In case you hadn’t noticed, we participated in a contest recently. The RedBull Creation contest. The basic idea was that they gave us 72 hours to build something based on a theme. The whole thing would be streamed live as the 12 teams competed. The theme was “game of games” and the rules were pretty basic. It had to be a game with a clear winner (nothing too general), it had to be safe, and it had to fit in their shipping container.
Our project is called “the minotaur’s revenge”, and is basically a set of dueling labyrinths. A pair of giant tilting mazes that have to be controlled while attempting to trigger traps on your opponents table. We knew that watching us screw some wood together for 3 days would be painfully dull, so we put extra effort into keeping our feed amusing. We had scheduled events like a fire breather, grafitti artists, people in costume, and strange things happening all the time. We took time to answer questions and converse with our watchers. It paid off, our feed was usually host to double the viewers of any other feed.
Keep reading for a full writeup on how everything was made, along with a ton of pictures and some video.
The basic construction began with a sturdy frame. Built mainly from plywood and MDF, the frame had to be strong enough to handle the weight of the table, the banging from the people playing it, and the possible effects of shipping.
The “play field” had to be able to rotate on x and y axis just like the table top versions. We looked at how some of those are constructed and ultimately decided to go with a two part system. Theres a gimbal at the central point of the table to act as a pivot and a cable system to pull the sides the direction we need them to go. The gimbal in the middle allows for the table to support even more weight and still have full x and y mobility.
The gimbal is constructed from a single piece of 4 inch PVC. We simply drilled 4 opposing holes in the PVC and used those as our hinge points. As you can see in the picture, this gave us more of a range of motion than we needed.
Controlling the X and Y axis was done by a simple pulley system. We had a shaft connecting our lever to a central point where some vinyl coated clothesline attached. This then went through a pulley and out to the center of the table on each axis. When you turn the lever, the table tilts.
The playfield itself is constructed of pegboard and 1″x2″ wood. We drilled and pegged the walls so that they would drop right into the pegboard but found that a little bit of hot glue helped keep them firmly in place. This pegboard piece actually lifts out fairly easily so it could be replaced with different types of mazes down the road.
On the electronics side, we ended up using PicAxe microcontrollers to handle our servos. Each table has 8 servos triggered by arcade buttons located on the opposing table. The code is fairly simple. On button press, actuate servo. Wait a few seconds, and deactivate servo. Wait a few more seconds before allowing reactivation so that the ball can escape.
This means that you could do anything that a simple servo can accomplish. We used them to raise/lower magnets below the table as well as open/close pathways on the maze. The magnets were surprisingly effective and the gates worked exactly as you would expect.
At the end, we had just enough time to add some fancy trim, add cup holders, paint some nice accents on the table, and adjust the range of motion before we had to present it. It worked fairly flawlessly!