In an effort to suck the fun out of every activity still left for us puny humans, an engineer has built an amazing 3D printable air hockey playing robot that, in addition to moving across the required two dimensions, can predict the movements of rebounding pucks.
The robot was developed by Jose Julio who describes the system at his blog. Many of the components — like NEMA17 stepper motors, drivers, Arduino Mega, RAMPS, belts, bearings, and rods — are 'left over' parts from a RepRap 3D printer. The bracketry, puck, and paddle came out of a 3D printer. Julio built the table using off-the-shelf wood. The robot uses a PS3 camera to monitor the action.
The camera is mounted above the table and it watched the puck to determine its trajectory. It then moves the paddle to the appropriate position to block and return the puck. It can even anticipate bounces off the wall. And in the event the robot is too good for you, you can always adjust the robot's speed to dumb-down its acceleration and strategy algorithms.
Julio has even made the specs available at his website.
It would be interesting to see Julio's Air Hockey Robot pitted against the one developed by Namiki Labs — though that one only moves across one-dimension.
Yet another activity in which we don't stand a chance.