Every so often I do something for my everday job that makes me feel lucky. Not that I don't consider myself lucky to work here, but once in a while I get to get up from my desk and do something really, really fun. On and off for the past few weeks, I've done just that.
We announced in January that we're going to have a game show at BriForum 2007 Chicago, where we pick the top three scores from a quiz handout given on Day 1. The idea was that we were going to have a real-ish game show set, and rig something up with PowerPoint to use as a game board. Well, if you know Brian or I, overengineering tends to be our middle name, and we didn't disappoint this time around.
With that, I present to you the BriForum Geek Out game show set. This set took more time than anticipated, but in the end, I think it paid off. We have three sponsors this year, Login Consultants, TS Factory, and VisionApp, and each sponsor has their own pod. Each sponsor logo is backlit, and around each logo is a bar of lights that light up when a contestant "buzzes in."
The brains behind the whole deal is a circuit that Brian dreamed up with a half dozen relays designed to keep two people from buzzing in at the same time. We managed to cram all of this into a medium sized project box from Radio Shack, even though it's bulging at the seams a little. We'd like to thank years of amateur robotics and nerdy electronics hobbies for all their help. Oh, and Home Depot for all the wire nuts.
So what do you think? This stayed pretty true to the original Visio drawing, huh?
To manage all these, we have a control tower that has a reset button on it so that we can reset the game back to defaults between questions. Also in the control tower is the doorbell to make the game show "ding" when someone buzzes in. I know it sounds simple enough, but it was way more complicated than we thought it would be.
Right now you're probably thinking "That's great...thanks for not writing more atricles, jerks." Hopefully this will prove to be worth it, and one step we've taken to ensure that this is one awesome experience is to have a custom game board developed by our friends at FrameWorkx. We'll have 30 questions presented Jeopardy-style through this interface, which is way better than anything we could do in PowerPoint. Have a look:
We've put so much into this that we're not even going to have a regular shipping company take these to Chicago - I'll be driving them up from Omaha the Friday before the conference. That's about an eight hour drive, and with my luck with moving trucks (see #1 here), anything can happen. Yep, I'm laying claim - the "latch malfunction" was my fault. With any luck, we won't have sponsor logos and relays strewn across I-80 somewhere in Iowa.
A real quick unsolicited mention of the printing company we used is probably in order - they've been so great to work with through this, and have provided us with everything we've needed at a fantastic value. If you have any large format printing needs, check out www.lightsound.com.
That's it for now - just over a week to go for the 4th installment of BriForum. Maybe I'll get to spend a week or two in Europe buildng a set for BriForum 2007 Amsterdam this October!
Update: 4/17/2007 1:46 AM CDT
I just finished the Visio drawing of the schematic we used to build the guts of the control box. The small image isn't worth much, so click on it to view the LARGE image.