Beginner Looking for Basic Advice on a Project

Hello, I am new to the Arduino world, but the potential fascinates me. I am technically capable, but I have little electronics experience. I am looking for tips on a project I am planning. I am building an assembly to measure the bounce of a tennis ball. Originally, I was just going to drop it from a standard height, and visually determine the bounce. I've decided that timing the bounce is really the way to go. I have a block of slate to bounce the ball off. I would like to use the accelerometer of a Wii Nunchuk to register the bounce, and then the second bounce. The time between the two bounces would be the critical data. So, I am looking for the basic stuff: How to interface the Arduino with a Nunchuk, how to interface with my laptop, and what kind of software that I would need to effectively collect and manage the data.

As background, I have converted some old beverage kegs to pressure tanks, and I use them to recharge tennis balls that have lost their bounce. I need to control the process so that I can produce consistent results, and to do this, I need to have an accurate way to compare the recharged balls to new balls.

Thanks in advance for any help. Mike

You might be better off using a sensor that determines impact (like a piezo vibration sensor) than an accelerometer (as in the Nunchuk), because the inevitable rotation of the ball as it travels will give you pretty annoying data.

-- The Rugged Audio Shield: Line In, Mic In, Headphone Out, microSD socket, potentiometer, play/record WAV files

Thanks. The Nunchuk appealed to me because it it already built and it is cheap (soldering is not my forte, although I will do it if I have to). Are pre-wired piezo sensors available?

This looks promising:

http://www.sparkfun.com/products/9198

-- The Ruggeduino: compatible with Arduino UNO, 24V operation, all I/O's fused and protected

Thanks. This helps me get started.

I looked around on the Sparkfun site, and I have a preliminary list of materials.

SEN-09198 Piezo Vibration Sensor - Small Horizontal DEV-11021 Arduino Uno - R3 PRT-09385 Jumper Wires Premium 12" M/F Pack of 10 (connect piezo to Arduino) CAB-00512 USB Cable A to B - 6 Foot (Connect Arduino to Laptop)

Am I on the right track? I have a couple more questions, if you have the time: 1. I looked at the data sheet for the vibration detector, and there is a lot of info. What I didn't find was an actual mounting method. Epoxy? 2. Does the Arduino possess an internal clock function or would this have to happen in the laptop?

Thanks again Mike

Arduino has a millis() function which is plenty accurate for timing two not too long events, or micros() with 4 microsecond accuracy If you wanted really really accurate events or less than a few milliseconds than you could use a timer and an interupt