If you are unfamiliar with escape rooms, they are themed, live action games, where players have to solve a series of challenges to win. The challenges can be physical, mental, or a combination of both. The games often involve elements such as scavenger hunts, logic puzzles, and pattern recognition all wrapped in an immersive set. Generally, they last an hour and require communication, teamwork, and creative problem solving – some of our favorite skills in Maker-land!

Building an Escape Room is the Ultimate Maker Challenge

Opening a really good escape room these days requires a lot of behind-the-scenes technology. Which is one of the reasons Rabbit Hole was fortunate to be able to partner with Escape Realm for this venture. While there were many ideas to explore, actually bringing those ideas to reality was more challenging than you might think. Escape Realm, however, is a team of Makers extraordinaire! and they were able to listen to the ideas, expand on them, and then bring them to life in Rabbit Hole’s first room to open: The Mystical Temple – an Indian Jones-style game. The goal of the game is to recover lost treasure before the temple collapses on the players.

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The Mystic Temple’s secret code block was an awesome Maker’s puzzle unto itself.

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With the right input, the LED lights create eerie feedback to let you know if your code was correct or not.

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The finished piece is a key element of the first puzzle in this escape room.

Complex Challenge = Maker’s Dream!

One of the more complex builds in the space, and one of the participants’ favorite features in the Mystic Temple, is a device Rabbit Hole calls “The Touchstone.”

Some of the items Escape Realm used to build the touchstone are listed below. When all the pieces come together the effect is pretty neat.

  • MDF carved on a CNC machine (Shapeoko XXL)
  • Conductive paint
  • Individually addressable LED’s
  • Arduino Uno
  • Tsunami Super WAV Trigger
  • Surround sound system
  • 12V maglock
  • 5V relay

Conductive paint is the real star in this project. The paint allowed Escape Realm to craft a surface that looks and feels very much like stone but reacts to even a light touch. Combined with the light and sound that touch triggers, it makes the touchstone seem like a magical device. This videos linked below show it in action

Pretty cool, right? So here is what happens behind the scenes. Touching the conductive paint triggers the Arduino Uno, and it tells the corresponding LED’s for that glyph to turn on. At the same time, the Uno tells the Tsunami to play a sound. Once the correct pattern is entered, the Uno flashes all of the LEDs, has the Tsunami play a success sound, and triggers a relay to release a maglock.

The team learned a lot creating this first room and will be able to build on that to make Rabbit Hole’s second room (scheduled to open later this year) even more immersive and magical.

Contributed by Rabbit Hole Recreation Services’ CEO, Kurt Leinbach

For more information (or to book an escape room adventure) visit Rabbit Hole’s website: RabbitHole.rs