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This rolling ball game brings Skee-Ball-style fun from the arcade to your home

Arduino TeamJuly 9th, 2024

Ask your friends about their favorite games at the arcade and the most common answer will likely be Skee-Ball. But while many other popular arcade games have viable at-home alternatives, Skee-Ball doesn’t — at least not unless you’re willing to spend a serious amount of money. Luckily, you can get your Skee-Ball fix with a similar carnival-style rolling ball game by Gary Nelis.

This isn’t exactly the same as Skee-Ball; it seems to be a unique creation inspired by several different ball-rolling games that you might come across at carnivals and arcades. The player rolls balls across the table and into an array of holes. If the ball falls through a hole, the player gets the number of points associated with that specific hole. To make this even more fun, Nelis added electronic scorekeeping and fun sound effects.

The hardest part of this project is constructing the table, which will require some woodworking experience. Next, you’ll need to add the electronics, including the Arduino UNO Rev3 board that detects balls and keeps score. It detects balls falling through the holes using infrared break beam sensors. Nelis grouped those by point value, wiring the sensors in parallel so that they only use a total of three Arduino pins. 

The Arduino shows the score and remaining time on a pair of three-digit, seven-segment displays made using strips of WS2812B individually addressable RGB LEDs. Those can be set to any color and they even support animated effects. Finally, the Arduino plays sound effects through an Adafruit Audio FX Sound Board module.

If you always head straight to the Skee-Ball tables when you visit an arcade, then this is the project for you.