Building game show buzzers with a Raspberry Pi

The Operator's Perspective

To operate the system, the operator presses b on the iPad to enable the buttons. The software locks into a loop until one of the buttons is pressed. Once a button is pressed, the appropriate number appears on the LCD screen. The operator can press r to reset the system, which will clear the screen, and then press b when it's time for the next question. The numbers 1 through 5 are available as a backup to the actual buttons. If a problem arises with the hardware, the buzzer operator can watch contestants hit the buttons and press the appropriate player's number, which manually controls the LCD.

Pitfalls and Future Improvements

The biggest pitfall encountered in the entire project was that the controlling iPad couldn't see the Raspberry Pi over the building's WiFi. I quickly solved this problem by giving the Pi its own WiFi router. Beyond that, the system operated smoothly throughout the event. Nevertheless, I've identified a few changes that I'd like to make.

Before using the buzzers again, I will probably make a few improvements/upgrades to the software. Modifying the getBuzzers function to also watch for a key press would make it possible to disable the buzzers without waiting for an actual button press. A timer here would also give contestants a set amount of time to answer. It has also been requested that the order of player buzz-ins beyond the first also be displayed.

I will probably also update the numbers array so that it holds a full coordinate rather than just an x offset. Then, the team graphics can be plotted anywhere on screen. Converting all of the functions to a buzzer class has also crossed my mind.

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