Friday, July 30, 2021
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You Can Build This Air Hockey Robot

Sure, you have a robot tending to your floors and maybe some rudimentary artificial intelligence is running a few of your household systems, but what about your air hockey table? Are you still partying like it’s 1999 with a human opponent at the other end of your field of air?

Credit: JJRobots

If your answer is “yes”, it’s time to get serious about 21st century life and learn how to lose to an intelligent machine you built yourself. Luckily for you, JJ Robots has recently updated their Air Hockey Robot project with a new version, the Air Hockey Robot EVO, which you can build yourself and control via your Android smartphone with a free app.

The Air Hockey Robot EVO can be built using readily available components and 3D printed parts. The bill of materials includes NEMA17 stepper motors, stepper motor drivers, the jjRobots Brain Shield, belts, bearings, rods, and various 3D printed pieces. Although JJRobots sells a kit with the items you need to build this project, they also provide all the necessary instructions and documentation you need to make the components yourself.

Among the projects you’ll be taking on if you decide to go the DIY route is building your own “Brain Shield” which is the controller used by all JJRobots bots. The Air Hockey EVO also uses an Arduino Leonardo and the code is available for download within the online assembly instructions.

Unless you want to do some modifications to the dimensions provided by JJRobots for this project, you will have to acquire one of the tables they recommend but the tables they suggest are easily obtained and affordable.

Credit: JJRobots

After you gather your materials and print the required 3D parts (or purchase the kit if you prefer), the online assembly guide says the project should go together in about 30 to 40 minutes.

How does it work? The smartphone´s camera looks at the table and determines the placement of the puck and the paddle by detecting the position of a colored piece of foam attached to each item. The data captured by the camera is then processed by the smartphone which relays commands back to the robot via WiFi. The Robot is locally controlled by the jjRobots Brain Shield which dictates the speed and acceleration of the robot, sending the appropriate pulses to the stepper motors.

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You can watch the Air Hockey Robot EVO in action below