Surround Sound: The latest edition to the Simpler Simon series

Introducing Surround Sound, the latest member of the Simpler Simon interactive games.

Surround Sound:Sporting bubble lines and large arcade-style illuminated buttons.

One of the comments from users of the original Simpler Simon was that the sound effects were not loud enough. In addition, those users who had some musical background, found the “circular” sound aspect of the game somewhat confusing. They were more used to the idea of keys and corresponding notes being presented in a linear fashion; much like a piano keyboard…

So, voila!

The Surround Sound offers a new look and feel, with large illuminated arcade-style buttons that can take a lot of pounding, and up to 4 watts of sound for those with the hardest of hearing. And, there is a simple-to-use volume control built in!

As my recreologist friend noted…

“The staff in my activity department tried the new and improved Simpler Simon…. The longer design allowed the device to rest on the lap comfortably.  The volunteers tried it too.  It is a hit!  “

All the great games of the Simpler Simon with a new look-and-feel – jumbo buttons and lots of volume for game-play sound effects.

The case of Surround Sound is built from stacked layers of black and white HDPE milled on my CNC machine. The number of layers is determined by the depth of the arcade-style switches that hold a conventional micro-switch. While the switches are large and heavy-duty, they are so deep that it required the stacking of four 12mm layers.

Surround Sound: showing the underside of the top switch plate and first stack layer, with some of the wiring for the switches and LEDs

Surround Sound: with three layers in place

The base piece of the design houses the power supply, micro-controller, amplifier and a pair of speakers.

Volume Control

Of particular interest in this design is the volume control. The standard Tone library that is part of the base Arduino system and outputs a 50% duty-cycle square wave of the specified frequency and consequently does not allow for an ability to change the volume of the sound generated. I had not wanted to change the look of the design with a conventional rotary volume control, so what to do?

I came across the volume3 library that provides the tone functions  with a 10-bit volume control “with no extra parts!”  This library adds a layer of controllable pulse-width modulation to the tone pin so that…

“At the frequency you specify, your Arduino will analogWrite(volume) to the speaker with a PWM frequency of 100,000 Hz, for half the duration of a single period of the frequency before pulling it LOW. This high-speed PWM is beyond your range of hearing, (and probably the functioning range of your speaker) so it will just sound like a quieter or louder version of the input frequency!”

Upon power up, if the two outer buttons (red and green) are held down simultaneously, the Surround Sound will enter the volume adjust mode. It will play successive notes, and illuminate each associated button, at increasingly louder volume. Pressing the appropriate button, the user can then select the desired volume. The volume will remain set at this level until this mode is reentered.

SO there you have it…




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