Ye Olde History Squares…FINISHED


This post was co-authored by myself and Laura.

So far only the 1st stage is finished.

We hope you had a pleasant journey with us from beginning to end of our Ye Olde History Squares project. The first stage is officially finished. That’s right folks Laura and I began with a big idea and ended up completing a pretty awesome project, albeit in a slightly toned down version from our first imaginings.

Note: A great huge big thanks to the awesome CHRISTIAN for helping us with all of the coding and translating it into English that we could actually understand. We know the glitches were bugging you but the program WORKED!! SO yay, thank you!


This was our original idea:

A grid split up into squares and already filled with historical Lego figurines (made out of lego possibly? or styrofoam and felt?). A sensor would recognize when contestants point/pushes down on a specific historical figure/Lego figure. The questions were to be displayed on an LCD screen, contestants would push button A or B corresponding to what they think would be the correct answer.  If they answer correctly, an LED light in the square would light up in green.  If they were wrong the LED would light up red and the square would still be available.

Positives – we get to use a multitude of King and Queen lego pieces (already acquired). IE Henry the 8th in the middle surrounded by his 6 wives, Bloody Mary and Elizabeth 1st.

A very simple example of our initial idea.

Fast Forward 2 months

SUCCESS, SUCCESS, SUCCESS! And it feels so good.

But we still have some adjustments and bugs to figure out

Our Final Project. We know you're jealous of our AWESOME castle.
Photo Credit: Adrian Petry

1. The questions are now displayed on a computer screen vs. an LCD screen

  • we are simple Grad students. If we can make our lives easier by just displaying the questions on the computer through Processing then OF COURSE that’s what we’ll do.  Don’t judge us, be proud that we think so logically.
  • We also made an AESTHETIC CHOICE and went with a computer screen vs an LCD screen. We can make the words and background look prettier on the computer.

2. The first question is automatically displayed on the screen. Player one presses either key “T” or “F” to answer.  If the answer is true, the light will turn green and if the answer is false the light will turn red.   If the player gets the answer right the screen will display “BOO YAA”. But if they’re wrong they get a big fat “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

  • YEAH YEAH YEAH, we know that the LED should really react and respond to whether or not the Player got the question right but IT’S A BUG that needs to be debugged. In a perfect world, this would happen. But it’s not a perfect world so for now Laura and I are quite happy with the LED merely indicating whether the answer is TRUE or FALSE.

3. If a player gets the question right, they get to place one of their corresponding Lego men (who are quite fierce, if I do say so myself) into the box of their choosing. If they are wrong, it is Player 2’s turn to answer a question.

  • The lego pieces aren’t attached to a TouchShield that reacts to human touch (DUH! hence the name “TOUCHshield”).  This is what would’ve made our original idea of touching the Lego man to get a question work. However, the TouchShield wouldn’t respond to a Lego man and there was already too much coding we would have to do so we simplified (This is us thinking practically like the Grad students we are. Our teachers would be so proud with our common sensical-ness.)

Well, obviously we would love to one day actually program the whole project so that the Tic-Tac-Toe board responds to touch rather than just being a stationary object.  One day (when we conquer the world – or maybe just the museum world) it would be nice to go back to our original idea and have a totally interactive Tic-Tac-Toe board complete with all the lights and dazzle.

Doing our presentation. Explaining glitches.
Photo Credit: Adrian Petry

We would have to do the following:

  • Find some way to make the TouchShield (which already has 9 interactive touch pads) bigger.  It is a really small device (measuring about 2 ” x 2″) and so we would probably have to do some soldering to create a larger object that works like the touch pads.  The best way to do this is to connect the touch pad with coins (using wire) which then becomes a touch pad.
  • Once the coins become the makeshift 9-square touchpad then we can begin to develop a Lego Tic-Tac-Toe board around them.
  • LEDs.  Place a red AND a green light into each square that would indicate whether the player’s answer was right. Obviously this would mean some complex coding to do the following: if Player 1’s answer = the answer to the corresponding question, then LED turns green ELSE the LED turns red. (this makes sense even if it doesn’t seem that way)
  • Program the questions to be displayed in an LCD screen. This can be forgone because the LCD screen can only display up to 32 characters. So it might just make sense to continue displaying the questions on a computer screen so that we have more space to make the questions more detailed and interesting. This also gives us the opportunity to make the game interface more fancy.

Working hurriedly to fix a minor bug we found.

ARGH!! That little bugger.


Sadly, all good things must come to and end.  I think it is safe to say for both of us that this semester and project have very much tested our computer capabilities and made us re-evalute how computer literate we actually are (turns out….moderate i would say).  Knowing how to effectively and proficiently navigate Facebook and twitter does not qualify someone to be a programming goddess.  Still, we challenged ourselves.  We had a plan, and even though its not as grandiose as the idea was in our imaginations 3 months ago, we still produced a product that neither would ever have thought possible at the beginning of this Masters program journey.  AND, we got to craft (which was a struggle and always will be for Laura….seriously, it stresses her out)!!


LEARNING IS FUN!  The moral of this story, try.  Even if you fail, you’ve tried.  And in doing so, you’ve already learned more than you did when you started.

Thanks for following us on this journey…. and now, we must say goodbye and board our ships to the undying lands.  What? we’re really excited about “The Hobbit”… you should be too!

The End! THE HOBBIT, in theatres December 2012. *plug*

BUH BYE!!!!!

Laura Piticco & Sushima Naraine

Final Coding pt 1

Final Coding pt 2

Final Coding pt 3

Final Coding pt 4

2 responses »

  1. Really a wonderful job guys! I might suggest you upload or link this blog to one of the several Lego fan based sites. Lego regularly trolls these sites for new product ideas and your project really fits in well with their educational strategy and their Arduino-like Lego products.

    I thought it was a good use of physical and interactive game play, which could be translated into larger exhibits both external of the museum space and internal. I’d like to see this super sized for Dundas Square, using one of the digital boards to read out questions and answers, with massive Lego guys being move by teams of people……..a great art exhibit as well!

    Anyways wonderful work and very inspirational!



    • Thanks for the awesome idea Michael. Laura is a little more knowledgeable about the Lego side of it but we’ll definitely look out.
      And yes a mega sized Lego Square board in Dundas Square would be a very good marketing tool for both Lego AND a cultural institution if they used it this way

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