Trivia Lock Box Spices Up Wedding Reception

Any hardware hacker will tell you, a significant other who embraces your passion is a keeper. [Nathan] found a keeper in [Jessica] – they even worked together on a hardware hack for their own wedding. The couple wanted an interactive element for their guests. Disposable cameras are getting a bit hard to find these days, so the solution was a trivia powered lock box designed and built by [Nathan] himself. Guests arrived at their tables to find locked boxes and cards with trivia questions about the couple. Only by answering the questions correctly would they unlock the box to access the prizes inside.

Each box consists of a Really Bare Bones Board, which is essentially an ATmega328 breakout board. The user interface consists of five tactile switches and a 16×2 character based LCD. The box is a clear Vaultz pencil box (Yes, the same brand Ahmed used for his clock). The final element is of course the locking mechanism. One of [Nathan’s] friends noticed that the Vaultz box latch was riveted in, and was spring loaded. It only took a bit of work to flip the latch from the outside to the inside. Cheap 9g micro servos from the far east pull the latch open with a string. The only thing we haven’t figured out is how [Nathan] closed the latches while they were inside the box. Obviously some black magic was involved! [Jessica] decorated the box with circuit traces created on her vinyl cutter.

On the eve of the big day, [Nathan] realized that his tactile switches were… not really switching. The superglue he had used to mount them had seeped into the switch body, freezing it solid. Nathan saved the project with a herculean effort of soldering 5 switches on each of 12 boxes the night before his own wedding.

What was in the box? Alka-Seltzer tablets. When added to vases filled with oil and water, the fizzy tablets turned the vases into mini lava lamps. The boxes also contained coins which were redeemable for Hawaiian Leis.

Click past the break to see the boxes in action on [Nathan] and [Jessica’s] big day and if you’re looking to build a fleet of hardware for your own wedding, take a look at the centerpieces [Bill Porter] created a couple of years ago.

19 thoughts on “Trivia Lock Box Spices Up Wedding Reception

      1. Not so much, Adam… Ahmeds’ family has been involved in at least three separate incidents that have generated negative attention. He didn’t hack anything- just repackaged a commercial product into a different external package. He didn’t change any of the functionality, add any features or make it do anything it didn’t already do when it sat on the store shelf.

        “…a history of being disciplined for using a handmade remote control to cause a classroom projector to malfunction on command.” (TV-B-Gone?)

        “Mohamed later plugged it in… …and set a time on the clock. When its alarm started beeping, the English teacher requested to see it.” (He intentionally set a time that was during class)

        “…it took him “10 or 20 minutes” to put it together…” (about the right time to remove some screws and transplant into the new case but not much else. A minimum of effort for maximum effect).

        “Mohamed said he “closed it with a cable … ’cause I didn’t want to lock it to make it seem like a threat, so I just used a simple cable so it won’t look that much suspicious.”” (those boxes have a lock that acts independent of the latch itself. He could have closed the box and just not engaged the lock mechanism)

        “…when questioned by the school principal if he tried to make a bomb, he responded, “I told them no, I was trying to make a clock.” (He didn’t MAKE jack-shit. The manufacturer made a clock, Ahmed just put it into a different case. Again “10 or 20 minutes” isn’t enough time to make anything but it’s the perfect amount of time to repackage an off-the-shelf consumer product.)

        I could go on, but the fact of the matter is that I expect this sort of ignorance from the mass-media and journalists lacking the ability to comprehend the true concepts of ‘hack’ and ‘make’ but HaD writers should know better and know the difference between making and faking. The simple facts that the family announced their intention of moving to Qatar the day after their trip to the White House and running for the presidency of Sudan twice while living in the US make the entire situation suspect. It’s not as simple as Ahmeds’ supporters like to make it out to be. What if it had been real? Would you want to be the school administrator that had to explain why they hadn’t done anything if it blew up and took a classroom of students out with it?

        1. You’re reading waaaay too much into this article. The only reference to the clock was the fact that this is the same brand of box – Vaultz. The point is that they make a box that looks good and is easily available. Sure, I’d rather go with a bud box for my projects, but I don’t always have the right one handy. These things are available at the corner drug store.
          I also stand by calling [I am Shirley] a troll – Compare his one liner with your reply to see why.

          1. But this isn’t the first time a HaD writer has engaged in the battery of this same deceased equine to get the same ‘let it go’ response.

            But I will say thank you for what I am interpreting as a somewhat compliment of my initial comment. Even still though… I feel as though I am in my own way guilty of horse beating. You made a one-line comment and I returned with a short essay, maybe *I* should let it go ;p

          2. I find it amusing that you take issue with my “one-liner”, seeing as it was a single useless line in your article that prompted my comment. You didn’t put much effort in tossing that line in, why do I need to create a paragraph in response? I see that I also offended you enough to have my other comment removed, you know the one about you not fully reviewing the project. It would be great if that comment was restored so everyone can see that there was no black magic nor string – it is all clearly documented in the project as well as shown in the demo video. Don’t blame me that you choose to muddy up things up by writing asinine material that had nothing to do with the project you were covering or that you clearly didn’t click past the first page of logs. It is a damn shame that it took all this took get you post something of value about in your comment about the box, maybe that should have been in your article. The way I see it, your single useless line about Ahmed is a perfect example of trolling.

    1. +1 no one gives a shit about that kid. He didn’t build anything, a case mod at best, and a really shitty one at that. He knew what he was doing and we should stop giving him media time as that is what his family was going for!

          1. It’s a reference to the kid-who-shall-not-be-named saying he solders CPUs or something like that, and the badge having a CPU, which is soldered.
            Looks like sarcasm towards the kid to me.

  1. I have been wanting to do the same thing but use the lockbox as a place to put someone’s cell phone that is too loud at work. It would have a countdown timer and unbreakable clear plastic. That way they could see who was calling but not interact with them. It would be delicious torture. muhahaha.

  2. To close it, perhaps they closed the latch most of the way, wrapped a piece a string around it, closed the box, then pulled the string (through the narrow gap between box/lid) to close it. Finally pull one end of the string to remove it from the box.

    1. It looks like there are 4 rivets, two top and two bottom (Didn’t look to see if this was the case). Personally, I would put on only the bottom two rivets initially, then mount all the electronics and setup the locking mechanism in the locked position and then close the box with the pin and string in place, then do the top 2 rivets.

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