Benicia Makerspace brought our laser maze exhibit to Oakland on Sunday for the East Bay Mini Maker Faire. This event draws thousands of attendees from across the Bay area to discover and learn about the joys of making and our laser maze was one of the stars of the show. The line of people wating to try out the exhibit was at least 30 people deep for the entire length of the event, and everyone left with a big smile on their face.
The maze is setup like a timed obstical course where players need to work their way through criss crossing laser beams as quickly as possible while trying to reach a glowing red button that will stop the timer and end their run. The player’s time is displayed at the start of the maze and every time they touch a laser beam they add 5 seconds to their total time. Both children and adults had fun trying to get the fastest time or the fewest faults as they worked quickly and tried to figure out the best strategy for completing the maze.
The exhibit is more than just a fun game. It was built at Benicia Makerspace, by Jim Kennon and Aaron Newcomb, and has gone through several iterations over the past few years. The maze is built entirely with off-the-shelf components and hardware which demonstrate what you can achieve these days making use of inexpinsive electronics and a lot of inginuity. The maze uses several popular development boards including Raspberry Pi for the game logic and display, Arduino for laser modulation and ESP8266 for frequency detection. The lasers are common green laser pointers that you can find online, and the detectors are simple solar cells taken from cheap landscaping lights that can be found at dollar stores. Conduit, pop-up tents and tarps make up the enclosure.
This was the second year we brought this exhibit to EBMMF, and we couldn’t have done it without the help of some great volunteers. Huge thanks to Jim Kennon, Frank Harvey, Dave Frohwein, Sarah Swafford and Michael Johnson for showing up early, staying late, setting things up, tearing it all down and helping run the exhibit during the event.