Category Archives: CODING

Learn basic coding and electronics using Adventure Kit: 30 Days Lost in Space

Six months ago I first began seeing advertisements on social media for Adventure Kit: 30 Days Lost in Space (InventrKits LLC). I was instantly intrigued by the cleverness of the kit and ingenuity of the young men who created it. To show my support and satisfy my curiosity, I ordered one.

The kit is reminiscent of the Radio Shack electronic project lab I once received from Santa Claus as a child. In retrospect, I believe I was probably a few years too young to grasp the enjoyment of the project lab. It sat unused for many years until being tossed out during my college years when my family moved to a new home.

Adventure Kit: 30 Days Lost in Space is a small box of basic electronic components, an Arduino Hero board, and online access to 30 video tutorial lessons (20-30 minute running time each) on basic programming and electronic components.

What I found most clever is how the team at InventrKits LLC crafted a video tutorial series based upon a science fiction scenario that finds our spaceship stranded beneath an ocean of a distant planet. Through the 30 video tutorials, we’re taught how to repair our spaceship by controlling basic electronic components like switches and light emitting diodes (LEDs).

I don’t want to spoil the entire story line, but for example, Day #2’s lesson finds us learning how to restore power to our ship’s lighting system (by controlling the power to a LED).

Once the kit is in-hand, all that remains is to download the free, open-source Arduino integrated development environment (IDE) to a PC, MAC, or LINUX computer. This is the software application where the Arduino firmware code is written, and then pushed from the computer across the included USB cable to the Arduino board.

The kit is proving to be great fun. If you are considering this for a young person, I recommend it is suitable for people age 11 years and up.

The Arduino Integrated Development Environment (IDE) is the software used to write code that controls the Arduino board once uploaded to the hardware using a USB cable. Day #3 finds us controlling the LED via a dip switch.
Arduino Hero board and an electronic prototype bread board mounted to a small piece of pine wood (not included) to help keep the pieces more steady on a work surface.

The 6-year inspiration that drove the creation of Series-V: A game of space of space exploration

I’m out of the professional coding world for over fifteen years, but it hasn’t stopped me from creating a multi-player online game inspired by 80s/90s computer bulletin board systems (BBSs) in the spirit of TradeWars 2002 and Legend of the Red Dragon.

To try the game yourself, visit https://series-v.com. Or, watch the short narrated demo walk-through below.

Watch a short demo of Series V: A game of space exploration

I still remember the specs of my first brand-new PC in the fall of 1993 that cost me $3,000: an Intel 486DX2 processor with 8MB RAM, 340MB hard drive, SoundBlaster Pro sound card, and a USRobotics 14.4K modem. With that PC came the joy of exploring local dial-up BBS systems, namely the Trenton NJ area It’s All Rock ‘N Roll and the text-based multi-player games the SysOp offered his members.

During the winter of 2016-17 I felt nostalgic for the bygone era of personal computing. To kill some time in the evenings I installed a DOS emulator on a second-hand netbook and loaded a copy of the WWIV BBS system to see if I could get it to run: and it did. While I knew there was no merit to keeping that setup, I turned my attention to creating a multi-player, text-based space exploration game playable in the browser on desktop, laptop, and tablet devices.

Initially, I had little expectations that I would fully finish the project, but I saw the challenge behind building a proof of concept. As a bonus, I would learn PHP and MySQL to experience new-to-me technologies.

Because the game is text-based, players are encouraged to use pencil and paper to draft maps and to note the location of objects and obstacles.

The objective is to win the game by having the highest score among all players when time expires. Players earn points by exploring space and mining asteroids, but should be cautioned that points are also deducted for mischief.

Designed with casual gamers in mind, the short-duration “pop up” nature will allow me to activate the game during long holiday weekends. I can then focus on building out minor enhancements and features as time permits throughout the year. Because the universe is reconfigured at the start of each game, it encourages players to skip rounds and jump back in at a later date to explore a newly-configured universe with different players and objectives.