I'm a total newbie so please bear with me. So hello Arduino world, here goes......
I'm building a high striker, test your strength fairground type thing and I'd like, eventually to have a series of lighting/pyro events as the 'puck' ascends.
I'm thinking 3 to 4 switches with a different 'event' for each one. A bubble machine @ No.1, smoke @ No.2, fire @ No.3 etc plus LED lighting. So I'll need to be able to trigger solenoids etc. I'd need to program in delays too.
How would I go about setting that up/programming it and what kit/setup should I be looking at?
I'm no programmer but I have done some Qbasic with my son, he can get his head around Python these days....
Any help/advice would be greatly appreciated!
If you want to do this in Arduino, you'll have to use C++.
For the other effects: get the appropriate devices to create them, and a few sensors that are triggered by the puck as it moves along (hall effect + magnet in the puck may work well for your situation).
An Arduino can switch stuff on and off easily through external relays or transistors/MOSFETs (do a search on this forum for hundreds of threads discussing this).
The most important thing to remember is that computers are the most bone-headed, obtuse things you can possibly deal with. If you're even done that "tell someone how to make a sandwich" game where they follow your exact literal instructions to the letter and nothing more, that's the way you need to be when programming.
One example to consider: if you just do naive edge detection on whatever sensor is detecting the puck at each level, each sensor will be triggered twice. Once on the way up, and again on the way down. This will set off your effects twice per hit. Is that acceptable? If not, you need to contrive some logic that only triggers the effects once per hit, and then some way to reset it when the puck is back on the bottom.
Before I write even a single line of code, I will often write a few pages of ideas on dead-tree paper: diagrams, notes, alternative implementations (such as Hall sensor or IR proximity to detect the puck), pseudo-code, things to research, draft schematics, value tables, etc. Then comes testing subcomponents that I am unfamiliar with. For you, that'll probably be everything. Test that you can trigger the smoke machine one command. Test that you can trigger the flame machine. Test that you can properly detect the puck.
Only once all that is done should you try to integrate the whole project together. If you try and do it all at once right from the beginning, it won't work and it will be very difficult to root cause the issue (probably many issues) because you will have no confidence that any parts of your code are operating properly.
Make a list of all your I/O, including future nice-to-have features, then verify your device will handle it all. A more elaborate scheme might need multiplexing/output expansion. Which brings its own complications.
You could have a virtual puck. Use a strip of ws2812b leds to represent the puck flying up and falling down again. Use a strain guage to measure how hard the target was hit. Could make the whole project easier!