Electronically operated Ball Return Mechanism

Hello family

I am new to the Arduino world and I need your help. I am trying to make an electronically operated ball return mechanism for a pool table to replace the coin operated ball return mechanism. Below is the problem statement and some desired solutions for the project. However, any variations different form my suggested operation of the mechanism are greatly welcomed. Thank you in advance

Problem statement
Most coin operated ball return mechanisms of pool tables have common mechanical problems that occur as a result of normal wear and tear of the moving parts or caused by unscrupulous people who insert tokens of different size or shape or other objects in the coin slot and try out their luck to dispense the balls, usually they use excessive force to push the moving parts of the mechanism thereby damaging it. Some mechanical problems are caused by dust trapped in the coin slot and on the other hand, rust also causes the mechanism to become sticky and hard to operate.

As a result, the coin slot mechanism often jams, becomes sticky and hard to operate such that balls will not be released from the tray. As common practice, the person operating the mechanism will end up kicking the ball tray causing further damage to the table. Sometimes, the balls are released but the mechanism will not return back to the catching position, therefore, balls will not be returned in the ball tray and they will continuously come out. When this happens in the absence of the pool table attendant customers on the table will play some games without paying for the table time, hence prejudicing the pool table operator of possible revenue.

As the mechanism develops these problems, the table owner is tempted to give the attendant keys to the ball tray to open and fix the problems as they occur as a counter measure to minimize losses that may be incurred due to the downtime of the pool table. However, some unscrupulous attendants may take advantage of this arrangement to line up their pockets, thus further prejudicing the table owner of the funds.

As a pool table owner myself, the problems cited above have been giving me sleepless nights and headaches of how to stop such from happening. I decided to design and make an electronically operated ball return mechanism that will minimize jams, improve security of the balls and theft proof from the attendant. In a nutshell, I want to automate the greater part of operating pool tables.

Desired operations of the electronic ball return mechanism

  1. The mechanism must be electronically or operated and completely jam less. It must be remote controlled to release balls and must be very very easy to operate.
  2. The mechanism must electronically record the number of games played, store and send this data to me in a time stamped format. (more like a billing meter)
  3. The mechanism must retain the white ball when all balls have been returned in the tray.
  4. The mechanism must trigger an alarm or alert the attendant of an end game when the black ball is potted.
  5. When a game ends whilst there are some balls on the playing field, the mechanism must trigger an alarm or alert the attendant of these balls missing in the ball tray.
  6. Must allow a time constant maximum of 10 – 15 minutes of play and trigger an alarm when this this time is reached.
  7. When the balls are dispensed and some are not, the mechanism must alert or trigger an alarm of balls that did not come out.
  8. If certain balls are trapped in the channels, the mechanism must be able to clear or invoke the balls to come out of the channels without external force being applied
  9. If the mechanism is operated from a battery source, the system must alert or trigger an alarm of low power or voltage to remind the attendant to recharge or replace the battery.

Security of the pool table
I have come to the realization that the slate (pool table playing surface) is a sought after item by thieves. They target pool tables with weak or no security systems, break the table top to have access to remove and steal the slate. A great deal of pool table operators’ have gone out of business because the slate is expensive to replace. To this realization, I want to deploy a foolproof security and surveillance system that will at any time of the day tell me the status or position of my table.

The desired security system

  1. Equipped with a simple alarm system that will be activated during the night
  2. Embed a tracking device or bug into the slate, as a measure to track it in case it gets stolen.

If possible, half a dozen photos might help describe the detail of your problems.

In my mind, the biggest challenges are the anti-tamper considerations, as well as protecting the equipment from inadvertent jamming.

Remember, this requires power, so some consideration needs to be put into reduced operating & idle current, as well as battery / charging strategy.

Good luck, it’s an interesting project.

You ought to ask a mechanical forum how to make a foolproof coin handling devise
Letting the coin fall down, or rolling away from the slot, then into the checking mechanism could keep the sensitive parts safe, away from body builders pushing force.