Sports is becoming a bigger and bigger part of
children’s early years. No longer do children play multiple
sports throughout the year. Instead, students sign up for a
single sport club team that play 12 months. Bottom line:
parents and kids are becoming more and more fanatical about sports
and they are always looking for ways to enhance their child’s
learning and ability to practice, which typically manifests itself
in the parents buying lots of gear for their back yard. Two
examples of items parents purchase include the
throwback/pitch-back, a way for students to repeatedly throw a
ball against a wall, and a goal (oftentimes with a front cover to
help with aim).
|Simple bounce back:
||Goal with cover for accuracy
The idea is to combine these concepts and to build
it for multiple sports. This idea largely comes from the
fact that I work at a middle school and I know how much each of
the students and coaches could benefit from something like this. I
also know the children would love it.
Here are the files that were used to mock this up:
I am thinking of breaking this down into separate
parts to make. Given the order of the classes and topics, I
am thinking of making the following parts in the following
Control PanelThe pitchback will need way to set the sport and the difficulty level. This will involve both input and output mechanisms. This back panel will be used by the coach or user to set the sport and the level of difficulty. The sport will determine what parts of the board are lit up. For example, lacrosse will light all possible target LEDs. The Control Panel will look like this:
Athlete Feedback System1) Before the athlete shoots the ball, I am going to have to give them a target. I am thinking that this could be as simple as having a bright red LED appear behind the target surface. This would give the person something to aim at.
2) Then, after a shot, I am going to want to give them feedback on how they did. There will be two types of feedback given:
- Accuracy: Did the shooter hit (or get close) to the target area,
- Speed: How hard did the student shoot
Ultimately, I would love to have some kind of scoring mechanism so that the kids could have fun competing. Whenever I've coached and brought out something like a speed gun to measure shot speed, kids love it (and they always try to beat one another)
NOTE: One thing that's interesting about this, is that the student's shots and the ball/puck can't hurt the feedback system.
Bounce Back Surface / Target AreaThis is the surface that absorbs the ball/puck that's shot and measures the accuracy and force of the shot. It is going to be critical that this is sturdy.
I have been trying to think about how to break all
this down. The greatest risk is going to come from having a
good design on the target area. If I can't find a way to
light up the target and then to measure if/when someone hits it
(and how hard they hit it), then this entire project won't
work. So I think I need to focus on that first.
So...here's how I am thinking this will hopefully
all play out. For the weeks I don't have something listed, I
will be doing different, unrelated projects (unless I can find a
way to make progress on the final project).
|Build the Control Panel with LCD/KeyPad to accept data
entry and resetting.
Molding and Casting
|Attempt to build single square target
areas ("target cell" that can...1) hold a red LED light at
the center and 2) a pressure sensor for measuring
impact. I am thinking the backboard will be made of
many of these squares. They will be like pixels on a
screen so when get hit we will know they've been
|For this step I am planning on getting the
pressure sensor to handle getting hit and measuring the
force which which it was hit. This sensor will have to
fit into the mold that built in prior week in such a way
that it can be accurate.
|I am thinking this could be where I build the
part of the backstop where all the individual "target cells"
get put together.
interface and application programming
|This is where things need to come together
where I attach the control panel to a few of the "target
cells". If this goes well, then by the end of this I
will have a handful of cells that will light up based on
which sport someone chooses, and then when press one of the
target cells it will either score a successful hit or
not. It should also register the pressure put on the
|At this point I am going to have to find a
way to provide better feedback to the user. In the
early stages I will be able to use the LCD on the control
panel, but that won't work for the final product. So
at this point I will need to experiment with some kind of
scolling LCD panel or some big numbers/LEDs.
Applications and implications
|At this point I will need to build out the
plan to pull all this together. I should have most of
the major issues figured out by now, but I will need to get
it all into one consolidated frame and it will all need to
||Tonight the Providence Lab team review
everyone's ideas for projects. I got some great
feedback. I am realizing I should really simplify
this. To that end, I am thinking of making the
following changes to my design...
1) I will initially focus on one sport: lacrosse.
2) I am not going to worry as much about a complicated feedback system for the players
3) I am not going to worry as much about the weight.
Other ideas that people had...
- One way to show feedback to the shooters will be to have an LED strip that can be like the carnival game where the lights will go really high if someone shoots hard and they won't go very high if someone shoots softly.
- Consider using a few other kinds of sensors and fabrics.
Electronics: White waterproof LED strip (could use for
cool illumination of where ball hit)
SURE Electronics: Single RGB LED (for indicating targets / where to aim)
Adafruit Square Force Sensitive Resistor