If you never got to play the 1981 version of Donkey Kong—the original title in the Nintendo series—you missed out on some straightforward-yet-addictive eight-bit fun. Luckily for you, Martin Raynsford constructed a mechanical version of the game using wood, 15 ball bearings, an NES, and an Arduino board.
The analog Donkey Kong game is one of a series of creations: Each day, Martin posts a project on his blog that you can make yourself (you can buy the parts from him if you prefer). This project is largely made from laser-cut wood parts; it includes leaping Mario and Donkey Kong figures, tracks for the balls (which act as barrels), and boxes on each corner (which also happen to hide the corners and holes in the back wall).
Two servomotors control Mario—one makes him jump while the other turns him left or right. The servos get instructions from the Arduino board, which receives data from the NES and the controller, and decides what to do next. Pressing the A button on the controller makes Mario jump, and the direction pad turns him. It takes about half a second for Mario to jump up and come back down, so there’s plenty of time for him to dodge barriers.
Mario sits on a magnetic mount, made up of two parts: One half partially rotates so he can move around, while the other keeps everything in place below the track. The track is sloped so the balls roll down towards Mario, but a tiny motor keeps the balls rolling in a controlled fashion all the way to the bottom of the game. Behind the game at the bottom is a catchment area for 12 balls.
Enough talk. Let's cut to video.
Martin had to remove a few features—like CNC control—from the first version of his creation. He hopes to build a second, more detailed version for next year’s UK Maker Faire, though, so this mechanical game has potential to be pretty amazing.
In the meantime, if you live near Leicester in the UK and like what Martin’s done here, he is selling everything in the project, sans Arduino and NES, for £80. If Martin can't find a buyer, the game will be scrapped for parts. Please save it!
This story, "Analog Donkey Kong game is just as addictive as the original" was originally published by TechHive.