Do you play pool? If so, you probably take the automatic ball return systems in bar and billiard hall tables for granted. [Roger Makes] was tired of walking around his home table to collect the balls every time he wanted to play, so he designed a time-saving ball return system.
Instead of falling into the little netted baskets that came with the table, the balls now drop into 3D-printed pockets and ride along dowel rod rails into a central collection box, which is suspended by straps beneath the rack-em-up end of the table. The rails themselves are fortified with ABS ribs that keep the balls from falling through.
Pool is all about geometry, and this really hit home when [Roger] was trying to merge the funnel part of the pocket with the exit chute in the design phase. He covered all the angles with a modular design that lets the chute rotate freely, which takes a lot of stress away from the dowel rods. We’ve got the video cued up after the break, so don’t bother with getting out your film canister full of quarters.
We can’t wait to see what [Roger Makes] next. Maybe it’ll be something like this OpenCV score-keeping system.
12 thoughts on “Pool Ball Return System Chalked Up To Ingenuity”
Was hoping the dowels were actually pool cues.
The thought crossed my mind too!
I’d TIG weld a working solution in a few hours.
I’d like to see a ball return system that is like a big claw that reaches into the pocket extracts the ball and places them on the table.
But until I get around to making it I’m happy to admire this implementation
Not creepy enough. Instead, imagine that each pocket is actually a claw (or hand), and when you push the “rack-em-up” button, each claw extrudes itself from its respective hole and with an arm projecting out from the hole, deposits its balls on the table. Make each arm look organic for maximum creepiness.
If you measure the cue ball (White one) it is slightly smaller than the colored balls, you can make a platform that will let it drop through and return it to the opposite site of the table, that way you don’t have to go looking through all the balls to find the white one when it is sunk.
I made a similar thing ages ago (mine was much more hacky) it used old soft drink bottles for the return system, in the center it had some wood pieces that would separate the white ball from the rest and return it to the opposite side of the table.
that changes the game of course, the cue ball will behave differently if it weighs differnetly
Would love to see a color detection pre rack system that puts the balls in appropriate alternating positions ready to put up on the table
Oh! You’re not supposed to place them in the rack (triangle thingie) in numerical order?
most games use a mostly random rack. ex. 8-ball only has 3 balls that must be in position; 8 in center, and the corners need opposing types i.e. one solid and one stripe.
I ve got some bad news for you. The idea to collect the balls at a central location has already been thought of. Pretty much all coin slot pool tables ( commercial ) have been using this idea for quite some time. SORRY
It says that right there in the article!
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