Hardware ladder game

Eben and I are away from the office for a few days while we attend Poptech in Reykjavík. I’ll be doing my best to keep things updated here in-between attending panel discussions, meeting some Icelandic educators, hackers and Raspberry Pi enthusiasts, and visiting the magma chamber of a dormant volcano called Þríhnúkagígur (try saying that after one too many glasses of Brennivín) in one of those window-cleaners’ cradle things. I am starting to think that I may have been a little foolhardy in agreeing to this. I get vertigo at the top of the escalator in Leicester Square tube station.

While I am contemplating plummeting window-cleaners’ cradles and the usefulness of ladders, here is an easy but very satisfying little hardware project from Gordon Henderson at drogon.net. It’s another great way to start getting to grips with the Raspberry Pi’s general purpose input/output (GPIO) pins, and you’ll end up with a little physical LED game representing a climb out of a well (or a 400ft magma chamber) using a ladder – you have to press a button to climb the ladder, but only when the LEDs are flashing, or you’ll slide back down to the bottom again. Gordon used the SK Pang starter kit for Raspberry Pi, which we rather like; it comes with a Raspberry Pi cover with breadboard (breadboard, for beginners, is a prototyping board you can plug components into without using solder), LEDs, jumper wires, some miniature switches, some resistors and a 16-bit I²C IO expander. You can use the kit, or buy the parts individually from your local electronics shop.

Gordon’s hardware instructions are here – and there’s a video too. (See below.) Software and a theory of operation are yet to come, so keep an eye on his website (I’ll add links here when they’re available).