Garage door opener used to automatically lower a game table top

[Lou] is at it again, and this time he wrote in to let us know about his automated ping pong table topper. With no good spot to stash an entire extra table [Lou] decided to take a two in one game table approach and fit the top of the ping pong table to his pool table. A ping pong table top is no small thing though and it turns out the best (or maybe coolest) place to store it is above the ceiling! At the flip of a switch a garage door opener pulls away a section of ceiling tiles and a winch motor lowers the table top into place with two cables.

The system works very smoothly using some pretty easy to find parts. [Lou’s] instructional video (embedded after the break) shows the system in action and explains the concepts behind the automation. We aren’t sure how the winch stops lowering the table, but the ceiling section uses a light switch and spring combo as its limit switch. The only thing really missing is the flashing red light, industrial klaxon, and fog machine needed to compliment the screeching nightmare-howl of that winch motor.

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Ping pong ball barrage

What should you do with your down time between sophomore and junior year at MIT? You better build something awesome. [Christian Reed] didn’t disappoint with his newest creation. He calls it the Ping Pong Mauler and we think that’s an appropriate name. It doesn’t just lunch a ball, it belches forth a relentless barrage.

He certainly has no shortage of ammo. A few garbage bags full of the white orbs number at least 3000 strong, and the plastic drum he’s using as a hopper has room for them all. Jamming is an issue and in the image above you can see him working the agitator with his right hand to prevent a clog. The system is mobile, but the shop vacuum used to propel the balls needs AC power. This means there is a tether that keeps it from roaming too far from home. [Christian] included an air tank in the design but apparently the pressurized air doesn’t do much to help with launch speed. That’s good because pressurized ball guns can be scary.

Check out the video after the break to see the ping pongs fly. We bet they’ll be mowing over some strays out in the yard for at least the rest of this summer.

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Only you can kick a child’s balls into space

We had a lot of fun with that title. Of course when you’re talking about launching a thousand ping pong balls into space there’s no end to the puns which can be made. But this is actually a fantastic initiative to get people of all ages excited about science and near-space experiments. [John Powell] offers school children the opportunity to send an experiment into space. He’s Kickstarting the next launch, which is scheduled to take place in September. This way each entrant can fly their project for free, then get the results and a certificate back once the weather-balloon-based hardware is recovered.

There is one size restriction for the program. Each experiment must fit inside of a ping pong ball. But you’ll be surprised what can be accomplished. [John] reports that the most simple, yet interesting project is to place a small marshmallow inside the ball. As it rises through the atmosphere it will grow to fill the entire ball, then be freeze-dried by the the extreme temperatures. Some are not so low-tech. There’s an image of a tiny PCB holding a DS1337 and some sensors. It’s an atmospheric data logger that will provide plenty of information to analyze upon its return.

[via Hacked Gadgets]

A much larger rainbow board of many ping pongs

[George] started with an 8×8 grid, but just couldn’t help himself from upscaling to this 32×16 pixel ping pong ball display. That’s right, It’s a 512 pixel array of fully addressable RGB LEDs diffused with one ping pong ball each.

We featured the predecessor to this project back in January. That one was an 8×8 display using a Rainbowduino as the controller. [George] took what he learned from that build and expanded upon it. The larger display is modular. Each module starts as an 8×8 grid which connects back to the Arduino using a breakout shield with some Ethernet jacks used as quick connects. The LEDs are driven by 595 shift registers, with transistors which protect the logic chips from the currents being switched.

He had a lot of help soldering all the connections for the display and ended up bringing it to show off at the Manchester mini maker faire. See it in action in the video after the break.

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Tweets send your balls flying (on TV)

Members from the London Hackerspace recently got a little on-air time with a ping pong ball launcher. They were invited to build something for the Click show on BBC. The launcher that they built responds to hash tags on Twitter by barraging the audience with balls.

The hardware was built in two parts. The first is a dispenser that responds to incoming Tweets by releasing one ball onto a set of staging ramps. The other portion is the launcher itself. Building it like this makes it a rapid fire device, as the spinning wheels of the launcher make quick work of several dozen balls just waiting to be let loose. Check out some footage from the show after the jump.

We like this one just as much as that remote controlled launcher. We’re glad to have seen these both because we happen to have a surplus of the balls lying around since we built that clock and we’re not about to undertake some of the more dangerous ping pong based projects we’ve seen. Continue reading “Tweets send your balls flying (on TV)”

An odd little box

Here’s an odd little box that might get those creative juices flowing for the upcoming Halloween season. [Jeremy’s] creepy glowing box has a pair of ping-pong ball eyes which diffuse the red light from a pair of LEDs. Both the lid and they eyes move, and the whole thing is set up for wireless control.

The majority of the parts came from a toy RC helicopter that [Jeremy] had sitting in his junk bin. After close inspection he found that the electronics included to motor drivers for the two rotors, as well as two servo motors which worked to steer the aircraft. One of those servos has been repurposed to aim the gaze of they eyes left and right, the other servo is used to lift and close the lid of the box. This leaves the two motor controllers, one of which switches the LEDs on and off. The other doesn’t really have a purpose yet. He tried adding one wheel to the box, but turning that on just makes the whole thing crash to the floor. Check out what he’s done so far in the clip after the fold.

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Quadcopter pair plays table tennis without the table

This pair of quad-rotor helicopters does a better job of keeping a ping-pong ball in the air than we could. The two flying drones are performing inside of the flying machine arena, a 1000 cubic meter indoor space surrounded by nets with a foam-padded floor. This makes for a prototype-friendly space, protecting the copters from hard landings and the experimenters from the maiming that might accompany a runaway robot.

This project is headed by researcher [Raffaello D’Andrea]. Previously, we’ve seen his work on a distributed flight array. This time around he’s not working with configurable modules, but completely separate units. Don’t miss the video after the break to see several iterations used to keep a ball in the air. Each bot has the head of a tennis racket mounted at its center. Throw a ball at them and they’ll to what they can to prevent it touching the ground.

While we’re on the topic, we caught a story on NPR about hobby drones. Sounds like their growing popularity has caught the attention of the non-hacker community and restrictions might be on the way. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and make your own flyer while it’s still the wild-west of personal drones.

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