Questions and Answers

Answers to the most often asked questions about Quest Boxes™

How does the box know where it is and where it wants to be?

The patent-pending GPS electronics hidden in the lid tell the box where it is each time the button is pressed. The place where it opens has been programmed by the box’s Master. The box calculates and displays its distance to that place before shutting itself off.

How does the Master set the destination?

You connect your Quest Box™ to a computer with a USB cable, and select a destination from a digital map using our free Quest Designer software.  The software handles all the box configuration.

How precisely can you set it?

Very precisely—within one millionth of a degree, which is no more than about four inches.  (However, note that the published accuracy of the GPS module is limited to +/-10 meters.)

How close do you have to be to the destination for the box to open?

The radius around the destination is configurable by the Master.  It could be as little as 30 feet or 1000 miles or more.  If your intended destination is the parking lot of a favorite restaurant, you might choose a small one like 50 feet.  In the very first Quest, the radius was 2000 meters.  That box triggered when the Subjects reached a certain island off the coast of France.

What is a “Master”? A “Subject”?

A Master is a person, usually the owner of the Quest Box™, who designs and deploys quests. He or she selects a Treasure and a Destination, configures the box, and presents it to someone to solve.

The Subject is that “someone”. The Subject may or may not know in advance what the box is or how it works. It might be part of the game for the Subject to discover what the game is all about. But the end goal is always for the Subject to unveil the Treasure at a certain location.

What happens once a quest is finished?

Typically, the Subject returns the Quest Box™ to its Master, who may then create new quests for others.

Why wouldn’t my Subject simply force the box to retrieve the treasure?

For two reasons:

  1. Most friends will likely not damage a beautiful object just to satisfy a curiosity.
  2. It’s quite likely that doing so might also ruin their “treasure”.  Imagine, for example, that you’ve hidden an unmarked hotel room key in your box. If your Subject applied a hacksaw to it while the key was still miles distant from the mysterious room, the real treasure- whatever’s hidden in that room- would be lost forever.

Can I display distances in meters and kilometers instead of feet and miles?

Yes.  The Quest Design software allows you to select English or Metric units.

How big is a Quest Box?

The exterior of our 2012-2013 model boxes is about 9X6X4.5”. The interior usable space is about 8X5X2.5”.

Will the box work indoors?

Probably not.  As with most GPS devices, if you don’t have a clear line of site between the box and the GPS satellites, you may experience interference.  Steer clear of tall buildings, especially their interior.

What about taking a box through airport security?

This is a problem.  It is quite unlikely that a security official will allow your Subject to bring an “armed” Quest Box in carry-on luggage.  Not only do suspicious electronics show up on the X-ray, they won’t be able to explain or show the interior.  We recommend that Masters avoid designing quests that require air travel, or at least make sure the box ends up in checked baggage.

How many attempts do you get to try to open the box?

This is configurable by the Master- at most 50.

What happens if you use up all the attempts?

It will never open!  Seriously! (Note for Masters: If your Subject has the misfortune of using up all the attempts he/she may sheepishly return the box to you.  The Quest Designer software can open it or reset the counter.)

How is it powered?

With two AA alkaline batteries.

What happens if the batteries run out of power?

That shouldn’t happen.  If the Master installs fresh alkaline batteries before every quest, there shouldn’t be any trouble because the box draws almost no power except during the few seconds it is active.  And the Subject can only activate it a limited number of times.

Can I use rechargeable batteries?

Unfortunately, no. They don’t supply enough voltage to reliably power the box.

Can the Master open a sealed box in an emergency?

Yes. The Master can use the Quest Design software to open the box prematurely.

What stops my Subject from downloading the software and using it to open the box?

Each box has a unique serial number and configurable pass code.  If your Subject doesn’t know your pass code, the software won’t let him/her configure the box.

Has anyone ever become engaged by putting a ring in a box and having their lover “discover” it?

Yes. There have been at least 12 such engagements that we know of.  These are an incredibly varied bunch of quest experiences.  And the success rate so far is 100%- no one seems ever to say “no” to such a unique proposal.

What’s the longest quest that’s ever occurred (in time)?

The very first quest took over 10 months to complete.  (During much of that time, the Quest Box sat idly on the Subject couple’s bookshelf in Paris, waiting to be taken to a French island in the English Channel.)

What’s the longest quest that’s ever occurred (in distance)?

We once made a custom two-stage quest that went from Austin, Texas, USA, to Paris, France, and then to a remote safari camp in Botswana, via Madagascar.  That’s over 10,000 miles (16,000 km). The longest conventional quest so far is one that started in Los Angeles, California, USA, and ended in the state of New Hampshire, nearly 3000 miles (4800 km) away.

How can I make a really amazing quest?

Study some of the other great quest stories, and remember the Fundamental Rule of Great Quest Construction:  Great quests incorporate a profound and unexpected interplay between their four elements: Master, Subject, Destination, and Treasure.

Isn’t this like Geocaching?

A little.  In Geocaching, you hunt for a location to find a prize.  With a Quest Box you are always carrying your prize with you and have to find the location in order to get it.  We sometimes call it “Reverse Geocaching”. A Quest Box quest is intensely personal.

Where can I buy one?

Right here.

Where can I get the Quest Designer software?


Do I have to have a Quest Box to try out the software?

No. You can build and configure quests without a box. Try it out!

Will you customize my box?

We occasionally do software and hardware customizations on a per-service basis.

Can I try building my own?

We offer instructions on how to assemble the simpler Reverse Geocache™ box and sell custom Arduino shield PCBs to help Arduino users. We also offer free sample firmware that can be used as a guide.  You can use it to build as many non-commercial puzzle boxes as you would like.