Have A Router? Build A Skeeball Machine


There are a lot of hackerspaces and maker labs all around the world that have amazing capabilities for manufacturing. Mills, lathes, drill presses, laser cutters, and CNC routers are no stranger to the any maker’s arsenal of tools. Do you know what isn’t? A DIY Skeeball machine.

This, ‘should be a project for every hackerspace’ project is the brainchild of [fungus amungus] over on Instructables. Despite what you might think about the complexities of building a Skeeball machine, [fungus’] build is actually rather simple, and also easily transportable.

The main material used in the build is seven sheets of 3/4″ plywood. These sheets were cut out on a ShopBot CNC router, and held together with screws in a tab-and-slot construction scheme. The playfield is covered with cork for what we assume is a proper Skeeball experience, and all the electronics controlled by an Arduino and Laptop.

The electronics for this build are very simple – just a few IR distance sensors mounted under the holes. The laptop is running a Processing sketch to display the score on a TV above the cage, allowing for some improvements in the gameplay and scoring system of the original Skeeball machines.

It’s a really fantastic project, and something that we’re sure will be the center of attention wherever [fungus] brings it.

17 thoughts on “Have A Router? Build A Skeeball Machine

  1. | Mills, lathes, drill presses, laser cutters, and CNC routers are no
    | stranger to the any maker’s arsenal of tools. Do you know what
    | isn’t? A DIY Skeeball machine.

    It took me way too long to figure out this double negative: “do you know what isn’t no stranger…”

  2. Just one suggestion, a piece of plexi in front of the TV, I’ve seen kids throw a skeeball so hard it hits the ceiling, one over enthusiastic player and say good bye to the tube. (LCD Panel, what the hell do we call a TV nowadays anyway?)

    1. What’s wrong with a no-contact solution? there’s less to break from frequent use. A bit more expensive yes but still a valid option IMHO.

      A home-made IR/Detector pair across each hole could have also been used and that would have been even cheaper than the switch.

    2. It depends on preference I guess. I used LED/LDR in a similar set up myself. Admittedly, I did run into some complexity with the control and sensing side of it, but since I aggregated the entire I/O portion of my build it wasn’t a big deal to switch out the switches in favor of LDR’s.

      I’m not really sure as to his intent is. Seems like he was trying to simplify construction as reliability isn’t high on the list. Electrical tape and cork usually isn’t my preferred method of affixing anything to wood.

  3. Pretty cool…

    Half the fun of these things is the ticket dispenser whirling away on a good run. I’d suggest that as an upgrade… maybe with some kind of booth with say 100 tickets for a beer/soda/whatever. Which leads to the obvious follow up: ticket counter.

  4. I am currently in the process of gathering materials for building my own Skee-Ball lane… This is a very nice build, but [fungus] actually had an architect design this on Autodesk’s Revit, and if you don’t know your way around the program (as I don’t) there isn’t an easy way to get even rough drawings to work from for a build. If anyone could extract some templates from his posted Revit project it would be greatly appreciated!

    I purchased 3-inch maple hardwood balls from Woodworks Ltd. (www.craftparts.com) which I took to the arcade and compared to actual Skee-Ball balls and they are almost identical size and weight… I did not throw one at the arcade because although I know the operator pretty well I didn’t want to have him have to open up the lane to get it back for me. I am going to stain and/or poly them.

    Here is a link… http://www.craftparts.com/wooden-balls-p-2423.html?cat_id=279

    Oh, the best part? The price! 10 for US $36.50 plus $5.95 shipping for a total of $42.45 for a set and a spare… much better than the price anyone who calls their balls “Skee-Ball balls” would ever let a set go for!

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