Last month, YouTuber Shane Wighton (AKA "Stuff Made Here") constructed a basketball hoop that always goes in. While it’s curved design does improve your basketball abilities considerably, it does still reject some inbound balls. Although that backboard was brilliantly designed, it’s a decidedly passive device — meaning it could potentially be improved with the addition of some advanced electronics.
With this idea in mind, Wighton started down the path to a fully automated backboard using a Microsoft Kinect camera to track shots and a CNC-like arrangement to allow the backboard to react.
The system utilizes a Windows-based computer to take information from the Kinect, and does some rather complicated calculations, commanding the backboard to respond at the last second via an Arduino. The setup features three stepper motors with off-the-shelf drivers for positioning, along with a linear rail in the middle. This enables the backboard to pitch and yaw, as well as slide in and out, but doesn’t let it roll or slide parallel to the wall.
One big challenge with the project is that there’s not a lot of time between release and backboard impact. In fact, it has only about 600ms to get into position in order to properly guide the ball into place. To allow for lightning-fast movements, the build uses rather large steppers (with even larger ones on the way) and a frame constructed to be as light as possible.
Check out Wighton's work, with a detailed explanation, in the video below!