Reflex Trainer Puts Athletes To The Test

Being a top athlete in this modern age is a full-time job. No longer do athletes simply practice at their nominated sport of choice. They undergo strength training, full nutritional programs, cardio, and even reflex training.

Reflex training involves a series of nodes that an athlete must identify when lit up, and touch them to switch them off. By triggering them in a fast sequence, the athlete must work hard to both identify the lit node and then move to switch it off. TrainerLights is just such a system, built around the NodeMCU platform.

The system consists of a minimum of four lights – one acting as a server, the others as nodes. The lights each contain a nodeMCU board which communicates over WiFi, while the server has an additional board – acting as a WiFi hotspot that controls the system.

With the lights switched on, the coach connects to the server with a smartphone, and configures the lighting sequence and timings depending on the desired excercise regime. The server then communicates with the lighting nodes, which light their LEDs  at specified intervals. The athlete must clear the lights by swiping at the nodes, which detect the athlete’s hand via an ultrasonic proximity sensor. The sensitivity is configurable, to allow the system to trigger from a distant wave or a direct touch from the athlete. This allows a variety of training uses, from tennis to taekwondo.

With a 3D printed case and parts readily available from any good maker supplier, it’s a project you could tackle in a weekend to add to your own training regime.

We see plenty of athletic hacks in these parts – like this line-following robot for training sprinters. Video after the break.

[Thanks to Baldpower for the tip!]

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Build Your Own Rowing Machine, Now With Digital Readout!

An ergometer is a fancy fitness word for a rowing machine, a device which can be used to work out the muscles used in rowing. It’s an excellent cardio workout that can also build upper body strength, and resistance can be varied depending on the individual’s fitness goals. But perhaps you need to measure your workout to see your progress – in which case, [Dave]’s instrumentation package might be right up your alley.

The basic mechanical build involves a wooden frame, fitted with a rowing setup built around a modified bicycle wheel. The wheel has vanes attached, made of what appears to be cut sections of PVC pipe. These act essentially as dampers, using the air to create the resistance for the rower to work against.

The wheel is instrumented with a chopper wheel and an IR optical switch, which measures the rotational speed of the wheel during rowing. This signal is fed into an ATMega328 which runs the calculations on the rower’s performance. It’s all fed to a Nokia 5110 screen for display, which makes a lovely throwback for those that remember the brick fondly.

[Dave] touches not only on the electronic aspects of the build, but also does an excellent job of breaking down the mathematics behind rowing performance. It’s a great resource that builds on top of the excellent work by the OpenErgo project.

If we’ve whet your thirst for exercise machine hacks, you’d better check out this treadmill to belt grinder mod.