“Knock Knock Unlock” Puzzle Box

This is my version of a "knock knock unlock" puzzle box.  A knock knock unlock puzzle box is a locked box that is opened by knocking on it with a particular sequence of knocks, for example "knock-pause-knock-knock-pause-knock-knock-knock" There are several versions of these boxes on the internet.  For my version, I wanted to make a box that has nothing mounted on the outside — no lights, no switches, no wires going through the box, and no outside latch.  Just a blank box on the outside.  Here are photos of and links to photos the inside and the outside of the box:



    1. Mini Pushbutton Power Switch, LV (Pololu #2808) – 3.95
    2. Mercury Tilt Switch, 1A @ 250V (Amazon) – $2.37
    3. Pololu 5V Step-Up/Step-Down voltage regulator (Pololu #2123) – $5.95
    4. Pololu A-Star 32U4 Micro microcontroller (Pololu #3101) – $12.75
    5. Anycubic Microphone Sound Detection Sensor Module (Amazon) – 6.99
    6. Hitec 35485S HS-5485HB Digital Servo (Amazon) – 24.84
    7. Micro Vibration Motor With Cable, 1.5V to 6V (Amazon) – $8.69
    8. 470 uF, 35VDC Capacitor (RadioShack #272-1030) – $1.49
    9. 1000 uF, 35VDC Capacitor (RadioShack #272-1032) – $1.99
    10. Safety 1st Spring-Loaded Cabinet & Drawer Latch (Walmart) – $3.59
    11. Pololu 3-AA Battery Holder (Pololu #142) – $0.99
    12. Breadboard (Sparkfun #PRT-12625) – $5.95
    13. Three Alkaline or Lithium size AA Batteries
    14. ArtMinds Wooden Box, 8 1/2" L, 5 5/16" W, 3 9/16" H (Michaels crafts) – $5.49

    Mini Pushbutton Power Switch
        VIN to 4.5V battery pack
        VOUT to voltage regulator, VIN
        A to mercury switch
        B to mercury switch
        OFF to 32U4, pin 12
        GND to common ground

    Mercury switch
        To A and B on the pushbutton power switch
        (Note: The mercury switch is mounted vertically, with the
         tip down and the connection wires above.)

    Voltage regulator
        VIN to power switch, VOUT
        VOUT to 5V common positive
        GND to common ground

    32U4 Micro microcontroller
        5V to 5V common positive
        GND to common ground
        Pin 3 to microphone DO pin
        Pin 5 to servo signal wire
        Pin 9 to vibration motor red (+) wire
        Pin 12 power switch OFF

        + to 5V common positive
        G to common ground
        DO to 32U4 pin 3

        Black to common ground
        Red to 5V common positive
        Signal wire to 32U4 pin 5

    Vibration Motor
        Red to 32U4 pin 9
        Black to common ground

    470 uF Capacitor
        Positive to 5V common positive
        Negative to common ground

    1000 uF Capacitor
        Positive to voltage regulator VIN
        Negative to common ground

    Cabinet & Drawer Latch
        1. Trim the top of the latch off so it will fit in the box.
        2. Drill a couple of 1/16" holes into the arm of the latch.
        3. Loop heavy sewing thread through the 1/16" holes and
            the servo arm and tie the servo to the latch.

    The following is just a very basic program to receive knocks and open and close
the box.  You start the program by turning the box upside down, closing the mercury
switch, and then turning the box upright.  The sequence of knocks required to open
the box is just four knocks within 30 seconds.  Add your own code to make the
required sequence of knocks more complex.

This software was written by Bob Day.
It was written in May, 2016.

