What all started as shoving a tablet into a Pelican case turned into months of trials and prototypes, small meetings, tons of late night texts, installing a laser cutter and late nights learning to code…
We had talked about running scenarios and objective-based games during our private skirmishes to break up the monotony of the standard “force vs. force” gameplay. Ryan found many Android apps that could be used with a Bluetooth speaker but we ran into a major issue…we would need to remove our gloves to enter the keys and use the interface. Armed with a never-used electrical engineering degree and a few classes in C+++, Ryan went home and tinkered with Arduinos and a bread board. What came out of that was this:
It was still the same Bluetooth speaker but LOOK! Physical buttons!!! It wasn’t pretty, was mounted on cardboard with loose wires and boards, and seriously looked like a fire hazard, but it worked. Travis was both intrigued and embarrassed so he took it home and worked to house it in MDF.
Travis built a frame for the unit and managed to create a perfect fit for the Bluetooth speaker so it wouldn’t rattle around during games. This also hid most of the messy wiring and soldering so we felt comfortable enough to try it out.
We brought it over to Warped Ops in Santa Clarita, CA and used it during a private game. Before the game even started, we attracted a small crowd wondering what was making all the beeping noises – we could tell the concept was solid. After a few confused looks from our team, we explained how this would work in a game and had a blast trying to blow the other team up. We took notes on ideas to improve the build and features to make it easier to use but the main takeaway was how fun it was to push for a tangible objective. What really sealed the deal for me was when I heard a beeping noise in the distance with my ear-pro, realized that the Boom Box had been set and our team needed to disarm it. We needed to continue building this!