Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Reverse Geo-Cache Puzzlebox

If you have not heard of these, a reverse geo-cache puzzlebox is exactly what it sounds like. In normal geo-caching  you use a GPS locator to find a treasure hidden somewhere between where you are and wherever it is! In reverse geo-caching, you already have the treasure, but the problem is that it is still locked! You must travel to the right GPS coordinate in order for the box to unlock. There are many ways in which you can accomplish making one of these boxes and I will outline one of the more basic and useful ways.

Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Cost: between $100-$200

-Arduino Uno microcontroller
-GlobalSat EM-406A GPS module
-Topway LMB0820DFC LCD display
-SWT101A2B Pushbutton w/ Blue LED
-Mikal's “Reverse Geocache” shield PCB
-Hitec HS-55 servo moto
-Pololu low voltage power switch
-Pololu 5V boost regulator
-4-pin jumper cable for button
-2-AA battery back-to-back holder
-JST Connector for GPS
-straight male headers for display/mating
-right angle headers for button/servo
-220ohm resistors
-0.1 microfarad caps
-2×8 pin 200mm dual ribbon cable
-A box to hold it all in

Tools/aids required: Dremel, soldering iron, vacuum cleaner, jig saw, epoxy, double sided tape

Some pics of the box!


I bought this beautiful box from Ten Thousand Villages. They collect items from all around the world and sell them in North America, among other things. They are not only a retail business!

Soldering the parts can be a bit tricky... Some of the connectors are tiny, and you can burn the PCB or components if you are not careful! Practice soldering if you don't have much and buy a soldering iron with a come shaped tip. You will need a small tip to accomplish this properly

You can see in these two pictures above that I did not hide my components gracefully. That is because I did not want to! I used this box to hide an engagement ring and I wanted to leave the parts exposed as part of its raw geek appeal. How you orient your components is up to you, and I would recommend a jigsaw and Dremel for cutting nice holes into your box. Remember, measure five times, cut once. You don't want to ruin a special box.

The steps for the box can be found here:

The Code I used can be found here

Admittedly, when I first built this box I had NO initial knowledge of Arduino, however, I did have some coding and fine electronics background. Any experience helps. As long as you are creative and willing, you will be able to do it. It is a scary thought to wonder if your time consuming project will work!

I do make and sell these. They make great wedding, anniversary, or other special occasion gifts.  Contact me via email, and we will make arrangements. I can make one out of many shapes and sizes of box!

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