Fix your buzzers & buy new ones

Old college threads.
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Matt Weiner
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Fix your buzzers & buy new ones

Post by Matt Weiner »

In my quizbowl there is problem,
And that problem is buzzer.

Hello, college quizbowl. I'd like to talk about some issues that we have had this year with buzzers, and how YOU can address them.

First off, here is a brief recap of some buzzer follies that I dealt with as TD of ACF Nationals, a tournament which, at its most active point, was running 17 game rooms and thus required 17 buzzers.

Number of buzzers which teams registered for this tournament: 29

Number of buzzers which teams actually brought to this tournament on Saturday morning: 21
Three teams e-mailed me on Friday to say variations of "we forgot the buzzers at our campus before we left for New York." Five more never really were planning to bring buzzers at all and just registered them without thinking of how they were going to get them on the plane, never attempted to bring a buzzer, but never told anyone that their plans were changing until they were actually checking in at the tournament.

Number of buzzers which were still working at all by the end of gameplay on Saturday (would power up and have even one unit buzz): 17

Number of buzzers which were still fully functional (eight working units) by the end of gameplay on Sunday: 11

ELEVEN systems were actually left out of what was promised (a physically present, fully working buzzer that we could use for the tournament), from 29 that were registered. 18 out of 29 (62%) of the registered buzzers did not appear or work. This is unacceptable.

I'm going to recommend to ACF that we increase the buzzer discount for Nationals so that more teams are incentivized to bring them even if it costs money to get them on the plane, and concomitantly introduce a huge penalty for no-showing registered buzzers or bringing buzzers that don't fully work when tested on Saturday morning. However, the issue of checking baggage really only affects tournaments that people fly to, i.e. nationals. What about other events, and things teams can do?

First off, COMMUNICATE WITH THE HOST and MAKE A SENSIBLE PLAN FOR WHO HAS YOUR BUZZERS. There is no excuse for signing up a system and then having it not show at a tournament because you gave it after Tuesday practice to someone who isn't coming on Saturday. Be intelligent and make sure the last person who collects your buzzer at whatever your final team event prior to attending the tournament is, is someone who is coming to the tournament! When you meet to leave for the tournament, it is everyone on your team's responsibility to make sure the designated person brought the buzzer(s), and go get them if not, before you leave your home city. This is easy stuff, it's part of being an adult, and you can handle it. This happens all the time at college tournaments and it's by far the easiest thing to avoid, just by thinking for three seconds during the week before the tournament and not quizbowling out.

Second, FIX YOUR BUZZERS. If you have a system that has fewer than eight working units, don't just keep bringing it to tournaments and saying "this only has six lights...." The first time it happens, get it repaired. I don't recommend working on the system yourself, though I understand some engineer-laden teams have done so. Here is how to get systems from the six most popular manufacturers fixed:

SVBZ - I have used this on a few occasions. They are very responsive about doing the work and returning the system quickly. They take the 5 year warranty seriously, which is really extensive.
SVBZ quiz buzzers are covered by an excellent 5 year warranty and maintenance policy. Should a quiz buzzer fail to function as originally designed or is unintentionally damaged, it will be fixed or replaced free of charge provided it can be returned to SVBZ. The buyer pays the cost of mailing the quiz buzzer to SVBZ. SVBZ pays the cost of mailing the quiz buzzer back. Mail the quiz buzzer using the postal system and with delivery confirmation to the following address:

PO Box 970603
Orem, UT 84097-0603
Anderson- They are also very proactive about fixing things (sometimes they go beyond the one year date without charging, but ask first).
All of our buzzer systems are warranted, to the original purchaser, to be free from defects in material and workmanship, assuming normal use, for a period of one year from the date of purchase. This warranty is not subject to abuse, misuse, or transfer. Anderson Enterprises shall not be liable for damages from loss or delay of equipment use. No implied or express warranty is made for any defects in this product, which results from accident, abuse, neglect, misuse, dis-assembly or repair modification.

