DIY Weekend: Shining a new light on an old video game classic

James Martin/CNET)

For Bryan Duxbury and Adam Ellsworth, a shared interest in DIY Arduino projects and a conversation at a Christmas party led to a pretty bright idea and an unexpected side business.

The two San Francisco residents are the creators of the Interactive 8bit Question Block lamp–a Super Mario Bros.-inspired piece of home decor. For fans of the game, the lamp should instantly look familiar, as it resembles the blocks that Mario hits to earn coins and other loot. The design alone already makes it pretty cool, but that’s not where the fun ends.

To turn the light on or off, you must punch (actually, a gentle tap is enough and recommended) the bottom of the block, and every time you do so, it makes a coin sound just like in the video game. On every eighth tap, you’re rewarded with the 1-Up sound. It’s a piece of Super Mario Bros. come to life.

This project may never have seen the light of day, however, had it not been for a chance meeting at a company Christmas party.

By day, Duxbury, 28, is a software engineer at San Francisco-based startup Rapleaf, but in his spare time, he likes to design products and come up with other DIY projects. After tinkering with a laser cutter, Duxbury, who says he started writing software in middle school, came up with the idea fo… [Read more]

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