This is a project I built in October 2009.
It all started when I got the beautiful black frame you can see in the photo. Since the picture in the frame wasn't equally beautiful, I got the idea to replace it with a game of life simulation on a dot-matrix. The whole thing is actually quite hypnotic to watch, and it sure is pretty.
The design is based on an ATMega8 that runs the simulation and four 8x8 dot LED matrices from electrokit.se. To drive the dot matrices, I'm using four daisy chained MAX7221 (serially interfaced led display drivers). I needed the serial interface since the atmega obviously doesn't have 256 i/o pins to turn LED's on and off. Below are two images of the controller card; drawing and actual.
I also added a LM2940 5V low dropout voltage regulator (top left corner), to be able to power it reliably with a battery.
This is the initial configuration of the simulation. I think alpha and omega is fitting in a game of life simulation, don't you?