Since the dawn of computing one question has plagued humanity’s collective brain, a question with seemingly unlimited answers: can it run DOOM? Being so mild on resource use, computer enthusiasts have taken to putting the 1993 game on everything from printers to a TI-83 Plus graphing calculator. There’s even a Tumblr blog dedicated to cataloguing every device that DOOM has successfully run on. Now there’s a new entry in the “It Runs DOOM” series, as self-proclaimed hardware / software necromancer Foone Turing has gotten the game to run on an Equate digital pregnancy test.
Yes, you read that right.
This is just the latest of Foone’s technical achievements. Previous exploits have seen them successfully wiring a children’s toy alligator into a fully functioning USB keyboard. But getting DOOM to run on a pregnancy test constituted a whole new exploit for them. “I’ve not done anything specifically like this before, but I do a lot of projects where I retrofit things like children’s toys into computer accessories. Like the alligator keyboard,” Foone said over Twitter DMs. “A lot of the skills carry over between the two; microcontroller programming, basic soldering.”
It’s these skills that helped Foone conquer the pregnancy test. Foone does a lot of Twitter threads where they tear down electronics to see exactly what’s inside. They had previously done a Twitter thread with a teardown of a pregnancy test. During the teardown, Foone made the customary joke about how it was unable to run DOOM due to the CPU not being reprogrammable despite being powerful enough for the task. On top of that, the LCD screen of the pregnancy test was unable to show more than four objects on screen at a time.
So with some gutting and replacing, Foone added a 128×32 OLED screen and separate CPU on a breadboard. These changes mean that the pregnancy test housing is technically the only actual remaining part of the pregnancy test used in this DOOM machine. But just as the ship of Theseus was still called such after having all of its parts replaced, we’re going to give the pregnancy test of Foone a pass. At first, the newly renovated pregnancy test was only capable of running videos including DOOM gameplay. But after some tweaking, and the addition of a small keyboard, the pregnancy test became a veritable game console.
Foone tore down more pregnancy tests for further examination, but in terms of getting the things to run DOOM they’re tapped out. “I don’t have any other DOOM projects on my to do right now, unless I can find a similarly sized RGB OLED/LCD,” Foone said. “The game would be a lot more playable in this form factor if I could do color, but so far I haven’t found a screen this size which does color.”
Considering the recommended waiting time for the Equate digital pregnancy test is three minutes and you can beat a DOOM level in under one minute, there may be some market potential for just such a port. After all, what else is there to do while you wait to find out if the very fabric of your life is about to be undone and rewoven into an entirely unrecognizable patchwork? Probably won’t be as fun as DOOM, that’s for sure.
Nicolas Perez is an editorial intern at Paste and opinion co-editor for New University. He’s rambling on Twitter @Nic_Perez_.