The NCWP Scavenger Box


We see a lot of amazing projects at SparkFun. Four months ago I decided to make something for my wife as a present for our wedding. This concept ended up as the NCWP, the non-crappy wedding present. In the end, I created a device which used RFID and GPS to take us on a 300 mile journey across the state and ultimately to the place we were getting married. The whole journey spanned 3 days and included various RFID checkpoints that had to be scanned as well as specific locations which we had to visit.


One of the GPS locations

She was first presented with a locked metal box containing her wedding ring and her task was to find the key to open it. She had to use the NCWP and its various clues to track down the key that would unlock her ring. In the end everything worked as planned and we were married.


The completed NCWP

I wrote a lengthy tutorial that goes into the whole story in great detail. The idea was to use technology to create something special and memorable. I didn't want the focus to be on the technology, but the purpose of it. Technology is inherently impersonal and I wanted to use it for something very personal. SparkFun doesn't sell anything that is particularly exciting or interesting on its own. The ideas and projects that come out of these products is what's makes technology exciting. The human involvement and interaction is what can make technology special.


The happy couple

Thank you to the entire SparkFun and open-source community. I couldn't have done this without you. Hopefully something can be learned from my project. Everyone reading this should give themselves a pat on the back for making all of this possible. Thanks for reading!


Comments 31 comments

  • Yeah, I think you had a pretty good approach - I set the date I was gonna do it, then didn’t sleep for about three nights leading up to it trying to get it programmed up and the bugs kicked out. No wonder I forgot to change the batteries ;)

    • Dang. Yeah, I ALMOST forgot to reset the clue number. Since everything is stored in the EEPROM, there isn’t an easy way to change the clue. So I almost forgot to reset it and gave it to her halfway through the ‘quest’. Sigh, too many things to think about!

  • Very nice work, Robert. Excellent geek form. And congratulations!
    This is similar to what I did with to propose using some of my first SparkFun parts. No GPS or RFID - it had the knockoff Nokia LCD screen, a VS1002D MP3 chip, and an SD card in a Radio Shack enclosure with some arrow buttons all tied into an ATMega128.
    My girlfriend (wife-to-be) had to follow the audio-visual clues loaded from the SD card, including recordings of me telling her clues drenched in sweet nothings, set to our favorite songs, and use the buttons to punch in a retrieved code to get the next clue.
    With each clue, she got something like shoes, earrings, a dress, a hairdo, necklace, etc., and the last clue she ended up in my garage which was decked out prom style with me in a tux.
    Fortunately, her driver had the backup plan - Batteries weren’t fresh when I gave it to her, and it died about half way through. Don’t worry - she still got the ring!
    It’s almost five years later, I’m sure she’s forgotten that I screwed up the batteries… ;)

    • Sounds like a neat project. That was similar to my original idea, but I wanted it to be a little less technical.
      Thanks for the comment!

  • Really nice job! This was my original intent with my Parallax Propeller version of Mikal’s Reverse Geo-Cache Box that I made for my wife’s birthday last year. I ran out of time developing the code for the clue tracking so it ended up being just like the original. I am working on a version 2 which is an open source GPS based scavenger hunt tool that you just pop in an SD card with clues/coords and off you go.
    Propeller-Based Reverse Geo-Cache Birthday Present Project
    http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?t=118830

    • Neat! Check out the tutorial and see if my code helps. I’m sure you could throw on an SD card to store locations and such.

      • Thanks! I did read through all of your tutorial for insight, but as I am using the Parallax Propeller so the code cannot be used in it’s current format. However, there are a few things that give me some good ideas.
        I actually have a full setup already with the Propeller that utilizes SD for developing my scavenger hunt version, I just need to finalize the code that ties it all together and change the code from the uOLED display to a cheaper option like a small LCD. Been too busy with a few other things.

  • Cute Idea.
    Congrats!

  • I signed up for membership just so I could comment on this (well, plus I plan on making some purchases in the near future :P)
    I just want to say congratulations to the both of you :] This is probably the most amazing story I’ve heard of in a long time. It’s great to see such a perfect pair exists, I guess there’s hope for true love after all.
    I wish you two the best in the future, can’t wait to see what you do for the anniversaries! :P

    1. Be a nerd
    2. Sparkfun
    3. ???
    4. HOT WIFE!
      Rob’s obviously got it figured out.
  • Wow, congratulations! Excellent photography, by the way.

  • Oh my, Very inspiring. Great work. She is one lucky wife !!!

  • That is such a cute idea. I love it… and am kind of jealous!

  • Awesome story and excellent job on the right-up. Wow. Love the photos! Great work Robert!

  • The most impressive part of this - the fact that your wife can jump that high in a pair of heels…

  • An original way to propose :)
    Congrats

  • This is quite a project! I love it!
    I actually happen to have quite a few of those parts lying around (minus RFID/LCD) that I was going to use for one of Mikal Hart’s puzzles. Now that I’ve seen this, I think I’m going to combine the two.
    I think it’s time for me to buy some more parts :D

  • The best proposal ever: brought to you by Sparkfun Electronics, the ingenious Mr. Robert C, and by viewers like you.
    What an incredible, delightful, intriguing and intensely exciting adventure it was. When people ask me if you did anything special for your proposal, I just laugh. You are awesome, my dear. Awesome to the max. ^_^

  • I think the best part of it is the name .
    Good work !

  • You are the ubergeek love god. Congrats.

  • Very cool, but not completely original. A new twist on an old concept:
    http://arduiniana.org/projects/the-reverse-geo-cache-puzzle/
    I don’t want to take away from your work, but it’s always good Karma to pay homage to the original. I also want to do something similar some day.

    • Yep. I gave him credit in the tutorial (which goes into more detail). It wouldn’t have been possible without his libraries.

      • Oops, missed that when I read it.
        Again, props on the work. Looks great.
        The next place I figure a similar gift would go well is to give to my parents when they retire. Give them an excuse to go see more of the country / world.

        • Ooh, good idea. I was going to make this one go further, but I didn’t feel comfortable bringing it on a plane.

  • Excellent! Love it.


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