Interactive Zelda Treasure Chest

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Over the last few years, I’ve been intrigued by the idea of ordinary objects with electronic or digital characteristics. The idea for this project (my first) came from a combination of two sources, almost simultaneously:

  1. A rather skilled cosplayer I follow online who goes by the name Lopti (AKA “Some Like It Blue”) posted about how she would be cosplaying Zelda for an upcoming convention.
  2. A random post on Cheezburger of all places showed a similar chest, just without most of the bells and whistles.

Since the Zelda series has always been a favorite of mine, and because I thought the chest I saw could be even cooler than it already was, my first inspiration had struck. I realized that I could make a chest that mimics all of the functionality of the one in the game.

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When an item is placed in the center ring, the box identifies which item it is, and turns on the yellow lights to acknowledge its presence. When you close the chest with an item inside, the lights turn off to conserve battery. As soon as the chest is opened, the lights turn back on, and the theme music begins playing. Finally, when the item is removed, the lights fade out, and the fanfare music corresponding to the item is played.

For a first attempt, I think it turned out pretty well:

I designed it with the following characteristics in mind:

  1. Portability – The biggest concern was carrying the thing around. I wanted it to be small enough, both in dimension and weight, for someone to carry around while cosplaying at a convention without slamming protein shakes for a month ahead of time. I also chose a chest that has a latch, so the user can ensure it stays closed when not in use.
  2. Simplicity – Slide away the false bottom, flip a few switches, and it’s live.
  3. Realism – I tried to stay true to the game as much as possible. This means no exposed electronics, switches, etc. The lights also randomly shimmer to mimic the uplighting in the game.
  4. Easy Recharge – Nobody wants to drain the battery, then sit there while it recharges. Everything can run off of standard alkaline batteries. Carry spares, and the downtime is minimal.

While the parts did end up costing more than I’d expected, I have since found ways to optimize it to reduce cost by about 10%. I expect version 2.0 to be a bit more reliable, less chaotic power-wise, and slightly less expensive.

If you’re more technically minded, I’ve put together a technical overview on how I built it.

Thanks for reading. As always, I welcome questions or constructive criticism.

P.S. If you’re into cosplay at all, you need to check out Lopti’s stuff. She also does a great job of explaining how to get the same effects she does on her YouTube channel.

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