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    element14's The Ben Heck Show

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    Logic Gate Board Game
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    In this week's episode the team considers a library from Microchip and how the game will work. Microchip has a library that allows you to drive an LCD glass with just a microcontroller, no need for an external controller or extra RAM.  They also discuss gamification, make some diagrams of how they want to space up the screen, what goes on the screen, where to put the plugs, and figure out how the puzzle is going to work on the screen. Have advice on how gamification will work?  Let us know in the comments below!



    Ben attempts to use the PIC32 MZ starter kit as a mass storage device with a computer.  Acting as a mass storage device, more puzzles could be added just by dragging and dropping from a computer. There are multiple USB ports on the end; there’s one if it’s a device and one if it’s a host such as your computer.  Ben want’s the microcontroller to act as a device like a USB thumb drive.  There’s also a programming header and a UART with a USB converter.  The hope is that there will be a single USB port on the logic gate board game that can be used for charging as well as transferring data.


    Ben goes over programming the microcontroller using MPLAB harmony, which includes a good number of examples in its library.  The problem is it doesn’t really tell you how to use them.  What they can do is set up an area of NVM non-volatile memory, the flash that holds the program, and set it up as a small file system.  This allows them to access it from within their program to get files. The USB could also use it as a file system so the user can put files there. Although, they may want to have separate file systems so there’s an area of memory that a person can’t destroy just plugging it into their computer. Getting examples to work isn’t that difficult, the real trick is combining them all.  This includes some kind of sound, LCD, USB, and file system.


    After aligning the LCD screen he sets up another NOR gate using the MPLAB IDE. They need to do more work on the gamification and how the screen is going to be set up but if they can combine the schematic editor with a graphics driver and create a markup language that can store puzzles in as small space as possible, they’re at a good jumping off point.


    Karen helps Ben with the gamification using Logic Gate pieces cut out to scale. The further they get away from the Hackmanjii concept, the more difficult it becomes to grasp the gamification.  They discuss giving the game the ability to drive real external devices. Karen slaps Ben with a reality check as things veer off course and they struggle to figure out a purpose for the game.