Ever since I discovered John Conway’s “Game of life” I have been obsessed about the interesting patterns of such a simple algorithm. A few weeks ago I decided to design a USB toy capable of running the game of life on a tiny 8×8 LED Matrix. This is what I came up with.

USB Stick.264

I think the gadget turned out pretty good. I will  launch a crowd-funding campaign this week so I can produce a small run of these.

Here is a video of the mockup

Since most of the stuff I used is easy to find and not very expensive, I decided to share the diagrams and the code so you can build your own Game of Life. The Arduino code is available here. I got the parts from adafruit for $17 + shipping (I didn’t buy an Arduino)

After wiring it, your project should look like this

howToWire

Upload the Arduino sketch and repeat for the next 5 hours: Stare, push button, stare, push button, stare, push button.

The cool thing about this project is that you can pause the evolution by pushing the rotary encoder. Then you can go through each step (“tick” for those who know their automaton) until you find a stable universe or extinction. Currently there is no backwards evolution but I am planning to implement it on the next update using memory to store the last 10 Universes.

Please leave any questions and comments.