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Europe is interactive knowledge game for children.

Europe prototype



It is constructed from several parts:

  • big wooden gameboard with map of Europe
  • bunch of electronics
  • software


Board will be connected to the ground via spring, so children will be able to tilt it. Each european country will have gate on his territory.


Each gate is constructed as optical sensor. On bottom part of board is 10 control boards, each of them capable to read state up to 6 sensors. Boards are interconnected via ModBus.

There are additional 2 special boards -- one of them will serve as keyboard (instead of optical sensors it will read state from buttons), second as controller of Neopixels RGB LED.

Details about hardware solution is stored in hardware/ directory.


ModBus is connected through USB adapter to Intel NUC miniPC with Ubuntu Linux and all necessary software:

  • Django API backend
  • Django Admin backend
  • Python Watcher script, which read status from HW boards and send events through websocket connection to browser
  • Frontend Javascript application build in Marionette framework

All components are dockerized and run behind Nginx proxy.

There are several subdirectories in regards to software part of this project:

  • ansible/
    Playbooks for bootstraping Ubuntu system (it will turn plain Ubuntu into Evropa dedicated machine)
  • europe/
    Django backend application, which realise API interface and administration for editing content (game questions)
  • static/
    Frontend Javascript application
  • watcher/
    Python3 application communicating with hardware (ModBus via USB) and implementing websockets server. Frontend Javascript application communicate with HW in real-time via messages sent over websocket.


Application design evolve in time. You could found some of the designs in screenshots/ directory. In layouts/ is stored rough HTML version of early version application for easier CSS development.


Content of the game (questions about european countries) will be edited via web administration. For easier development there are some of the content store in directory content/.


There are several Dockerfiles in root directory, suffix indicate purpose of file. Because there are lot of them, and running them manually from commandline could be complicated, we use Docker Compose.

Main description is stored in docker-compose.yml. According to Docker Compose documentation, there is standard way how to extend basic yml and adapt it to different environments (notebook, Intel NUC, demo on Digital Ocean). This variants are stored as docker-compose.<ENV>.yml files. To apply it, choose one, copy it or make a named symlink docker-compose.override.yml (I personally use devel variant on my notebook).


Run this commands:

docker build -f Dockerfile.base -t msgre/common:europe-base.latest .
docker-compose build
cd watcher/ && docker build -t msgre/common:europe-watcher.latest .

base is general Django container, watcher take care about HW monitoring and publish events on websockets.


docker-compose up -d
docker-compose logs

To kill and remove running containers, run:

docker-compose kill && docker-compose rm -f

Beware! If you run Europe for first time, you must initiate database. See Database initialization below.


Game interface

Open in Chrome browser URL (warning, doesn't work properly in Firefox due to disfunctional keyboard plugin).

For controling web app use following keys (they will be replaced in final product to real physical keys):

  • Q = left
  • W = right
  • P = choice

During game phase, use:

  • 0 = wrong answer
  • 1 = right answer

If you run watcher container in debug mode, you could simulate HW events by touching files in watcher/gates directory. For example:

touch watcher/gates/14/1

will simulate ball passing gate number 1 on board 14. Same way you could simulate keyboard events.

Administration interface

There is standard Django admin interface on You could modify options, questions, and several other details about game.


Database initialization

Connect to already running admin container:

docker exec -ti admin bash

Run following commands:

./ migrate
./ createsuperuser
./ initial_questions /content
./ fake_results

After this sequence, your DB schema will be up to date, and will contain data about superadmin (to access administration via web interface), fake results data (to bypass results pages with no entries) and initial set of questions loaded from content/ directory.

Coffeescript compilation

First, check that you have CoffeeScript container. If no, build it:

docker build -f -t msgre/common:coffee.latest .

One-time Coffeescript to Javascript compilation:

docker run -ti --rm -v $PWD/static/app:/src msgre/common:coffee.latest -bc /src

Continuous compilation based on changes in watched directory:

fswatch --exclude="\.js$" -o $PWD/static/app | xargs -n1 -I{} docker run -i --rm -v $PWD/static/app:/src msgre/common:coffee.latest -bc /src

LESS compilation

One-time compilation:

docker run -i --rm -v $PWD/static/css:/src ewoutp/lessc:latest /src/styles.less > $PWD/static/css/styles.css

Debug mode for Javascript application

For debugging purposes you could add special URL parameters to directly enter one of the Javascript application screens. In this case timeouts (part of code that return you to initial intro page) will be set to very high value, so you stay on given page for very long time (and you could debug HTML/CSS/JS things with peace in mind).

Enter URLs like Last part after ? character tells in which page you are interested. Enter one of this values: intro, crossroad, scores, gamemode, countdown, game, result, recap, score.


Source codes for Europe board game prepared for new exhibition room in Vrtule club.



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