How to make an Escape Room PuzzleOn August 11, 2019 by Raul Dinwiddie
2Hey, I’m Bob, and I like to make stuff. Today, I’m gonna make a puzzle for an escape room. Escape rooms are really popular right now. I got to do a DIY escape room recently with Lowe’s, and it was really awesome. I’ll tell you more about that at the end of the video. Basically, it’s a game where you’re put in room with a bunch of puzzles, and you have to solve those puzzles in under an hour to win the game. Usually, each one of those puzzles gives you a clue for a future puzzle. And in this video, I can’t make an entire room, so I’m gonna make a single puzzle, and we’re gonna assume that we’ve already collected a note with a bunch of clues in it, and some game pieces. So we’re gonna make this puzzle and I’m gonna show you how these pieces solve it, after I show you how I made it. My wife was nice enough to donate her globe to this project. I peeled off the sticker that covered the seam between the two halves of the globe. Then, I had to figure out how to actually cut it in half. It’s made of cardboard, so it’s not hard to cut, but it’s hard to handle. So, I made a really simple jig out of some scrap 2×4’s and some plywood, drilled a couple of holes, and then used the center holes in the globe to mount it. I ran this through the band saw, making very, very shallow cuts, and it took a while to do, but eventually, I got through most of the side, and then pulled it off the jig before I cut all the way through. I finished up the last bit of the cut with a utility knife. The cardboard did not cut very well, so I sanded off the rough edges with a sanding block. Next, I cut down some pieces of 1/2-inch plywood to make a box. This both acts as the stand for the globe, and holds a drawer, which is part of the puzzle The construction on the box and on the drawer were both extremely simple. Everything was butt joint together with wood glue, and then I used brad nails to hold together so I could keep working. Obviously, to play up the hype of the whole game, you could make this really ornate and add a bunch of decoration to it. I was kinda going for simple and basic. I had a lock that had been pulled out of a pelican case that worked perfectly for the lock mechanism for this drawer. I drew out some lines and measured the area that I needed to remove, so that the lock could fit down in the top of the box. I used a forstner bit in the drill press to hog out most of this material, and then went back to clean up the edges with a chisel. Once I had it squared up, the lock fit right in. And with it in place, I marked the two mounting holes, and then drilled holes on the drill press, and drove in some screws from the backside to hold it onto the plate. I nailed together the drawer, which went on the inside, and it was the same construction as the outside box, except that I didn’t put a front on it right away. And that’s because the front is actually the same size as the outside of the box. I set the drawer on the inside of the box, laid my front panel in place and traced where it lined up with the inside of the drawer, and then I marked where the latch needed to sit on the drawer front relative to the top. Once I had all of this stuff lined up, I screwed in the latch to the drawer front, and then glued the front onto the drawer. I decided to use part of the plastic mount that came with the globe to mount it to the top of the box. But it was a little bit too big, so I cut it down and then sanded down the edges flat, so that I could glue it on the top of the box. To glue this on, i mixed up some 5-minute epoxy. Epoxy is great for joining two different materials that may need different glues otherwise. Once I have this thing set in place, I set it aside to cure, and then sanded down the rest of the box to get it ready for paint. I went over this whole things with an enamel spray paint. It dries very quickly and has a nice, smooth finish to it. Then, it was time to move on to the electronics. The first step was to solder together the simple LCD display. And then I had to figure out how to mount it in the globe. And to do this, I covered the front of it with some blue tape, and then cut along the edges of the face so that I ended up with a small piece of tape the exact size as the face. I figured out where on the globe I wanted it to sit, and then put that tape in place. This was my guide to cut out this area, using a dremel and a utility knife. I tried really hard to stay right inside the line, so that the hole was just slightly smaller than the LCD itself. After lots of trimming, I got it to fit perfectly, and pushed it right into place. The electronics are really what make this puzzle possible, so let’s go through all the components here and how it’s gonna work in the game play. We have an LCD display, which is only four pins going to the arduino. It’s a really simple component. We’ve got these reed switches, and we’re gonna end up using four, but I’ve got two wired up here as an example. Got a 9-volt battery and an arduino uno. Pretty much any arduino or microcontroller would work for this, and the code is very, very simple. So, these reed switches are basically two little pieces of metal that when you put a magnet next to them, they pull together