The Challenge
Team Mini
FLICKER Challenge

At 1600 on October 30, 2009, TeamMini was given the following assignment:

In eighteen days and with an impossible budget of $150 USD, create a full-functioning, robust, interactive, electro-mechanical portrayal of a scene or image from pop-culture.

Here are the official project specifications.

Our Strategy
From the beginning, our team agreed that we wanted a project that completed all the requirements in the project instructions, was fun to build as well as play, and was simple to implement in the allotted eighteen days.
As our project evolved, we similarly evolved these goals. We continually simplified our design and allowed for quick adjustments to be made with minimal hassle. For instance, we added potentiometers in our circuitry to adjust start and end points of our servo motor movement. Similarly, our code includes a defs.h file for easy changes to thresholds, pin, and port values.
Our tacit decision to split up the project among team members and always have someone working on the project in some way was quite crucial to our strategy. As a result, we could always see progress being made on the project, which was quite motivating. This also worked well for us since we were continually in communication about what we had achieved, how we were progressing, and what help we would need.
Our FLICKER Functionality

In both Peter Collinson’s and F. Gary Gray’s renditions of The Italian Job, two images in particular stand out: the Mini Cooper, racing through city streets, and the safe-cracker, patiently feeling for the next tumbler click open.  TeamMini based its FLICKER on these two key images from the films. 

The Italian Job FLICKER offers two distinct game functions: a driving scene and a safe-cracking module.  Here are brief descriptions:

Starting the FLICKER:

The FLICKER can be started by pressing the “Force Start” button located to the right of the steering wheel.  However, the game can also be started by receiving a pulse into its optical input; this feature allows many FLICKERS to be daisy-chained together (for relay events of course!).  When a new game is started, the ‘Ignition’ button (located to the left of the steering wheel) flashes in time with a buzzer, the ‘Locked’ light on the safe door is lit, and the safe is physically locked.

Display of the Passage of Time:

When a new game is started, the fuel gage to the right of the steering wheel rises to ‘Full’.  Once the player strikes the ‘Ignition’ button to start the Mini, the fuel indicator begins to creep toward ‘Empty’, which signifies the end of the 45-second game.

The Driving Scene:

At the start of a new game, the player must strike the ‘Ignition’ button to gain control of the Mini Cooper on the track; it is controlled via the steering wheel and the forward and reverse buttons located directly on the wheel.  At this point, the Bank lamp begins to flash to signal to the user to drive toward this building; the steering wheel also begins to vibrate to signal to player that the Mini is running.  The player can choose any number of ways to get to the Bank, but once the Mini is parked at the Bank, the steering wheel ceases to vibrate and the player loses control of the Mini.  It’s time to crack a safe!

The Safe Module:

Once the player clears the driving scene, the ‘First Stage’ and ‘Spin CW’ lamps on the safe begin to flash.  The player must spin the dial slowly clockwise (CW) until he hears a ping and feels and light strike against the dial.  Now he must pause until the ‘First Stage’ lamp stays on and the ‘Second Stage’ lamp begins to flash.  The user will repeat this two more times; turning the dial counter-clockwise when working on the second stage and clockwise again when working on the third stage.  When the second stage is cleared, the ‘First Stage’ and ‘Second Stage’ lamps are solid and the ‘Locked’ light flashes.  If the player overshoots and turns the dial too far, all of the safe lights flash and the player must start over at the first stage.  However, when all three stages are cleared, all lights on the safe door turn off except the ‘Unlocked’ lamp; the door is now unlocked.  The player must open the door, reach in it and take his booty, then close the door to finally win the game.

Failure and Success:
When the driving scene and safe module are cleared within the allotted 45 seconds, a solenoid pings the safe dial ten times; this sounds like a small bell.  However, if the game is not won when time expires, a buzzer sounds.  At this point, the ‘Force Start’ button or a signal into the optical input will both reset the FLICKER and start a new game.

Blake English | Nina Joshi | Peter Miller

last updated 12.3.09