Sail the high seas searching for treasure and protecting your ship from pirates in a video game in which a system of lasers discerns the direction of wind and you specify wind magnitude, sail height, and rudder position.
Laser Assembly and Television Setup
Originally, we had the idea of using lasers, half-silvered mirrors, and phototransistors to make a device similar to a keypad. Ideas such as an invisible security system where the "keys" can only be found by reference on a wall and a dance dance revolution game seemed either too simple or overwhelming, thus we decided to use input from the device for a video game on the television. Evan's sailing experiences led to our sailboat simulator which uses the laser device to determine the direction of the wind. The user can adjust the wind magnitude, the rudder position, and the sail height along with firing a cannon at pirates. The wind conditions as well as the pushbutton controls are inputs to an Atmel Mega32 microcontroller on an STK500 board. The microcontroller performs all of the operations involved in game play and displays the game on a television screen. While sailing a four screen map of the High Seas, treasure is made available when the sailboat passes through pre-determined regions. Only one treasure is available at a time. The pirates patrol specific routes in order to impede your progress of retrieving treasure. The game is won when you find and retrieve all six piles of treasure.

As anyone with a strong interest in the high seas and/or pirates knows, wind conditions are crucial to any maritime exercise that depends on sails. Furthermore, since the days of ocean voyaging have been subsumed with the realities of 9AM classes, there exists a need for interested mariners to be able to experience the subtleties of sailboat maneuvering from the comfort of their own homes. Since real-life pirates and cannon battles have sadly diminished in number over the centuries, combining the sailboat simulator with these historical treasures only seems natural. A sailboat simulator is also useful when training for sailing.
Below is a typical screen shot showing the pirate patrolling on the right as the sailboat enters the screen at the bottom.