Spin & Sing Solution

How It Works

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This puzzle consists of a hacked up Leapfrog Spin & Sing Alphabet Zoo baby toy. The exterior of the wheel has not been modified by GC; only the guts have been swapped out for updated innerds.

The wheel has the following input/output:

  • a spinnable wheel that's very similar to the Price is Right showcase showdown wheel. It has every letter A-Z on it, as well as a spiral @ symbol
  • a slider switch on the right with two volume positions, 'low' and 'high'. (It does nothing.)
  • a slider switch on the left with four positions: OFF ABC DUCKIES MUSIC


There are three phases to the puzzle that correspond to the switch.

First Phase (ABC)

In this phase, teams switch the wheel to "ABC". When the wheel first boots, it doesn't let you choose any other position than ABC.

It seems like it's behaving like the original toy - this is mostly so you can learn the sounds and animals. But observant teams will notice there are blinking LEDs that blink morse code.

The morse spells out


The answer is jib.

Second Phase (DUCKIES)

This is where the heart of the puzzle is. In this phase, you can choose between ABC and Duckies on the wheel.

In this phase, each position on the wheel has a new sound. This forms an encryption/decryption key that's a simple substitution cipher.

The @ symbol, on the other hand, has a really, really long message. It's a bunch of sounds (don't have the data handy, poke around on the share since I think ATR transcribed) that translate to "SORTCIPHERKEYSPINBEASTNAME". When you get that clue, you sort the cipher key and you get:


The answer is, of course, lynx.

Third Phase (MUSIC)

This is the final phase. It's pretty simple - teams set the wheel to MUSIC and they get a single letter per wheel position:


This is intended to be straightforward. "use like combo lock" just means to use it exactly like the first two, and (hopefully) obviously, the word to spin this time is FOX.


it uses the animal sounds and says:

  1. MEW (c for Cat)
  2. NOM NOM NOM (a for Alligator)
  3. BOING BOING BOING (r for Rabbit)
  4. WHO WHO (o for Owl)
  5. BIZARRE MADE UP SOUND (u for Umbrellabird)
  6. ORP ORP (s for Seal)
  7. SNORK (e for Elephant)
  8. rawr (l for Lion)

This repeats until you rip out the batteries, or until you turn it off.

Design Notes

  • The concept for this puzzle started with the idea to hack up a Speak and Spell. I went to Target looking for any sort of alphabet toy, and this one looked appealing. I wasn't sure if it would work at first, but I got it home, broke it open and there were two convenient ribbon cables staring me right in the face. A few minutes with a multimeter later and I had the Gray code for the wheel states mapped out, and the rest is history...
  • For early playtests and betas, the wheel was controlled by a computer. An Arduino was used to turn the wheel into a USB device that reported back the letter that was currently shown and to allow the computer to control the onboard LEDs.
  • All of the audio for the wheel is original. We extracted it by adding a headphone jack to the original toy and connecting it to a computer's microphone in port.
  • The guts of the wheel is a custom produced circuit board. The design is a mashup of the Arduino platform and the Adafruit Industries Wave Shield design, and it's powered by an Atmel ATMega328. Of note is that the circuit board contains a microSD card slot and a 1GB Micro SD card...
  • The wheel audio for each mode is accessible from the Micro SD card. For early revisions, the answer was just sitting on the MicroSD card as "answer.wav". We obviously needed to fix this for the final in case someone decided to go all Bunny on the puzzle and rip it open.... so we replaced answer.wav with another audio file we happened to have handy. Perhaps one that answers the question of what is on Joey's head...
  • Yeah, it eats batteries. The original toy operates on 4.5VDC from three AA batteries. Our design is nominally 5V, but it has a range of tolerance and therefore can run on 4.5V. A fresh set of AAs starts at 1.6-1.7V per battery, so three of those together get you close enough to 5V to get quite a bit of runtime. Unfortunately, this wasn't enough for a full solve of the puzzle, and we ended up supplying 80 (!) extra batteries to teams. In retrospect, I should have taken the time to build a 5V stepup converter in. Sorry.
  • Because the toy eats batteries, and because the switch on the ball is super noisy (look at how it's implemented to see what we mean - it's a metal clip that drags across a circuit board), we had to build in a last minute mode that saves the state of the puzzle across power cycles. Originally, it reset every time you switched the toy off.
  • The memory of the puzzle can be erased by dialing @, then N, then B, then K. This will reset your progress back to when the toy was fresh out of the box, and it also unlocks a secret mode...

GC Notes


  • The sounds of this puzzle became quite a meme for GC throughout the year. Some favorites include the lion (rawr!) as well as some of the animals that are somewhat of a stretch to include in a sound based baby toy, like umbrellabird, turtle, jellyfish and newt.