Appropriate electronics and sensor technology to use for scoring closest Nerf football air cannon shots? The general concept would be to have a target area marked on the ground around a target device and a unique sensor/tag/id/etc embedded within each foam ball (up to 255 unique balls may exist within the target field by the end of play.)

The target field is approximately 500ft x 500ft. Participants can launch the device from cannons positioned on each side of the target field (4 locations.) This game will be used at festivals so the distance error measurement isn't a hard number or percent (we will weigh the implementation cost against accuracy) perhaps up to +/- 5% of distance would be acceptable.

Ease of field setup is paramount. This 'game' will be shipped to various locations and setup by volunteers. The preferred solution shall incorporate a single target box/device that runs on battery power and weighs less than 20 lbs. Rechargeable batteries (12v max) should support 5 hours target run time. The location will be outdoor in an open level field. The tracking should continue to work in wet/rainy conditions.

Multiple balls/throwables may be in flight simultaneously.

Final direction and distance from target results are desired for each shot. The target data will be broadcast to a mobile app for spectators/participants.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to EE.SE! Your question lacks many important details that would permit a reasonable answer. Such as: How much error in the distance measurement can you tolerate? Where on or around the field may sensors be placed? What sort of power is available? What are the environmental conditions? Remember, you're asking for the favor of an answer from other visitors to the site, so you want to make it easy for them to contribute in a meaningful way. \$\endgroup\$ – Dave Tweed Mar 30 '14 at 20:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for the education and the welcome! Yes.. I'm a software guy and obviously out of my element here. I will attempt to add more information that will hopefully ease the barrage of down votes. Am I at the wrong stack exchange website? \$\endgroup\$ – Stan Smith Mar 30 '14 at 20:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is definitely the right SE for this type of question, although it may be difficult to narrow the focus of the question sufficiently to fit within our guidelines. \$\endgroup\$ – Dave Tweed Mar 30 '14 at 20:58

Unless you want to implement multiple rfid fields, and then deal with overlap and conflicts, the appropriate technology is Video Detection, ala OpenCV. A single camera and computer can do everything you asked.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ From my understanding the video solution would require mounting a camera at a towered/high elevation to capture the entire field. My apologies.. but I left out many details in an attempt to simplify the request and collect many potential solutions.. an elevated pole/tower or drone mounted camera isn't an option for this specific scenario. I will start a cursory investigation of multiple rfid fields and complexities. I also added a data point on field size. Thank you for your response. \$\endgroup\$ – Stan Smith Mar 30 '14 at 20:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ leaving out information that would help focus a solution on the basis that several different ideas might flow is usually a flawed method because, in effect, you'll be wasting the valuable time of contributors who answer for free. \$\endgroup\$ – Andy aka Mar 30 '14 at 20:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ Although a single camera mounted high would be simplest, multiple cameras around the edge of the field could be used to triangulate the position of a ball in flight or on the ground. This is the kind of technology used in MLB sportcasts to track pitches. \$\endgroup\$ – Dave Tweed Mar 30 '14 at 20:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AndyAKA - That makes sense, advice accepted and the answer has been expanded to include greater detail. \$\endgroup\$ – Stan Smith Mar 30 '14 at 21:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DaveTweed baseball pitches require tracking on three axises. OP is asking for more of a shot put setup, which only needs 2. \$\endgroup\$ – Passerby Mar 30 '14 at 21:31

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