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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.

To experience an escape room, you normally need a rather large dedicated space. This project, however, by creator Jason R, takes this physical clue-solving concept and shrinks it down to fit within a small suitcase!

To play, participants have to work their way through a series of problems, supplied in the ‘TOP SECRET’ documentation attached to and inside the device, connecting jumpers, flipping switches, and turning knobs as needed. 

A computerized voice guides you along the way, with LEDs and an LCD panel providing visual output as you save the day. The game is controlled via an Arduino Mega, while power supplied by a rechargeable USB power bank.

I created an “escape room-esque” game that is contained within a small suitcase. In total, there are about 15-20 puzzles and sub-puzzles that need to be solved in order to disarm the “explosives”. Players are given 60 minutes to arrange puzzles, decipher clues hidden in QR codes, connect cities in maps to form numbers, decode morse signals, and other similar things. 

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.

If you’ve ever been to an escape room, you’ve undoubtedly had to deal with a wide variety of puzzles that you have to solve in order to get out of the “prison” that you’ve willingly thrown yourself into. Beyond the puzzle that you’re trying to decode, the mechanisms used can be extremely clever, and coming up with a new device to use in these scenarios was a perfect challenge for this team of Belgian college students.

Based on the project requirements, they created a Roomba-like circular robot controlled by an Arduino Uno and motor shield that drives a pair of DC motors. The idea, while not fully implemented due to time constraints, is that it can be remotely operated only after solving a riddle and within a certain time period, then drive itself back to a designated spot once the game is over. 

Here is a summary of what happens in the robot:

– The non-autonomous part: a remote controller is linked to Arduino through a receiver. Players control the remote and therefore control the Arduino which controls the motors. The Arduino is turned on before the game starts, but it enters the main function when players solve a riddle on the remote controller. An IR wireless camera is already turned on (turned on at the same time as the “whole” (controlled by the Arduino) when switch on/off turned on). Players guide the car with remote controller: they control the speed and the direction. When the timer that starts when the main function is entered is equal to 30 minutes, the control from the controller is disabled.

– The autonomous part: the control is then managed by the Arduino. After 30 minutes, the IR line tracker sensor starts following a line on the ground to finish the parcours.

For inspiration on building your own, check out the team’s write-up (including code) and a clip of the prototype below.

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.

The inside of the radio is decidedly modern. A Raspberry Pi B+ and a ATmega328 handle the various functions. Custom PCBs contain the computers and a few other items such as an analog to digital converter (for reading a potentiometer) and an audio amplifier.

The software plays noise until the tuning knob moves near one of six different frequencies. Each frequency can have its own riddle. Of course, the audio is all digital playback, so the frequency is just for effect. There’s no real radio reception going on here at all.

Secret boxes are nothing new around here. At least this puzzle box doesn’t explode.

 


Filed under: Arduino Hacks, Raspberry Pi

All photos: Hep Svadja, Make:Escape room games, or mystery rooms, or puzzle rooms, are trending, and many rely on Makers and Maker tech to make them work

Read more on MAKE

The post Locked In: Behind the Scenes of the Escape Room Craze appeared first on Make: DIY Projects, How-Tos, Electronics, Crafts and Ideas for Makers.



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