The nerve center of the table—an Arduino microcontroller, four solenoid valves and three different power supplies—is stashed in an old powerdrill case. Godshaw repurposed a car-key remote so that it could signal the Arduino board to make the table move. The referee controls the remote, tilting the table. A touch of one of the buttons signals the corresponding solenoid valve to release a burst of air from a compressor beneath the table. The compressed air drives the piston, raising one side by 15 degrees.
Godshaw suggested adding an automatic moving net that rewards the player who’s losing the game. The Arduino controls an electric motor, which drives a belt-and-pulley system that moves the net back and forth across the table. When a player scores, the referee enters the point with the remote, and the software is programmed to shift the net so that the point-scoring player has a smaller area to aim for.
“Whenever there’s a big point disparity,” Godshaw says, “the winning player will be aiming for a 12-inch section of the table.”
Initially the idea was for both players to hold a paddle and a remote. They would swing with one hand and control the remote with the other, tilting the table or switching on one of the flashbulbs to distract their opponent.
This would have made serving too hard, though, so the group designed an automatic serving mechanism. When the referee activates it with the remote, a solenoid valve lets out a burst of air that shoots a ball up through a hole in the middle of the table, over the net and toward the receiving player.single page
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.