If you loved the game "Operation" as a kid, and want to continue on your path of supreme hand-eye coordination, give this buzzing electronics project a try. What's great is you can change the path every time, anywhere from novice post-bac medical school applicant to the manual dexterity of Dr. Octopus. The game is to move the wand from side of the maze to the other without touching the metal wire. If you do, the buzzer goes off, and alas, start again.
- What: Wire Maze!
- Concepts: Circuits, electronics, hand-eye coordination
- Cost: ~ $2.50
- Time: ~ 30 minutes
- Base board (can be wood, foam, or anything else really)
- Posable wire (we used aluminum puppet wire from a craft store)
- Battery pack and batteries
- Buzzer (5V-rated ones mostly still work with 3V from batteries)
- Some extra wire
- Wire wand (can be just more posable wire, or in our case, a sculpting tool)
- Wire Strippers
- Soldering iron / solder
- Hot glue gun / hot glue
We want to give a shout out to some other versions out there, especially a great one from Steven Folkins.
Step 1: The Posable Wire
Screw in one screw to your baseboard, and wrap your posable wire around it. Cut it off at a length that looks maze-able to you (ours is about 28 inches). Put your wire wand on the loop, and then screw in the other side and wrap the wire around that one. Huzzah!
Step 2: Buzzer Electronics!
Test out your buzzer with your battery pack. Many only work with the correct polarity, so make sure you have it wired the right way. After you've tested, wire the positive wire from your battery pack to the positive wire of the buzzer, and solder.
Then wire the negative wire from your buzzer to the base of one post of your posable wire maze.
Step 3: Wand Electronics!
Your wand needs wiring, too! For ours, we soldered a wire on the metal loop of the sculpture tool, and then used electronic tape to tape it along the handle. The other end of the wire gets wired and soldered to the battery pack, so that when it touches the posable wire it creates a full circuit and the buzzer goes off.
Step 4: Finishing Touches
Tape a couple inches of both sides of the posable wire. This will give you a starting and finishing line where the buzzer won't go off. Then glue your battery pack and buzzer to the base board to hold them in position.
Step 5: Play Maze, Change Maze, Repeat!
Keep that arm steady, and good luck not buzzing! What's great is every time you try it, you can re-pose the wire to make an entirely different maze. You know, so nobody can one-up you. :)
Notes and Modifications:
- This is a great early electronics project to talk about how a circuit works, as this features a complete and disconnected circuit depending on whether you're losing or winning.
- Other feedback besides buzzing is great! You can add in LEDs, screens, anything really that goes off when the circuit is connected.
- This same concept can be used to make a full on DIY Operation game, or really any other game of dexterity.
Show us what you come up with and hope you have an a-maze-ing time!