This video has been making rounds since it hit the web last week, a pitch-perfect DIY success story: A dutiful dad hacked an open source 3D printer to create a robot opponent for his air hockey-loving daughter. Jose Julio started by building a standalone air hockey table out of plywood and old PC fans; the robot is made from standard RepRap parts—"NEMA17 stepper motors, drivers, Arduino Mega, RAMPS, belts, bearings, rods, printed pieces"—and software that he programmed from scratch. The overhead PS3 EYE camera is calibrated to detect the speed and direction of the high-viz puck based on consecutive frames at 60Hz (he originally intended to use a CMUCAM5, but it's not yet available).
Indeed, Julio has also seen fit to document the entire process in both his native Spanish and in English, so those of you looking for a project can try your hand at crafting a better bot.According to his blog, Julio is also a quadcopter enthusiast, so odds are he already knows of the Flying Machine Arena at the ETH Zurich. I can't help but wonder how far their quadrocopters (as they call them; I've also heard 'quadrotors') have come since this 2011 demo of their
(The link at the end of the video shows the remote control; they have since been programmed to perform various tasks.)
Seeing as synchronized flying isn't a sport, I'm not sure what quadcopters might be best suited for—I could see them as outfielders, except that they wouldn't be able to throw the ball back for a double or triple play. For now I'm hoping that MATAERIAL could get their eponymous robo-arm extruder to play a game of ping pong, my Robo Rec Room will be complete.