Introduction: Low Cost Wireless DIY Game Show System for Holiday Parties
Don't want a boring holiday party? Why not add some trivia game show fun to your holiday party without it costing you a lot of money? We have a $15 wireless game show popper system solution for you based on a discontinued Duo Pop for iPad Game and a really small Arduino compatible microcontroller known as the Pro Trinket by adafruit.com. At iTapArcade we like to take discontinued products and turn them into something useful for the masses. Currently the Duo Pop for iPad is a product that was made only for the iPad. With no original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and no customer support available, it has now become a heavily discounted product on amazon.com for less than $5. This was a cue for iTapArcade to transform this product into something more useful. With a $10 Pro Trinket Arduino compatible microcontroller, we figured out how to decode the infrared wireless transmissions from the four wireless infrared (IR) poppers included with the game and turn those transmissions into USB keyboard commands. This allows you to use this hacked IR wireless system with practically any game show software available for PC, Mac, Linux, and Android platforms. If you don't know where to find any game show software for customizing your game show party, I suggest checking out gameshowpresenter.com and trying their demo. A video is included above showing how the final hacked receiver system operates with game show presenter. Are you ready to build this $15 wireless popper system? Let's build!
Step 1: Gather Your Parts and Tools
In order to modify the Duo Pop for iPad Game, you will need the following parts and tools below.
- Duo Pop for iPad Game (includes 4 poppers, IR receiver, and batteries)
- Pro Trinket Microcontroller (a preprogrammed version is available here)
- Micro-usb cable
- #2 x 3/8 in Flat Phillips screw (for mounting Pro Trinket)
- Diagonal Cutters
- Soldering Iron
- Phillips Screwdriver
Step 2: Disassemble the Duo Pop IR Receiver
You must first disassemble the Duo Pop IR Receiver and make a slight modification to the plastic case in order to install the Pro Trinket microcontroller. Follow the steps below when disassembling the Duo Pop IR Receiver.
- Unscrew battery cover on the bottom of the receiver.
- Unscrew two screws attaching the battery compartment to the top of the receiver.
- Unscrew the two screws attaching the IR sensor receiver board to the receiver case.
- Desolder all the wires from the IR sensor receiver board and wires attached to the battery compartment (the various desoldering points are shown in the picture)
- Reattach (solder) three of the wires to the sensor board as shown in the picture (black, yellow, and red). These wires will be used to connect to the Pro Trinket.
- Cut the two plastic brackets that were used to hold the circuit board containing the power switch and power LED. You need to clear this space to properly attach the Pro Trinket to the receiver case.
- You are now ready to proceed to the next step....installing the Pro Trinket microcontroller.
Step 3: Install the Microcontroller
Before attaching the IR sensor board to the Pro Trinket Microcontroller, let's follow the steps below to drill the mounting hole necessary to attach the Pro Trinket Microcontroller to the IR receiver case.
- Place the Pro Trinket so that the micro-USB port of the Pro Trinket is located where the power switch button was located.
- Once aligning the Pro Trinket according to the picture, drill a small hole into the case of the IR receiver. This is where we are going to mount the Pro Trinket with a #2 x 3/8 inch flat phillips screw.
- Before permanently mounting the Pro Trinket to the case, we need to solder the IR sensor board to the Pro Trinket. Notice that we reused the wires from the IR sensor board to reconnect the IR sensor board to the Pro Trinket as shown in the pictures.
- Once soldering the wires of the sensor board to the Pro Trinket as shown in the pictures, mount the Pro Trinket to the case.
- Remount the IR sensor board to the IR receiver case.
- Reassemble the remaining parts of the Duo Pop Receiver so you have what is shown in the picture.
- We assume that you have already programmed the Pro Trinket or have purchased a preprogrammed Pro Trinket from iTapArcade before installing the microcontroller. The code and steps for programming the Pro Trinket yourself can be found here.
Step 4: Test the Modified Receiver
Now that you have installed the Pro Trinket into the Duo Pop Receiver, it is time to test the modified receiver. If you have a OTG USB cable you can test it with your Android device, otherwise find a Mac, PC, or Linux based computer to test the receiver. Follow the steps below for testing.
- Connect the receiver to a USB port on your computer or OTG USB cable attached to your Android device
- Wait 5 seconds for the light to stop flashing (this is the time allowed for you to reprogram the microcontroller (if needed) before it begins to emulate a USB keyboard)
- Let the computer install the necessary USB HID drivers for the receiver to appear as a USB keyboard to your computer
- Open up a text editor window or Word document
- Press each Popper and notice the number generated by each Popper
- If you see a number corresponding to each popper, you have successfully built your wireless USB popper receiver. Congratulations!
- If you decide you want a preassembled version of this project so you can see an example of how I completed this project, you can purchase the preassembled version here.
Step 5: Additional Fun With Trivia Night
With your USB popper receiver tested and working, it is time to get your game show software and create questions for your trivia night holiday party. There are at least two game show software vendors available for you to check out listed below. Pick the one that you think will be best for you to quickly get setup. We suggest getting started with game show presenter and going from there. Have fun with your trivia holiday party and follow us on Twitter @iTapArcade if you like these type of projects.
- Game Show Presenter (gameshowpresenter.com)
- Game Show Pro (learningware.com)