Practice Your Game with the Ping Pong Robot
This ping pong robot is perfect for practicing your serve returns.
Good luck practicing your ping pong skills if you can't find a partner to play against. Sure, you can flip up the other side of the table, but that's just going to bounce the balls back and doesn't help you practice returning serves. Tennis players already have this figured out and use serving machines for practice, so why are ping pong players left out? That doesn't have to be the case anymore, now that BINGOBRICKS has released the ping pong robot.
This is, of course, a robot that play ping pong. Specifically, it serves and gives you the ability to practice returning those serves. Using a control panel on the back of the robot, you can set different parameters for the serve. You can choose the direction of the serve, the interval between serves, the distance/speed of the serve, and the spin of the ball.
That last setting is this machine's killer feature, because it allows for a full top spin, full back spin, and anything in-between. It can achieve that spin using it's dual launch motors, which rotate grip wheels to fling the ping pong ball out of the tube. By tweaking the relative speeds of those motors, the machine can influence the spin. If, for example, the top motor turns much faster than the bottom motor, it will impart a strong top spin onto the ball. Because that spin is a big part of serve technique in real games, this feature is important for practice.
The body and mechanical parts of this robot are all 3D-printable. That includes the launch tube, which is swappable to change the angle from a low serve to a high serve. There are three launch tube angles available, but users can design their own if they want some other angle.
The electronic hardware components are all off-the-shelf. Those include an Arduino Nano development board, three DC motors, a servo motor, motor drivers, a limit switch, and a step-up converter. Two of those DC motors launch the ball, while the third drives the hopper mechanism that drops balls down into the launch tube. The servo motor moves the launch tube horizontally to set the serve direction. The control panel is made up of simple potentiometers and toggle switches.
If you want to build your own ping pong robot, the files are all on GitHub. The instructions are thorough, but written in German. The illustrations and a translation site should help you get through the build, even if you can't read German.