Reaction Game with micro:bit

I built a simple game for Brown Dog Gadgets which will test your reaction time. The basic concept is this: A series of LEDs will light up in sequence, and when the fourth LED is lit you need to press the button. If you time it right you’ll get a point! When you get 25 points you’ll win the game! But wait! Each time you press the button successfully the game will speed up… and if you press the button at the wrong time you’re score will go down.

It’s a fun and easy build for the classroom or at home, and once again we’ve got a micro:bit controlling things. (Though it would be very easy to port this to an Arduino or another microcontroller.) We’re building on LEGO because that’s how the Crazy Circuits system works. We sometimes joke that these are PCBs or “Plastic Circuit Boards”.

After creating the Reaction Game (7 Segment Version) we came up with two variations, one that uses the build-in LED matrix on the micro:bit instead of our 7 Segment Display (the Reaction Game (LED Version)) and then we got even more minimal and built a paper circuit version with even less parts, the Reaction Game (Paper Version).

As always, we’re publishing these resources for those who purchase our kits, and also for everyone else. You are free to take the ideas and run with them, make your own thing, and while credit is always nice, supporting Brown Dog Gadgets by purchasing things helps us to continue offering these resources. I mean, in the last year I’ve published over 100 guides and templates for freeeeeee….. We appreciate your support!


100 Guides for Brown Dog Gadgets

Back in March 2020 things were… weird, right? But that’s when I started writing guides for Brown Dog Gadgets. The guides and resources are free for anyone to use, and we hope that people like the guides, find them useful, and support us by purchasing from the BDG shop.

One year of projects! While you should definitely check out the whole Project Database, if you want to see all of my projects they’re listed on my profile page.

I added screen shots below showing them all. Oh, there’s a few I didn’t write, and just updated it, but there are a few new ones not listed here, so it’s still over 100. :)

The projects range from paper circuits, switches, greeting cards, no-sew wearables circuits, Arduino projects, and lots of micro:bit projects. I’ve learned a lot of new things along the way, and I think I’ve become pretty good at writing guides! For each guide I usually do the writing (copy and code), illustrations, photography, and video. It’s a great mix that covers many of my skills, and I like doing it.

And while I’m not great at math, 100 guides in about a year is an average of two guides per week. Not bad! Here’s to the next year of guides.


Tofu Recipe (Sort of…)

This is sort of a recipe. It’s pretty loose, but someone asked for it, so I’m gonna write it up.

I got a block of tofu at the store. Probably firm, or extra firm. I don’t remember.

I took it out of the refrigerator, opened it up, drained the water, and then put a towel on the counter, put paper towel on top of it, then put the tofu down, added more paper towel on top of it, and then put weight on it to press it down to drain more water.

I grabbed our toaster oven pan and put it on top of the tofu, then put our tea kettle on top of that since it had some water in it and a little bit of weight. You can use plates, but sometimes the tofu causes things on top to slide off, so… whatever works for you. Let that sit for a bit… maybe an hour? I probably forgot about it.

Remove the weight, get rid of the wet paper towel, the wet tea towel, and all the jazz. Then cut the tofu into pieces. What size? I don’t know… look at the photo I guess. Not too large, but not too small. (More on that later.)

Next I got a big plastic Tupperware-style container, large enough to lay all the pieces into without stacking them. Before I put the pieces in I added soy sauce, some sesame oil, a little bit of rice vinegar, then more soy sauce…

Next came the spices… Here’s a few I remember: smoked paprika, cayenne, chili powder, garlic powder, pepper, and… whatever else I had that seemed like it would fit. Dump a bunch into that soy sauce mix and swirl it around.

Put the tofu pieces into the container, flip them until all sides can soak up the liquid, then sprinkle more spices on the top and stick it in the refrigerator. Come back an hour or more later when you remember you forgot about it. It can sit a long time… whatever.

Now get some corn starch and dump a bunch on a plate. (That shit is messy! It goes everywhere!) Okay, take the tofu pieces out and roll them in the corn starch, covering each side, nice and thick is good. It’ll absorb into the tofu, that’s cool.

Do one piece, put it on a clean plate, surface, whatever, and then do the next, and do them all. Cool.

Once you’ve got them all done, put some oil in a big frying pan. I used olive oil, but use whatever you like/got. Heat that oil and put the tofu pieces in!

Use some tongs, but be careful not to tear the pieces, and check them for crispy done-ness on the bottom, then flip and do the other sides. If you use enough oil you can probably just do the top and bottom, otherwise do the sides as well. They should look browned and crispy, but not burned. Unless you like burned food, like Milt does. (Or did. I don’t know.)

When done take each piece out of the pan and place on new clean paper towel. Once you have them all on paper towel put more paper towel on top and blot out a bunch of oil. Sometimes it’ll stick to the paper towel so be watch out for that. Just press lightly I guess.


Oh, the size of the pieces… if you make them too large, you don’t get enough crispy outside part and you get too much inside part per piece. If you do them too small it’s a pain to coat them, fry them, etc… So pick a good middle group.

Sorry kids, this is the best I can do for a recipe… at least you didn’t have to read about how I’m a busy (cat) mom on the go who is always trying new recipes. Apologies for constantly switching tense between past and present whatever. Hopefully Dana won’t read this.


Recent Illustrations

Here’s a dump of a bunch illustrations I’ve created recently. These were all created for the Brown Dog Gadgets Project Database. I’m still learning new Illustrator techniques, so that’s good. Enjoy the drawings!


Bit Board & micro:bit Powered Step Sequencer

The first guide I published for Brown Dog Gadgets was a step sequencer using their Arduino-compatible Robotics Board back in April 2020. You may also remember my WMSE sculpture that was a step sequencer, and I never did a write-up on it, but I also built a step sequencer for an interactive museum exhibit years ago, which was kid-tough and focused on sequencing as a form of programming.

Anyway, since it was nearly a year from the first Crazy Circuits step sequencer I think I should revisit it as a micro:bit project. So here’s a guide to building a Bit Board & micro:bit Powered Step Sequencer.

The code was written using Microsoft MakeCode for micro:bit, a block-based programming environment, which also supports Javascript and Python in text modes. It’s been interesting working in a block-based programming system, and I’ve gotten used to it in the past six months. I do really like the fact that you can toggle between block view and text view.

I’ve got a lot more micro:bit projects I’ve worked on in recent months, which you can check out in the Brown Dog Gadgets Project Database.