Super Bowl Football Lamp Keeps You Informed

[David] loves to watch football. After his preferred team lost the playoffs, he wanted another reason to watch the big game last Sunday. He ended up building himself a football-shaped lamp that changes color based on who scored last.

[David] started with a Spark Core and a Spark Button. The Spark is the primary microcontroller and includes WiFi. The Spark Button is essentially a shield for the Spark that includes an accelerometer, some LEDs, and a few push buttons. The other part of this build was the housing. [David] used a toy football he got for free as swag from a parade.

As for the code, [David] started by first learning how to control the LEDs on the Spark Button. Then he wrote his own touchdown function to illuminate the football a specific color. Since the Spark uses the REST API, [David] is able to trigger this function by simply visiting the URL of his Spark. This makes it very simple to trigger the event.

The final part of this build was made easy thanks to IfThisThenThat (IFTTT). This is a web service that allows you to monitor and interact with various online web services. It can monitor one service, and then interact with another based on events that happen in the first service. In this case, [David] is using a “channel” added to IFTTT by ESPN. This channel can trigger when certain events happen for whatever team you specify. For this project [David] is monitoring touchdowns.

After combining all of these various services, [David] had a working light that would change colors based on which team scored. He did notice that IFTTT has anywhere between a 1 and 15 minute delay, and he hopes to improve upon this design by hooking directly to an API and skipping the extra service altogether.

Tracking Footballs with Magnetic Fields

Official NFL footballs are crafted by hand by a company in Chicago called Wilson Sporting Goods. The footballs that are made there typically range from 11 to 11.5 inches in length and weigh anywhere between 14 and 15 ounces on average. Originally, animal bladders lined the outside, occasionally from the inside of a pig, giving the traditional American football the long-standing nickname of a “pigskin.” Now a days, they consist of cowhide leather or vulcanized rubber with laces that are stitched to the top adding mass. This causes the oblong spheres to be naturally lopsided. This is fixed by inserting extra weight to the opposite side of the football balancing it out. Knowing this, a clever hacker will realize that the balancing spot is a perfect place to subtly add a motion tracking transmitter like this one. Doing so makes it possible to the track not only the position of the ball on the field, but its precise location in 3D space!

Since each football is unique, variations between one ball to another exist. This means that embedding a circuit into a football only modifies the equipment slightly, which is a good thing because sports fanatics tend to be very opinionated about whether or not technology should influence the game. So long as the transmitter and loop antenna added to the air bladder doesn’t pass that threshold of about an ounce (or so) difference in weight, then the football itself really isn’t affected much.

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Fifa looks at electronic augmentation

The [Fédération Internationale de Football Association] is joining the growing list of professional sports that is adopting technological means in an attempt to help the human referees. After a botched call in 2010 the organization called for a system that would work day or night, with 100% accuracy and the ability to report to the Refs in less than 1 second. The applicants have been weeded out and it comes down to two systems, both of which use a piece of personal hardware we’re quite familiar with. [Fe80], who sent in the tip, recognized the TI Chronos eZ430 watch in the image above.

The two systems both use the watch as an interface, but work very differently. The first, called GoalRef, uses a sensor suspended inside the ball. This detects a magnetic field made up by the goal posts. We’d guess it’s an inductance sensor that is triggered when it passes a coil in the goal posts (we didn’t find much in the way of technical info so please do your own speculation in the comments). The second system is very familiar. It’s the Hawkeye camera system used by the APT (Tennis) in all the major tournaments.

Data logging football

[Ben Kokes] threw together a hardware package to capture data from a football. In the center of a Nerf football he made room for an accelerometer, gyroscope, and an electronic compass.  All three can capture 3-axis data and, along with the LEDs ringing the circumference, they’ve controlled by an XMEGA192 microcontroller.

This makes us think back to a time when baseballs with a built-in speed sensor first hit the market… does this hack have mass marketing potential? Perhaps, but only if the $225 sensor price tag were greatly reduced. When we first started reading the description we hoped that [Ben] had coded an interpreter that would render 3D playback video from the data. He hasn’t done that, but from the data graphs he did assemble we don’t think that functionality is out of the question. We’ll keep our fingers crossed.

Vuvuzela removal

We’re hearing complaints everywhere about the noisemakers called Vuvuzelas during the world cup. Whether you are a fan of the sport or not, you can appreciate when a fellow hacker gets annoyed and start hacking. [Tube] has created a software filter that manages to remove the sound of the Vuvuzela from the videos. He shares the process of how it was all created, using Logic Express and a Mac mini (Google translation). Maybe this will also provide some relief from the constant stream of Vuvuzela whining as well.

[via DVice]

Perfect spiral, every time

[Carmine] let us know about his team’s Automated Football Launcher. Their goal was to combine a football launcher with motion tracking, to allow a player to practice running and catching with the perfect throw. Unfortunately, and we’re not quite sure when, they ended up changing out the Jugs machine for an air cannon, which resulted in the use of foam footballs and the loss of throwing factors such as spiral. Somewhat defeating the purpose but we’ll let it slide; only because we know its going to be shooting potatoes eventually.

The project comes together by using two cameras giving distance and color tracking, combined with a rotating platform (and the best use of garden hose ever), an accurate set-top for their launcher. As seen in the video after the jump, it works out quite nicely. Continue reading “Perfect spiral, every time”

Football Hero

footie

For Kasabian’s new single Underdog, they decided to do something original. After dreaming up a Guitar Hero style controller powered by soccer football players, they set out to make it happen. Using 5 wall mounted pressure sensors connected to a microcontroller, they hooked up the rig to a computer running Frets on Fire (an open source Guitar Hero clone) with a custom version of their single. After an afternoon of practice, the team was able to 5 star the song, and while this isnt the only or most complex Guitar Hero hack, we would love to have this in our house.

Video after the break.

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