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The goal is to track points, which, in the case of ping pong, is how many times the ball has touched the table.

My concerns are with how light the ball and therefore the impact on the table will be. Is this too light for something like a vibration sensor to register?
Would you imagine the sensor working better on the paddles or the table?

I'm open to other suggestions on more reliable ways to track points other than vibration.

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  • For tracking points in ping pong I think you have to check for the ball hitting the table. Hitting the paddles does not say much (If the ball hits my paddle but then not yours, it could be my fault or yours, so the point depends more on the table). I don't think, that vibration sensing is feasable here. vibration would mean, that the whole table moves when the ball hits it. A table is normally way too heavy for that. Maybe you can cover the table with a very sensitive touch foil, though I'm absolutely not sure about that and it might be very error prone.
    – chrisl
    Apr 20, 2021 at 12:47
  • The best that I can think of, would be to use a camera system and let a computer track the ball in the image. Though with this you are out of the Arduino realm. That's for computers, like the Raspberry Pi.
    – chrisl
    Apr 20, 2021 at 12:49
  • @chrisl - Understood, I appreciate the ideas. I was trying to think out of the box and avoid the camera system route, afraid cost might start to really add up, but that might be the best solution. Apr 20, 2021 at 14:02
  • one idea more: you could use a laser pointer a little strip of mirror at the sides of the table. When you carefully align it, you might be able to create a light barrier at the surface of the table (laser light bouncing back and forth between the mirrors going from the laser pointer at the one side to a fitting photodiode at the other side). The laser would have to be reflected quite (or you need to use multiple lasers diodes). That might be a bit (but not much) cheaper, than the camera thing, but might be difficult to align and the mirrors standing up at the edge might be bad for the game.
    – chrisl
    Apr 20, 2021 at 14:18
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    Attach a piezo to the underside of (both) tables (similar to a contact microphone). Sound travels very well through the plywood, so just one should do. Have a look at this Arduino knock detection project
    – Gerben
    Apr 20, 2021 at 15:05

1 Answer 1

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Having played ping-pong (badly) I think a microphone would be able to count ball/table impacts quite well. The 'click' sound is much higher than that of hitting the paddle, so you might be able to differentiate on that basis. You might consider a two microphone/transducer arrangement- one coupled to the table and one not touching the table. If you get a simultaneous signal on both, the ball has hit the table. If you get only one signal (from the not-touching microphone) then the ball has hit a paddle. This also gives you the option of getting some timing information.

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  • Seconding the coupled microphone idea. It may well be possible to filter out paddle-clicks in software. The only gotcha I see is a player whose "patter" includes knocking their paddle on the table.
    – JRobert
    Apr 20, 2021 at 15:32
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    @JRobert I think the frequency of the 'patter knocking' would be lower/different than the 'click' of the ball impact. Much larger signal on the table coupled transducer as well.
    – BobT
    Apr 20, 2021 at 15:49

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