Introduction: How to Make a Buzz Wire Game

This project can serve as an introduction to circuits for teenagers from approximately 14-16 years old. It involves the creation of a buzzer game. During the construction, learners develop basic knowledge of electrical circuits, base level engineering, sensors and design.

If you like puzzles, this whole project is a series of puzzles. But none of the parts are impossible, so get into it with confidence! It is a perfect engaging learning activity that is so much fun that it will feel like a hobby!

This activity was created in the context of a challenge I participated in at the Concordia University Innovation Lab under the supervision of Dr. Ann-Louise Davidson, in collaboration with Lower Canada College (Mentor: Alec Mathewson) and Chalet Kent (mentor: Karl-André Saint-Victor).

This activity was created alongside Sut Wing Mok, Tejas Patel, Ahmed Yasser and Leila Rhazi at Concordia University.

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

The best thing about this activity is the construction. Make sure you have all your supplies handy before you start! Here’s a list of all the things you will need. Keep in mind these are just examples! Alternatives and workarounds are encouraged. You can use your creativity to replace them with items that you have at your own home or workplace or that you can dig out from broken electronics or appliances.

- 9V battery & 9V battery connecter (Note: can be replaced by 4 AA batteries with their adjustor)

- Switch (ON/OFF) Note:That is not a must. It is always nice to turn off the power rather than cutting the circuit.

- Active buzzer electronic alarm

- Red LED

- 10Ω resistor (To regulate the current going through the LED and buzzer, otherwise they might be burnt and the capacity of the resistor will surely depend on the battery used and the max power the components can take. Do some calculations with the Ohm’s law! I=V/R)

- Breadboard

- Gauge thin electrical wire

- Thick strong conductor (Note: should be strong enough to stand alone after the design. Can be replaced by a normal thin electrical wire wrapped around a metal clothes hanger))

- Wire stripper/cutter

- Wooden/cardboard/plastic board ~50x70cm

- Ruler

- HB Pencil

- Glue gun (Note: Can be replaced by super glue or duct tape.)

- Soldering iron set

- Woodsaw

- Drill

Step 2: Boards, Assemble!

Now comes the first puzzle part. By the end of step 2, you’ll end up with 5 board pieces.

First, measure and mark the boards using the ruler and pencil to these measurements:

Board 1: Length x Width (50cm x 25cm)

Boards 2+3: Length x Height (x2) (50cm x 5 cm)

Boards 4+5: Width x Height (x2) (25cm x 5 cm)

Then, using these lines as reference, cut the boards along the measured lines.

You are now ready to glue the pieces together! Start from the bottom and work your way up from the base. Take your time, and make sure the glue sticks to the boards.

It should look something like this!

Step 3: Twisting the Wire

This is the most fun step, as you can use your creativity and challenge yourself or your friends for the best design! You only need to make sure that a stick tied with a wire loop can move around the whole design from the beginning till the end smoothly. The rest of it is totally up to you!

First, strip the wire by removing the outside plastic casing.

Second, bend and fold the wire to your design. You can use your hands, or pliers if it’s too difficult.

Step 4: Bringing It Together

Step 4: Bringing It Together

Let’s get into the fourth step of this assembly. You are going to be drilling a lot of holes for everything to be put together. Using the drill, you will make:

- 1 hole for the buzzer

- 1 hole for LED (right beside the buzzer)

- 1 hole for switch (right beside LED)

- 1 hole for a thin wire (several cm from the switch)

- 2 holes for the thick conductor wire (one on each side, opposite ends)

Insert the thick conductor into the holes you created. Place the components (LED, buzzer, switch) as shown in the photo.

Note: make sure that the buzzer and LED are placed the same way for polarity! The longer pins of both components (positive) are one the upper side and the shorter pins (negative) are down!

Here is the whole idea: When the stick touches the thick conductor, it will close the circuit - the buzzer will ring and the LED will turn on. When it isn't, the circuit is open - the buzzer will not ring and the LED will not turn on.

Next you will use the soldering iron to do the following connections:

- Connect the negative side of the battery connector (black), to the (in) side of the switch and from the (out) side of the switch, connect it to either side of the resistor. From the other side of the resistor, connect to the negative side of the LED and the negative side of the buzzer.

- Connect the positive side of the battery (red) to a gauge wire (this will be the stick) and leave it there.

- Connect the positive side of the LED to the positive side of the buzzer. Then connect to either side of the thick conductor (the closer end) as shown.

Now, guess what happens! If the gauge wire touches the thick conductor, the circuit will close and the alarm and LED will turn ON. (Note: if the switch is open.)

Step 5: Just Stick With It

From the same thick conductor that we previously shaped in Step 3, we’ll now create a circular stick as shown below. (Note: the smaller the circle, the more difficult the game will be!)

Use the soldering iron to connect the gauge wire to this stick and cover it with electrical tape or duct tape. This is for safety and so that it’s easier to hold.

You may also duct tape the thick conductor from the two sides on top so that the circuit remains open even if the switch is ON and no one is using it.

Step 6: Let the Games Begin!

Step 6: Let The Games Begin!

Play around and challenge your friends! The one with the least amount of buzzes to reach the end, wins!

Watch a little demo video of us playing the game.

Step 7: Advanced Extension

Now that you have implemented all the previous steps, you have achieved the learning outcomes! Was it too simple?

If it was, then this section is for you!

You have learned how the circuit components can be implemented (positive and negative), the effect of high power on components and how to regulate them (resistors!), how different designs can change the whole thing (mini ties -> hard, bigger ones -> easier.) and how a run through can show you the drawbacks of your design if it will work or not.

Use this knowledge to do something different. Solve an issue at home, such as... Do something more fun, such as... Learn about different components. Here are some ideas on how to go from what you have achieved and enhance your skills!

Extension ideas:

Arduino board to do some specific commands as programmed, ex:

- Buzzer to alarm for a few seconds continuously when the conductor is touched.

- Count how many touches and display them by the end.

- LED to blink when a specific number of tries are reached.

Insert some bigger obstacles on the conductor wire and adjust the design (of course they need to be electrical conductors too!)

Can you do something with Makey Makey?

Micro:bit with other components to do… WHAT!