Christopher Kitras and Ashton Palacios, two BYU Electrical and Computer Engineering graduate students, designed and developed a seven-segment sign alongside Dinah Bronson and Dr. Phil Lundrigan that was recently featured at PyCon. The system can run video games such as Doom and classic arcade games and even display videos.
What began as an undergraduate project in the summer of 2021 has now evolved into a much larger endeavor. The screen boasts a whopping 1152 seven-segment digits controlled by a Raspberry Pi system and hosts a suite of demos and games the students wrote from scratch in Python.
The screen itself was entirely hand-assembled, meaning the students on the project designed their own PCBs, soldered all the digits and other electrical components, laser cut the acrylic case, and designed and 3D printed the feet. All the NET Lab students participated in assembling, soldering, and debugging. Now, that’s dedication!
Doom is installed on the Raspberry Pi that runs the display, and the game plays the same as it always has—the seven segment digits just create a different look. Christopher was able to run the game's image data through an algorithm that interprets the screen's brightness and converts it over to the seven segment digits. Christopher shares that new students in their lab will often write new demos for the sign, adding to the arsenal of playable games.
The students’ sign is now proudly displayed in the BYU NET Lab (EB 228) facing the hallway, where students passing by can enjoy its games by scanning the QR code and using their phone as a controller.