Inspired by game nights with her family, Lorraine Underwood from element14 Presents wanted to build a project that would be both fun and playable many times over. Based on these parameters, she opted to design and construct her own take on an air hockey table that would be capable of keeping score automatically.
The base of the air hockey table was made by first drawing a 2D model of the tabletop, complete with the myriad of holes for air to pass through and a zone at each end for scoring with the 3D printed puck. Below the top are four panels that comprise the four walls, with one having a slot for attaching a high-power fan. Extra rigidity was added by slotting in a grid of struts to buttress the rectangular layout and make it more impervious to accidental bumps or hits.
In terms of scoring, a player receives a point when their puck passes below the opponent’s goal, which meant Underwood needed some way of consistently detecting when the puck crosses the line. To do this, she created a small sketch for an Arduino Uno Rev3 that checked the state of a phototransistor and incremented the score when triggered. Although this worked initially, she did acknowledge that further improvements are needed to prevent false positives.
More information about this custom air hockey table can be found in Underwood’s write-up here.
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