Escape Room Prop guidance - Hand crank power generator station

Hi everyone,

I am building escape rooms and I need some guidance on making a hand crank power generator.


  • A big black box with a large hand crank and a 12v light bulb attached to it. When players start to operate the hand crank, the light bulb should be on; vice versa.


  • Use a drill and attach a hand crank to generate real power (could cause inconsistence performance)

  • Prepare a 12v power supply and have Arduino to detect if the hand crank is being operated. If so, activate a relay to supply power to the light bulb (preferable)

  • Any advice on creating such prop?

  • If going for approach #2, how can I detect if a player is operating a crank? Maybe the hand crank can attach to a motor?


Attach the hand crank to a rotary encoder. When the Arduino detects rotation, use a MOSFET switch to actvate the light. You could even use PWM to control the brightness of the light proportional to the speed of rotation.

I assume the hand crank and shaft need to be rock solid, kids will bang and yank on it.
use a simple jackshaft with the hand crank. then connect to a hand crank flashlight with a pulley.
often the dynamo has a gear set to take slow hand rotation and make if spin a motor fast.


use simple belts, something that would slip in case they tried to move it with too much force.

when you spin a permanent magnet motor, it creates voltage. when you apply voltage, it spins.

if you have and old battery powered drill, you can put a crank handle on that and remove any driver boards and go right to the motor.

if you just want light, that is easy, if you want it to blink a code, then you would need to use an Arduino.

I thought of having Arduino's in an escape room. you can have settings.
easy, medium, hard.... etc. easy spins the motor and led's show text, 'look under the pirate eye patch'
hard might blink dots that match pattern on a wall somewhere.