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Star Trek Shuttle Console

A Star Trek away mission themed escape room in a box.

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I designed and built this box over several months as a Star Trek portable escape room to share with my friends and family.

My goals were to:
- Build a generic Star Trek themed Shuttle Control Console in a portable case with iconic features such as:
- LCARS themed interface
- "Functional" Isolinear Chips
- Bundle of wires behind a panel
- Audio Playback
- Data Pads
- RFID and NFC interfaces
- Ability to easily update the software to change the scenario/puzzle for endless reuse
- Secret compartment to release a prize

Since this project is mostly finished and is very usable I've marked the project as completed. Even so, there is plenty of room for improvement.

Motivation for this project

Within my circle of friends escape rooms and puzzles are something we enjoy doing together. One Christmas, I couldn't think of a gift to get my brother. So I ended up just getting him a gift card. But I didn't just want to give him a gift card, as that would be kinda lame.

So my wife and I had the idea of putting together a simple puzzle box with the gift card inside. So I built a box with 4 pad locks and just enough room to fit a single gift card inside. Then I worked with my wife to come up with some puzzles, and clues to solve it.

Ever since then it has become somewhat of a tradition, where we make each other puzzles and escape rooms that need to be solved to get to our holiday gift.

For a while now I've been wanting to build my own escape room box, and eventually came up with the this design. It is largely inspired by this "Spacecase - Escape Room in a Box".

And this last year I finally made the time and built my own, but Star Trek themed!

Planning, Design

I first started working on this in mid October 2021 thinking I had plenty of time, but ended up scrambling tofinished it in time for Christmas 2021.

If I had to guess at the amount of hours my wife and I put in to this, I'd say it was at least 300 hours in just over 2 months.

Much of that time was spent designing the box in Autodesk Fusion 360 and developing the puzzles and away mission scenario.

Future Improvements

While I'm overall very pleased with how this project turned out, there are a few design changes and improvements I'd like to make.

Here is a list of them in order of most important:

  1. ISBN lookup
    1. Instead of having players go online to lookup ISBN numbers, I'd like to create a small "library" to help them find ISBN numbers. (See step 8 of the build instructions for more details.)
  2. Latch release
    1. I kinda threw the latch release system together just to finish the project. It should be completely redesigned.
  3. Isolinear Chip System
    1. The PCB needs to be redesigned with the correct male headers
    2. The method for programming and reading the values needs some work
  4. Software
    1. There is always room to improve the software. It would be great to refactor it to make it easier to reuse when creating other scenarios.
  5. Power Grid System
    1. While the PCB design is good, I'd like to remake the PCB.
  6. Audio System
    1. What I have works just fine, but If I'd build this again, I'd like to go with another option than what I came up with. Preferably a simpler QWIIC module.
  7. NFC module
    1. The antenna is just too far away for most phones to reliably read it, especially when they have a phone case.
  8. Better Red Labels
    1. The iconic red labels add a nice touch, but I should have printed them on something better than just plain label paper.

website.zip

Static website with user guide, and clues.

x-zip-compressed - 3.04 MB - 04/24/2022 at 23:13

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vinyl_art.zip

Silhouette Studio files for cutting vinyl

x-zip-compressed - 1.19 MB - 04/23/2022 at 09:10

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audio.zip

Sound effects and audio to load to SD card

x-zip-compressed - 46.22 MB - 04/23/2022 at 09:09

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labels.zip

Fonts, Images, and files for labeling

x-zip-compressed - 1.51 MB - 04/23/2022 at 08:40

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laser_dxf.zip

DXF files for lasering parts

x-zip-compressed - 163.80 kB - 04/23/2022 at 08:32

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View all 7 files

View all 32 components

  • Setting Up the Box

    RubenFixit04/25/2022 at 02:14 0 comments

    Clean Up

    1. Charge Emergency Power Cell & Battery in the box
    2. Remove all 12 Isolinear Chips and shuffle them
    3. Return 10 Isolinear Chips to the Isolinear Chip Bay and hide 2 in the PADDs
    4. Attach the Isolinear Chip Cover
    5. Reattach all Power Grid wires
    6. Attach the Power Grid Panel
    7. Place Each PADD in it's own zipper bag
    8. Shuffle and return all tools to the toolbox
    9. Lock the toolbox by scrambling the number dial
    10. Place the following in another zipper bag:
      1. Emergency Power Cell
      2. USB A to USB C cable
      3. Engineers Toolbox
    11. Carefully place all items on top of the panel, with the Commander's log Card on last.

    Setup

    1. Ensure everything is where it should be (see Clean Up above)
    2. Remove the Mimetic Crystal and Masterkey
    3. Hide each Mimetic Crystal somewhere nearby, and update the Scan Results (website or printout) with clues or GPS coordinates of their location.

  • Etching the cricuit boards

    RubenFixit04/21/2022 at 05:01 0 comments

    pcb laser test
    PCB Laser Test

    There are several ways to etch your own circuit boards, but the method that I tried this time around worked very well especially for larger boards.

