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The first presenter at last Thursday’s Dorkbot Austin was a gentleman named Mikal Hart, who described his “Reverse Geocaching Puzzle.” Designed and built as a wedding gift for an old friend moving to France, the box incorporates an Arduino with a custom shield. A prominent button on the lid, when pressed, returns a distance, in kilometers, on the LCD display (if a GPS signal can be acquired), and counts button-presses up to 50 attempts. No directional information is provided, so the box must be moved about in order to triangulate the location it wants. Mikal also included a cunningly-disguised back door to allow it to be opened in the event of battery failures or bugs.

Sean Michael Ragan

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and makezine.com. My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c’t – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.


4 Responses to GPS-enabled puzzle box opens only at Île-de-Bréhat, France

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  1. Steve Copley on said:

    This is a really cool idea – I’d love to have been given this.

    But… the wood-working skills leave a little to be desired – what did he use to make those holes in the box – an axe?!

    ;-)

    • I agree about the woodworking skills. I conceived something very like this in about 2004 but overspecified it so never built it. The idea was to completely hide the technology: A brass needle on the front indicating distance on a logarithmic scale, and would simply unlock itself when it got to zero. Then you could carry the box to a new location and when you close it, it stores the new unlock location.

      I got hung up on how to handle battery life though. And I am in awe of the arduino skills!

      • At the risk of further complicating your design how about putting a solar panel on top (somehow disguised to maintain your no tech look?) that charges a battery to run it. Then you need to set it up, wait till it’s charged and do as much as you can before the battery goes flat and needs recharging.

        The GPS modules themselves are pretty easy to interface with.

        • Use one of those shake generators found in crappy flashlights to recharge the Arduino as it is moved about (hopefully to the destination).

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