Social Switches – Lock Box

The biggest concern for me with this project was creating a piece that people would actually be comfortable using, and that would be practical. Most of my ideas in the beginning were really basic touch circuits but I wasn’t really happy with them because it seemed like that would just be another impractical project that I make and then never touch again.

Because of this, I decided to build a small wooden box with a circuit engraved on top. Inlaid into the circuit groves are my electronic components (wires and a red 5mm LED), which are connected to 4.5V worth of AA batteries (3 x 1.5V each) and a small solenoid inside the box. The solenoid, when current isn’t running through it, holds the box closed by keeping its “arm” extended through a metal hook attached to the roof.

I also built three metal rings; one is a plain metal ring, one has a 3V cell battery attached to the top (so the top of the ring is positive and the ring itself becomes negative), and one is a plain metal ring that’s been cut in half and put back together with resin so the two halves don’t touch. This way, each “arm” of the ring can have its own charge.

CONTEXT: You and your two closest allies are running a small cash-based business. You keep all of your cash in the box, which should only ever be opened in the presence of all three of you. Each of you has a ring. When you come together, you each remove your ring and place it in its respective grove on the top of the box, connecting the circuit and sending voltage to the solenoid inside, which snaps back and allows the box to be opened.

Materials List

20mm 3V battery: BATTG-102500 (Creatron)

Duracell AA battery 4-pack: BATTA-154044 (Creatron)

AA x 3 cell battery enclosure: BATTH-010891 (Creatron)

Particle board

Cherry red wood stain

Cherry red wood finish

Metal hinges

Metal rivets

16g steel tubing

5V mini solenoid: USOLE-511015 (Creatron)



5mm red LED: LEDTU-520003

Wood glue

Hot glue

Photos of the Final Work

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I forgot to take photos of my process but I thought it would be useful to describe what I did step-by-step.

  1. Constructed box of particleboard (attaching the hinges was the last step though, to keep the two halves easy to work with)
  2. Troubleshooted circuit (the current I needed for my solenoid wasn’t being achieved with the coin cell battery so I needed to add 3 x AA batteries and make sure everything still worked)
  3. Made rings by cutting slices from a steel tube, then attaching a coin cell battery to one (using hot glue) and splitting the other with resin
  4. Engraved circuit on the top of the box, drilling holes for the circuit to connect to the battery pack and solenoid inside
  5. Stained and applied finish to the box and circuit
  6. Inlaid wires; this was tricky because I needed to strip them to the exact length but the stranded core wire kept breaking up
  7. Attached hook to the roof of the box, lined up with the solenoid so as to keep the box locked while the current is closed
  8. Attached hinges to the back of the box


Circuit Diagram


note* the three switches represent each of the three metal rings, and that weird thing on the bottom left is a solenoid