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    element14's The Ben Heck Show

    Join the Ben Heck team every week for amazing hacks! Watch them build and mod community-inspired projects using electronics!

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    The team revisits the Logic Board Game, which they previously scrapped, and an idea Karen suggested about using toggle switches. While Ben did not see much use for toggle switches at the time, he’s sees a way to revive the project by making a Decimal Hex Binary Electronic Quiz game.  Separately, Felix has a digital abacus project that he has in mind. 



    Felix is doing a project similar to the one Ben is doing by making a Soroban, a Japanese word for an abacus. The design he’s using as his basis has one row of beads on the top and four rows of beads on the bottom.  He gives an example of how the abacus works for anyone that does not know how it works. He shows how decimals, tenths, and hundredths are represented. To represent this electronically Felix uses tact switches with LEDs.  He does this with a proto board and some headers.  He connects an Adafruit 32U4 which he decides to use for its feather wings (breakout board).


    The feather wing has an LED driver and four alphanumeric displays on it.  The headers connect to the board and the display, while shift registers are added to drive the LED. The tact switches are used to represent beads. When a bead is registered it will light up an LED and the value of the column will be displayed on the alphanumeric display. Momentary toggle switches will be used to reset the column so it can go back to zero.  A rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack is used to connect to the Feather Wings.


    Ben is ready to wire up the electronic quiz game.  He utilizes two sets of shift registers. Input shift registers to look at the switches and output shift registers which will drive the three segment LED display. Ben hooks up the input shift registers for the eight toggle switches, the reset button, and the two mode select switches. He will then run power and data to the two upper shift registers which will send data out to the LED display. There will be eight lines for the segments and decimal point and three lines that select which display is currently being drawn. All three are drawn rapidly to get the persistence of vision effect that they’re all on creating a solid display. Once everything is wired up, Ben gets to work on programming the Flash Hex game using AtmelStudio.  Meanwhile Felix does his program using Arduino code and utilizing the K develop program to edit it. Felix prefers using a text editor to working with the Arduino IDE.