In the spring of 2017 I wrote a grant for some Circuit Playground boards. My hope was to increase engagement in my classroom by having students program games on real hardware. At $20 apiece, I thought they were a great deal, and they had the necessary hardware to create games like Tug-o-War.

Then, in 2017 I attended the ASTE conference where I missed a presentation by Mark Proch and Chris Van Wyhe on using ATtiny85s in the classroom. Luckily a friend attended the presentation and provided me with a link to the website they used: Although I was not interested in "hacking notebooks," I immediately saw the value in learning to use an ATtiny85 for small projects (you can buy them from Digi-Key for about $1 if you buy in bulk). I racked my brain trying to think of ways to develop something similar to the Circuit Playground. After a couple failed attempts, I eventually realized I needed more pins (the ATtiny85 only has 5 usable pins). So, I purchased an ATtiny84 (which has 11 usable pins) and designed a programmer to make transferring code to it easy enough that middle school students would be able to use it too.

ATtiny84/45 Programmer Bill of Materials (Less than $8 a piece if you build 10 or more)

Simon Says
With an ATtiny84 you can do all kinds of cool things like make a Simon Says game.

More info coming within the next couple months.

The great thing about these projects is they're really cheap. If you buy parts in bulk you can get the cost down to less than $7 per game.
Michael Backus,
Apr 1, 2018, 10:21 PM
Michael Backus,
Apr 1, 2018, 10:29 PM