This is a Simon game played on mini trampolines: the trampolines light up in a pattern, and the player jumps in response. This is actually Revenge of Trampoline Simon, I made the first version a few years ago for the Cyberbuss Costume Ball, but the police made me shut it down after like an hour. And not for the obvious reasons: they decided that of all the things going on at that party, the big fire hazard was the extension chord running to my Simon game. Boobs.

Anyway, that version was somewhat limited since I wired directly into an actual Simon game, connecting relays to the outputs to trigger my lights. It worked great, but it gave me no flexibility: if I wanted to change anything about the gameplay at all (for example, give people a bit more time to respond to the pattern), no dice.

Hence Revenge of Trampoline Simon, which I coded from scratch. Now I can set every aspect of the play, from how long the pattern is, to how fast the computer shows you it, to the various delays.


Thanks Glen for shooting these videos at our last party. The lighting is a little low but you can get the idea.

video 1 (me almost winning)

video 2 (teamwork)



Trampoline Simon is back from the 2006 Maker's Faire!

This just in: Simon discussed in a article.

Whoa that was fun. Two days of the geekiest people you've ever seen and the people who love and/or hate them wandering around in a daze of bemused amazement. And of course kids, lots and lots of kids, all of whom gravitated to Simon like Steve Wozniak to a Segway.

In hindsight it seems ridiculous, but I really didn't anticipate kids using this. Most of my toys are for adults, but I guess there's something about kids and trampolines and lights:


There's lots of different factors when making stuff for kids. For starters they're incredibly rough on things, and they broke a couple of trampline sensors in no time with their wild jumps. I called Jameco to get more 2" lever switches, which are otherwise impossible to get locally, but they were closed for some mysterious holiday. Hmm.... So I put up my "back in 10 minutes" sign and drove to a hardware store to look for a solution. Stovetop grease pans! Perfect! You can see them here mounted all nice and tidy over the sensors to protect them, worked great, and they even have little holes to let me adjust the sensors:


Every now and again an adult would play, but it was rare:


So I dealt with the kids, some of whom weren't even heavy enough to register a jump on the trampolines. I wound up putting up a sign saying "You must be this heavy to go on this ride: 70 pounds". Heres the poster they put in front of my "exhibit", with my modifications:


Here's some god awful footage someone shot and uploaded to youtube. This first one became a "featured video" on youtube's homepage and got 100,000 views the first day. But this kid isn't even playing right, he's doing what I call "dosey doe" style, putting his left foot in and his left foot out, instead of jumping, hence he doesn't trigger the sensor every time. Kids!


His dad does a better job.


I became the crusty carny manning the game, and took to harassing my neighbors. Next to me was the amazing giraffe robot, so I taped this on for no reason at all:


And I made myself a t-shirt:


Here's me being interviewed for The Tonight Show, whoa:


If I may return to the kids issue for a moment: another big problem is they don't know how to play Simon. And you try explaining the rules to a 10 year old. Fifty times. Note the silly little sign:


And it was a bit much when some parent came by asking if I'd seen "the kid in the blue jacket who was just here a second ago", and seemed slightly pissed that I didn't know who he was talking about or where he went. As if I'm somehow differentiating between these little hooligans. I can see my project for next year already: RFIDs for all the kids.


But Trampoline Simon was a big success, and ran reasonably reliably, and the Faire was a gigantic hoot, so I'm not complaining.


And big props to Diamond Dave for cutting that center piece the night before the event, infinitely better than the old amoeba-like incarnation. He did an amazing job, we didn't have the trampolines at his shop, he made it just from the knowledge that each trampline is 40 inches diameter. Fits absolutely perfectly and, as one person said, "it looks pro".


The thriftshop briefcase containing the Simon brains was considerably less pro (the sign says "crappy laptop! don't steal!"):


There were lots and lots of other cool things at the Maker's Faire, this is just one, but man was I impressed. It's a school bus owned by Graffiti Research Lab, who as far as I know invented LED Throwies (note the illuminated colorful stuff on the roof), and they've taken it a step further with conductive paint and tape on the side of their bus so the exterior walls are basically a traced circuit board. It's hard to explain, but note the lit up dots in the big letters on the side of the bus: those are LEDs, lit in an animated pattern. Just awesome.


A closer look. Those faint lines are the painted on circuit running from the brain to the LEDs:


And the wheels, fully animated, the boys in the hood would be proud. I'm wondering how this handles driving speeds:


Then over to the Microsoft building where they were busily trying to co-opt the D.I.Y. spirit with their crappy & restrictive programming language:


I couldn't resist putting up this Silly Little Sign™ at the exit of their building. For the less geeky in the audience, Python is an open source programming language written by the folk for the folk, fantastically powerful, the exact opposite of Microsoft's Visual Basic aka VB :


This cracked me up. Everything here was so super modern and young, and then these older guys had a slide ruler exhibit. Just perfect.


More Silly Little Signs™ in no particular order. This one on a random wall:


Next to the mess we left behind (sorry about that, we couldn't find a garbage in the parking lot):


My shirt, updated for day 2, since everyone's shirt said something geeky:


And finally, here's the Trampline Simon champion in the under 16 division. One of the five people to win, meaning she completed a 10 hop pattern, which sounds much easier than it is.


But yeah, we came, we saw, we watched a lot of people hop, talked to some really interesting folks, met a lot of kindred souls, got a lot of good inspiration, talked to too many parents struggling to break out of parent mode, drank some shitty overpriced beer that tasted fantastic, saw some people who were amusingly over geeky, saw some hilarious Segway wipeouts and near wipeouts, saw a lot of amazing robots in various forms, fixed a lot of malfunctioning trampoline sensors, and once again thanked god I live in the Bay Area.


Wow, Ryan Junell took some amazing pics, if you're looking for a good overview of the Faire his are it. Here's his Simon pics, I wish mine were this good:


Pay no attention to the spaghetti beneath the tramplines:, April 22, 2006


Googling for Trampoline Simon is always interesting... a few mentions I've found:

Bernie DeKoven, Funsmith

Quick Blurb

Quick Video

Same Video, on Google Video

Bright Idea

Video Workout




Earlier Incarnations:

Here's what Trampoline Simon looked like ten days before the Maker's Faire. Note the crappy amoeba-like centerpiece, the unmatched trampolines, the exposed sensors, and the very bad Simon player standing on it (just kidding).


A pic showing some of my other toys in the background. A few Mame cabinets in the background, and my photoboof to the right of those.

Here's the pic that they put on the Maker's Faire poster:


And here's some pics from Simon's opening night, about a month earlier, a none too smooth opening night:


A closeup view of the sensors, which is predictably the weak point in the design. Here I'm using 2" lever switch mounted at the end of a 6" metal rod, and when the trampoline is at rest the switch is closed. When someone jumps, the trampoline pulls away from the switch and the "normally open" output of the switch closes:


Here's an earlier incarnation, before I found the 2" lever switches at Jameco. I'm sure it's a surprise to no one that glueing wire to a regular lever switch didn't work.


Here's the intermediary between the trampolines and the laptop . The green board is a Phidget, which is communicating with my Simon program through the excellent Midas socket server. And the Phidget is triggering the relays in the Radio Shack project board. Things are much tidier now, I built everything into an old spy-style briefcase, but alas I'm lazy so no updated pictures yet:


Some more action shots: