How Many Punches Does It Take?

Do you ever wonder just how many punches you have thrown? The answer is going to be different if you happen to use a punching bag as part of your exercise routine. So is the case with the [DuctTapeMechanic] and while restoring an old speed ball punching bag, he decided to combine his passions for sports and electronics by adding a punch counter.

Perhaps most interesting in this build is the method used to monitor the bag. A capacitance proximity sensor most often used for industrial automation is mounted in the wooden base. He just calls it “an NPN capacitive sensor” without mentioning part number but these are rather easy to find from the usual places. It has no problem sensing each punch — assuming you swing strong enough so that the bag comes near the sensor. Two battery packs, an Arduino, and an optocoupler round out the bill of materials. We were a little disappointed not to see any duct tape in the construction of this project, but since the electronics are outside and exposed to the elements, maybe duct tape will be used to install a roof in a future episode.

The [DuctTapeMechanic] likes to repurpose items which would otherwise be thrown away, which is something to be applauded. The frame of this punching bag was welded from a discarded metal bed frame (a regular occupant of crawl spaces and self storage places), and you might remember he repurposed the electric motor from a discarded clothes dryer last month, changing it into a disk sander.

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Interactive Punching Bag

If you need a sparring partner, and do not want to be dependent on finding a willing partner at any random time, then maybe this Interactive Punching Bag will be some interest to you. [Lior], having studied Karate for a while now, originally envisioned a robotic arm that would punch at you using the Texas Instruments Chronos or the Microsoft Kinect as input, though after some initial messing around he decided to scrap that plan and thought “how hard is it to place some LEDs inside a punching bag and sense some force using an Arduino?”

After about a day and a half, using parts from around the shop and a trip to radio shack, he was able to complete his goal, and left some room to expand in the future. The bag currently features 3 resistive sensors, 3 LED’s, and is using a laptop for feedback, though an LCD is on its way. The expansion room allows for 3 more sensors and LED’s for twice the action and more complex games.

Speaking of games, the punching bag currently has 3 different exercise programs, as many punches as you can in 30 seconds mode, a programmable sequence mode, and random which occasionally punches back. Join us after the break for a quick video, and check out the page for details and a pile of pictures.

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