Antoinette J. Citizen

First Draft: Sims Needs Meter

Posted in Sims Needs Meter by antoinettejcitizen on 10/19/2011

My Sims Needs Meter is starting to look like a Sims needs meter:

Sims needs meter bar

This is the same as my previous breadboard prototype, just experimenting with methods of display in an attempt to get it to looking like it’s digital counterpart.

I took part in a sprint hosted by Melbourne Media Labs recently. We did a bit of experimenting with making health bars… I fell in love with LEDs and hot glue sticks. The photographs/video create not so pleasant looking hotspots, but the effect is quite wondrous in real life.


This is a variation of the sims needs meter we put together:


It uses PWM to fade in and out- creating the effect of changing between colours. The standard arduino only has 5 PWM pins, so i used the softPWM library to be able to fade all the 12 LEDs (which are just wired directly to an arduino).

led test sequence showing the effect it creates:

I tried a few different materials to diffuse LEDs, but nothing functioned as well as the glue. The current sims meter uses rectangle LEDs diffused through glue sticks, which gives a nice health bar segmentation:


They don’t have a very wide viewing angle, but you can still see a light glow from the sides:


I had problems with the 2xleds from either side being completely washed out in any sunlight. But it appears that the additional LEDs underneath instead of at the side provides enough light to be viewable in some sunlight. Direct sunlight still washes them out, but I think I can live with that.

Next challenge is to make a PCB. I tried fitting the multiplex LEDs, shifts on a Protoboard small enough to be wearable, but it is proving problematic- so I’m hoping a PCB will be the solution to my problems… I haven’t made a PCB before, so it may take a little while to figure out the process.

Then I am going to do some vacuum forming and rapid prototyping to test out some potential cases/enclosures. Oh yeah, exciting times.

The code for button input and measuring different ‘needs’ is functional. Just needs a bit of cleaning up. Hope to post it very soon.

See previous posts on my Sims Needs Meter:

Sims: Part One

Sims Needs Meter: Breadboard Prototype