to install the backpack to the LED matrix, and how to install the needed libraries, checkout Adafruits own guide here.

Makers and the Maker Movement: Maker Faire

What is a Maker Faire, and can I attend?

In this third and last blog post in this summers theme on Makers and the Maker Movement is all about Maker Faires.

The first post focused on who are the Makers, and how do you become one.

The second post focused on what the Maker Moveement is, and how it started.

What is a Maker Faire?

Maker Faires were first created by Make: Magazine in 2006 with the purpose to “celebrate arts, crafts, engineering, science projects and the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) mindset”.

Since then it has grown into many Maker Faires being held around the year all over the world.

maker faire growth - maker movement

They are about showing off what makers are making, being inspired, getting ideas, being amazed and maybe even learning a new thing or two.

And they are about meeting other makers.

Makers, Maker Movement and Maker Faire

The Maker Movement is all about sharing and learning from each other. And we can do this easily with the internet.

But gathering lots of makers in a Maker Faire makes it even easier to share. Especially between active makers and all the potential new makers who visit the faire.

Knowing where to look for information can be tricky if you are new to the Maker Movement. By attending a Maker Faire this gets a lot easier, because you have direct access to lots of makers!

The always popular, Bellagio-esque, fountains of soda from Eepybird will be back to wow the crowds. Kids-of all ages! -- will love this live science experiment that they can also try at home.
Cola + Mentos = Fountains of soda – Maker Faires are fun for all ages!

What is on display at a Maker Faire?

If it can be and has been made by someone, then it might also be found at a Maker Faire.

Beginner projects. Advanced projects. Useful projects. Useless projects. Art projects. Using all kinds of materials for all kinds of purposes.

Can I attend?


Everyone can attend one of the many Maker Faires around the world.

stormtrooper maker faire
Stromtrooper in action at Power Racing Series at World Maker Faire New York 2015

You can attend as a guest and just walk around and experiencing the ambiance of the Faire. Or you might even want to try some of the things on display. Some places it is even possible to just walk in and start making something yourself!

For those who make things themselves it is also possible to attend as a maker, and get a booth where you can display you projects.

To find a Maker Faire near you, follow this link to a map of all the Maker Faires in the world.

Source of image from maker faires:

Video Day 29/16

The weeks video day is all about robots!


Festo – eMotionButterflies

These butterfly robots from Festo are just too cute.

They are ultra light and absolutely magnetizing!

Homemade Robot with Arduino #2 (insect robot)

While on the topic of insect robots this beetle robot is also really cool.

It uses only two servos to move the six legs, and is also programmed to avoid obstacles.

Johnnie Walker – DTU Robocup 2016

Once again I want to show you one of the robots from this years Robocup at the Technical University of Denmark.

In addition to showing a cool Arduino based robot, the video also has a good documentation of the way the robot was made. From first thoughts and research to the final tests on the competition course.

Johnnie Walker is based on the Arduino Mega 2560.

The video has some text in Danish but you can easily get what it is about without understanding it 🙂

Top 10 Arduino robots

The last video is a collection of different Arduino robots which has been built by makers around the internet.

If you are into Arduino and robots or just want to be inspired to make something new, this is a video for you. It has both beginner and more advanced robot.

Makers and the Maker Movement: The Maker Movement

What is the Maker Movement and how did it start?

This is the second post in the summer theme about Makers and the Maker Movement here on Maker Tech. This post will focus on the Maker Movement. The first post focused on who are the Makers, and how do you become one.

What is the Maker Movement

The Maker Movement is about learning how things work and building things ourselves. And it is about sharing.

maker movement - sharing
The Maker Movement is about sharing

Sharing our learnings and projects with others can keeps us motivated for learn more. At the same time what we share can also help others to learn, build and further sharing.

By building maker communities which focus on sharing we are democratization both knowledge and technology. We are all makers!

How did the Maker Movement start, and where did it come from?

Humans have always been makers. We are curious by nature and this curiosity has helped invent both fire, the wheel and radios and it has send men to the moon.

Makers invented fire
Makers invented fire

However what we might think of as the Maker Movement and the democratization of knowledge and technology is relatively new.

The internet

I remember when I was 14-15 years old, and it took an hour to download one mp3 song. We had to do it in secret, since we were not allowed to be online for that long because of the extra cost it would add to our phone bill.

The knowledge sharing that is happening is only possible because of the internet connections we have today. And because of how many actually have access to the internet today.

internet access
Internet users – % of population

The Maker Culture and access to machines

With the internet came easier knowledge sharing. But the new Maker Movement is also a result of cheaper hardware, machines and other components.

Lower costs on different machines has made it easier to create Fab Labs, hackerspaces etc. around the world. Where everyone can join and get access to 3D printers, laser cutters, cnc machines and meet and learn from  each other.

Some places might require a paid membership, while others are free to use. But in both cases many people now has access to machines which previously was reserved for large companies and specialists.

Before long we might even have more of these machines in our own homes? The price of some 3D printers is already low enough for this to happen.

Arduino and Raspberry Pi

arduino startkit - the Maker Movement
An Arduino starter kit is an excellent way to start learning about microcontrollers, programming and electronics circuits

Cheaper computers and components has also cleared the way for products such as the Arduino and the Raspberry Pi (and many more microcontroller boards and micro computers like them).

And with the Arduino IDE it was also made much easier for just about everyone to start programming a microcontroller. Further development such as an extension of Scratch for the Arduino has made this even easier for people of all ages.


In 2005 the first Make: magazine was published. Make: is a about do-it-yourself and do-it-with-others projects involving electronics, robotics, woodworking, computers, 3D printing and much, much more.

To celebrate the Makers and the do-it-yourself mindset, Make: held the first Maker Faire in 2006. Since then it has grown and many Maker Faires are of different sizes are held around the world each year.

maker faire growth - maker movement
It started with one Maker Faire in 2006. source:

Everyone can join, learn and build

The internet, Fab Labs and hackerspaces and the Arduino and Raspberry Pi, has made it easier for everyone to start making and sharing.

With the Make: magazine and the Maker Faires these possibilities has gotten even more visual than ever.

The result is clear. Everyone can join, learn and build.

We are all makers!