Connecting

Modularity

There are tons of Game of Life kits out there but what is cool about this design is that you can plug together multiple boards to create a mega-display! Power and communications is passed from board to board, so the whole thing updates at once.

Older and Newer versions

If you are connecting to an older version (v1.2 or less) of the board, with a 7805, you will have to solder in a 7805 into your kit in location IC2. Otherwise the 9V DC power will fry your GoL module!

For these instructions, I will assume you are only connecting v1.3 or higher (Adafruit design) kits together. If there's a button in your kit, then it's a v1.3 or higher kit.

Orientation

The modules must be connected in the correct orientation. Each module has 4 'ports' labelled North, South, East and West. To connect a module to another, make sure that East connects to West or North connects to South! Another way of saying it is, make use the large Make: logo is always the same direction.

Method 1: Solder it

The easiest way to connect two modules together is to first line them up next to each other.
Then bend a leftover small piece of wire into a staple.
Thread it through the adjacent holes, then solder to make a connection to both boards.

Then turn over and solder the other side too. This is a permanent connection, so make sure to use lots of solder on both sides to get a nice strong connection.

You can also do it without wires, just put a blob of solder on both sides.


Then drag the soldering iron between the two boards, and slowly lift it in the middle.
With a little practice you can easily create a solder bridge.
Don't forget to do the other side too!

Method 2: Plug & Play

Another way to connect them is to use right-angle header to allow plug-and-play of the modules. One module has a female (receptacle) connector. The other has a male (plug) connector. Check the parts page for links on where to buy right angle header.
If you use header, make sure it looks like the image below, if everyone sticks to this convention you'll be able to connect up to any other kit!

Make a cube!

If you have 5 or 6 GoL boards, you can make a funky cube. First, assemble 5 or 6 boards.
Place the first board in a vise and start with the North port.
Put plenty of solder on the first tab.
Solder one of the excess wire bits onto it.
Get the next board lined up. Make sure you are connecting it to the South port.
Bend the wire down and solder it to the second board.
Repeat for all 4 tabs.
Test the two boards by touching the battery case to the + and - on one of the boards. The game should play on both boards.
Connect a third board. The trick to knowing how to orient boards is that you can always connect North and East & South and West ports together. In this case we connect West and North of the new board to the existing structure.
Test the cube after each new board to make sure you've got it on right.

When you're done you can attach the battery pack pack and stick it onto the inside.

This guide was first published on Apr 12, 2013. It was last updated on Apr 12, 2013. This page (Connecting) was last updated on May 19, 2019.