Atari Drinking Game ensures all of your chugging races are above board

Drinking games are just a complicated set of rules designating when you’re allowed to consume beer, and it doesn’t get much more complicated than an Atari drinking game. The rules are simple; it’s essentially “1, 2, 3, drink,” but hacking an Atari system to be a glorified timer is needlessly complex. I’ve been chugging beer for years without a timer and have managed to avoid any controversy. Too close to call? Perfect excuse to run a re-race! That said, hacking the Atari drinking game is pretty impressive, and I do like that the first thought was to convert a busted Atari into a drinking game. Someone put this MonkeyBox guy on Mythbusters: The Search.

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atari drinking game

Presenting the Cider Racer 2600. An electronic drink racer and timer for competitive beverage consumption. Please drink responsibly.

* Dual pressure sensitive coasters for competitive timing
* Two game modes: Drag Race and Quick Draw
* “Christmas Tree” lighting sequence for highly competitive start
* False start and reneg detection and handling
* Individual player handicap settings for more competitive play
* Standard micro-USB for power
* Annoyance buzzer
* Classic woodgrain finish

This is my first Arduino project. We wanted to do something special for the 20th anniversary of a Christmas party we go to, and the Cider Racer was born. Build materials:
* Arduino Mega (I probably could have used an Uno)
* Broken Atari 2600
* 7-Segment Serial Displays (
* LEDs, Wires, and Resistors
* Miscellaneous mounting parts (LED holders, black silicone, two sided tape, etc)

Coasters are made from:
* 3 layers of CNC cut materials: Acrylic bottom plate, brushed aluminum center, and acrylic spacer to make it level with top of the 2600
* Force Sensitive Resistors [1] (
* Very soft springs, cut down to the minimum required
* Rubber actuators (…)
* a LOT of patience and tuning

Arduino code was pretty straightforward. There’s really nothing special there. I can share on github if people really want to see it, but it’s beginner code, sloppy, and not innovative in any way.

Thanks. Please “like” if you enjoy the project!

[1] If I had it to do over again, I would need to figure out a different way to do the coasters. It might be as simple as using multiple FSRs, or it might be a different mechanism altogether. Using the single FSR in the middle resulted in hours of fine tuning the screws and springs to get exactly the right sensitivity.

Colin Joliat
About Colin Joliat 347 Articles
Colin Joliat is the brains behind this rinky-dink operation. He covers the alcohol industry with two parts information, one part comedy, and one part WTF is wrong with this guy. He's written for Brobible, Guyism, Thrillist, CoolMaterial, Craft, and more.