Tuesday, March 13, 2012

DIY Electronic Quiz board

All three of my boys are Boy Scouts. Not only does that make our schedule extremely hectic during the school year, but it also keeps me super busy because I'm usually the one helping them out with their achievements/electives.
My oldest son's den went to the Science Center to learn about electricity. Because it was on a Sunday, we weren't able to go with them so we did our own electricity science experiment at home. At the beginning of the school year we had checked out a book from the library that had design plans for building an electronic quiz board. And naturally, because I decided that would be a good replacement achievement for Christian, I wasn't able to find the book again. But I wasn't too worried because I figured somewhere on google, there would be some information I could use. I was wrong. There are some made with a Christmas light bulb and aluminum foil on cardstock. But I had plans on using this board for impromptu home-school quizzes. 
Let me start out by saying, I have absolutely no experience with electricity except for plugging something in or flipping a switch. But I'm never one to back down from a challenge! Lowe's sells small 6W light bulb sockets and bulbs in the hobby section of their hardware aisle. But it would have been $10ish just for those two parts. Plus buying the wires, battery packs, etc. I wanted this to be cheap! Ultimately, I spent $16 on a large quiz board that we will use every week.

Large 6V lattern battery (found in camping aisle at Walmart): $5.00
Light Bulbs (used car bulbs b/c the wires are exposed)          $5.00/2
Electrical Wiring                                                                   $5.00/65 ft
1.5" Nuts and Bolts (pack of 11)                                          $1.00
Scrap lumber
Alligator (hair) Clips (possibly at Walmart in the crafts aisle or Michaels)
Wire Strippers/Cutters
Hot Glue Gun & Glue

We had scraps of lumber laying around and the alligator clips so that helped cut cost a bit but if you have to purchase some, it shouldn't be too much more expensive.
I started out with two 1x2's and cut them to the size of a piece of thin plyboard that we had. Hopefully I can find my camera and cord soon so I can add pictures of the back side to show you all aspects of the project. For now, I'll explain it as easily as I can.
Instead of nailing/screwing the plyboard to the wood, I used bolts that were longer than needed leaving enough on each end to accommodate the parts. I am a perfectionist so I measured where each bolt would go and drilled a hole thru the plyboard and wood. Originally I started with a thicker bolt but had to switch to a longer, skinnier one so that left the holes I had drilled a little too large. I just dabbed some hot glue on the bolt to keep it in place. You should have equal proportions of "extra bolt" on the front and back sides (This allows a place for the alligator clip to grasp).
Once I had the wood and bolts on, I added the lightbulb. I rough-sketched the size of the hole I would need so that just the bulb was showing on the front side and the fuse wires were showing on the back side. Once the bulb was placed into it's spot, I lined the front and back with hot glue so that it wouldn't come out. Once the glue is dried, pop the two wires that are folded up, out. This is probably hard to visualize doing without proper pictures. Notice, the wires at the bottom of the plug in portion of the light bulb? They will easily "unlock" so that they are sticking straight out. Just insert a butter knife and twist them out. Having them out is essential because you'll be connecting those wires to the electrical wire. 

Next, I drilled two holes, one on each side, of the lightbulb. This is for the wire to go through. Most of the electrical parts are on the back side with the exception of the Question clip and Answer clip. Measure your electrical wire so that it will reach each of the bolts. It would really stink to have it too short! Don't forget that you'll want a little extra length because you still have to attach the alligator clip and the battery/lightbulb. 

To attach the alligator clip, strip the coating from one end of the wire. Insert the bare wire into the hole, secure the wire in place using a pair of plyers and cover with electrical tape. I believe you can actually buy electrical alligator clips...I think I saw some in the camping aisle at Wal-Mart in the section for boat batteries. I just used these because it's what I had on hand and I wanted this to be as cheap as possible. Remember, you will need two clips.
Once you've finished that part, on the back side of the board, you'll strip the other end of the wires. After that's done, you'll attach one of the wires directly to the battery (just wrap and twist around one of the coils).  The other wire will be attached to the wires on one side of the light bulb. Then you'll cut another short length of wire, strip both ends and attach one end to the other coil on the battery and the other end to the other wire(s) on the lightbulb. 
Now, for the game to work, you'll have to fill out your question side and answer side of the board (written on note cards and taped in place). After you have all of those in place, measure out additional wire for each question. You'll want it to be long enough to reach the answer (preferably long enough to reach any answer so that you can reuse the same wire over and over). Once they are measured and cut, strip each and and attach to a paper clip. Place one paper clip from each wire onto the back side of a question bolt. Use a nut to secure it into place. Then attach the other end to the correct answer bolt, again securing in place with a nut.
Now test it out!

1 comment:

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