BlockHead Breakout
BlockHead Breakout

I am a retro kind of guy and have always enjoyed the old "pong" and "breakout" style games.

When I saw the 8x8 LED Matrix boards I immediately thought of a breakout game board, but my coding / programming is still lacking to accomplish that feat on my own.

Enter sy2002 and his TeleBall a while back on Instructables. I donít have a 3D printer and PCB making capabilities but at least his code looked promising for what I wanted to accomplish. Thank you sy2002!!!

I went to and saw that he had also made a stand-alone breakout game and that was more what I was looking for.

After looking at each project he had made I took some from each and added a few mods myself and that is what this Instructable is all about. I call it BlockHead Breakout because the smiley - win and the frown - lose faces are in an red outlined square block.

I just wanted a straight breakout game, with a minimum of parts, to play and share with family and friends.

My project can be breadboarded using an Arduino UNO, a MAX7219 Dot Led Matrix Module, one potentiometer, one pushbutton switch, one BiPolar (Red - Green) Common Cathode LED, and a speaker. See my hodgepodge set-up running in the picture above.

See the 2 videos below to see the lives indicator operation and a full game that finishes in a win.

To see the ending sequence quicker, just fast forward to about 1:45 on BlockHead Full Game video.

Step 1: Parts and Wiring


The minimum parts are mentioned in the intro. For my finished project, I used a 10K potentiometer, an Arduino Mini, a breadboard power supply modified as I have instructed in my first Instructable, Breadboard Power Supply to Arduino Project Power Supply, a small black case, knob for the potentiometer, miscellaneous hardware and wire, as well as the speaker and BiPolar LED mentioned before. Also on the finished project I stuck a 100 ohm resistor on the Cathode lead of the LED to diminish brightness. You can vary that or exclude according to your personal preferences.


Pin Connections for Wiring:

MAX7219 Dot Led Matrix Module:

Din to Pin 2, CLK to Pin 3, CS to Pin 4, VCC to 5V, and GND to GND


10k potentiometer center to Pin A1 (paddle)... 5V to one end pin and GND to the other.

(If paddle works opposite to the way you turn knob, reverse the 5V and GND leads.)


Pin 9 for speaker audio... GND other speaker pin.

BiPolar LED:

Pin 5 (Red) anode and Pin 6 (Green) anode

center cathode lead to GND thru a 100 ohm resister (adjust ohmage to your preference)

Pushbutton Switch:

RST - GND connections on Arduino Board for game reset.

The same info / instructions above are in the comments of the code for the project.

Step 2: ?Code and Comments

SY2002 did an excellent job with his coding and it is well documented. He put in some "tricks" I really enjoyed and was able to capitalize on.

An example of this, is his orientation coding. You can orientate the display whichever way it works out best for you by plugging in the right number in the code. The code is well documented so it is fairly easy to follow. I orientated the paddle to be on the right side of my screen but the smiley face and frown are displayed 90 degrees clockwise from game play, because of the way I had my case setup.

So, as I said, however you want to set up the game to play or display the faces is simply a matter of plugging in the right number in the Orientation setting when you compile.

I tried to follow in SY2002's example and documented my coding as well. Hope it all makes sense.

It is a fun game to play and hope you enjoy it... paulindallas

BlockHead Breakout
BlockHead_Breakout_Sideways.ino13 KB
BlockHead Breakout
LedControl-1.0.1.zip8 KB

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