First off, I'd like to say my background is definitely more in the realm of software than hardware so I might be a bit of a beginner about certain things..

That being said, I have this idea that would it would be really cool to track an air hockey puck as it moves across the table. I am envisioning in my head a sensor on each corner of the table and then something on the puck. The sensors on the corners would be sending some kind of signal to the puck and then a certain amount of time (based on distance) later, the sensor would receive a signal back and know how far away the puck was from that particular sensor.

The triangulation, recording all the data, etc. I am not as worried about. I am mostly concerned with finding a somewhat affordable solution at this point that is wireless.

I'd welcome any advice for the types of sensors I could integrate or different approaches to solve this problem.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi Roger, I was thinking about linking to this question, but think I require a very different solution as this would need to be wireless and almost all solutions offered there required a physical connection - it is a similar concept though, I'll give you that @RogerRowland \$\endgroup\$
    – Shaun314
    Jan 21, 2015 at 5:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ The puck would have to be powered. What about a camera instead? \$\endgroup\$ Jan 21, 2015 at 5:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ A camera would be my choice too - mounted vertically, looking down and some relatively simple object tracking using mean shift or whatever. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 21, 2015 at 5:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ 1cm is too close - maybe two side-view cameras, one to get X and the other to get Y? It really depends on how cluttered the views would be. If you could make the object you're tracking a different colour from the background, it would simplify things. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 21, 2015 at 5:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ So it is not really air hockey. You know, it is kind of frustrating to do this. Play guessing games and have you shoot everything down. Is there any way you could come clean about what you are doing? Does acoustic appeal to you? You could transmit ultrasound chirps. The two-way flight time will give you range to the sensor. Doppler can be computed, too. Will the puck be the only object? Will the XY space be about the same size as an actual air hockey table? \$\endgroup\$
    – user57037
    Jan 21, 2015 at 7:59

1 Answer 1


you youuld put rows of LEDS and photosensors along the edges of the table.

or you oculd just put a camera in the ceiling.

or even put a camera below the surface and track which air holes are occluded. thanks to air suspension puck movement is mostly innertial so after a few centimetres of movement it should be possible to get fairly precise position and velocity figures.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I had considered LEDs and photosensors but let's say hypothetically the puck was only a cm wide to start with and you have a 6 ft x 4 ft board, is it still reasonable to have a setup capable of achieving 1 cm accuracy? \$\endgroup\$
    – Shaun314
    Jan 21, 2015 at 6:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ yes, puck movement is innertial (this means the speed doesnt change (much), so the timing of two occlusions can give speed and position in one dimension. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 21, 2015 at 6:09

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