Electronic Poker Table Feasability

Hey guys, I'm new here!

Just started looking into a poker table project with a friend. We plan to build a poker table and we want to make the table light up depending on who the dealer is, whose turn it is, who is all-in, etc. We realized that to do this we would need to use 16 pushbuttons and 32 LEDs. We have written the code already as a C++ simulation which we will need to convert to arduino (i.e. getting rid of our "couts" and using "digitalwrite" and such to actually activate the LEDs).

So my question for you guys is...(drum roll please)... is this project feasible? Any advice in general in setting off on our quest for an electronic poker table?

Thanks in advance!

Sure it sounds do-able. The only gotcha might be powering the lights if all 32 lights are on at the same time. If only a few lights are on, it should be ok. Using the Mega probably simplifies things, since it can handle 54 digital input/outputs (16+32 = 48) without additional hardware. If you buy an Uno or other Arduino, you will likely need shift registers to deal with all of the buttons and lights.


I have another noob question now. What will be the best way to wire the LEDs and pushbuttons back to the arduino? I assume having a breadboard under the table with 40+ some wires dangling around isn't the best way to go about it. Unfortunately I don't know of anything else. :(

You can simplify things a bit by using combination wires. I would think using either phone cables (RJ-11) or ethernet cables (RJ-45) would work. You can get wiring kits at places like Home Depot, etc. for doing either type of cable with a breakout on each end. I would imagine a small perfboard (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perfboard) or breadboard to hold the two lights, button, and the RJ-11/RJ-45 breakout. However, I suspect what you want to do is do the cabling underneath the table, and use surface mount lights and buttons, drilling 3 holes in the table for each seat. If I were doing it, I would try to have the table top removable so that you can get easier access to the electronics underneath.

Well at some point you simply have to deal with a huge bundle of wires plugged into lots of terminals at the Arduino end. In case you're using a UNO/Mega or similar with sockets on the board, you can get connectors and crimp pins that you can use to create headers that plug in quite neatly, and these guys have some suggestions about that. You will probably want to use a break-out shield of some sort though.

I don't know how many places you have at the table or how many wires per place, but you can get ribbon cable with up to 40 conductors in various lengths. If you use a ribbon cable per place, I imagine that would keep your cable routing round the table nice and tidy. Depending how many wires you need per place, you may be able to use something more compact such as CAT5 cable.

Thanks guys. I'm seeing a lot of great ideas here that I wouldn't have thought of myself.

One other suggestion, use different colored wires to mark each light and button. I.e. maybe make all left lights use a green wire, all right lights blue, the common ground black, and the push button wire yellow. If you use RJ-11/RJ-45 cables to get to each seat, use a different colored wired for each seat. If not, get a label maker and label each wire at each end.

Perhaps it would be a good idea to add create a protected space under the table to hold boards and wiring by adding a slightly dropped down piece of inexpensive, light material under the table. - Scotty

I've done something very similar to your idea. You can check it out at http://jrtrzeciak.wordpress.com/. To solve your LED problem, you could use a digital LED strip like I did (http://adafruit.com/products/306). Then you only need to digital outputs for all the lights. You can cut the strip after every LED or two and solder a jumper between the sections as long as you'd like.

Also, I made a small control box for mine with a couple switches and potentiometers to control the lights. However, I have some web programming experience and made a web app as well. It works very well with the Ethernet shield. I rarely use the control box anymore.

Take a look at mine and see what you think. I'd be happy to help.