Tetris LED tie: Dress for retro-gaming success

A teacher hacks together a glowing LED tie full of falling Tetris blocks for an unabashed display of nerdy neckwear.

Tetris tie components
A peek under the skin of the Tetris tie. Bill Porter

Maker and teacher Bill Porter had a very important task ahead of him. He had to impress more than 100 eighth graders at a STEM camp. He had already wowed them with an LED lab coat and an 8-bit tie, but they wanted to know what was next. So Porter invented the Tetris tie, a glowing LED tribute to the classic falling-blocks game.

It took Porter about four hours to get the working prototype up and running. The tie uses 80 LED pixels powered by a DigiSpark microcontroller. It cost about $50 in materials.

Showing ingenuity and the ability to work with parts on hand, Porter fashioned the tie itself from two pieces of card stock and a cheap clip-on tie. The clip-on feature is the nerdy icing on the geeky make-cake. "I plan to revisit the design and embed the strips directly into a fabric tie for long-term use," Porter writes.

The Tetris tie did its job admirably, giving the kids a thrill. It's a pretty nifty result for a few hours of work with parts that were just laying around.

Unfortunately, the first prototype isn't a playable game. The blocks are programmed to fall randomly.

Porter does plan to further develop the project. The next step will be to create a way to play the game, perhaps through a Bluetooth smartphone connection. It would certainly liven up your next business meeting to have your co-workers competing on your necktie.

(Via Geeks are Sexy)

About the author

Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET's Crave blog. When not wallowing in weird gadgets and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.


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