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Let's Get Quizzical: A Quiz Game With A Difference

No more boring old buzzers for us...

By John Clarke

If you’ve ever watched the quirky British show “QI” (here’s today’s trivia or tomorrow’s quiz question – it stands for Quite Interesting), or perhaps the witty Aussie “Talking About Your Generation” you’ll know what we are talking about.

When each player or contestant presses their buttons (well, more often than not, belts their buttons!) as well as judging who’s first, each responds with individual sound bites. Those sounds are often surprising, sometimes outrageous and always humorous. And they’re never the same from one episode to the next.

Quizzical! Features

Up to four contestants plus QuizzMaster

Unique sounds played for each contestant

Unique sound during answer period and at end of answer period

Up to five separate sets of theme sounds can be stored on SD card

Internal speaker

External speaker output connector

Volume control

Optional externally-accessible SD card slot

Adjustable contestant play sound period

Adjustable answer period

Unlimited types of sounds possible

Build the SILICON CHIP Quizzical! and similar, virtually limitless sound possibilities are yours. That’s because the Quizzical! uses a Secure Digital (SD) memory card to store the sound files and so any MP3 file can be included for play.

There is no limit to the types of sounds that can be produced – anything from animal noises, explosions, opera and classical music through to one liners from cartoons, comedy skits or movies. Like “Go ahead, make my day!”

How?

If you know how to save an MP3 sound file on your computer and can then copy that to an SD card, you can use the Quizzical!. It doesn’t record files itself; it simply plays back files that have been stored onto the SD memory.

What?

For suitable sound files, you don’t have to search far. In just a few minutes searching on the net, we found literally millions of MP3 files.

These ranged from Warner Brothers Bugs Bunny cartoon classic one-liners, Monty Python sound bites, Star Wars and other science fiction sounds, bell sounds and music MP3 files and ring tones.

You can edit sound files to any length before placing these onto the memory card. If they are other formats (eg .WAV or .M4A) there’s plenty of free software around to convert them to MP3.

Or you can record your own sounds using an MP3 player with recording facility or using a computer and microphone and freely available software. Even bits of CD tracks can be converted to MP3 format suitable for the Quizzical!. (Bear in mind the warning in the “Legalities” panel).

Who?

Quizzical! caters for up to four contestants plus the adjudicator (dare we call him the QuizzMaster?). Once a player has pressed his or her button to answer a question, his/her unique sound starts to play and his/her button lights up. And all other answer buttons are locked out at this time.

The contestant sound play period can be set by a trimpot adjustment and is available from between 1.3s and 18s. But if those periods are not suitable, there is also the option to have the play period set by the sound file length.

The QuizzMaster can cancel any sound playing by pressing the QuizzMaster button.

This pushbutton also has a LED indicator. Additionally, the QuizzMaster can start a timer to limit the time period allowed between the quiz question and for an answer. During this answer-timing period, a new sound (the QuizzMaster sound) can be played.

When?

This answer-timing period can be set internally to between 1.3s and 35s or by the file length itself. At the end of the timing period, a different sound can be played to indicate timeout. The QuizzMaster LED lights during the answer-timing period.

If another contestant presses a contestant button during the answer-timing period, then his or her contestant sound is played.

But that sound arrangement is quite flexible – you have the choice to play a “silent” file during the answer-timing period which, of course, means that  no sound is heard.

At the end of the answer-timing period a sound indicates the time has expired. Or you could have a sound played during the answer-timing period with a silent file for the end of the timing period.

If the answer-timing feature is not required at all, the QuizzMaster does not press the QuizzMaster button to initiate the answer-period.

If the QuizzMaster button is pressed unintentionally, the button can be pressed again to immediately cancel the answer period sound.

The contestants’ buttons still operate in the same way, where as soon as one button is pressed the other contestant buttons are inactive until the contestant sound file finishes playing.

Themes and variations!

The Quizzical can include up to five separate sound themes that are  written onto separate folders on the SD memory card.

By way of example, the first folder might contain the four separate files for the contestants, an answer period file and end of answer period file, all based on a cartoon theme. The second folder might have a science fiction theme and the third folder might have a classical music theme and so on.

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