×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

We finally know how many potatoes it takes to play Doom

Over the years, gamers have found interesting ways of beating their favorite video games. Earlier this year, one gamer managed to play Dark Souls 3 using a Ring Fit controller. In a recent video, YouTuber Equalo has managed to blow people's minds by finding a way to play 1993's Doom with the electricity generated by a bunch of rotten potatoes.

At the top of his video, Equalo explained that seeing previous experiments involving running games on unexpected objects inspired him to test a theory of his own. Equalo mentioned a few specific experiments that made him want to test his theories out, including one intrepid programmer who managed to play Doom on a pregnancy test.

Yes, you read that correctly. Just last month, a California-based programmer called Foone tinkered with a pregnancy test with a digital readout until they were able to put a playable version of Doom on the device. Still, it should be noted that the display on the pregnancy test has rendered most of the game's screen indecipherable.

Despite the limitations of "Pregancy Test Doom," Equalo decided to try his hand at building an electrical grid out of potatoes that would power a game of Doom. The trick to this experiment was figuring out how many potatoes, as well as what device could possibly be powered by them.

You're probably wondering how in the heck a potato can produce power of any kind. As explained by Equalo, potatoes contain phosphoric acid. By placing something made of zinc into one side of a potato, the ensuing chemical reaction generates electricity. Putting a copper conductor on the other side of the potato, like a penny, will give that electricity the out that it needs, passing the energy on. Despite this reaction, potatoes don't exactly put out an astounding amount of energy; otherwise the world would be full of daredevils on potato-powered motorcycles (if only). It would take a lot of potatoes to yield even the small amount of electricity that Equalo needed.

Because of the sheer number of potatoes that Equalo would require to generate even a little bit of juice, he decided that he needed to try to run Doom on the lowest-energy device available. He finally settled on Raspberry Pi Zero, which fit his needs in multiple regards. First of all, it was a low-powered device, only requiring about 100-120mA of electricity (or about five volts). Secondly, Equalo was familiar with the interface for the Raspberry Pi Zero, so he wouldn't have to try to learn his way around a new program while also attempting to run the emulator through a potato. (Wow, that phrase sounds crazier every time you see it, doesn't it?)

The next step for Equalo was testing different types of potatoes so he could find out which ones yielded the most power. It is unclear how many different potatoes were part of this experiment, but Equalo ultimately settled on using russet potatoes. According to Equalo, of all of the potatoes that he checked, russet potatoes gave off the most juice. He then started slicing the russet potatoes up, which actually provides a bit of extra electricity and allowed Equalo to get the most out of each spud. After wiring his first batch of russet potatoes together in his basement, he discovered that the number of potatoes he had on hand wouldn't be nearly enough. After crunching the numbers, Equalo realized that he'd need somewhere around 770 potato slices in order to achieve the amount of power that he needed to run his Raspberry Pi Zero.

Equalo got to work, boiling roughly 100 pounds of potatoes in order to remove the starch from them. This would allow the potatoes to create just a bit more energy. However, it turned out that even 100 pounds of boiled potatoes wasn't powerful enough to run the Raspberry Pi Zero. With the potatoes beginning to rot at a rapid pace, Equalo's experiment turned into a (disgusting, smelly) race against time.

Five days into the experiment, Equalo was ready to give up. Nothing he'd tried had worked. According to the YouTuber, he had decided to toss out his potatoes and call the whole project a loss. That was when he remembered that he could program a TI-84 graphing calculator to run Doom. With the game now running on a much lower-powered device, he returned to his rotten-smelling basement for one more try.

To his surprise, it worked. "Ladies and gentlemen, we have Doom — running on potatoes," announced Equalo.

As much of a victory as this experiment was for Equalo, the YouTuber explained that he never wants to try anything like this again. He told his viewers, "So, I hate potatoes now. And that's saying a lot, I live in Idaho." He added, "Please don't ever try to do this yourself. It's not worth it. I do not feel rewarded at all for this experience."

The whole video is definitely worth checking out, but Equalo's warnings also seem worth heeding. Judging from the video, playing Doom on potatoes really stinks.