This software is licensed under the terms of the Creative
Commons "Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike" license, version
3.0, which grants the limited right to use or modify it NON-
COMMERCIALLY, so long as appropriate credit is given and
derivative works are licensed under the IDENTICAL TERMS.  For
license details see

This source code is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of

#include <avr/sleep.h>
#include <avr/power.h>
#include <Servo.h>
// #include <SoftwareSerial.h>
// #include <serial.h>

        // Pin assignments
static const int servo_control = 5;
static const int knock_interrupt_pin = 3;
static const int off_pin = 12;
static const int buzz_pin = 9;

        // These values should be adjusted according to your needs
static const int OPEN_ANGLE = 120;  // degrees
static const int CLOSED_ANGLE = 60; // degrees
int knocksToOpen = 4;

        // The basic objects needed
Servo servo;
volatile long knock_heard = 0;
volatile long knockOkFlag = 0;
int knock_count = 0;
int delay_count = 0;
int idx; // Index variable.
int len;
int blinkLed = 13;

// The Arduino setup() function
void setup()
pinMode(servo_control, OUTPUT);
pinMode(3, INPUT);
pinMode(off_pin, OUTPUT);
pinMode(buzz_pin, OUTPUT);

attachInterrupt(0, knock_detected, RISING);


knock_count = 0;
knock_heard = 0;
knockOkFlag = 0;
delay_count = 0;
} // End of setup().

void loop()
if (knock_count >= knocksToOpen)
  knock_count = 0;
  knock_heard = 0;
  knockOkFlag = 0;
  digitalWrite(off_pin, HIGH);     // Turn off the power.
  if (knock_count < knocksToOpen)

  knockOkFlag = 1;                 // Allow reception of knocks.
  if (delay_count >= 120)          // If 30 seconds have passed since starting,
    digitalWrite(buzz_pin, HIGH);  // send a long buzz and
    digitalWrite(buzz_pin, LOW);
    digitalWrite(off_pin, HIGH);   // turn off the power.

  knockOkFlag = 0;                 // Knocks not allowed.
  digitalWrite(blinkLed, LOW);     // Turn off the blink LED.
  if (knock_heard == 1)
    digitalWrite(buzz_pin, HIGH);  // Acknowledge the knock.
    delay(250);                    //         "
    digitalWrite(buzz_pin, LOW);   //         "
    knock_heard = 0;

  if (knock_count >= knocksToOpen)
  } // End of while(1).
} // End of loop().

// Functions

// Knock detected interrupt
void knock_detected()
  if (knockOkFlag == 1)           // If knocks are OK,
    knock_heard = 1;              // A knock was heard.
    digitalWrite(blinkLed, HIGH); // Turn on the blink LED.

  knockOkFlag = 0;                // Knocks are not OK for a while.

Geiger Counter

I'm quiet happy with the Geiger counter I recently built.  I found many of the ideas for the electronic circuit I used on the internet, and I added some of my own ideas that significantly improved what I found on the internet.  Here is a link to the circuit:


I connect the output of the circuit to an interrupt input of an Arduino Micro microcontroller.  What I like about the circuit is that for every alpha, beta or gamma particle the Geiger tube detects, the circuit sends a single, very clean, pulse about four microseconds wide to the microcontroller, so that each particle detection is counted once and only once.  That is in contrast with many other circuits I tried that often count a particle detection multiple times.

Currently I'm using an LND 7313 Geiger tube (which, except for the style of its connectors, is the same as the more common 7317) instead of the LND 712 that I used originally.  The 7313 is a lot more sensitive to radiation than the 712.  It also runs at 550 volts, but R7 should be 4.7 megohms instead of 10 megohms.  The circuit should also run higher voltage tubes — it can easily be adjusted to provide more that 1000 volts.

For the MCU (microcontroller), I'm using a Pololu A-Star 32U4 Micro (item #3101), which is Arduino compatible.

For a display, I use a serial 20×4 LCD display, a sparkfun #LCD-09568.

The power supply consists of three 1.5v batteries in series connected to an adjustable step-up/step-down voltage regulator (pololu item #2118) adjusted to have a 5 volt output.

These four components, the Geiger counter circuit, the MCU, the LCD display, and the 5 volt power supply share a common ground, which I'll refer to as "GND".  The positive output of the power supply I'll call "POS".  POS is also common among the components.

The connections among the components are as follows:

From the Geiger counter circuit: Vcc 5V and Vcc go to POS, "to MCU interrupt" goes to pin 3 on the MCU, and ground goes to GND.

From the LCD display: RX goes to pin 2 on the MCU, VDD goes to POS, and GND goes to GND.

From the MCU (for the connections not previously listed): the 5V pin goes to POS, and the GND pin goes to GND.

Here is a link to the program I use in the Arduino Micro: