Watch This Awesome Oscilloscope 'Breakout' Game

A common lab instrument was repurposed for entertainment.

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Nov 6 2017, 4:45pm

Oscilloscopes are pretty amazing tools. These lab instruments allow their users to visualize changes in an electric signal (measured in volts) as that signal changes over time. The result is a wave that looks something like this:

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Oscilloscopes can be used to monitor the functioning of pretty much any electronic device, as well as other signals like sound so long as the signals are converted into voltage. Over the years, enterprising hackers have also found a bevy of creative uses for oscilloscopes outside the lab environment. This has resulted in a community of oscilloscope musicians and artists, but the creative repurposing of oscilloscopes truly began with video game designers, who have been using oscilloscopes to make crude video games since the 1950s.

As first reported by Hackaday, the most recent addition to this tradition comes from a game developer going by S-ol, who created a Breakout-style game for oscilloscopes called 'Plonat Atek' earlier this year.

S-ol says the game was created during the Ludum Dare game jam, where game developers created video games from scratch over the course of a weekend in April. The game is like a circular Breakout that requires the player to volley a ball at a center target, gradually breaking down the defenses until an oscillating line in the center can be struck.

The game was programed in a language called Pure Data that was developed in the 90s for creating interactive computer music. This means 'Plonat Atek' has sound effects that mirror the player's actions and are registered on the oscilloscope screen as visual feedback.

The game is free to download and looks great when it's played on an old school oscilloscope. But for those without access to electronic measuring equipment, there are a number of freely available oscilloscope emulators online that can also run 'Plonat Atek.'