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Air Hockey Systems: Details?

Discussion in 'Hobby Electronics' started by Lord-Data, Oct 16, 2005.

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  1. Lord-Data

    Lord-Data Guest

    What principles are used behind a GOOD airhockey table?

    I know you can get cheapy ones that have air but not much else.. More
    interested in the scoring side of things .. Whats a reliable way to detect a
    puck entry? Optical sounds dodgy, but so does press switches, too easy to
    not trip .. given the angles and different speeds the puck could come in at

    Anyone know what the arcade machines use? Also, for the air system, what
    kind of system runs it? Never hear much of a pump/compressor noise from the
    arcade machines, so i'm guessing somethign small suffices there? Anyone know
    much about the sytsems used? Is it just a pump sealed into channels in a
    base, with a top overlaid with holes drilled through?

    Thanks in advance for any info you can provide!
  2. Poxy

    Poxy Guest

    I assume they use a simple IR beam inside the goal chute.
    The ones I've heard certainly have a fairly audible pump. I'm guessing you
    could use the pump from a vacuume cleaner to supply the air.
  3. ajcrm125

    ajcrm125 Guest


    I've got one from these guys:
    The puck entry is a simple microswitch with a stiff wire attached to
    it. The wire is in the direct path of the puck so as it enters the
    shute it activates the switch. The same way a coin mech works.

  4. Guest

    The air system is a simple squirell (sp?) cage on a 1750 RPM motor.
    Filter on the inlet side so the holes don't get full of crap. Doesn't
    take a large volume of air out the many holes to float a plastic puck.
    My tables all had a micro switch with a blade that the puck tripped to
    advance the score. Largest pain in the arse is the bottle caps,
    matchbooks, playing cards, etc that you have to fish out every week.
  5. jj

    jj Guest

    I havent seen one of these units since the mid 1980's. At the time I
    was 1/2 owner of an amusement centre - and we used to muck around
    with a LOT of different gear !

    We bought a not working air hockey table for $100. Would have been
    early 70's vintage, and the electronics that controlled the scoring,
    game time etc didnt work.

    The machine had a 117v blower that was mounted in a metal box, that
    had an air filter on the side that would have been about40cm x 20cm.
    (unfortunately a rat had died in this enclosure, which was why the
    thing had been sold so cheaply, as the smell that came through the air
    holes when the motor ran was putrid - it wasnt easy getting rid of the
    stench). I would estimate that the blower was about the size of a
    large home vaccum cleaner motor ?

    The top of the table involves a thick sheet of wood, with many
    channels about 1cm x 1cm routed into it - these are directly under
    the rows of air holes. A sheet of laminex (playing surface) is glued
    over this wood sheet - and then the air holes are drilled/punched into
    it over the channels

    The unit used a microswitch for the scoring (the microswitch had a
    trip wire on it - that the puck would hit as it rolled past) and there
    was a small solenoid in each end that would pull in to allow the puck
    to return back to the player, otherwise it would lock it in the end.
    Due to dirt etc - I wouldnt use an IR sensor.

    Unfortunately the electronics in the thing were unknown type logic
    IC's that couldnt be obtained, and as a result - I got the job of
    designing a circuit to run the thing. In the end a 555 timer IC was
    used to set the game time - and for the scoring, 2 4017 ics were used.
    Each one ran 10 LEDS that were mounted under an existing bezel that
    had previously housed 6v bulbs.

    A Relay was used to switch the mains to the blower. When the coin
    slide was pushed in, and then was pulled back, the game would start
    (this would stop it from being jammed in and allowing constant free

    The game was not an outstanding earner - but it sat in the centre for
    about 8 years before it closed and CONSISTENTLY earned about $80 a
    week - unlike video games etc - there wasnt any expense involved in
    upgrading PCB's and such - and very little maintenance.
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