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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Since some of you are total electronics geeks, I thought I'd ask for some input here, even though it's COMPLETELY off topic.


At my office, just for fun, we built this really cool golf game - think putting into a skee-ball-style contraption on the floor. We also built a Flash piece to sequence the players and track scoring. Naturally, the next step is to connect the two - automatic scoring, baby!


I was thinking of some sort of serial/data-acquisition device, but they're really expensive, and we'd probably have to get pretty crazy with Flash, XML, serial port?!?. So, my next brain-fart was to cannabalize a keyboard and use keys to indicate different point-additions - i.e. Q=25, W=50, E=75, etc. It would be a REALLY cheap solution. But how?


My thought was that an illuminated photo-diode and a transistor/amplifier would hold a normally-closed micro-relay open, and when the ball dropped through and darkened the diode, the relay would close momentarily and close the keyswitch.


Can anybody think of a really simple circuit to get from a LED/photo-diode (sensor combo) to a relay that would just "press the key" when the ball dropped through the hole?


Don't waste any time on this, and if there's some electronics forum that somebody could point me to, that would be great!


Gratuitous on-topic related note - I could assign movies to keys and use this thing in my home theater to let guests "shoot" to decide which movie they're going to watch. ;-)


Thanks!

SC
 

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"Since some of you are total electronics geeks"


Wow, thats the pot calling the kettle black, huh!!


Sounds cool. Good luck.
 

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A friend of mine at school built a really cool driving range simulator for a technology project, we we 14 I think.


Anyway, you had a real golf ball, and a real club. The ball sat on a small tee, and you hit the ball against a wall. The tee had a sensor, and the wall was covered in 1' x 1' panel. The tee and the panels were wired into a computer via a canablized keyboard interface. The program he wrote started timing when the ball left the tee untill it hit the wall, then it knew where on the wall it hit, and calculated the distance the wall would travel and in what direction. Then it drew a basic plan diagram of the golf course and showed you where your ball landed.


Really cool -- except that you had to dodge the ball as it ricochet'd back off the wall heheh.


- Rick
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by sewerrat
"Since some of you are total electronics geeks"


Wow, thats the pot calling the kettle black, huh!!


Sounds cool. Good luck.
OK, but I'm a gray pot - I don't KNOW the answer to the question! I'm a computer and video geek, but only an electonics neophyte. I know only enough to read a schematic and tell what the symbols are and maybe how to hook them together. Give me a power supply and some diodes and resistors, though and I'll be letting smoke out of stuff in no time!


SC
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks, Walker. That serial doodad looks pretty promising. Doesn't look like it would be hard to build, either. I'll have to see how difficult the serial I/O is in Flash and see if that's an option.


Thanks!


SC
 

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Can you have the ball pass over a microswitch with a long handle? That would close the circuit with a mechanical contact. I don't know if the diode drop would be too high for the hacked keyboard to trigger.


The microswitch I am thinking of is one like in a de-humidifier that takes light pressure to turn the unit off when the tank gets full.


-Garrick
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Garrick,


I considered that, too but some of our holes are pretty big, so would require several microswitches strategically placed. Then, there's the inevitable ball-breaking-the-switch event, too, so my thoughts on a photo-diode.


You're probably right about the diode - that's why I was thinking of some sort of diode/op-amp/micro-relay configuration.


Thinking about all this - thanks for the help, everybody.


SC
 

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If it is any consolation, those switches are pretty rugged. You could put a tennis racket style paddle on them to catch all balls going through the hole. Alternatively, you can buy industrial switches that are through beam style or reflective. Automation direct sells them cheap.


Good luck.

-Garrick
 

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Instead of coding the serial events in Flash, you might look into a utility called Girder ( www.girder.nl ). Girder would allow you to translate the serial events into keypresses or other message types that can be sent to your flash app. It's free, and an excellent program to have around a home theater even if you don't use it for your project.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Hmmm... Girder. OK, there's an excuse to play with HT-related stuff at WORK!!! That's a really good idea. So, Girder will work with that schematic you posted? That's good, because without the Communication Server, Flash can't natively interact with the serial port (without something running inbetween - like Girder).


That just might work. Thanks for the help.


SC
 

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Girder has quite a few plug-ins which can allow you to take input from lots of different devices. There is a serial plug-in which should allow you to get the input from this device.


I'll also be building one when I can get the time. Please post back here when you can because I'd like to follow your progress. (I'll do the same.) I'm building 4 button boxes for use in my theater with the "You Don't Know Jack" games. I thought a trivia game might be a fun alternative use for the theater once in awhile.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Went to the bookstore last month, picked up the April issue of "Nuts & Volts", and what's one of the schematics in the Q&A section? How about "From LED to Relay?"


It's a very simple circuit - photo-transistor, switching transistor, diode, resistor, and relay. That's it. I knew it was simple, I just didn't know how to do it. I'll try building one circuit this weekend and report back.


Good idea using You Don't Know Jack. 4 or 5 years ago, I had some friends over, and we hooked up an old PowerMac (that had S-Video out) to the TV, plugged in 4 keyboards, and played YDKJ - it was a riot. Some of it could have been the liquor, too I guess...


Have you seen sceneit? Cool little DVD movie trivia board game. My wife and I have only played with it a few minutes, but it seems like it would be good, clean fun.


SC
 

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Hmm... Not sure if I am getting what you are saying. If you are simply trying to trip a keyboard KEY, then you don't want to short the key itself. You should just wire a standard switch to the keyboard controller. It takes a long time to trace everyhing back to the pins of the controller but it works great. I built a MAME arcade cabinet this way. You are probably talking about something totally different though. You can read my article on how I did it on my website. It's over two years old, and my grammer wasn't too hot at the time. But, the info is there. Good Luck
MAME Cabinet
 
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