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The Internet of Basketball, Part one

After the success of our Internet of Popcorn demo at Maker Faire earlier this year, we were inspired to see what other fun demos could benefit from added wireless connectivity. The idea behind the Internet of Basketball was to take an ordinary arcade-style basketball game and add an Internet-connected LaunchPad that would keep score, give alerts, store score and game data in the cloud and allow us to keep a running tally of everyone in the office’s scores. 

We started with a pre-made arcade-style basketball game. After we removed all the pesky electronics it came with, we started having fun.

The hardware:

At the core of the Internet of Basketball is a SimpleLink™ Wi-Fi®CC3200 wireless microcontroller (MCU) Launchpad™ development kit. Additionally, we will use an NFC BoosterPack™, and a TPS54383EVM to provide 5V and 3V3 rails from a 12V power supply.

The SimpleLink Wi-Fi CC3200 LaunchPad is a Wi-Fi system-on-chip MCU development platform that will allow us to run the basketball game and create a secure connection to a cloud server to log game data (more on this in a follow up blog). The NFC BoosterPack will allow TI employees to scan their badge and track their scores in the cloud seamlessly.

To display the score, I decided to go big and use a 6.5” 7-segment display from SparkFun along with the SparkFun Large Digit Driver, which is powered by the Texas Instruments TPIC6C596. To display information to the user (such as time remaining, scores, and instructions) I am using 7 Olimex MOD-LED8x8RGB. These SPI-controlled LED matrices allow for scrolling text in several colors and are fast enough to display a millisecond countdown clock.

Assembly and Testing:

After soldering on the 7-Segment driver to the displays, I downloaded the example code from SparkFun’s GitHub. Importing their Arduino example into Energia was simple and the code worked as-is! These displays are daisy chainable, so I added another to make a slick score tracker.

Similarly, the Olimex example code for the 8x8 RGB LED Matrix worked flawlessly as-is from the GitHub. I changed some pin definitions and the 7-Segment Display and the 8x8 RGB LED Matrix chain were up and running together.

To attach the displays and the LaunchPads to the basketball game, we attached a sheet of pegboard to the back of the backboard, and screwed the components into the pegboard. You can see the work in progress here:

We will need three different voltage rails for this project.  The LED seven segment displays run on 12V, the TI shift register and 8x8 RGB LED matrices use 5V, and the LaunchPad uses 5V and 3V3.  The TPS54383EVM takes 12V from a power supply and outputs both 5V and 3V3, perfect for our project!

All that was left to do is attach the shot plunger to a PUSH1 on the LaunchPad, and our Hardware is complete!  Check back in soon for a follow-up blog on the gameplay flow and cloudside code.