New project guidance

Hello all. Brand new user here and I'm hoping I am in the correct world. I think I am.

I am currently in the design phase of a custom automated game table. I want the table's appearance to be that of a basic coffee table. However, when I push a button I want it to convert to the game table hidden within....

Here's my idea.

  1. push button

  2. small actuators/servos lift a hinged wooden plank at each end of the table.

  3. small electric motor engages and rotates the top (made of hardwood slats) out of the way, exposing game table underneath

  4. actuators close, giving the table the appearance of being a purpose-built game table.

  5. after gaming is done, push button again

  6. steps 1 through 4 run again in reverse order, thus making the coffee table in my living room appear normal again.

A co-worker directed me to your world. I have the skills to build the table itself, but the automation part of it has me at a loss. I looked on the internet and didn't see anything that really nailed what I need, so here I the mercy of you all. I will be using bearings throughout the project so I would think the resistance on the electronics would not be much more than the weight of the wood itself. I'd imagine I'd need limit switches for the open/closed positioning of the servos and motor, as well. I am also hoping this can all be run off of a rechargeable battery pack as the thought of a power adapter cable running across the floor would not be aesthetically pleasant.

My question is: Is this within the scope of that the Arduino Uno board? I will research the programming aspect of it when the time comes, but for now I just want to make sure I'm where I need to be.

I haven't dug around the site for compatible products with the boards yet, so I won't ask about actuators or motors just yet. I just want to get my feet wet in your world first.

I thank you in advance for any assistance on helping me realize one of my dreams...

Cheers! -Irish

The computerized control system should be well within an Arduino's capacity. The complications will be in the motor mechanics - how much power/torque is needed and how the motors couple to the parts they must move.

My immediate sense is that hobby servos would not be able to lift table parts - but I could easily be wrong. And DC motors will need some form of position detectors such as microswitches.

Indeed with suitably wired motors and microswitches there might be no need for a computer.


I would look at worm drive gear motors. They provide high torque and low output shaft speeds and don’t require a brake or latch to hold position.

I don't think you need a microcontroller or programming. There are only two (static) states (open & closed), and there are only two outside commands/inputs from the user (open and close).

You can set-up a limit switch to break current to a motor when the limit is reached, but the trick is to do that without breaking the reverse connection. I don't know exactly how to do that, but it might require relays, diodes, or both, but I think it can be done.

The logic could be easily handled by an Arduino (or other microcontroller) and it might depend on if you are more comfortable with programming or wiring/circuit design (although most of the wiring & circuitry will be required either way).

A servo does require a microcontroller (or something similar), but a servo is for angular positioning (such as "proportional" steering of an RC car). If there are only two limit-positions, a servo is not the way to go.

I think the real challenges are mechanical (if you consider motors mechanical). If you can power-up a motor and make this thing work, you are 90% there.

There are websites that sell all kinds of motors, belts, and pulleys. Companies that sell parts for building robots would be a good source.

I think the real challenges are mechanical (if you consider motors mechanical).

I am also hoping this can all be run off of a rechargeable battery pack

That should be no problem, especially since it will be operated intermittently.