Pong In Real Life, Mechanical Pong

[Daniel Perdomo] and two of his friends have been working on a mechanical version of Pong for the past two years. We can safely say that the final result is beautiful. It’s quite ethereal to watch the pixe–cube move back and forth on the surface.

[Daniel] has worked in computer graphics for advertising for more than 20 years. However, he notes that neither he nor his friends had any experience in mechanics or electronics when they began. Thankfully, the internet (and, presumably, sites like Hackaday) provided them with the information needed.

The pong paddles and and pixel (ball?) sit onto of a glass surface. The moving parts are constrained to the mechanics with magnets. Underneath is a construction not unlike an Etch A Sketch for moving the ball while the paddles are just on a rail with a belt. The whole assembly is made from V-groove extrusion.

Our favorite part of the build is the scroll wheel for moving the paddle back and forth. For a nice smooth movement with some mass behind it, what’s better than a hard-drive platter? They printed out an encoder wheel pattern and glued it to the surface. The electronics are all hand-made. The brains appear to be some of the larger Arduinos. The 8-bit segments, rainbow LEDs, etc were build using strips glued in place with what looks like copper foil tape connecting buses. This is definitely a labor of love.

It really must be seen to be understood. The movement is smooth, and our brains almost want to remove a dimension when watching it. As for the next steps? They are hoping to spin it up into an arcade machine business, and are looking for people with money and experience to help them take it from a one-off prototype to a product. Video after the break.

33 thoughts on “Pong In Real Life, Mechanical Pong

  1. Wonderful. And I really like it. Still something that bothers me in a way. The physical objects are beautifully protected by a glass layer. The real life feeling is only in its physical big buttons. Pity because I like reality. In fact you created the perfect 3d video screen.
    Pong was one of the first (first?) games the gave the perception of real life and physics by primitive pixels on screen. Now you enclosed and hid the wonderful physics, electronics and engineering. Such a great effort all invisible all untouchable. The experience is unchanged. What is left is a non destructive Pong coin collector? Similar to the first Pong coin game machine. Just funny thoughts, great job!

  2. Wonderful! And I really like it. Still something that bothers me in a way. The physical objects (racket and ball) are beautifully protected by a glass layer. Unfortunately you have no more real life feeling left than that its big buttons. Pity because I like reality. In fact you created the perfect 3d video screen. Pong was one of the first (first?) games that gave the perception of real life by primitive pixels on screen. Now you enclosed everything again and hid the physics, electronics and engineering. Such a great effort invisible and all untouchable. What is left is a non destructive coin collector? Similar to the first Pong coin game machine.
    Why all the nonsense to make it a product we really don’t need. We have virtual pong and we have footballs. This is a unique piece of art.
    Compliments you for the wonderfull reversion of these concepts and build of mechanics and electronics.
    Just funny thougths. Great job!

    1. Well I think there was a very practical reason for covering the play field with glass, the paddles and ball are attached by magnets and without a glass cover people could take them.

  3. Excellent project but so so painful to watch that jerky video.

    I wanted to watch it through but I couldn’t bear it anymore.

    Anyway +10, from what I did see it was excellent.

    Only one thing to add – tripods are so so cheap.

    1. Well as far as videos made from a bouquet of jerky clips go, this one was at least fast-paced and showed the process. Not Clickspring, but still interesting to see.
      Awesome build by the way!

          1. Holy shit! Quad post!
            Are you using Android? I have to add any random character after a space or return. And then hold(click?) on it to paste link. And then double check the whole damn thing. Otherwise extra crap is added to the prefix.
            .
            Nice job.
            Amazing job on the article as well as the PONG in real life contraption. I’m almost speechless about it, and it looks like they learned a bunch of skills!

    1. Same exact here. Fantastic build! Waiting for a kit to build it! I honestly would consider supporting the development of this product. Will keep my eyes open on this.

  4. I remember having a mechanical pong game that tried to look electronic. The LED ball was moved about by a mindbogglingly complex mechanism, all driven off clockwork!

    It was called BLIP, 1977, made by TOMY

    1. I finally found one of those after mine got sold when I wasn’t paying attention. Never knew the insides were basically clockwork, I just remember the 3 button position switches (and trying to get two buttons to lock at once to block better). Now I need to dig it out and look inside.

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