Myst(ery) Box

myst box

Anyone remember the game Myst? Well, [Michael] and his girlfriend have been playing quite a bit of it lately, so for her birthday, he decided to make her something inspired from it.

For those unaware of the classic that is the Myst series, it is a set of games that started back in 1993 where you assume the role of the Stranger who gets to explore other planets (called Ages) to solve various logical and mechanical puzzles.

Anyway, [Michael] got his girlfriend tickets to visit GC319QK (a geocache site requiring diving) — since the gift is a relatively small token, it was logical for [Michael] to make a fancy box for it — and that’s exactly what he did. It’s a peculiar little wooden box with LEDs, a button, a latch, an unplugged wire, different rods and strange looking sensors — and it is a very clever little puzzle.

We could explain to you how it works (with the Arduino, phototransistors and maybe the source code), but instead we think you’ll enjoy watching [Michael's] video of it.

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Valentine’s puzzle box makes you work for what’s inside


Here’s a new take on a gift box which has been locked from the inside. I doesn’t rely on GPS coordinates or a real-time clock to unfasten the latch. Instead, the box itself acts as a puzzle. You follow the visual and audio clues, turning the box along three axes in order to input the unlock code.

There are three different difficulty settings. The easiest uses the LED heart to indicate which direction to turn the box next. This is accompanied by a beep for correct or a longer tone for incorrect movements. On the medium setting you can only go by the tones, but once you screw up the lights will aid you in getting back to where you where when making the mistake. The impossible setting doesn’t use the lights at all.

[Matt] took inspiration from some reverse geocache projects featured here on Hackaday. He already had an STM32F3 Discovery board on hand which he received as a sample. It’s driving all of the electronics inside, with the on-board gyroscope as the input device. Don’t miss the video after the break to see how well the thing works.

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Hackaday Links: December 13th, 2012

Cardboard box computer


[Alistair] chapman had a Laptop with a broken screen sitting in his parts bin. He knew he had an LCD panel on hand that would probably work with it, but it wouldn’t fit in the case. His solution was to transplant all the computer parts into a cardboard box from a motherboard.

This violin is garbage


The kids in this orchestra live in a villiage built on top of a landfill. But they make the most out of what they have. This orchestra is composed of instruments built from garbage and they seem to work pretty well. [Thanks Bruce]

More LED mystery puzzles


[Henryk] is at it again. He puts together some very impressive circuits that play tricks on your engineering mind. His latest is three LEDs in series. Look closely and you’ll see they’re not performing as expected. Watching the solution to one of his previous puzzles will help you figure out how he’s doing it. His work is simply amazing.

Netbook framed as a dedicated weather station


Not wanting to get rid of old but still working hardware, [Retro Toaster] built a dedicated weather station by mounting the screen, keyboard, and track pad in a picture frame.

Current and voltage testing your USB projects


This dev board is a pass-through for USB devices. It makes voltage and current testing your device quite simple.

A talking reverse geocache puzzle box

Here’s a talking reverse geocache puzzle box which [Erv Plecter] built as a wedding gift for his friends. The box itself isn’t really the gift, but a surprise delivery system for a collection of cash from the couple’s circle of friends to go toward the honeymoon. We think this is about fifty times more fun that getting a fat envelope of bills. Who would really expect to find cash inside once you finally get to the target location?

Unlike the other geocache box we saw recently, this one has no display to show you clues to the destination. Instead, it plays back audio clips which [Erv] recorded himself. They’re quite tongue-in-cheek which is another nice personal touch. The pin seen protruding out of the right side of the box can be removed to play a clue and check the location. It’s connected by a little chain to a 5 euro-cent piece which conceals an emergency release mechanism for the lid. The device is powered with a Lithium battery and can be recharged without opening the box via a USB port in the side.

We’ve embedded the video demonstration of the box after the break.

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Freakyphone has a puzzle for you!


[Mime] likes to make puzzles and games for his friends to play, often using recycled electronics to construct them. He had been contemplating a sound-based game for some time when he came across an old rotary phone at a garage sale that would be perfect for what he had in mind.

He calls his creation the Freakyphone, and the goal of the game is to guess the name of a historical figure via a series of audible clues. The phone was constructed using an Arduino that plays audio using a sound shield from Adafruit. While he was ultimately unable to get the phone’s ringer to work properly, [Mime] says that the build process was relatively easy overall.

When activated, the phone buzzes for attention, prompting the player to pick up the handset. After introducing the game, the phone will ring additional times with random sound clips to clue the player into the historical figure’s name. If the player correctly enters the person’s name using the rotary dial, they receive a “winning tone” and the game is over.

It’s always nice to see someone building gadgets for their friends just for the sake of fun – nice work!

Continue reading to see a video showing how the Freakyphone was built along with a demo of the game.

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Bejeweled Blitz bot makes your high score look just sad

Programmers don’t need to get good at a game to achieve a high score, they code a bot for that instead. Take [hypnotizd] for instance. He was learning to write in the C# language and decided to make a bot that plays Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook. He figures he took between 48 and 72 hours of coding over a couple of weeks, but remember, he was learning the language at the same time. We think you’d be hard pressed to achieve a 1.5 million range score by yourself, even with that amount of practice time.

We spoke with [hypnotizd] yesterday afternoon to get a bit of background on how he made this happen. His code (he’s not releasing it so you’ll have to write your own) scrapes the screen image as input. You can see at the beginning of the video after the break that he sizes his app to properly align each jewel in its grid. The program then identifies each game piece by finding the center of the cell and taking a 25 square-pixel average color. Many of the jewels are easily recognized in this first pass, but some are harder and require several different tests to identify. That’s the difficult part, choosing the best move is just a matter of coming up with your own rules on how the bot should play the game.

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Locking notebook enclosure

[Dombeef] made a locking enclosure for his sketchbook. The diamond seen in the center of the book is formed by the four sliding parts of the lock. Only with the proper movements will you get the cover open so you can plan your next hack.

He was inspired by this wooden version created by artist [Kagen Schaefer]. There were no tips about how the mechanism was made but a bit of deep thinking led [Dombeef] to discover the secret. Being the papercraft ninja that he is (he makes things like gyroscopes, strandbeests, and claws) this was created using cardstock as the parts. There is a wooden pin on the right that serves as the latch. Each of the four puzzle pieces moves around each other to free a slot from its hold on the notched latch.

There is a diagram showing the parts and their movements in the post linked above. [Dombeef] also mentioned an animated GIF that he promises to publish soon.