Every Halloween brings a new batch of creative takes on the traditional Jack-o-lantern, but very few of these actually try to give a pumpkin a technological enhancement. This year, one programmer decided to change that by hacking a pumpkin into a working version of Tetris by using a grid of LED lights and converting the stem into a functional joystick.
Tetris has been recreated in quite a variety of formats before, including on a multistory building, but this is probably the first one built inside a pumpkin, let alone any other type of gourd. The game display is comprised of 128 LEDs, which were used to construct two 8x8 matrices, each connected to an I2C backpack, a battery pack, and an Arduino controller. Since there aren't any programs available that could run a game of Tetris with his homemade LED grid, the designer, Nathan, had to program the whole game from scratch.
After trying out a few pumpkins unsuccessfully, he eventually found one with the size and shape he needed to fit the whole grid on the front. The next step was to drill holes for each LED, carve squares around them for that pixelated look, and fit all the wiring into a large hole on the back. Finally, he added the master stroke to the whole creation, converting the pumpkin stem into a functional joystick which controls the game while still remaining attached to the pumpkin. The result is a pumpkin that can play a full game of Tetris, complete with difficulty levels and high score tracking.
So far, there have been a few minor glitches from some shorts in the wiring, which should probably be expected when you rig some electronics into damp pumpkin flesh. The designer has noted that having the joystick on top can be awkward to play with. It's a sure bet though that this pumpkin easily trumps all the others in the neighborhood.
Check out the video below to see some Halloween revelers enjoying a few rounds of "Pumpktris."