Booby-trapped Magic 8 Ball

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Booby-trapped Magic 8 Ball

Postby arfink » January 28th, 2011, 2:14 pm

This is something I thought up while browsing the shelves at the local thrift store. I had been more or less randomly grabbing fun and inexpensive things which might be fun to hack and/or add to the junk box when I suddenly had an idea. I had in my hands at that time an old 35mm camera and a Magic 8 Ball. The combined cost of these two items was $1.35. So I decided I had to realize my idea.

Image
-an innocent magic 8 ball

My idea was to make a magic 8 ball which would blind an unsuspecting victim with the camera flash. I had an old Honeywell thermostat at home which had a mercury tilt switch inside, and after cutting open the 8 ball and removing the blue goo tube I stuffed the camera flash guts and the tilt switch inside:

Image

Image

I also added a "safety switch" to the ball, which can be toggled without opening the ball and which disables the charging circuit, making it so the ball can't recharge for another flash. I had a dead Commodore 64 that I had been gradually pillaging for parts and I stole the power switch and installed it facing out the bottom next to the flash tube and reflector. You can kinda see it in the first of the two pictures above.

Of course camera flash circuits usually vary pretty widely so I didn't really document that part of the hack. In general you just have to find out what wires to cross to make the flash fire, and then rig those up to the mercury switch so that when you tip the ball upside down the mercury will close the switch and fire the flash.

And just as a side note: this project took me about 2 hours to do. 90% of that time was spent trying to get the Magic 8 Ball open in one piece, which was an arduous process involving a large vice, chisels, screwdrivers, lots of prying, and general frustration. Hopefully you can figure out how do it better than me, as I eventually just wound up crushing the thing in the vice until the seam popped open and then bending the shell back to shape. It worked surprisingly well, but did leave some nasty gouges in the plastic in a couple places. The last 10% of the time was spent disassembling the camera, soldering in the tilt switch, and hot-gluing everything into the shell.

In all, it's a very effective little prank device, and has been the source of great amusement so far. :)
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Re: Booby-trapped Magic 8 Ball

Postby bluewraith » January 28th, 2011, 2:54 pm

Thats awesome! :)
I'd like to build one of those and set it next to all of my other mind trick games. I have a glass door cabinet dedicated to all those small wooden puzzles and iron ring games. I think it would fit the theme rather well.

I once took apart a Magic 8 ball.. I'm pretty sure the carpet is still stained.
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Re: Booby-trapped Magic 8 Ball

Postby arfink » January 28th, 2011, 3:08 pm

My Magic 8 Ball had a tube containing the blue goo and the D20 "answer die." Nothing leaked because I was careful not to break it.

I have thought of a good way to improve this: the tilt switch currently fires the flash at a somewhat sub-optimal angle of tilt, because when turned slowly the mercury is firing the flash when it is angled slightly higher than sideways. Most users tilt the ball fast enough to compensate, getting "good enough" results. To improve I was thinking of adding a little 555 timer circuit to delay the flash fire by up to 1 second, so that the user will have enough time to look directly into the flash right before it fires. :twisted:
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Re: Booby-trapped Magic 8 Ball

Postby calebkraft » January 28th, 2011, 3:09 pm

I love this! I wish you had a video of it in action. Get one on here ASAP!
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Re: Booby-trapped Magic 8 Ball

Postby arfink » January 28th, 2011, 3:17 pm

I might have a video up later tonight. I got to borrow a video camera. :)
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Re: Booby-trapped Magic 8 Ball

Postby calebkraft » January 28th, 2011, 3:33 pm

that would be awesome. I'd try to get that done as soon as possible...
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Re: Booby-trapped Magic 8 Ball

Postby bluewraith » January 28th, 2011, 3:58 pm

arfink wrote:My Magic 8 Ball had a tube containing the blue goo and the D20 "answer die." Nothing leaked because I was careful not to break it.

I have thought of a good way to improve this: the tilt switch currently fires the flash at a somewhat sub-optimal angle of tilt, because when turned slowly the mercury is firing the flash when it is angled slightly higher than sideways. Most users tilt the ball fast enough to compensate, getting "good enough" results. To improve I was thinking of adding a little 555 timer circuit to delay the flash fire by up to 1 second, so that the user will have enough time to look directly into the flash right before it fires. :twisted:



I was about 12, and armed with a hammer and chisel.

As far as slowing it down, could you mount the mercury switch onto a small swivel mount?
You could also use a small momentary switch to prevent the circuit from charging while it is placed onto a table. Once they pick it up and ask the question, the circuit should have finished charging.
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Re: Booby-trapped Magic 8 Ball

Postby arfink » January 28th, 2011, 9:39 pm

Alright, the video is here!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xu01p9kGoFk

Hey Caleb, how does one embed a youtube player in a post? Or is that not allowed here?

EDIT: In reply to some folks in the comments thread, here is a little more info:

-Yes, it does weigh about the same as a normal 8 ball. Though few people handle 8 balls enough to really have known if the weight was that different.

-Though it does not have a blue goo tube sloshing around, the mercury switch actually does make sloshing noises. :)

-Shaking the ball beforehand doesn't always set it off. In fact, you have to whip it pretty hard (or drop it) to set off the flash. I am not sure why this is.

-As for health problems, like any prank, just make sure your victim won't be at risk for seizures and heart attacks etc etc.

I'm glad so many people enjoyed this.
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Re: Booby-trapped Magic 8 Ball

Postby bios » January 29th, 2011, 6:11 am

I love everything about this. Its so simple, yet so clever :D

Great job, looking forward to v2
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Re: Booby-trapped Magic 8 Ball

Postby AndyHope » January 29th, 2011, 8:46 am

hah good work,

I agree that the timing is a little bit off, but it still rocks anyways.
would be cool to see it if you added that 555 delay you were talking about

- Andy
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