Flamenco Metronome and a Pimped Up Bar Billiard Table

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    I have a couple of projects in mind at the moment. I play flamenco guitar and the music has unusual mixed rhythms. I struggle with a standard auditory metronome. I’d like to make a metronome using an LED strip that is programmed to give different colours on the accented beats and have the lights scroll along. It would have a menu for the various rhythm patterns and be capable of changing the beats per minute. I’ve developed a top level algorithm but my coding is good enough yet so any assistance would be welcome.

    I’ve long wanted a pinball machine but they are very expensive. What I do have is an old bar billiard table (for those of you who remember when they were popular in pubs). I would like to add light displays, sound effects for scoring or getting a penalty and a scoreboard. I was thinking about doing it with sensors and Arduino control but at yesterday’s meeting I learned that it might be possible with an overhead vision system. Any input on such a system would be most welcome as I don’t know a lot about it.


    I was hooked on Pinball when younger and often lusted after one of my own. Like with retro arcade cabinets there is a scene where people use a large monitor laid flat in portrait mode and do virtual pinball. I was tempted once back having no where to house it put pay to that idea.

    What are you using to control your LEDs? Arduino or something else? Are they these fancy WS2812 jobbies?


    I’m in the early stages of considering what to use so nothing is settled on yet. I have an Arduino Uno so that would be my starting point.

    I’ve seen virtual pinball machines for sale. There are also a few You Tubers who are making their own traditional pinball machines from scratch. That looks mightily complicated. I’m quite new to electronics and micro controllers but the bar billiard table idea is a fun one so I aim to give it a go.


    WS2812B LEDs as picnic mentioned are quite easy to get going with, they only need a signal wire and power and you can get a library so you just send RGB values for each pixel. They also hold the value sent until you send a new one so you don’t have to deal with the PWM in the arduino code.

    I suspect a vision system is going to be much more tricky to get going accurately than just detecting the collisions with the bumpers electrically.

    The way I believe it normally works is when the ball collides with a bumper it closes a switch, the switch then fires a solenoid to slam down the top of the bumper and fling the ball away. It would be quite easy to just directly connect a digital input pin on the arduino to the switch of the bumper, you might need a bit of debouncing on the signal from the switch and a diode to stop the solenoid blowing up your arduino though.

    You can get an arduino to play sound from an sd card but I’m not sure it will be able to react to anything else at the same time, or you could just shove a raspberry pi zero (about £5) in there for audio and it could also handle display output as a bonus as it has HDMI out.

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