Cyclepong - 2007/8

The game Pong really founded the video game industry that we know today. It's been reworked many times, but there is always room for one more attempt.

I wanted to make a game that would be fun and physical - break away from the normal screen/controller interaction. I chose to modify two old exercise bikes (from a local car boot sale) as controllers. Ride forward and your bat moves up, ride backwards and your bat moves down.

Pong bike
On each bike I fitted a stripped Microsoft ball mouse to a modified speedo cable. A drive belt turns one of the rollers from inside the mouse when the bike's wheel turns. I love those old Microsoft mice - you can use them for anything. Cycle mouse
We need some way to start the game. Originally I thought about old-syle arcade buttons. Having thought about this a bit I changed my mind and decided it would be much more fun to be able to ring the bike's bell to start the game. I modified two bells to contain microswitches (bottom of this picture) to detect when they are rung.
The two bikes are interfaced to a PC via a special AVR circuit that maps two PS/2 mouse signals on to an RS232 serial connection. This is a modification of the electronics used for the Three Blind Mice project. There is also a USB connector, but this just provides power.

The software is a modified version of Tpong based on the Allegro graphics library. Tpong is a nice implementation of Pong. It looks neat and modern without moving too far from the original. There were a few bugs I fixed and I also changed the scoring system.
Black box
Cyclepong has been a big hit. It's easy to grasp and fun to play - see the video below. It has already been to the Dorkbot London Christmas special. I also hope to take it to a few festivals this summer.

I have a few ideas to develop the game further. Instead of computer generated sounds I would like to have real bells and chimes making the noise. I also have ideas for big score displays and special lighting effects for the winning player.

To find out what happened next to Cyclepong (not exactly what I predicted above) go to the Cyclepong 2.0 page.
Cyclepong model

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