The story of the creation of “Edison — The Machine of Spirits” escape room.

Vladimir Kalugin
8 min readFeb 2, 2018


Ashdod, Israel

I’ll tell you about the work on the escape room on example of a specific order.

I received an application from Israel on the site, with a request to build “the most interesting and advanced” escape room possible.

After approving the script (which was originally written for German market), the customer chooses the premises.

He sends me the rooms layout and photos, and I draw how to place two escape rooms and an administrator in the premises.

This is the final layout of the room (I had about 5 options). The basic policy at this stage is the minimum amount of rough construction work. On the layout the walls that need to be built, are marked with yellow, and the ones that remain unchanged, are marked with red.

After that, the customer started construction works which took about 3 weeks. As for my part, I made a wiring plan, so that by the time of arrival wires would have been prepared for riddles connection.

Also, before the installation, the customer ordered wallpapers and lamps from China.

At the beginning of the construction the rooms looked like this:

Study with a working table
Chamber of Secrets

During all the time of construction, the customer was buying furniture. I made a selection of options, then I looked for the most suitable options on local sites “from hand to hand”.

If you don’t know in what order the works on creating the escape room are done, you can find this information on my website:

At the same time, I purchased electronic components for riddles in St. Petersburg. Then told decorators to prepare riddles and entourage.

The main difference between electronics and automation of abroad escape rooms. It’s simplicity and reliability. I focused all the logic on the relay. The only controller in the whole escape room to report a loss in 60 minutes. In the next escape room I will use only a relay. To remove all points of failure.

The main automation board

The photo above depicts the main automation panel. All logic of the work is done in it. All puzzles and actuators (light bulbs, locks, etc.) are connected to it.

Admin console

The administrator has a control panel for the escape room. Normally he uses only one button (the bottom row, left side). But for abnormal situations there is a duplication of all riddles on the panel. It means that the administrator can manually solve any riddle for players, open any cache or door. Also the indicators show him what puzzles the players have already solved. He can manually launch the win or lose in the escape room.

Normally, everything works automatically.

Music board

To play music in the escape room, we use motherboards of our own production. They have already been tested and have shown good results. They have 3 modes. Therefore, 1 board is enough for the following functions:

  • background music
  • losing music
  • winning music

By this time the decorators have finished creating the puzzles I’m checking the work. I check if all the elements are reliable and vandal-resistant.

In total, the scenery and automation turned out to be 1.5 m3, 120 kg. 20 items.

After that I collect the necessary set of documents to send, it took about 1 week.

  • Examination for conformity;
  • Checks for customs;
  • Certificate from the ministry of culture (it was necessary because the decor was very similar to antiques).

Then all documents along with the cargo are transferred to the transport company. I sent airmail by Aviastar. Flights to Tel Aviv were flying every other day.

Customs clearance was carried out through a broker who filled the declaration. After 4 days of consideration, the cargo was released and it reached Israel in 8 hours.

Next, I do an invoice in English and a description for a broker in Israel. All interaction with customs is made by the customer. After paying the duty, he picks up the cargo.

The next day I fly to Israel for installation.

Upon arrival, I unpack the decorations and fix them. It seems they’ve been played football all the way. A lot of damage.

Picture at the moment of arrival

When I arrived, the wallpaper in one room was already hung completely, in another room — partially. All the furniture was already bought. The wires were ready.

During the installation process
Under the table there is a smoke machine

Installation took about 10–12 days of work since 8 till 23. All the scenery is placed or hung on the walls. Then it’s connected to the automation console.

Then they are checked for operability. A protection against vandals is put so that the wires couldn’t be torn off, tables are fixed to the walls so that they couldn’t be moved.

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The perfect escape room. Practical guidance.

Deployed puzzle before connecting

In the process of work different tasks appear. For example, this puzzle requires wires with a large number of cores and resistance to wear. All the wires were supposed to be bought in Israel in order not to carry extra cargo. But in fact the store didn’t have the necessary wires in stock. They were available on request and for sky-high prices. We drove along the industrial zone and at one of the plants conveyor lines were mounted where they used wires suitable for us. We asked if it was possible to pick up unnecessary scraps, and they let us do it. So we saved about $ 200.

At the dump

In general, in the construction process we constantly need non-standard things that are difficult or expensive to buy in the store. Pieces of grid, electronic trash for decor, etc. In the photo above, I’m at a dump. There we picked a large number of items for the second escape room (military topic, Mossad intelligence).

The audio system is installed. Amplifier and music boards under the table.

Once everything is connected, the music volume is set, as well as the audio system volume for operator prompts.

The biggest problem was that the cameras I had ordered lagged terribly with delays of 30 seconds. and their viewing angle didn’t capture the entire room. This was sorted out by buying cameras on spot, with a pivoting mechanism. The cost of the cameras was deducted from my fee.

Scales on the table are also a mystery

After completing the installation test games are played that show how quickly players pass the riddles. In this case, it was too easy. Two logical puzzles were added, and one was reworked.

Mounted panel (the wires will be put into cable ducts)

Added more décor parts. The game time was leveled and reached 55–90 min. It’s not a mistake, during the game process it was suggested to make two game modes — easy for 60 min. and difficult for 90. With different cost. Players usually order a complex and more expensive option. This became another competitive distinction of this escape room.

Satisfied players

Players reviews of the escape room are extremely good. It’s especially pleasing when players who passed 30–40 rooms say:

This is the most interesting and complex room in Israel.

Players note that the puzzles are very interesting, and there are none like these in any rooms in Israel, the scenery is beautiful and atmospheric.

There are many Russian reviews, for there are a lot of Russians in Ashdod.

Screenshot of the group on Facebook

If you are planning to open a cool escape room and looking for a reliable performer, welcome to my website:

There you will find a lot of useful information on the escape rooms construction: guides, check lists, business plans. Visit, it will be interesting!

Thank you for your attention, have a great day!



Vladimir Kalugin

All service for Escape room — creator, engineer, scenario writer, designer). See more: