Quiz Show Buzzer System using Staples Easy Button

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**UPDATE** It has come to my attention that the board of the current Staples easy button has changed over the years and is no longer  the same as the one I used for this Instructable back in 2009. Due both to time constraints and the fact that I no longer use the original system I created, I do not plan on updating this entry. However, I am going to leave it up for those who may wish to reference it for their own projects (to my knowledge, the general premise still works - just find something else to use as the button). Cheers.  14-Jan-2014

 My first instructable!

As a college instructor, I often enjoy doing review games - especially using PowerPoint for a Jeopardy! format. However, sometimes it's hard to see students' hands and the commercial buzzer systems are very expensive. I found a very basic game show circuit board at an electronics store, but the buttons were so small that it would never work for a team-style game. So I got the idea to use Staples Easy Buttons from another website that showed how to turn one into your garage door opener. These work great for team jeopardy because the entire team can sit around 1 button.

A few trips to Radio Shack and voila!

This is a lockout system, which means that once one person has pushed their button, it prevents anyone else from triggering their light. There is also a reset button for the moderator to "clear the board."

Total cost for a commercial system: ~$300
Total cost for this homemade option: ~$60

Bonus: I've attached a PowerPoint file that can be used as a Jeopardy template. All $$ on the main board are hyperlinked to the appropriate slide in the presentation. The small outlined arrow in the lower right corner of the home board links to final Jeopardy. I've also attached various Jeopardy .wav sounds for inclusion also.

Disclaimer: I am somewhat inexperienced with electronics parts/soldering - mostly self-taught - so I apologize for any sloppy work in the photos.

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bobsacomano made it!5 months ago

I use mine at work for team building events!

hrttele11 months ago

Very nice make too bad the easy buttons don't work anymore. I personally don't like how the easy buttons look so I used just regular push buttons. However my game show buzzer system is setup differently. I used construction helements. Check it out

fdaleodim1 year ago
I am a novice at this, but I am good at following directions, so I believe I can do this. I am building the Quiz Show Buzzer System per the original instructions. I want to use a more than 2-conductor wire as suggested so I can have a sturdier wire. I assume I am still only connecting 2 of the wires (pos and neg). What do I do with the remaining wires?
The extra wires do not get used. trim them back out of the way.
Thanks Phillip!

if you have fully buzzer system information then you can send me I need more information abount that..

phillippp made it!1 year ago

I used an Arduino Uno R3 as the main board. Added RCA jacks to make the buttons removable. This was a very fun project. Thank You for making this instructable. The EZ buttons were possibly the hardest part of this. They have updated the board. Makes it very difficult to solder for beginners. Two of my buttons I successfully soldered to the actual staples button board the other two I modified to use the momentary switch found in the Quiz show board kit. The two using the momentary switch are slightly harder to press but do function very well. I am building several more for the church. Looking at using some momentary buttons I found at or possible making some hand held style trigger. Thanks again for making this it inspired me to get busy.

Jeopardy System 001.JPG
jongscx2 years ago
I made a self-contained 8-button version for a quiz/trivia thing for a Filipino Independence day event. This project was harder than I thought.

I'll be making an instructable for mine too, would you mind if I put a link to this one on it?
Quiz boxes.jpg

Where did you get that container?

This Specific one is a harbor-freight hardware case; but they're kinda everywhere.

Thank You. Nice looking buzzer system.

fdaleodim1 year ago
The first pic is mine and the 2nd pic is the one in this instructable
easy button.jpgmeeker.jpg
fdaleodim1 year ago
Electronics for the Easy buttons I purchased looked different than the one in this instructable. Can anybody help me identify the pertinent components? Specifically, the pads. The one with the black capacitor hanging off it seems obvious. The others, not so.

easy button.jpg
phillippp1 year ago
What gauge wire is recommended for this project?
Airness11 year ago
I just connected one led with one trigger button. I wanted to make sure things worked correct before i went ahead and solder the rest of the buttons and the LED's. My first LED lights up but only when i hit the reset button not when i hit the trigger. What would cause that and I would I fix that?
Airness11 year ago
I just connected one led with one trigger button. I wanted to make sure things worked correct before i went ahead and solder the rest of the buttons and the LED's. My first LED lights up but only when i hit the reset button not when i hit the trigger. What would cause that and I would I fix that?
dmcneely21 year ago
Thanks for the awesome Instructable and lots of inspiration! I'm going to make one of these for a monthly Jeopardy-style conference that I run. I've ordered a board, but I have a couple of questions while I wait on it...

1. I'm going to build my own buttons instead of using the Easy Buttons. I assume I need to use a momentary switch, normally open, yes? I'm thinking something like this:
Anyone have any thoughts as to whether the LED would stay lit all the time or only when depressed?

2. Is there anywhere on the board to wire in a buzzer?  I was thinking something like this:
Although 76dB seems loud.  Any thoughts?

