Beer + Trivia + Arduino

Good day,

I'm relatively new to Arduino and a complete n00b when it comes to electronics. I come from the software dev side.

I've been playing around with my Uno and was talking to a friend who owns a bar, when he asked me if I could get something up for him to handle his trivia nights, instead of using pens and paper. Because smartphones are killing the fun with people doing quick Googles the system would have very short answer windows to combat cheating (this post will not attempt to understand the psyche of dolts who cheat at bar-trivia in order to win a voucher).

This would mean wireless controllers with 4-5 buttons, 'registered' to specific tables, all communicating with a base station hooked up to a PC.

What we came up with as a basic use case would be: 1. Base station calls for answers, lighting up the valid buttons that can be used to answer (multiple choice vs true/false etc.) 2. Wireless controller used to answer question by contestants. 3. Base station closes answer window. 4. Answers are polled to software on PC for results later.

There are a lot of fun things we thought of doing, but that needs a lot of hashing out. - The Who Wants To Be A Millionaire things along the lines of 50/50 and Ask The Audience etc. - Weakest Link type games where teams could vote off other teams. - The list goes on and on and got pretty silly as more beers were consumed.

I've been looking at the Nordic RF units, as well as WiFi for the TCP/IP stack and XBee as well.

Could anyone please weigh in with what I need to consider here? RF seems to be a little cheaper and easier on the juice needed to run. WiFi seems to be much easier to get programmed and going, but will be quite expensive and power-hungry. XBee maybe?

Battery life is not a big deal, as we will definitely look at rechargeable batteries, as long as we can get about 4 hours out of a 9V battery. Range is not a big deal, as it is an open space with the furthest node being less than 30m away.

Any ideas or references would be greatly appreciated and I will buy anyone here a beer who visits Heidelberg Gauteng in South Africa ;)

A JeeNode with its RFM12B should do the trick. The developer has tested an open-air range of 100M which should be sufficient for a small indoor environment.

For this particular device you could run it from 3 AA batteries. That would be a little cheaper and provide more runtime.