Puzzle Box - Codebreakers and Groundbreakers [UCM]




Introduction: Puzzle Box - Codebreakers and Groundbreakers [UCM]

About: Digital Maker in Residence with University of Cambridge Museums. A digital artist, maker and tech educator designing and building custom controllers as one-half of Installation Required and a member of Cambrid…

A laser cut puzzle box kit designed for a digital maker workshop at The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge in connection with their Codebreakers and Groundbreakers exhibition. For the workshop, the button in the puzzle box was connected to a MakeyMakey and when pressed would unhide a secret message locked on the computer.

(Please note for the workshop and this example the box was left undecorated.)

Step 1: Pieces, Materials and Tools

A list of what you need:

  • Kit pieces - Laser cut from 3mm birch plywood (can use acrylic but will need to use appropriate glue!) dxf file for laser cutting below
  • Wood glue (+ cocktail sticks)
  • 16x3mm wood dowel
  • small rubber band
  • 16mm push button
  • 2 wires to connect push button to MakeyMakey
  • MakeyMakey with USB cable

Step 2: Assembling the Base

The base is where the key is hidden, you'll need the pieces marked 3b and the 5 pieces that make up the hiding place.

Glue the two base pieces together. I'm using a standard wood glue, to help with applying I use plastic cocktail sticks. Wood glue is pretty fast drying but it helps to keep the amount you use small, the cocktail sticks help with that.

Next glue together the hidden compartment. Note the two different lines in the wood one is zigzag and the other squiggly, the top and middle should line up accordingly otherwise the back panel won't fit!

Glue the compartment to the base.

Note that the key is not included in this part of the assembly, wait until the glue is completely dry before putting it into the hidden compartment. You don't want the key getting stuck!

Step 3: Assembling the Top

The top houses the lock mechanism. You'll need pieces marked 3a, the lock catch, the dowel, and the spacers.

Glue the top pieces together, it's important that the keyholes line up with each other, if they don't the key won't be able to pass through to unlock the box.

Glue one end of the dowel and insert it into the hole between the keyholes. Leave it to dry before adding the spacers, once it's stuck it will be easier to work with.

Place two of the small spacers onto the dowel, then the lock catch, the last small spacer and finally the big spacer. It's important that you don't glue the lock catch to the dowel, it needs to be free moving so the key can actually turn it. The big spacer needs to be glued to the dowel to prevent all the pieces from falling off the second you put the lid on.

Once the glue has dried, be sure to test the keyholes and the lock with the key. It's important to do these kinds of small tests throughout the construction to know that everything is working right.

Step 4: The Inner Shelves

These shelves will secure the button in the box and the catches for the lock mechanism.

You will need the pieces marked 4, 5, the push button, 2x wires and the last small pieces from the kit.

Glue the catches to the shelf marked 4, be sure to use the photos above to make sure you have them facing the right way otherwise the lock won't work!

Take the last small pieces, we'll refer to these as the slides, these will be used to help hide the key. Glue the pieces together, use the photos to help you.

Screw the button into the piece marked 5 and thread wires through the tabes attached to the bottom of the button and twist together to secure it in place. Do a quick test of holding the shelf by the wires to make sure it will hold, once the box is all glued up you won't be able to get back into it to reattach it!

Step 5: Attaching the Sides

Take the last remaining side pieces marked 1 and 2.

Best way to glue together the box is to attach the shelf pieces 4 and 5 to one of the side pieces and then attach the other sides one at a time.

Note the warning in the fifth image, do not glue that space as it's important to be able to move the piece that will go there!

Once all the sides have been glued and dried, position the box similar to seen in the 6th photo and glue in place the slide on the left (left in reference to the position shown in the 6th photo.) Wait for the glue to dry before placing the other slide in and adding the rubber band.

Thread the wires through the two holes on the sides, we'll be connecting them to the MakeyMakey after a couple more steps.

Step 6: Attaching the Base and Locking the Top

Now with the core of the box all set up, it's time to add the base and top!

The base will be glued to the box but the top won't be as it needs to be removable. Once the base has been attached, test the slide and hide the key. Test that you can place the key inside the hidden compartment and can remove it.

Place the top on the box and use the key to lock it in place, you might need to line the lock mechanism with the key before placing the top on the box. Once the top is locked, hide the key in the compartment.

Step 7: Connecting the MakeyMakey

Time to connect the button up to the MakeyMakey!

Connect one wire to EARTH and the other to "W".

The puzzle box works with this Secret Message game. With everything set up, find a friend or a partner to test the box with. Write a message in the game, make sure they don't peek! Select a difficulty, this will determine how long they will have to solve the puzzle box and hide the message!

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    2 Discussions


    2 years ago

    It is so satisfying to see this one come together! Really well designed :D