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"You Don't Know Jack" Hand Buzzers

Phase I

Phase I: Build the Controls

After more than 5 months of playing "You Don't Know Jack" on the arcade and ignoring the little voice in the back of my head telling me to build some hand buzzers, I finally caved. Using the tutorial at as a starting point of sorts, I decided to take the design a step further and make some really unique and "professional" looking hand buzzers. Since "You Don't know Jack" can only support a maximum of 3 players at a time, I only needed to create 3 buzzers. Each one took about 30 minutes to assemble and finish.

Material list:

  • (3) Handset phone cords, or one really long one to cut into thirds
  • (3) 6" metal or plastic pipes
  • (3) Mountain-bike rubber hand grips
  • (6) Plastic furniture endcaps, like those found on cheap metal tables and chairs
  • (3) 8" of red and black wire, 18-22 ga
  • (3) 1/2" vertical momentary pushbuttons (not microswitches)
  • (3) 1/8" 2-Channel audio jacks - Male
  • (3) 1/8" 2-Channel audio jacks - Female

Tools needed:

  • Soldering iron & solder
  • Electrical tape
  • Hot-glue gun
  • Strippers (no, not that kind!)

Start by working a handgrip over a section of pipe.

Mountain Bike handgrip installed on pipe

Using the soldering gun, solder the 8" lengths of red and black wire to the momentary pushbutton and independently wrap the connections in electrical tape to prevent short circuits. Set that aside.

Momentary pushbutton soldered to wiring.

If the handset cords you're using came terminated with RJ-11s, clip them off. Slip the plastic audio jack cover over the phone cord and remove about 1/2" of the outer sheathing to expose the 4 telephone wires. Clip the 2 middle ones, you only need the wires on the sides.

Phone jack sans RJ-11 connector.

Stripped and ready for connection.

Strip and tin the 2 remaining phone wires (they're 26ga). Then crimp the metal 1/8" audio jack to the external insulation of the phone cord while keeping the exposed telephone wires from wandering in the middle. Carefully solder the wires to the outward facing sides of the terminals and test for continuity with a multimeter.

Terminating the phone jack wires.

Heat up a hot-glue (hotmelt) gun and inject a small bit between the newly soldered connections to give it support and prevent the frail wired from breaking off.

Hot glue to stabilize the connection and strengthen the wiring.

Thread the plastic jack cover onto the jack to close everything up. Make a hole appx 1/4" in diameter at the end of a plastic endcap. Thread the other end of the phone cord through the cap as shown and tie a knot to prevent it from being pulled out by accident.

Tie a knot in the cord to keep from losing it through the endcap.

Connect your button/wire assembly to the unfinished end of the phone cord by stripping the wire as described before and soldering the 2 outer wires to the un-finished ends of the red and black wires (It doesn't matter which one goes where, just as long as they make a good connection). Wrap the wires up independently with electrical tape to prevent shorts in the buzzer.

Wrap wires independently to prevent shorts.

Next, make a hole in another plastic endcap the same diameter as the button's threaded mid-section. Work the it through the pipe, and push it though the new endcap's hole.

Almost done.

Once you get it through, thread the small nut onto the button-shaft to prevent it from backing out of the cap. Roll up the ends of the bike grips and push the endcaps over the pipe. It'll take some elbow grease to get them on, but once they're there, you wont have to worry about them coming off by accident any time soon. Flip the grips back down over the cap and you're done!

Finished Game Show Buzzer Controller.

Interfacing the handbuzzer with the cab is actually easier than making the buzzers themselves...

Phase II: Arcade Cabinet Integration


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