Snack 'N' Hack


How to Hack a Lights Out – Part 1
November 24, 2009, 4:08 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I bought the Lights Out game, standard 1995 edition, from my local Goodwill.  The Goodwill is always full of new parts and inspiration.

My brother is DJ Nigel One and he needs a good Midi Controller for his new project.  When I saw the Lights Out game it reminded me of the monome.  I got it home and started the tear down.  After I cut it all to pieces I was left with this:

The top board has an LED Matrix and Membrane Button Matrix.  The Lower Board has the IC and what I would later discover to be the LED driver circuit.

As you can tell, my workbench is very organized.  My MultiMeter Jimmi can be seen to the left.  The next problem I faced was analyzing the logic of the matrix. I stared at the two separated boards and my stomach filled with buckshot. Things like VCC, Gnd, and Pin functions would have been much easier to analyze with the boards connected and the game running.  Oh well.

If I, in my infinite wisdom, were to design these boards I would have put voltage on pin 1.  Does that make any sort of scientific sense? No.  However, when I gave pin 1 5V, nothing blew up, but nothing happened either.

If Pin 1 was 5V then one of these other pins had to take the circuit to ground and DO SOMETHING.  With one aligator clip attached to Pin 1 and 5V I gently began stroking the other pins with an Aligator clip taken to ground.  I discovered that somewhere in the middle of my sweep one lonely LED would light.  AHAH – Take two of those suckers to ground and you light up an LED on the matrix.

I will spare you the agonizing details of the hours I spent watching House on Hulu and analyzing the LED matrix, but eventually a pattern emerged and I was able to put together the following sheet of pin combinations to light the LEDs.

Lights Out LED Matrix Pinout (Note – Pin 1 should probably be 4.5V – I used 5V without a problem – so far.)

Pin 9 + Pin 2

Pin 9 + Pin 3

Pin 9 + Pin 4 Pin 9 + Pin 5 Pin 9 + Pin 6

Pin 9 + Pin 7

Pin 9 + Pin 8

Pin 10 + Pin 2

Pin 10 + Pin 3

Pin 10 + Pin 4

Pin 10 + Pin 5

Pin 10 + Pin 6

Pin 10 + Pin 7 Pin 10 + Pin 8 Pin 11 + Pin 2

Pin 11 + Pin 3

Pin 11 + Pin 4 Pin 11 + Pin 5 Pin 11 + Pin 6 Pin 11 + Pin 7

Pin 11 + Pin 8

Pin 12 + Pin 2

Pin 12 + Pin 3

Pin 12 + Pin 4

Pin 12 + Pin 5

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