What do you get when you combine Halloween, a chronic tinkerer, a classic video game, and the internet? Pumpktris! That’s right, a fully functioning Tetris jack-o-lantern made with LED lights with the stem working as a functioning joystick.
The playable pumpkin is the creation of Nathan from hahabird.com who says he came up with the idea thanks to his own scribbled inspiration from last year. “One of my habits is to write down all the crazy, fleeting ideas I have, then go back to review later rather than judging right off the bat, or even worse, forgetting them,” Nathan writes on his blog. “Earlier in the month I was looking through that idea notepad and found ‘Make Tetris Pumpkins’ from sometime last year. My original plan had been to make forms to shape pumpkins into Tetris pieces as they grew, then stack them together for Halloween. Since Halloween was only a few weeks away and it was too late to start growing pumpkins, I thought ‘Why not make a pumpkin you can play Tetris on instead?’” And thus Pumpktris was born!
Here’s a video of the gourd game in action:
Interested in making your own Pumpkin Tetris jack-o-lantern? Nathan shares detailed instructions on how he built his on his blog, including numerous photographs along the way. Here are the final tallies from the project:
By the numbers:
• 128 LEDs
• 256 pieces of heat-shrink tubing
• 313 solder joints
• around twelve hours of work over a week and a half
• 9800-point high score so far
A commenter expressed his admiration for the finished product and asked Nathan for some tips on getting started with electronic tinkering. Here’s Nathan’s response:
I’d recommend something like this “Getting Started with Arduino” kit from Make. It includes the Arduino and enough LEDs, resistors, and switches to get started. You can find everything separately for cheaper, but if you figure in your time and energy to track it all down, it’s a wash. Be sure you add the “Getting Started With Arduino” book, too.
Your first project will probably be something super-simple like just making an LED blink, then you’ll add a switch to control how fast it blinks, and bit by bit you’ll build up to bigger and more exciting things. The funny thing is, though, that even making that LED blink the first time is pretty darn exciting. Don’t worry too much about frying the Arduino—they’re very robust, and by the time you’ve worked up to a project that might damage it, you’ll hopefully have had enough experience not to.
For more general electronics theory, I liked the “Make: Electronics” book by Charles Platt. It presents everything in an easy-to-understand progression. You don’t need it to get started on the basic Arduino stuff, though.
Next up for Nathan? “Porting Halo to a watermelon.” (“No not really.”)