The hacker Jose Julio wanted to create something unique and interesting with parts from a 3D printer. Taking inspiration from his daughter who loved air hockey and his own love of robotics, he decided to build an ‘Air Hockey Robot’.
“I have seen several interesting projects of robots that paint or manufacture PCBs, etc,” explained Julio on his blog. “I was looking for something different.”
The parts came from basic RepRap 3D printers, parts like the NEMA17 Stepper Motors, Arduino Mega microcontroller boards, RAMPS, belts, printed pieces, rods and bearings.
Julio created everything himself, including the air hockey table, for which he used recycled PC fans to recreate the stream of air. He also built the software that runs the robot and teamed it with a PS3 EYE Cam to produce an electronic eye that is built in to an air hockey paddle. OpenCV libraries enable the camera on the paddle to detect a certain colour of puck and send it to the computer via serial port. The system recognises which direction the puck is travelling by using two consecutive frames from the camera and then decides whether to attack, defend or block a goal.
Currently the robot is not able to detect goals but we could improve this in future,” said Julio. “In the future the robot can self-calibrating the camera using predefined movement at the beginning – to avoid the camera calibration.”
The way the system is coded means the robot can beat a child no problem but Julio hopes that with further tweaks it will become difficult to beat. He has other future plans too that include building a dual robot table, where people can compete their robots.
[Image via Metro]