pledged of $30,000pledged of $30,000 goal
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Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Sat, October 13 2012 12:55 PM UTC +00:00
pledged of $30,000pledged of $30,000 goal
0seconds to go
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Sat, October 13 2012 12:55 PM UTC +00:00


New $65 and $98 Rewards

Hi Kickstarters. We have included two new rewards which allows you to choose from a number of various shipping methods (to be calculated for each backer at the close of the kick-starter campaign). This means that if you aren't too fussed about the speed of delivery, you can choose a cheaper alternative to the speedy DHL method.

The $98 reward gets you one fully assembled RetroBall unit with power supply. The $65 reward gets you all the parts required to build your own RetroBall Unit (with a pre-assembled PCB) although it does not include the acrylic enclosure. This will help save on shipping costs for those who would like to make an enclosure for themselves.

We also are more than happy for those who have backed the other options (before we added the new rewards) to change their pledge if they too would like to choose their own shipping method.

Hi everyone. After reading a few comments from around the internet I feel the need to write this. Some people have stated that we have only said it is open source to try and raise more funds but aren't actually going to release any documentation. I can tell you that we will be releasing all documentation and source code whether funding is successful or not.

Some people have also stated that it is not worth nearly as much as what we are charging. Please read on for complete transparency of costs:

Each unit is being made in Shenzhen China and will cost us $60 a piece. Each unit consists of:

  • 2 x (16x32 pixel) LED displays - giving a total of 1024 LEDs.
  • 1 x custom made 10cm x 10cm PCB
  • 2 x PIC 18F microcontrollers (18F2550 and 18F25K20)
  • 2 x LM317T regulators
  • 4 x High quality wire wound linear potentiometers with aluminium knobs
  • 2 x 2n2222a transistors
  • 2 x 16 Pin male connectors
  • 2 x 16 wire cables
  • Approx 5 Meters light duty wire
  • 9 x Resistors
  • 4 x Capacitors
  • 1 x High quality on / off switch
  • 1 x High quality momentary push button
  • 1 x High quality DC Jack
  • 1 x Mini speaker
  • 1 x 7.5V Power supply
  • 1 x (400mm x 400mm x 50mm) 4.5mm thick Tinted acrylic enclosure
  • 8 x 25mm Hex standoffs
  • 8 x screws

The total packed weight is approximately 4KG and measures 450mm x 450mm x 100mm. Due to the large size and weight - Shipping from China, by DHL is approximately $50 - $60 worldwide. If successful, Kickstarter will deduct 5% of the pledges and Amazon will also take 5%.

So if we run the math on a pledge of $149:

- $14.90c (Kickstarter and Amazon)
- $60 (Parts and Manufacturing costs)
- $50 to $60 (Worldwide shipping from China)

This leaves us with between $14.10c to 24.10c. We will then possibly need to pay tax on this money.

We have always been about open source / open hardware projects and together we have released a lot to the electronics community (see links in our bio). This is the first time that we have tried to perhaps do something a little different by not only offering it up as open source, but to perhaps try our hand at selling an actual product.

Apologies go out to all we have offended. We can only use this as a learning experience for our next kickstarter campaign : )

We have listened to your feedback and have modified the rewards to make it easier for shipping costs. Shipping costs are now included in the price of all rewards and it is one fixed rate for anywhere in the world. Even the $99 reward has free worldwide shipping! (available to the first ten backers).

All hardware designs and source code will be uploaded to www.bradsprojects.com on the completion of the kickstarter campaign regardless of whether funding is successful or not.

Bat and Ball style video games have been a favorite of many gamers since their inception back in the 1970's. A simple two person game where each player is required to move their paddle up and down the screen in order to intercept the oncoming ball to prevent it from getting past them.

Who would have thought that a simple electronic tennis game with primitive graphics and sound could become so addictive?

There have been many variations produced over the years but perhaps none quite like RetroBall and - it's all open hardware and open source!

RetroBall is played on a 32 x 32 pixel LED screen housed in a beautiful tinted acrylic enclosure. The unit measures 40cm x 40cm x 5cm deep and weighs approximately 2.7KG.