    In this method I painted a copper PCB board with an even coat of black acrylic spray paint. After letting it dry I used my diode laser cutter to remove the paint in the areas that I wanted etched away.

    One problem I ran in to was that the diode laser would produce very wavy lines if it was run too quickly. This is easily fixed by simply running the job at a slower speed. Unfortunately this increases the overall time required to complete the job.

    I found that for my laser engraver a speed of 400 mm/m was a good compromise between speed and line quality.

    After etching the paint I used a Copper Chloride Enchant to finish etching the board.

    Once the etching is complete, you can remove the paint with acetone.

    The final result was great!

    Power Grid and Isolienar Chip PCBs
    Power Grid (left), Isolienar Chip Grid (right

View all 2 project logs

  • 1
    Aquire materials

    I've included all of the materials I used in the components section.

    Other than the case and some of the electronics, all other components can be substituted with a similar item with a little fore thought.

    Even so I've done my best to give as much detail as I can, your mileage may vary.

    This step is listed first as you can often start working on the project with what you have on hand while waiting for other parts to arrive.

  • 2
    3D Print Components

    Parts To Print

    PARTMATERIALMETERSTIME*
    Speaker Covers
    Black PETG
    1.5014m
    Power Grid Cover
    Isolinear Chip Bay Cover
    Black PETG
    25.416h5m
    Power Grid Tray
    Black PETG
    8.302h19m
    Isolinear Chip TrayBlack PETG
    32.429h18m
    Isolinear Chips x12
    x6 TL Blue PETG
    x6 TL Green PETG
    10.03
    10.03
    7h8m
    7h8m
    Mimetic Crystals x3
    TL Blue PETG
    TL Green PETG
    TL Red PETG
    0.88
    0.88
    0.88
    35m
    35m
    35m
    PADD Bottoms
    PADD Controls
    PADD Tops
    Silver PLA
    Yellow PLA
    Silver PLA
    16.98
    0.69
    16.15
    6h50m
    15m
    3h22m

    * Print time & meters of filament is from GCODE generated for a Prusa MK3S

    Source: 3D_Prints.zip

    Total Filament Used

    MATERIALMETERS
    Black PETG
    67.63
    TL Blue PETG10.91
    TL Green PETG10.91
    TL Red PETG0.88
    Silver PLA36.10
    Yellow PLA0.69

    Printing Tips

    Speaker Covers

    Print with grill facing down at 0.20mm layer height. No supports needed.

    Power Grid & Isolinear Chip Bay Covers

    Print with top of cover facing down at 0.20mm layer height. No supports needed.

    Power Grid Tray

    Print so that the visible surface with the USB C slot is facing down at 0.20mm layer height. Will need supports

    Isolinear Chip Tray

    Print with the notched surface facing up at 0.20mm layer height. No supports needed.

    Isolinear Chips

    Print with large surface to print bed at 0.20mm layer height. May need to add supports for the slot at the bottom. Print two sets each in a different color of translucent filament.

    Mimetic Crystals

    Print in vase or continuous mode at 0.10mm layer height. Ber sure to add a pause after the first few layers so that you can glue the RFID token to the inside bottom of the crystal. A drop of super glue worked well.

    PADDs

    Print the PADD controls first in the color of your choice. Then without removing them from the print bed, switch the filament and print the PADD tops directly over the controls with the top facing down.

    Print the PADD bottom with the bottom facing down. All parts print well at 0.20mm layer height.

    Print two PADDs.

  • 3
    Laser Cut Pieces & Glue Mounting Panels

    Parts to Laser Cut

    Material Used

    MATERIALSIZE
    1/4" Plywood
    12" x 24"
    1/8" Translucent Dark Grey Acrylic Sheet
    12" x 24"

    Main Panel

    The panel is made of 4 1/4" layers of material glued together. I mainly chose 1/4 material because it was the thickest material I could reliably cut with a diode laser cutter.

    1. Mounting Panel 1 - 1/4" Plywood
    2. Mounting Panel 2 - 1/4" Plywood
    3. Main Surface - 1/8" Translucent Dark Grey Acrylic Sheet
    4. Top Frame - 1/4" Plywood (painted silver)

    At this step It may be a good Idea to glue the two mounting panels together with some wood glue and  several clamps. Then set it aside to finish later, in another step.

    PADD Displays

    You'll need two PADDs, one solid piece, and another cut to look like a puzzle.

    Don't cut out the puzzle lines yet, you'll want to apply the vinyl text first.

    Source: laser_dxf.zip

View all 14 instructions

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Discussions

Tom Nardi wrote 04/25/2022 at 16:58 point

RubenFixit, it's me, your brother. Sorry to say I've lost the incredible Star Trek escape box you made me, and you'll have to make me another one. Also I've moved...so the address I'll need you to ship it to might seem strange.

  Are you sure? yes | no

RubenFixit wrote 04/25/2022 at 19:16 point

Very funny! I'm glad you liked my project. I had a lot of fun building it.
(FYI: He's not my brother, and this version is more of a prototype so It's not for sale.)

  Are you sure? yes | no

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