TUC Buzzers

The buzzer system, originally designed for The Ultimate Challenge (hence the name) is based around a pair of buttons linked over a stereo jack lead to a control box which connects to a USB port on a laptop to make noises.

The Buttons

Are wooden blocks with polystyrene domes mounted on top of them, usually stored somewhere in the studio. They have LEDs out the front and make use of the three conductors in their stereo jack leads for signal from the button, power to the LEDs and a shared ground. Tip is the button, Ring is the LEDs, Sleeve is ground.

The Control Box

A plastic box with an ATMEGA328P microcontroller and a brutally simple program, to take input on the buttons and send a command along the serial to USB interface back to a computer. This also illuminates the LEDs until another command is received to turn them off. It is smart enough to only allow one button to be pressed and lock out the others. It contains an FTDI converter for serial->USB.

The Software

A .NET special written in C#, take a look at TUC Buzzer Control in the software drive. Also in SVN at https://ystv.co.uk/svn/TUCBuzzer/trunk along with the control box code. Very simple, a field to choose sound files to play for each buzzer, a button to reset the lights and one to set the COM port to connect to. The sound files need to be .WAVs, and SUPER's default audio only .wav preset seems to do the trick.

Commands sent on serial line

The commands are either HB1Z or HB2Z to indicate to the host that button 1 or 2 has been pressed, or MQZ to indicate to the control box that the lights should be switched off.

Known issues

  • The control box currently does not work. It was disassembled at some point, and some of the wiring has come apart.
  • One of the buttons has some excess glue lodged in the mechanism, making it prone to stick.
  • The solder joints on both buttons needs redoing.