If a defect occurs during this period, send your entire system to the address below and include both a dated proof of purchase and a letter of explanation where it will be repaired or replaced, at our discretion, free of charge.

Out-of-warranty Systems and Parts

Systems and parts thereof needing repair after the expiration of the warranty will be repaired for a nominal fee plus shipping charges. We can give an estimate of pending charges upon request.

All systems and parts thereof should be carefully packaged for shipment to reduce unnecessary abuse to its fragile parts.

Systems or parts thereof in need of servicing should be sent to:

Anderson Enterprises
Attn: Technical Department
2540 Angus Lane
Salina, Kansas 67401
I bought two Quik Pro systems off ebay for $40 each in 2008. I later found out they were manufactured in 1982. Quik Pro reconditioned each system and renewed the warranty for $90 per system. This is the same system they sell new for $569. A good deal, and certainly worth it if you have this system and want it brought back to life. By the way, if your only issue is that the phone cord connectors have broken off, you can either put new ones on with a crimping tool ($9 on Amazon or at the hardware store) or bring a roll of duct tape ($2) to tournaments to keep them attached.
Quik Pro Warranty — One Year labor, one year parts, two years on internal circuitry of console. Warranty excludes breakage and abuse

Parts — Light bulbs and fuses are easily replaced in a matter of seconds. Spare light bulbs and fuses are packaged in each unit just in case you should ever need one. If for some reason any other replacement parts are needed, they are readily available and will normally ship within 24 hours.

Service — Fast, dependable service by a staff of trained technicians. Electronic service center open Monday through Friday, 8 am - 4 pm EST.
Zeecraft doesn't list the exact terms of their warranty and repair program on their website, but here is how to get in touch with them.
Phone: 1 (800) 662-7475
Fax: 1 (888) 858-7149
[email protected]
Mail: 2515 TUCKER RD
NED has overhauled -- or "refurbished" -- many of our buzzer systems. Some of those systems have been more than 15 years old.

During an overhaul, our goal is to restore and rejuvenate your system to top running condition, ensuring many more years of use.

NED offers a complete overhaul for every product we've sold... our objective is to ensure that your equipment is in top condition no matter how old or beaten up it is!
As per the "mysteries" category on the QBWiki, The Judge is a 'Buzzer system noted for "never breaking" despite the fact that every single one on the collegiate circuit is broken.' Here's who to get in touch with to fix your broken-ass Judge: ... fault.aspx
Electramatic, Inc.
1815 Jefferson Street N.E.
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55418

phone: 612-781-9588
fax: 612-781-9982
email: [email protected]
So, as a general note, we are now at the end of the college quizbowl season, following the last few MUT mirrors in the next eight days. Unless you've been asked to bring your buzzer to NHBB or PACE NSC, you won't need it until at least Chicago Open, or, for the vast majority of teams, until the first tournament in the fall, which will be held sometime around the last week of September. Let's all jump on getting things fixed -- now, before people disappear for the summer. Send the e-mails you need to send, get the shipping material, get it sent out. It's like ten minutes of work, you just have to do it. I would like to see 100% working buzzers next year.

Third, TOURNAMENT HOSTS need to stop ENABLING teams who do the above. Demand cash refunds of buzzer discounts for a system that isn't fully working, and institute penalties for registering a system that doesn't show up in working condition. You need to know how many systems you actually have so you can make plans (borrowing from local high schools, designing a schedule with more byes) if you are short. Your responsibility as host is to actually make such plans once you have such info and make sure slap bowl is prevented -- as well as to disincentivize teams from hiding information from you so these plans can be made. More tournaments should be setting up and testing buzzers at the registration desk so you can know right away what your situation is (and which teams need to be shamed + fined).

Fourth, why don't we all BUY SOME MORE BUZZERS? SVBZs and Andersons are at the <$200 range. If you have money left in your team account, you aren't using it for anything else this year. How great would all tournaments be next year if just those teams who could afford to do so all bought 1 buzzer right now? Consider doing this.

