The sheet music folder labelled “William’s Favorites” held only four staff pages, but the staves were empty on every sheet.
Superimposed over each collection of staves, however, was a circle of numerals, ranging from zero through nine, in a regular pattern of colors: red, orange, green, and blue. Each circle consisted of twelve numerals with such a placement as to put the beholder in mind of a clock face, but the numerals differed on each page, and their ordering was apparently random.
Each page contained one more item: a riddle in great letters, stamped in the center of each circle. These are the four riddles we found, in no particular order:
Rung times twelve and twelve times more
Seek ye what rung has twenty-four
Array of flags o’erlays the space
But one is absent from its place
Rearrange words and read
Wither words fain would lead
The resting place of sages past
Amid the dead, green hills contrast
Solution 1: One of our number recognized that a clock rings 24 times in a day and started assembling a posse to search for every clock in the house, but it seemed too straightforward a solution to draw much enthusiasm. At length, Eldred led us again to the workshop, where he indicated an extension ladder, which consisted of two ladders bound together, each holding twelve rungs. Bound to the last rung was a sheet of music and a collection of paper scraps. Each scrap was printed with a telegraph key and another riddle. These riddles I shall record in a later entry.
Solution 2: An old house such as the Desmarais estate can be expected to have many a flag and banner, but nowhere could we find anything suggesting a “field” of flags. Rumination eventually brought our thoughts around to the flagged courtyard behind the house. Indeed there were passing a couple hundred of flagstones paving the ground, and one of them was indeed missing. There we found a sheet of music and another riddle.
Solution 3: It didn’t take long for the party to realize that “words” could be rearranged to make “sword,” but for some reason it was not until hours after this discovery that anyone thought it worth searching the house for swords. Late in the night, after several of the party had retired to bed, another sheet of music and another riddle were found tied to the hilt of one of the swords hung on ornamental display.
Solution 4: The expired sages, it turned out, were former occupants of the herb garden back of the house, growing out of raised planting beds surrounded with mulch. The current sage seemed to grow wild in the unkempt planters, and in the thick of it another sheet of music and another riddle.
We played each piece on the pianoforte, with the lantern resting beside, and to our wonder, the lantern came alive and glowed a new color for each of the four songs: red, green, blue, and orange.
Building the pianoforte
The pianoforte is a keyboard with a MIDI out port. I built a device to capture the MIDI signals and a program to compare them against a song bank. When a song was successfully entered, the device emitted an infrared signal, which the lantern received and interpreted. The code is available on my github repo.
So this diagram isn’t entirely accurate because I didn’t want to construct the images for the parts I needed. Check out the comments in the source code files for further instructions. The important thing to note is that that component bridging the MIDI signal and the microcontroller is an LTV817C optocoupler. This diagram shows an ATmega328, but I actually ended up using an Arduino MEGA 2560 because when I loaded the data for all the songs, the ATmega328 just didn’t have enough RAM to work properly (though it worked fine when I had six very short test songs loaded).
Building the lantern
The lantern receives a data packet via IR transmission from the pianoforte. It also emits its own data packet via IR transmission. The code is available on my github repo.
Again, the diagram is not entirely trustworthy. Again, read the comments in the source code files for help. In the photo, you can see that I’m actually using four RGB leds, driven with four transistors (P2N2222AG). Add those and their resisitors, a button and jumper for control override, a power switch, and it became quite a web of wires. The device is powered off of a 9V battery. For my other portable devices, I used 2 AA batteries and an NCP1402-5V, but I couldn’t get enough power out of that to run the chip and all the LEDs. There’s a TSOP3238 IR receiver and a 950nm IR LED for transmitting.