Invented by Cambridge mathematician John Conway, the Game of Life is a cellular automation game that is a zero-player game. The evolution of the cells is determined by the initial conditions of the cells.

Project Steps

Gather your Materials

Open up the Game of Life bag of components and check to make sure that you have all of the necessary parts to assemble the kit.

Heat up your soldering iron, wet your sponge, and let’s get ready to solder the Game of Life Kit!

Insert all of the Resistors

You have 16 resistors, all of the same resistance.

In locations R1 through R16, insert the LEDs into the circuit board. Resistors are not polarized, so it does not matter which direction you put them in.

Solder the resistors in.

Clip the Resistor Leads

It is important to clip the leads of the resistors to ensure that there are no shorts in the circuit.

Be sure to save one of these leads, because we will need to use it soon.

Insert the IC Socket

Note the notch on the end of the socket. Match this up with the notch on the silk-screened circuit board.

Insert the socket into its holes and make sure that it is flush with the PCB before soldering it in.

Then carefully solder the socket in, being careful not to bridge any solder pads.

Inserting the LEDs

You have 16 LEDs that you need to solder into the PCB.

LEDs are polarized, so it is important that you insert them correctly. The longer lead on the LED is the “+” lead. The shorter lead, also the side with the flat spot on the LED’s case, is the “-” lead.

Insert all of the LEDs in, and solder them in. Once they are all soldered, clip their leads.

Insert the Ceramic Capacitor

In location C3, insert the small yellow ceramic capacitor.

This component is not polarized, so it does not matter in which direction you insert it.

Solder it in and then clip the leads.

Jumping IC2

Retrieve one of the leads you clipped from your resistors.

Bend it into a staple shape and thread it through the outer two holes in the location IC2. Refer to the image if you are confused. This is called jumping the chip.

Solder it in and then clip the leads.

Make sure that the wire is not in contact with the middle pad.

Inserting the ON/OFF/RESET Button

In the location marked ON/OFF, press the push-button switch down into the PCB. It should snap into place, and it does not matter in which direction you insert it.

Solder this switch in.

Insert the Chip

There is a notch on the chip, so make sure that you match up the notch on the socket with the notch on the chip.

You may need to bend the leads on the chip slightly in order for it to fit into the socket.

Press it into the socket and it should fit securely.

Inserting the Battery Holder

If you feel like the battery holder’s leads are too long, feel free to shorten them…but not too much.

You will need to tin the leads with solder if you do this, however.

The red wire should go into the hole marked with the “+”, while the black wire should be inserted into the hole marked with the “-“.

You can insert the leads from the bottom up if you want the board to look a little cleaner.

Test it out!

Insert two AA batteries into the battery holder.

You will see the game start. If you press the ON/OFF button, it will reset into a checkerboard pattern.

Place some sticky tape on the back of the battery holder, and press it on to the back of the PCB.

Now you can keep it on your desk and play the Game of Life!