There are four paddle controllers, one in each corner of the unit, allowing for up to four simultaneous players. You can choose from two levels of difficulty and can even play with up to five balls on the screen at once. It's retro mayhem!

RetroBall has been designed with gameplay in mind. You aren't just aimlessly trying to hit a ball back to the other players, you are actually able to spin the ball off in different angles and at different speeds depending on how you hit the ball. This makes for some great challenging gameplay - perfect for ganging up on one player in-particular.

RetroBall includes a built in speaker for some fantastic 1-bit sound FX to top off the old school gaming experience.

No matter what mode you are playing, the idea of the game is to move your paddle to the left and right in order to prevent oncoming balls from getting past you. 

Each player starts with eleven points when playing with a single ball, or fifty points when playing with five balls. Players will lose a point each time a ball gets past their paddle. If a player loses all of their points, they will be out of the game and their paddle will be replaced with a solid wall until there is just one player remaining. Basically, the last man standing, wins.

Menu navigation is simple. Player one will setup each game by rotating their paddle controller to scroll through the various menu options. A single push button is provided to accept each selection and advance to the next menu option. 

All reward levels will receive schematic diagrams, PCB layout, bill of materials and source code (written in swordfish basic). 

The $99 and $149 rewards will come with:

  • Assembled RetroBall Game System
  • Power Supply

The $109 reward will come with everything you need to build your own RetroBall system excluding the enclosure. You will need to solder it altogether yourself. you will receive:

  • LED panels
  • PCB
  • All PCB components
  • Potentiometers
  • Knobs
  • Wiring
  • Switches
  • DC Jack
  • Power Supply

Each RetroBall system is controlled by a PIC18F25K20 microcontroller which has 32KB of program memory. The game has been coded in Swordfish Basic and compiles down to approximately 22KB. A PIC18F2550 is used as an audio chip to produce some 1-bit retro sound-fx. 

The four potentiometers are connected to four ADC pins on the 18F25K20 microcontroller. This analog voltage is converted into a digital number which can then be used to position each players paddle on the screen.

The LED display consists of two 16 x 32 Pixel LED panels which are interfaced serially to the 18F25K20 microcontroller.

A prototype system has been designed and built (as seen in the photo's and video) however this was an expensive excercise. In order to keep the price down, we need to have these put into a production run which means quite a large up front cost. This is where you come in.

Your pledge will enable us to buy all required components, get the circuit boards and tinted acrylic enclosure manufactured and then have all of this assembled together in bulk quantities. This presents a huge cost saving over making just one or two prototypes.

If we can spark enough interest in the Kickstarter community to gain backers, then a RetroBall production run will be made possible.

  • Acrylic enclosure design - DONE
  • Circuit board design - DONE
  • Game code - DONE
  • Bill of materials - DONE
  • Functioning prototype built - DONE
  • Extensive game testing - DONE
  • Hundreds (possibly thousands?) of units built and shipped - NOT YET...
  • Prototype has been built after months of designing, building, coding and testing.
  • We have locked in a reputable electronics manufacturing company based in Shenzhen, China. This company can not only deliver what we require, but they can do it for the lowest price possible and back it up with a 6 month warranty. We have sent them the details required to manufacture RetroBall and they are ready to commence production.
  • Our Kickstarter campaign is underway and will end mid October. Kickstarter will then transfer funds to our Amazon account which can take up to 14 days. We can then transfer funds to the manufacturer which could take a further 5 days. Manufacturing will begin on receipt of these funds - which should be late October / early November).
  • Backers of the project can expect to receive their RetroBall units early to mid December. (The plan is for backers to receive them before Christmas).

Shipping costs are included in the price of all rewards. The first ten backers who select the $99 reward option will also get free worldwide shipping - that's a saving of $50!

Each unit will come with a 6 month return to base warranty. This warranty covers defects that may have been caused during manufacture and pre-mature component failure due to normal use. Basically this means that if your unit fails, you will be entitled to a repair or replacement. Please note that return postage costs will need to be covered by the customer.

