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Quiz Lights And Buzzers


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Remember that bit in "Apollo 13" where the ground crew had to make a round plug fit in a square hole using only what would be in the shuttle and to a distinct time limit. Well....


I am trying to make a quiz buzzer/lights system for tonight and will have a few hours this afternoon to make it. The stuff I have to work with is what you would find in a standard mid scale rep theatre (I know I have a box of doorbells somewhere). The effect I am ultimately looking for is like "university challenge" (only I don't need a scale replica of Jeremy Paxman). In fact it is exactly like "university challenge" since that is what we're trying to do tonight. technicians V Actors!


It would be great if I could make a system that when one buzzer/light was pushed it isolated the others and I'm not sure (read: have no idea) how to achieve this on the fly. One buzzer/light would probally be sufficient for each team.



I only have what is at hand (no plasma generators etc)

We are located outside civilization as you know it (Not quite Space but no useful shops).

I have a build time of two or three hours.

I can be a bit of a muppet.


Any help gratefully received.


Your Starter for Ten...

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That's a tricky one - without access to a Maplins or something for electronics, you might be a bit stuck..unless someone here has a really clever idea.


So, how about some kind of mechanical linkage? Like a see-saw. So that when one "button" (actually a rod, attatched to the see-saw) is depressed, the other one is up. Then the end of the see-saw presses the button. Might just turn into a battle of strength though.


My attempt...probably a bit crap...sorry.


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How about cheating. (not in the quiz).


Could you rig up a couple of lights , one for each team, and run them off the desk (or if you are not in the theatre, just off two switches) and have a bod sit there and turn on the right one for which ever team buzzes first. (Buzz=left switch, bell=right switch).

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What about the awfully funny and maybe ironic manual buzzer?


People will have to 'ERRRRRRRRHHH' or 'DDDDDDURRRRRR' before speaking?


Save yourself some time and go out and play in the sunshine.




Thirdtap London your answer please?

"Sorry the button was red and I just couldn't resist pressing it'




and so on to fade.....



Final note 'DDDDDDDDDUUUUUUUUUUUUURRRRRRRRRR' and 'ERRRRRRRRHHH' are not on the spell chunker, please can we get this sorted out soon?


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It depends what desk you're using, but as an example I know you can wire a remote for the Fat Frog using a standard 8 pin DIN, which can access 6 states, selectable in Super User.


Or you could do it with midi trigger (seat the two teams at either end of a keyboard?)



Re: Spell Chunker.... there is a LEARN button... hint hint :)

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BTW, is buzzed in the dictionary. If not, here goes:


Past tense buzz:



I buzzed

You buzzed

He buzzed

She buzzed

We buzzed

You buzzed

They buzzed


Present tense buzz:


I'm buzzing

You're buzzing

He's buzzing

She's buzzing

We're buzzing

You're buzzing

They're buzzing


Future tense buzz:


I'm going to buzz

You're going to buzz

He's going to buzz

She's going to buzz

We're going to buzz

You're going to buzz

They're going to buzz


And a sample sentence using the buzz:


I buzzed yesterday while they were buzzing about how they were going to buzz tommorow.

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On a more serious note, here's a solution.


However, it requires the use of normally-closed relays - I can't think of a way to do it without the relays.


Stock list:

Wire - lots of, any kind.

2 Normally Closed relays - SPDT will do fine

2 Toggle switches - any kind, but must latch in both positions.

2 low voltage DC buzzers/indicators.


DC power supply, correct voltage for relay coils PLUS the buzzer/indicator.

(ie if using 6v relays and 6v buzzers, 12v supply)


I'll post a diagram shortly, once I've figured out how to upload pictures.

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Coupla Ideas for you:


1. McGyver Stylee


Get anything with a pcb and a decent number of components in it, that you can replace. A Radio, alarm clock or something.


Rig up your doorbells, with a light on each and use an RC timer (Resistor, Capacitor) to send the output of trigger buttons to ground for say 3secs after any one has been activated. Also use RC circuits on each bell to prolong their ringing for about the same time.


Like this (ish):


+V - switch - RC - bell -> Main RC Circuit


Txsistor-----<Main RC Circuit





And your main delay


--->From all switches-------C---GND




To all switches------------


As a bell is pressed the main delay charges, and keeps the circuits disabled for n seconds. Similtaneously, the RC on the switches keeps the bell ringing for n seconds while the switch is disabled.


2. Computerise!


Get a computer keyboard and butcher it so that you have wired switches controlling different of the letter keys.

Get a virtual sampler and program a sample to identify each switch.

Set it to play one sample at a time.

This is close to how the actual systems work.


Of the 2 I would do the top idea, cause its the kinda stuff I enjoy but u might like the bottom idea for more simplicity.


Or you might think Im mad.



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Here we go with pretty pictures:



The two circles with crosses in them are lamps - insert indicator there.

The two rectangles are the coils of the relays.


The system works by isolating the switch and buzzer of the opposing team by flicking the relay. The opposing team can't flick your relay off once theirs has been triggered because the coil is isolated as well.


There's probably a neater way to do this by latching the relays, but this will work and is easier to debug if you connect the wrong wire.


The limitations of this are:

Indicator will light/buzzer will sound continuously - good for a lamp, irritating for a buzzer.

Players must reset the system themselves by flicking the switch back to the position shown in the diagram.


Hope this helps!

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Cheers Guys NASA would br envious


OK I have just got a re-focus to do and the I'll be trying buzzer stuff out.


Tomo's suggestion is great. It's the way I would try and do(work out) normally... but I don't have any normally-closed relays. Also no lighting desk or computer.


However Bryson's suggestion has merit. It hadn't occured to me to use mechanical means. My current favourite idea is to have a box on the quizmasters table with two coloured bulbs relating to each team. When the "button" (could be lever, pull knob or anysuchthing) is pressed it releases a weighted blanking plate that reveals one of the bulbs.. i.e. the plate is held in place by two pins, when a button is pressed it releases its specific pin and thus reveals the appropiate bulb.The mechanism can be simply string or whatever electronic mechanism I can find.




further suggestions most welcome

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"The Eagle has landed"


Ahh next day.. done and dusted. Mission sucessful. Thanks for all your help. The quiz went well. Buzzer system worked utilsing ramps, drainpipe, small eggs containing ball bearing, a chiken wired to a hoover and suchlike.


I must now build a proper expandble set for future use (without the chicken this time).


Again thanks for you help


Euan (quiz loser but doesn't want to talk about it...darn fix so it was, rigged from the start... cheetin razzle frazzle monkey divots! But I'm not bitter)

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I just thought I'd mention that I actually made a quiz buzzer for my GCSE in electronics.


Used SR flip flop ICs to switch the correct light, and sound a buzzer from a global SR that also disabled other switches.


But then, you couldn't have done that with the resources available.


They use it for school quizzes now


Owen :o

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