Input devices that can handle rough and tumble environments aren’t nearly as varied as their more fragile siblings. [Alastair Aitchison] has devised a brilliant way of detecting inputs from plumbing valves that opens up another option. (YouTube) [via Arduino Blog]
While [Aitchison] could’ve run the plumbing valves with water inside and detected flow, he decided the more elegant solution would be to use photosensors and an LED to simplify the system. This avoids the added cost of a pump and flow sensors as well as the questionable proposition of mixing electronics and water. By analyzing the change in light intensity as the valve closes or opens, you can take input for a range of values or set a threshold for an on/off condition.
[Aitchison] designed these for an escape room, but we can see them being great for museums, amusement parks, or even for (train) simulators. He says one of the main reasons he picked plumbing valves was for their aesthetics. Industrial switches and arcade buttons have their place, but certainly aren’t the best fit in some situations, especially if you’re going for a period feel. Plus, since the sensor itself doesn’t have any moving parts, these analog inputs will be easy to repair should anything happen to the valve itself.
If you’re looking for more unusual inputs, check out the winners of our Odd Inputs and Peculiar Peripherals contest or this typewriter that runs Linux.
Continue reading “Plumbing Valves As Heavy Duty Analog Inputs”
No spooky mansion is complete without a secret passage accessed through a book shelf — or so Hollywood has taught us. What works as a cliché in movies works equally well in an escape room, and whenever there’s escape rooms paired with technology, [Alastair Aitchison] isn’t far. His latest creation: you guessed it, is a secret bookcase door.
For this tutorial, he took a regular book shelf and mounted it onto a wooden door, with the door itself functioning as the shelf’s back panel, and using the door hinges as primary moving mechanism. Knowing how heavy it would become once it’s filled with books, he added some caster wheels hidden in the bottom as support. As for the (un)locking mechanism, [Alastair] did consider a mechanical lock attached on the door’s back side, pulled by a wire attached to a book. But with safety as one of his main concerns, he wanted to keep the risk of anyone getting locked in without an emergency exit at a minimum. A fail-safe magnetic lock hooked up to an Arduino, along with a kill switch served as solution instead.
Since his main target is an escape room, using an Arduino allows also for a whole lot more variety of integrating the secret door into its puzzles, as well as ways to actually unlock it. How about by solving a Rubik’s Cube or with the right touch on a plasma globe?
Continue reading “A Classic TV Trope For An Escape Room”
The trick to a fun escape room is layers. For [doktorinjh]’s Spacecase, you start with an enigmatic aluminum briefcase and a NASA drawstring backpack. A gamemaster reads the intro speech to set the mood, and you’re ready to start your escape from the planet. The first layer is the backpack with puzzles you need to solve to get into the briefcase. In there, you discover a hidden compartment and enough sci-fi references to put goofy smiles on our faces. We love to see tools reused as they are in one early puzzle, you use a UV LED to reveal a hidden message, but that light also illuminates puzzle clues later.
All the tech in Spacecase makes it a wonder of mixed media. The physical layer has laser engraved wood featuring the font from the 1975 NASA logo, buttons, knobs, LEDs, toggle switches, and a servo. Beneath the visible faceplate is an RGB sensor, audio player, speaker, and at the center is an Arduino MEGA. We’d love to get our hands on Spacecase for a game, and we’re inspired to pull out all the stops and build games with our personal touches. Maybe something with a mousetrap.
This isn’t the first escape room hardware we’ve seen and [doktorinjh] similarly made a bomb
diffusing defusing game.
Continue reading “Planetary Escape (-Room In A Box)”
Escape rooms are awesome for people who like to solve puzzles, see how things work, or enjoy a mystery. Everyone reading this falls into at least one of those categories. We enjoy puzzles and mysteries, but we have a fondness for seeing how things work. To this end, we direct your attention to [doktorinjh]’s “Bomb Disarming Puzzle in a Suitcase” Game, which is a mysterious puzzle box he built himself. I guess the mystery is mostly in the gameplay, which you can watch below because he shows us his build photos and describes the hardware inside.
At its heart is an Arduino Mega, a wise choice since our back-of-the-napkin estimation puts his I/O count over forty-five and the Mega can handle them all with a few pins to spare. Working inside the confines of a briefcase came with its own challenges, but we adore the way he used the hexagon theme in the top panel to allow for knob clearance. It was so subtle that we almost missed it.
The escape room theme is delightful, and we appreciate the mix of games, aesthetics, and techno-trickery in many forms.
Continue reading “In Case You Cannot Make It To An Escape Room”
If you like solving puzzles out in the real world, you’ve probably been to an escape room before, or are at least familiar with its concept of getting (voluntarily) locked inside a place and searching for clues that will eventually lead to a key or door lock combination that gets you out again. And while there are plenty of analog options available to implement this, the chances are you will come across more and more electronics-infused puzzles nowadays, especially if it fits the escape room’s theme itself. [Alastair Aitchison] likes to create such puzzles and recently discovered how he can utilize a USB powered plasma globe as a momentary switch in one of his installations.
The concept is pretty straightforward, [Alastair] noticed the plasma globe will draw significantly more current when it’s being touched compared to its idle state, which he measures using an INA219 current shunt connected to an Arduino. As a demo setup in his video, he uses two globes that will trigger a linear actuator when touched at the same time, making it an ideal multiplayer installation. Whether the amount of fingers, their position on the globe, or movement make enough of a reliable difference in the current consumption to implement a more-dimensional switch is unfortunately not clear, but definitely something worth experimenting with.
In case you’re planning to build your own escape room and are going for the Mad Scientist Laboratory theme, you’ll obviously need at least one of those plasma globes sparking in a corner anyway, so this will definitely come in handy — maybe even accompanied by something slightly larger? And for all other themes, you can always resort to an RFID-based solution instead.
Continue reading “Plasma Globe Reveals Your Next Clue”
A great place to get your feet wet with the data-network-wonderland that is modern-day automobiles is the Car Hacking Village at DEF CON. I stopped by on Saturday afternoon to see what it was all about and the place was packed. From Ducati motorcycles to junkyard instrument clusters, and from mobility scooters to autonomous RC test tracks, this feels like one of the most interactive villages in the whole con.
Continue reading “Car Hacking At DEF CON 26”
When [the-rene] was building an escape room, he decided to have a clue delivered by radio. Well, not exactly radio, but rather an old-fashioned radio that lets you tune to a faux radio station that asks a riddle. When you solve the riddle, a secret compartment opens up. [the-rene] says you could have the compartment contain a key or a clue or even a cookie.
The outer case is actually an old radio gutted for this purpose. In addition, a laser cut box and a servo motor form the secret compartment.
Continue reading “Secret Riddle Retro Radio”