Monopoly in Lights

Enriching the Electric Company

The Best-Laid Plans

So having “helped” build a lighted board before, what do I want to get out of a newer board now? Well, there were several problems in the original that I’d like to overcome, and there are many features that simply weren’t within what we could reasonably accomplish given the technology that now seem possible.

So, technology aside, what were the big design flaws last time around?  Here are the ones that seemed most obvious to me.

  • Light leakage between spaces
  • Dark areas at the top and bottom of each space (where the wood support for the track blocked light)
  • Uneven space sizes/shapes
  • Poor felt quality/poor logo quality

There’s plenty of other problems as well, both in original concept and execution, but I’ll let those pass.  It was something fun for my Dad and me to do together.  I actually have a newborn boy (which is why this build is going to take much longer than it otherwise might need to) but I just can’t bear to put the idea on a shelf for as long as it would take for him to understand and enjoy what’s going on.  (Once he’s older, I’ll show this to him and ask him what other ideas he’d like to see come to life!)

With those problems in mind, what new features are possible given the current state of technology?

  • Multicolor LED space lighting
  • Independent property/color bar lighting
  • Not having a huge bank of 40 switches to control everything
  • Not using electrical tape to secure wire connections

An ambitious project to be sure, and the most complicated build I’ve done to date.  (I suppose the IIDX controller was pretty complex, but this will probably be more difficult even than that.)  So what materials and techniques shall we use to accomplish these goals?

  • Solid black acrylic space dividers to reduce/eliminate light leakage and provide visible lines
  • Translucent white acrylic panels for each game space to diffuse light evenly
  • Thin or transparent supports for the spaces to eliminate dark edges
  • RGB LEDs for each space to provide a wide variety of possible colors
  • Independent white LEDs on each colored property bar and the In Jail space
  • Microcontroller brain to run everything using a more limited control set
  • LED driver ICs so we don’t need to have 160 or so individual digital outputs from the microcontroller

Several problems are not yet figured out, but I’m assuming I’ll be able to tackle those once I figure out what they are.  Should be fun (and frustrating)!

April 14, 2012 - Posted by | Construction, Electronics, Microcontroller

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