Hello, and welcome to FIREPEGS.

FIREPEGS is a toy construction set for dynamical patterns. In FIREPEGS the parents can quickly create or download the challenges for their kids. Even with this early prototype, some problems are easy for 5 years old, and some are hard for 12 years.

Beside this app, you have a e-book, which explains FIREPEGS step by step using players. The first four chapter are particularly important. Players are friendly, and they let you see more, but they don't let you change anything. This app does.

If you opened this page in a separate window, you must be able to see the app. Please start clicking on the names of the sample projects (they are on the left), and watch the dynamical patterns running. The easiest patterns are those from Around to Complexity.

Like any such document, this detailed help page may seem scary. In fact, you have only two things to play with: the colors and the wait times. The goal is to choose them right and to place them right. One you did this, you start the fire and turn on the time.

Anatomy, behavior and psychology of firepegs.

Firepegs are the squares on the rectangular board. Every firepeg is divided into 9 small squares. The central small square defines a secret color, which firepeg reveals as it fires up. The eight small squares around the center are the links. The numbers on the links are the wait times.

The board is like a social media. When a peg fires up, it displays its color and sends the fire to it's neighbors as a message through the links. The firing up message is simple: "Wake up, count N ticks, and then you may display your color". N is the number on the link, and the ticks are the signals from the computer timer. On the picture below I drew red arrows to highlight the links.

Firepegs are made to crave fire, because they want to display their colors. In the beginning you fire up some firepegs, clicking on them. If firepeg could send the fire to its neighbors, the fire lives on. Otherwise it dies.

Firepegs can fire up each other in turns, making loops of fire. Technically this is known as feedback. With properly organized feedbacks, a dynamical pattern may restart itself and loop "forever".


The time intervals in FIREPEGS are measured in ticks, and ticks are tied to the real time units through the selector named TPS (Ticks Per Second). The more ticks per second you order, the faster is your animation. Another timing control on the top of the board is labeled TTG (Time To Glow). Currently, TTG is one and the same for every peg.

Two other important controls are the selector offering to choose a mode from RD-ST-GO (READY-SET-GO) and the button RST (RESET) on the left.

I assume you are currently running a pattern, and your mode is GO. You may watch firepegs acting, and click on them to fire them up by hand.

That's how your controls look like in GO mode. You may click on them and pull down the menus. They are not linked to anything.

RST- -TPS: -TTG:  < -TXT
Switching to ST (SET) mode stops the time. You still can fire up the pegs. You can also advance the time TICK by tick, and you see more of firepeg's internal life.


There are two ways to get to RD (READY) mode. You can use the mode switch or RST (RESET) button. The mode switch preserves the fires, or, technically speaking, the states of the pegs. To extinguish the fires and shortcut to RD, use RST.

Switching to RD (READY) changes your view. In this mode you can set up the the colors and the wait times. You controls look like as follows.


To set up the colors and the wait times, please use two "palette" selectors. The one for the colors is normally gray, like the board or a sleeping firepeg. The one for the numbers has "1t", which means, 1 tick. Pick a value, click on the central squares or on the links, then pick another value. Please excuse me, the color switch is not working yet (but in the real app it is).

Remark that if you made mistake (like clicked on the wrong color rectangle or the link), click again before you changed the palette selection, and get your old value back.

An empty ("none") link is open and does not conduct fire. Essentially, it's a firewall. The choice of "next" allows you to click through the wait numbers from "0" to "9" and back to "0".

To get a fresh gray board, select a size and use the NEW button.

I would suggest you to stay away from TTG (just keep it at 1 until you learn more) and be careful with TXT. They are thoroughly explained in e-book.

Scroll forward for more help.

Step by step instruction

The Design Cycle

You start in RD mode, changing one of the pre-loaded patterns or building a new one. From here you can switch to ST, or straight to GO. ST is useful if you want to inspect your firepegs in action using TICK control, or if you need to fire up many pegs before starting the time.

Remember, nothing is going to happen on the board without a fire. If there was no fire before you switched to GO, you got to click to start one.

You can save your layout using TXT button. It brings up a simple text editor. The button named TXT (another TXT) allows you to create a script, which you can copy and save elsewhere as a text. Copy the text back and hit RUN to get your saved layout back. For security reasons, your browser does not allow my app to access your files.

To debug your layout, switch to ST mode, click on TICK, watch the pegs talking and firing up, try to figure out how to make them do what you want. To change your layout, return to RD. Use RST to kill the fires and start from scratch.

More help

Below are some useful links, and then the directory, linking the patterns to the chapters, which they were designed to illustrate.

All you need to know to use the app, but I would prefer you to read e-book from the beginning to the end of this chapter. The rest is for those, who are really interested.

The origin of FIREPEGS, the structure of the elements and their behavior.

The easy patterns - from Around to Complexity.

The ancient history of this project.

The more detailed explanations of the reasons behind the design decisions.

Below are the links to the chapters. If there is no link, the illustration belongs top the same chapter as the upper one. The chapters have players. Unlike this app, the players only let you view and examine the patterns.

Brainy InchwormINCHWORMS
Brainless Inchworm
Hourglass 8x8FROM TOY TO GAME
Hourglass 7x7
TapeDesign Irrationale 3