Subtitle: the nerdiest thing I’ve ever done.
There’s a game called Final Fantasy X, as in 10, not extreme, where at one point you have to dodge lightning. I guess that sounds pretty extreme. The screen flashes white and if you do nothing, lightning strikes you and you fly back, hindering your exploration a bit. If you click a button quickly enough after the white flash, you dodge and don’t get pushed back. When I first did it, I noticed I was pretty bad at it. As I explored the area, I came to a place that recorded how many bolts you dodged in a row. I managed to do 3 or so.
I went on with the game. This is a game where you haven’t necessarily completed the game after beating it. You can keep playing, getting better items, exploring more, whatever. In this case, I found out if you dodged 200 bolts of lightning consecutively, you got an item I wanted. So I came back to the lightning place. But 200 is an insane number. Even if I were good at dodging lightning, it would take half and hour.
To make it easier to dodge lightning bolts, I needed consistency. To make sure multiple dodges didn’t move me out of the lightning area, I had to find a corner and stay in it. Now, Final Fantasy X is one of these games where you have a certain chance of having a random encounter with enemies as you walk. When one happens, you leave exploration mode and enter fighting mode. This means you are losing time dodging lightning, and losing focus. Thankfully, there’s an in-game solution for this: a certain item that avoids random encounters.
So I tried hiding in my corner with no encounters, and I still wasn’t very good. I got to around 10 dodges in a row, maybe. It wasn’t going to take me half an hour to get this.
So I taped a photoresistor to my TV.
The photoresistor was attached to a transistor, which was attached to a relay, which was attached to a solenoid, which was attached to the button you needed to press on the controller. I put a resistor and potentiometer in series with the photoresistor. That way I could tune the system so the relay was off when the screen was normal and on when it flashed white. I put a flyback diode around the relay for the transistor. I also attached a counter with its own relay so I could know how many dodges happened. I wasn’t planning on watching the whole thing.
The big patches of the bread board are connected vertically, so any 5 holes in a column are connected. The 5 by 2 patches are connected horizontally, all the way across. The 5 by 2 patches on the right are connected vertically all the way. I don’t think I’ve connected the other wire of the solenoid in this picture.
The counter doesn’t reset, so I had to write down the number it started at. You can also see I taped the left joystick in an upward position, so the player character would stay in that corner I was talking about.
I don’t really know what you should take away from this other than a few laughs. If you can figure out what the moral of this story is, tell me. I’d also be interested to hear your “nerdiest thing I’ve ever done” story.