Video Game System Timer

By Mike Hyde, The Webmaster

Disclaimer:  In this article I am describing a Video Game System Timer I developed and use in my cottage. However,  I have no control over the manufacturing of items described in this article by other people, nor do I have control over the materials used.  Use this information at your own risk.  I do not encourage anybody that does not have the skills to build something like to attempt it.

I have just invented a new device to help me as a houseparent.  It is an automatic timer for controlling the amount of time our children spend using our game systems. You can set it for any amount of time up to 1 hr.  Once time has expired it will automatically turn off the game system and television.  I will describe how I made it.  If you decide to build your own timer, do so at your own risk.  My timer has worked exactly as I hoped it would, and it is actually quite amusing to hear the response from kids when it turns off.

In the very short time I have used this timer, arguing over using the game systems has totally stopped and I don't have stand there and monitor the kids the whole time to make sure they get off when they are supposed to.   It's not the most attractive device, but in the maze of wires that go with the game systems it doesn't look real out of place either.  Were I to build another one I would make some changes like using two separate boxes and have the power cords in one box and just the timer controller in the other.  I am also considering making another one that uses a relay with the timer to control the cable TV signal.  If I do I will let you know how that goes.  My son things I should try to patent it, but I think it would cost more to patent it than I could ever make on it.  I would rather post the information for how I made it, hoping somebody can get something out of it.

How I built it

I first made a trip to the local home building supply warehouse to buy the items I needed.  The items I used were: 1. 60 minute mechanical timer $16.88, 2. 9' 3-outlet extension cord $7.92. 3. 8X10' Acrylic Panel $2.97.  4. 6X6X4 Non-Metallic Job Box $10.54.  5. 2" non removable pin hinges $2.17.  I already had a the electrical outlet box, wire nuts, glue and lock, but imagine it would have added about $10 to the project.  I also had the pop rivets I used instead of screws (I didn't want a box that could easily be taken apart) as well as the tools needed. 

The tools I used were: 1. A coping saw.  2. Screw Driver.  3. Pop Rivet Gun.  4. Utility Knife.  5. Cordless Drill & bits.  6. Pliers.  7. Wire Strippers. 

game system timer

Once I had everything I needed, I next removed the lid from the project box.  I scored all the way around the inside lip with a utility knife and then bent it over with a pair of pliers.  I then scored it again and was able to cut through it with the utility knife.  However, if I were to build another one, I would just use my rotary tool and grind the lip off. 

I next cut off the edge of the lid to allow the door to open once the hinges where installed.  At first I only cut off the outside lip, but later realized I had to remove a total of about 3/8 of an inch for the door to open fully with the hinges.

I then cut a hole to install a viewing window.  The window allows our children to see how much time is left so they are not totally surprised when the timer cuts off.  I drilled holes in each corner and used a coping saw to cut our the piece.  I installed the door onto the box before I installed the window.  With the hole I was able to hold the door in place and mark it to drill the holes to install the hinges.

Here is the box with the door installed.  I also used rivets to mount the electrical box to the project box.  After I mounted the electrical box I drilled a 3/8" hole through the project box and electrical box and then out the other side of the electrical box.  This was to allow for installing the extension cord.

Next I cut a small piece of acrylic to cover the hole.  I glued and riveted it in place.  I probably could have gotten away with just gluing or just riveting, but I figured the glue would help keep the acrylic from cracking and the rivets would keep the window from coming loose.  The glue I used throughout the project is Outdoor Goop®  It is strong and flexible and adheres well to smooth surfaces.  I then installed the lock.  I ended up cutting the window too large and was not able to install the lock correctly using the little ring that keeps it from spinning, so I ended up having to glue the lock in place after I installed the nut to keep it from spinning when you opened and closed it.

All that was left was to install the timer switch.  I used wire nuts to to connect the green and white wires, and wired the black wires through the switch.  I had to wrap black tape around the extension cord to keep it from pulling out of the hole in the box when pulled on.

The last thing I did was cut slots in the edge of the box for the cords of game systems to come in.  After I mounted the timer to the wall I realized that I needed some way to hold the game system power cords in place, so I drilled a small hole on each side of the slots I cut for the game systems cords.  I was able to run a wire through one of the holes then over the cable inside the box, through the other hole and twisted them together over the cable outside the box.  I was able to open and close the box without the power cords always being in the way and falling out of place.

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