Thanks again!
Airness11 year ago
Can someone show me how to make this with the new Easy Button Boards?
I am at a loss at this point because the instructions are for what looks like the old style easy buttons. Sorry but I am at a loss on how to complete the project. Any suggestions are welcomed please be detailed
rwoods81 year ago
Can you tell me how to add sound when the button is pushed? Also, on the left side of the board, there are 3 holes, labeled "1,2,3". What is this used for?
Great project! If you want a quick and cheaper alternative however, consider the iPhone/Android phone app 'I Buzzed First!' - it's a smartphone networked gameshow buzzer app - only $1 per contestant.
Rusty1012 years ago
This is a great ible My kids are in 4H and do a Quiz bowl every year that uses a system very much like this but there is not enough access to the unit for all the local groups to practice with. Now I will have to get this made so our club will have their own. thank you very much
Need help with how to wire T11A39 easy button. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank You
They're definately using a new board. If you want to make it work with the T11A39 board, it's not hard to do, but it does require a delicate hand.

1. Remove all resistors and capacitors from the board. Why? Because we don't trust them. This isn't the delicate part.

2. Take a dremel tool with a cutting disk, and cut through the top layers of the board just to the right of that drop of black resin hiding the chip that's obviously maintaining a closed circuit between the regions of the board that we'd prefer were left open. This also isn't the delicate part.

3. Scratch the non-conductive top green layer off of a small region of the board so that you expose the metal conductive surface and create a new solder point. The place you want to do this is right on the pathway that was connecting the lower part of the button press area with the hidden chip of evil that you dealt with in step 2.

4. Solder one wire to this new exposed area, and the other to either of the 2 available solder points above the other half of the button press area.
Plan B.jpg
(removed by author or community request)
Those two locations you've connected were in a constantly closed state when I tested them with a multimeter. Don't know why it worked for you. Did you try a new board with no scratching?
You're totally right!

I'm an electronics noob.

They're both closed, but when you hit the button, they open. So it's like a backward circuit. Would probably work for some people (me!) but probably not for quiz shows.

Original post:

I started to follow your directions, and turns out this is wrong.

All I ended up doing was soldiering into two holes.

I can read the orange wire from my arduino (in analog mode), when i put the white wire in ground.

Ignore the scratching. Totally unnecessary. (I think.) Just connect to the holes.
That's a cool idea.

I decided to make my own circuit board for this. I used a tact switch in the center of a single sided pcb. (This was easy for me since I have a CNC router, but I think that a band saw and a few drill bits could accomplish the same thing.)

I was afraid that the high resistance of the "button pad" would be a problem. I've also seen that stuff wear out in car remotes, and I didn't want a high usage device to go bad like that since I expect that it will get roughed up in it's lifetime.

I wanted to use the talking circuit somewhere else, too (to be annoying).

same here..any luck with that yet?
No help yet, but I teach an EMT program at the local High School that has an electronics program I will see if they can help
I have that same board that came in the buzzers, T11A39..and the connects don't match up like the other illustration done on board CA68-03C. Did anyone get back to you? Hope i won't need to order different model type buzzer.

Having same issue. Pic of circuit board in my profile image gallery if anyone cares to have a gander and offer some advice
jiasso3 years ago
I have two of the older easy buttons and the circuit boards in them are different than the ones pictured. anyone know how to wire these?
bigster jiasso3 years ago
I have three new easy buttons and I cannot figure out how to wire them. they have T11A39 on the circuit board and the 2011-04-27. Anyone have any idea how to wire these up?
Yea, see my above comment about just severing the circuit and adding your own solder point.
cypher23013 years ago
I have made this.. I did the same thing you did and i put the leds and the Buttons on first to test it... i did burn the board at R1 i cleaned it and kept going. when i finished it didnt work.. so i pulled out my multimeter and the signal dropped at r1... so i scratched of the board a lil and dropped some solder over it and now i have voltages in all the right spots.. but no lights anywhere... no worky... any ideas please email me and comment here.. email is
jfdonohoe3 years ago
I want to see if I can add a buzzer to this project. There's something about an audible "buzzzzzzz" that improves the experience. I just need to figure out:
- Get a loud enough buzzer
- Additional power supply?
- Where to wire it into the board
- Figure out to make the sound only last for a second or two while keeping the LED light persistently on until reset.
KRSmith843 years ago
So after some more playing around (and getting the system all put together), I have discovered that with the new Easy Buttons, *every* cotact point results in a lit-up light *without* pressing the button. Boo to Staples for changing the Easy button. Might just make hand-held buttons using PVC and momentary contact switches...
I ran into the same issue. Half my Buttons were the old circuit board and half the new ones. I got it to work by basically cutting the boards to make a visibly understood circuit.

I'll try to take a photo of what I ended up doing and post it.
ladbg5 years ago
I can't quite tell from the pictures where the slide switch wires attach to the circuit board.  You indicate they go to the upper left hand corner and advise to  refer to the circuit board instructions, but I'm still having trouble.  Do you have another picture or more specific instructions?  Thank you.
rk55 ladbg3 years ago
In case you haven't figured it out yourself or someone else had answered your question, here is the answer. There are are three holes next to the battery where the tiny slide button supplied withe the kit goes. You need to use the two holes closer to the battery connection to connect your larger push button.
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