Air Hockey Table Embraces DOOM, Retro Gaming

[Chris Downing] recently finished up a major project that spanned some two years and used nearly every skill he possessed. The result? A smart air hockey table with retro-gaming roots. Does it play DOOM? It sure (kind of) does!

Two of the most striking features are the score board (with LCD screen and sound) and the play surface which is densely-populated with RGB LED lighting and capable of some pretty neat tricks. Together, they combine to deliver a few different modes of play, including a DOOM mode.

The first play mode is straight air hockey with automated score tracking and the usual horns and buzzers celebrating goals. The LED array within the table lights up to create the appearance and patterns of a typical hockey rink.

DOOM hockey mode casts one player as Demons and the other as the Doom Slayer, and the LED array comes to life to create a play surface of flickering flames. Screams indicate goals (either Demon screams or Slayer screams, depending on who scores!)

In retrogaming emulation mode, the tabletop mirrors the screen.

Since the whole thing is driven by a Raspberry Pi, the table is given a bit of gaming flexibility with Emulation Mode. This mode allows playing emulated retro games on the scoreboard screen, and as a super neat feature, the screen display is mirrored on the tabletop’s LED array. [Chris] asserts that the effect is imperfect, but to us it looks at least as legible as DOOM on 7-segment displays.

This project is a great example of how complex things can get when one combines so many different types of materials and fabrication methods into a single whole. The blog post has a lot of great photos and details, but check out the video (embedded below) for a demonstration of everything in action. Continue reading “Air Hockey Table Embraces DOOM, Retro Gaming”

Air Hockey Solitaire

While air hockey is a fine amusement, it isn’t much fun if you can’t find someone to play against. Unless that is, you build a mini table with a robotic defender. [Vaib], [Nathan], and [Navish] can show you how. There is a video you can see below that shows two players using the table without the robot.

The project takes a bit of woodworking, as you might expect. You also have to drill 576 holes for the air to lift the puck. Some of the components are 3D printed in PETG, too. The automated defense uses a camera and relies on the fact that the puck is the only red thing on the table. A servo moves to intercept the incoming puck and return the shot. We were disappointed the video didn’t show the automated play.

We wondered if they had considered making a pair of the detachable robots and letting them play with each other. If you prefer football, the robot could probably adapt. We’ve seen other robot air hockey contenders, so maybe a better idea would be to build different robots and let them compete for a gold medal.

Continue reading “Air Hockey Solitaire”

Air Football Looks Pro

If you are an American, you’d probably think of [Silas Hansen’s] project as “air soccer” but most people will prefer air football. Either way, it is like air hockey but more of a football field feel. The project looks great — if you saw this on the shelves of the local toy store, you wouldn’t think anything of it. You can see a video of the game in action, below.

Unsurprisingly, the brains of the game are an Arduino. The case looks good thanks to laser cutting and 3D printing. A Roland printer produced the stickers that really dress the case up, but you could find another artistic way to do the decoration.

Continue reading “Air Football Looks Pro”

Air Hockey Table Is A Breeze To Build

Many of us have considered buying an air hockey table, but are put off by the price. And even if the money is there, those things take up a lot of space. How often are you really going to use it?

This DIY air hockey table is the answer. It’s big enough to be fun, but small and light enough to easily stow away in the off-season. At ~$50, it’s a cheap build, provided you have a vacuum cleaner that can switch to blower mode. The strikers, goals, corner guards, and scoreboard enclosure are all 3D-printed, while the pucks and playfield are laser-cut acrylic. [Technovation] glued acrylic feet to the strikers to help them last longer.

The scoreboard is an Arduino Uno plus an LCD that changes color to match the current winner. Scoring must be entered manually with button presses, but we think it would be fairly easy to detect a puck in the goal with a force or weight sensor or something. For now, the RGB LEDs around the edge are controlled separately with a remote. The ultimate goal is to make the Arduino do it. Shoot past the break and cross-check it out.

Already have a table? Had it so long, no one will play you anymore? Build yourself a robotic opponent.

Continue reading “Air Hockey Table Is A Breeze To Build”

Smartphone Will Destroy You At Air Hockey

Most of us carry a spectacularly powerful computer in our pocket, which we rarely use for much more than web browsing, social media, and maybe the occasional phone call. Our mobile phones are technological miracles, but their potential sometimes seems wasted.

It’s always a pleasure to see something that makes use of a mobile phone to drive some nuts-and-bolts hardware. [Jose Julio]’s project does just that, using the phone as the brains behind a robotic air hockey table.

Readers with long memories will remember previous air hockey tables from [Jose], using 3D printer components controlled by an Arduino Mega with a webcam suspended above the field of play. This version transfers camera, machine vision, and game strategy to an Android app, leaving the Arduino to control the hardware under wireless network command from above.

The result you can see in the video below the break is an extremely fast-paced game, with the robot looking unbeatable. If you want to build your own there are full instructions and code on GitHub, or if you follow the link from the page linked above, he sells the project as a kit.

Continue reading “Smartphone Will Destroy You At Air Hockey”

Robot Dominates Air Hockey, Frightens John Connor, Wayne Gretzky

We’ve all been disappointed at some point in our lives after yearning to play air hockey and not finding anyone to play against. This is no longer a problem at [Jose]’s house. He has built a very amazing Air Hockey Playing Robot. This robot moves in 2 directions, can predict the movements of the puck and also decide to block, shoot or a do a combination of both.

Surprisingly, most of the ‘robotics’ parts are 3D printer left overs, which includes: NEMA17 stepper motors, an Arduino Mega, a RAMPS board, motor drivers, belts, bearings and rods. The bracketry, puck and paddle are all 3D printed. The air hockey table itself was built from scratch using off-the-shelf wood. Two standard 90mm PC fans are all that are responsible for creating the air pressure used to lift the puck. A PS3 camera monitors the action and is literally this robot’s eye in the sky.

Check out the video and learn more about this project after the break.

Continue reading “Robot Dominates Air Hockey, Frightens John Connor, Wayne Gretzky”

Robot Air Hockey Championship As A Final Project


My final project is build a robot that plays air hockey? Where do I sign up? Apparently you get yourself a seat in ECE496 at Clemson University. They have been using the concept as a final project for at least a couple of years. [Abe Froman] was on the winning design team this year and he’s showing off his robot and some winning games it played.

His robot is in the foreground. It uses a right-angle PVC joint to hold the paddle. The fitting is attached to a rack and pinion that drives it forward and back. The entire assembly is mounted on a rotating rig. Take a look at some of its opponents that use more of a plotter-type arm. Those offerings have too much play in the joints which at times causes the thing to miss.

Chances are good that once you get a job you won’t be asked to do things for the company unless they are money makers. Sure, there are a few notable exceptions,  but since you’re playing to go to school we really appreciate the professors making the learning as enjoyable as possible before you have to get serious (and maybe even wear a tie!).

Continue reading “Robot Air Hockey Championship As A Final Project”