Certamen is a special class of high school quiz bowl tournament that’s focused solely on the classics. No, not Austen and Dickens, the actual classics. All the questions are about stuff like ancient Greek and Roman civilization and culture, classical mythology, and the finer points of Latin grammar. Like any other quiz bowl, the contestants use buttons to buzz in and answer the questions.
To win at Certamen, a team needs more than just a vast working knowledge of classical antiquity. They also have to be fast on the buzzer. The best way to do that is to practice with official equipment. But this is Hackaday, so you know what comes next: all the ones you can buy cost five times more than they should, so [arpruss] made an awesome open-source version for a fraction of the cost.
The practice machine consists of 12 arcade-style buttons connected to a control box. An Arduino Mega in the control box records the order of button presses as they arrive and displays a corresponding code on an LCD. A toggle switch selects between Certamen mode, where one button press locks out the rest of the team, and a Quiz mode with no lockout.
Our favorite thing about this build is the way [arpruss] took care of managing long cables, which was one of his main must-haves. The buttons are wired to the control box with Cat6 in three groups of four—one cable per table, one pair per chair. Our other favorite thing is the Easter eggs. Hold down the clear button on the control box when the system is booting and one of two things happens: either the buttons band together and turn into piano keys, or some Latin poetry appears on the screen.
[arpruss]’s 3D-printed buzzer bases look pretty slick. If Certamen practice ever starts to get out of hand, he might consider more robust packaging, like these Devo hat buttons.
The four colored buttons seen above are a product made by Learning Resources. They flash and make noise when pressed and are meant for quiz-show style games in the classroom. The problem is that they don’t use a central controller, so it’s up to the person running the game to judge who rang in first. [Kenny] fixed that issue by building his own controller which is housed in that black project box.
He went with an Arduino Uno board. It fits in the project box and has no problem monitoring all of the buttons and triggering their sound and lights when necessary. There are two telephone jacks (RJ11 connectors) on either side of the controller. He also cracked open each button, cutting some traces on the PCB in order to patch the signals into connectors he added to the housing.
The video after the break shows the system in action, In addition to illuminating the first button to ring in there are LEDs on the box that indicate who was 2nd, 3rd, and 4th in line.
If you don’t want to purchase buttons try making your own with some cheap plastic bowls.
Continue reading “Hacking Quiz Game Buttons To Add A Central Controller”
Gather your friends round the living room for a head-to-head quiz game. This one’s not quite as nice as you might think. Get an answer wrong and you’re going to get the Venkman treatment thanks to the stored electricity in a disposable camera flash circuit. [Israel] runs the game questions from a Windows machine, and uses a set of four USB joystick buzzers that let each contestant ring in. They all wear a cuff that houses electrodes for negative-reinforcement upon an incorrect answer. Since every contestant answers each question it won’t be long before you hear the uncomfortable yelp of failure from your guests. This seems a little bit more fair than shocking people for not calming their minds, but the video from that hack is still one of our all-time favorites.