By the way, you can buy a FISHING TACKLE BOX or a toolbox at a hardware store, Target, etc. for like $10, and you probably already have a PERMANENT MARKER with which you can write your team name on both the inside and outside of the case. Then, you can stop showing up with your buzzers in some weird plastic bag and constantly having to wait for all the buzzers at a tournament to come back to HQ since no one knows which one is yours. It would probably go a long way to keeping them from breaking as easily since they will be under some hard protection, too. How about doing that?

I hope you have all been enlightened by this discussion, and I look forward to seeing far fewer buzzer-supply problems at tournaments next year.
Matt Weiner
Founder of
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Re: Fix your buzzers & buy new ones

Post by fett0001 »

I'd like to second Matt's comments here, having helped wrangle buzzers at NSC last year.

Also, thanks for consolidating that info for everyone. It'll make it much easier to find the information in the future.
Mike Hundley
PACE Member
Virginia Tech
Rococo A Go Go
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Re: Fix your buzzers & buy new ones

Post by Rococo A Go Go »

I think the next step from the current system, if people keep forgetting their buzzers and/or bringing broken, useless buzzers in the hope of swindling tournament directors out of discounts, should be to require teams to bring their buzzers to every tournament and charge penalties for teams who don't. I don't know if this would work on the college level, but we've required high school teams to bring buzzers to our tournaments (without penalties so far, actually) and thus had a surplus of buzzers for every high school tournament we've ever run. Personally I like the idea of buzzer discounts and would be happy to keep giving them for usually cash-strapped college teams, but if people keep abusing the system and harming tournaments as a result, then further action would need to be taken.

Also, I've been spreading the gospel of SVBZ for a few years. It was seriously only $200 for a buzzer system that works pretty well, has been really durable over the last few years, and a five-year warranty that essentially means you're guaranteed a working buzzer system during that time. Our warranty will be up in 2015, and I suspect we'll purchase an additional unit from SVBZ before long, but purchasing replacement parts is fairly affordable too.
Nicholas C
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Adventure Temple Trail
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Re: Fix your buzzers & buy new ones

Post by Adventure Temple Trail »

Zeecraft plastic connectors can also be crimped / have new connector heads attached to them with a simple tool sold on their site.
Matt J.
ex-Georgetown Day HS, ex-Yale
member emeritus, ACF
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Re: Fix your buzzers & buy new ones

Post by dtaylor4 »

With the NEDs, usually a crimping tool is usually all that is necessary.

When I bought my own buzzers (two Andersons with handheld triggers), I did something that every team should do when buying a system: buy spare parts. This way, if a buzzer does go down mid-tournament, it takes five minutes to isolate the bad part, and swap it out.

A further note for staffers, for when a part does go bad: clearly label the part that is bad. If it's a trigger, then tape the cord to it, or use string, do whatever you have to in order to clearly indicate it. Optimally, find duct tape or masking tape and write on it.
Great Bustard
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Re: Fix your buzzers & buy new ones

Post by Great Bustard »

Fwiw, NHBB can probably supply a significant fraction of ICT's and ACF's buzzer needs for subsequent years if they cover the $10 or so it costs to ship a buzzer one way.
David Madden
Ridgewood (NJ) '99, Princeton '03
Founder and Director: International History Bee and Bowl, National History Bee and Bowl (High School Division), International History Olympiad, United States Geography Olympiad, US History Bee, US Academic Bee and Bowl, National Humanities Bee, National Science Bee, International Academic Bowl.
Adviser and former head coach for Team USA at the International Geography Olympiad
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Matt Weiner
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Location: Richmond, VA

Re: Fix your buzzers & buy new ones

Post by Matt Weiner »

Reminding people to take note of this thread now that all high school nationals are done -- you have all summer to get the repair process taken care of. You can probably even get more buzzers back in time for Chicago Open if you start it now.

I will also reiterate the part about buying new buzzers if you ended up with a balance in your team account this year.
Matt Weiner
Founder of