  • Net Weight: 2.7KG
  • Dimensions: 40cm x 40cm x 5cm
  • Power Consumption: Approx 10W
  • Display: 32 pixel x 32 pixel 5mm LED
  • Materials: Constructed with 4.5mm Tinted Acrylic
  • Brought into the microcontroller world through the wonderful projects Brad has created, Stacy's interest in microcontrollers are geared around smaller 8-bit microcontrollers developing LED based projects and musical note generation.

    Stacy also loves designing miscellaneous electronic projects and likes to mix things up a bit with his passion for wood work and acrylic.

    Stacy has had numerous popular projects on instructables that have not only won him prizes, but have also been featured on the site. Stacy works as an RF technician and has many interests including electronics, programming, playing drums, recording music, and videography.

    Stacy thoroughly enjoys learning new skills and has been the driving force behind getting Brad to keep learning also.

    Brad loves designing all sorts of electronic projects which more often than not, revolve around a microcontroller and at least one LED. He works full time as an electronics teacher and gets super excited when a student finally understands how a transistor works.

    Brad has been an active contributor to the electronics community since 2007.In that time he has released many valuable resources to the community in the form of video and web based electronics and programming tutorials, project schematics, source code and answers all sorts of questions via email and on his electronics forum.

    Brad's projects have been featured on many popular websites and blogs including hackaday, kotaku, engadget and has won numerous competitions on instructables.

    Apart from electronics, Brad thoroughly enjoys snowboarding, basketball, skateboarding, teaching, playing drums and bass guitar (not at the same time) for his church band, listening to music, playing retro video games and hanging out with his amazing wife and two awesome boys.

    RetroBall is the new and improved version of a game that Brad made in early 2011.

    This game was received well by the online community although it was difficult for many to build. RetroBall was developed to give everyone an opportunity to own this great game without having to go through the trouble of soldering 1024 LED's together.

    You can also check out the dedicated RetroBall page for more details and Thank you Notices.

    Special thanks to soundjay for the backing track in the promo video!

    Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ


    1. Select this reward

      Pledge $5 or more About $5

      Every little bit helps. A pledge of $5 will see your name in the dedicated 'Thankyou' section, featured on the RetroBall web page. You will also receive exclusive RetroBall updates and access to the schematics, PCB layout and source code.

      Estimated delivery
      4 backers
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      It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

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    2. Select this reward

      Pledge $65 or more About $65

      DIY + Choose your own shipping. We have been able to get a reduced price for the do it yourself kit. And due to popular demand, you can now choose your own shipping method. The DIY kit comes with all parts for you to make your own RetroBall unit - (including a pre assembled PCB). This does not include the Acrylic enclosure. Shipping to be worked out at the end of the campaign.

      Estimated delivery
      3 backers
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      It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

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    3. Select this reward

      Pledge $98 or more About $98

      Choose your own shipping. Due to popular demand, we have now included an option for you to choose your own shipping method (rather than be restricted to DHL only). The means you as backers can choose between cost savings and speed of delivery. Shipping costs will need to be worked out for each backer on the completion of the kick-starter campaign.

      Estimated delivery
      7 backers
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      It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

      Learn more about accountability.
    4. Reward no longer available

      Pledge $99 or more About $99

      Early Backers! Get a RetroBall Game System to call your own for just $99. (Please see below for Shipping Costs).

      Estimated delivery
      Reward no longer available 10 backers
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    5. Select this reward

      Pledge $109 or more About $109

      Fancy yourself handy with a soldering iron? A pledge of $109 will get you all parts required to build your own RetroBall unit excluding the enclosure (soldering is required). Free Worldwide Shipping!

      Estimated delivery
      2 backers
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      It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

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    6. Select this reward

      Pledge $149 or more About $149

      Didn't get in on the early $99 special? That's okay! You can still get a RetroBall system delivered anywhere in the world for $149.

      Estimated delivery
      13 backers
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    Funding period

    - (30 days)