and complete a circuit. So, they act as a button that is triggered by a magnet. We’ll have these reed switches embedded in the surface of the globe. You’ll figure out those locations by reading through a story, and then you’ll put the pieces in the right places. When you get the first piece next to the right reed switch, it starts the timer, and then you have that much time to complete the rest of the pieces. When you get the final piece on, it stops the timer and blinks, and eventually gives you a code that you need to unlock the box. For the magnets, we’re gonna use these small rare earth magnets, and we can easily embed them in the pieces because they’re so small, and they’re also really powerful, so you don’t have to get them that close to trigger the reed switch. For each one of the reed switches, I soldered it onto a resistor, and then onto a long wire that was about 2 feet long. This gave me plenty of room to mount it anywhere on the inside of the globe. I used a small piece of perfboard to solder together all of the 5-volt wires and all the ground wires, so that I could have one of each going to the arduino. Having this connection point make it a lot easier to manage the wires that actually go into the ports of the microcontroller. I used heat-shrink tubing to cover all of the exposed wires, and then added in the wires for the LCD display and the battery holder. Since this will be on the inside of the globe that will spin around, I used some hot glue to hold all these wires into their ports, just to make sure they wouldn’t come loose. Next, I had to figure out how to put the globe back together, and to do this, I cut a strip of plexiglass, and then chopped it into two pieces that were both half the circumference of the globe. Before we can put the electronics back in the globe, we have to figure how to reattach the two halves and make sure that they won’t spin once it’s back on the stand. So, I’ve got these two strips that are half the circumference. I’m gonna glue one into the bottom half, one into the top half, and then make sure that we can press fit the whole thing together and still take it apart, so that we can modify the electronics if we need to later. I mixed up some more 5-minute epoxy, and then wiped it along the bottom half of of one piece of this plexiglass. Once I got it covered, I held it in place and used some clamps to lock it around the curve of the inside of the globe. I did the same thing for the other half, making sure that the globe would line up in the correct orientation. While that dried, I glued the top onto the box with some CA glue. After the epoxy was dry on the globe, I press fit the whole thing back together, and was really happy that it actually locked in place. On the inside of the globe, we marked the four locations where the triggers needed to be set. I used hot glue to hold some washers in the place of these to give the magnets something to be attracted to. I also cut a small space down in Antarctica to add an “on/off” switch for the power, so the battery wouldn’t run out. I used some hot glue to mount the electronics, and just a note, where you place these will dictate where the globe sits when it’s not spinning, because of the weight of all of these electronics. I used a lot more hot glue to hold the reed switches right in the center of the washers and on all of the wires, so that they didn’t fly around on the inside of the globe. I just used blue tape to hold down the battery, since I would have to take it in and out at some point. And then, I mounted the whole thing back together and put it on the stand. And when you turn the power on, there’s a small sequence to let you know that it’s ready to play. Here’s the game in it’s completed state. Let’s talk about how to solve it. Each one of the paragraphs talks about a location and some object that he took from there. So, we have to read through this story and figure out where to put these items back where they came from. Nothing is happening on the game until you place the first piece, and once you do, a timer starts. After that, you’ve got about 45 seconds to read through the story and find all of the locations and figure out which pieces go in which places. Once you get the last piece put in place, the timer stops, and you get a code. The code on this display is the combination for this lock. So, when you put that in, it unlocks and opens a drawer. Inside the drawer is your next clue. But if you don’t get all the pieces placed in time, you lose. That’s about it for my escape room puzzle. I hope it gives you some ideas to make a tabletop game or puzzle of your own. I got to do a really awesome DIY escape room recently with Grant Thompson – “The King of Random”. We got invited by Lowe’s to go through a really cool set of rooms. We had to use our knowledge of tools and materials to escape a bunch of interesting challenges, and they’re gonna be on the Lowe’s channel. You should definitely go check out both videos: the main escape room video and a behind-the-scenes that they shot as well. It was a lot of fun. Be sure to go check them out, and thanks to Lowe’s for sponsoring this video and for letting me go through that awesome room. That’s it for this one, guys. Thanks for watching. I’ll see you next time.