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I am building a mini soccer field in my basement for my kids, and there will be two nets (recessed into wall), I would like to set up light sensors (I figured around 3 in each goal should cover the area) that would be connected to a pc, where each time a goal is scored (the light sensor light is "broken") it gives the scorer a point.

I'm new to electronics. What hardware and software do I need to do this?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Have you considered using a little snap-action lever switch to detect the ball, instead of a light sensor? When the ball is kicked into the goal, it rolls down a little ramp into the ball reclaim. You would install the switch somewhere in the ramp so the ball it hit while it rolled by. \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Laplante Sep 24 '12 at 21:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ I know this is super late but long story short, I ended up having to finish the basement and I am now buying a new house and tookt his project on again and I googled that question and I found my own question posted here ;) so just wanted to say thanks for all your answers, appreciate the time, and will now look into both options Lego and the IR Thanks!! \$\endgroup\$ – user89739 Oct 22 '15 at 15:33
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I think you might want to have a look at the LEGO Mindstorms set since you have kids. You can actually build some pretty complicated stuff without knowing programming or electrical engineering. There is an ultrasonic sensor "able to detect an object and measure its proximity in inches or centimeters." Best of all it would be fun to learn and build with your kids.

If you're looking for something a little more advanced you could make a simple Arduino circuit to detect and send a signal to the PC. Take a look at this one. It sends an SMS signal to your phone, but you can disable that feature and implement a counter on the PC to display the score: http://techcrunch.com/2012/05/04/surprisingly-simple-arduino-motion-sensing-project-makes-for-some-weekend-fun/

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    \$\begingroup\$ Smashing idea; Mindstorms. Fun for all and probably as easy to implement as anything else - PLUS - you don't dedicate a PC to a mundane counting exercise. Just one thought. If a goal is made you'll want to count it of course, but you'll want to disable conting for a period of time or until a reset is pushed so an in-and-out ball does not count twice. \$\endgroup\$ – rdivilbiss Sep 25 '12 at 16:01
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What you described is pretty much along the right track: An IR emitter on one side and an IR detector on the other should make for a cheap, effective solution. When the soccer ball passes, it would block out the IR, thus when you see a black on the detector-side for X period, that would count as a goal.

You might need a string of a few IR emitters though, so that you can cover enough vertical region that the ball might go through.

You can control/read the IR emitter-detector pairs via any microcontroller/board, e.g. perhaps an Arduino for sake of ease, which in turn you can hook up to your PC for display or storage. You might not even need a PC if you just want to use a buzzer or LED to declare the point.

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