Portable Air Hockey

Process Post

Cole Kissam and Jonah Stillman

Our project in the Flying Objects studio was to create an air hockey game that required no air hockey table. While we were told balancing self-propelled objects was very difficult, our expectations of what we could accomplish were very reasonable and we decided to use a propeller all the same. We decided to create a puck, that looks like a UFO, and have it propel itself upwards off of the ground.  Then it could be used on any flat surface, and could be used at any time. 

    Our first iteration was a very simple a cardboard cut-out that had a cylindrical shape that would hold a propeller. The rationality behind this was to simply get our ideas out on the table, and build a general and basic prototype.  We found that the cardboard was too light to be durable, and that it was very effective for gaining lift.  This marked the constant struggle of our design, finding the balance between proper durability and lightweight material.  

    Our second iteration was this time made of a 3D printed material and was much too heavy to obtain lift. However it taught us many valuable lessons, including how to attach the LEDs we wanted to introduce and the proper way to wire them. It also taught us that we needed to make things as lightweight as possible. This was the most important lesson we learned from this iteration.

    The next iteration was again 3D printed but made out of much thinner plastic and used much less plastic period.  This was very successful at looking sleek and being durable, but was still too heavy to obtain lift with the motor we had.  We decided that it would be necessary to use a material lighter than plastic, and so we went on to a 3mm thick laser cut wood frame.  This model would go on to be our final as it was just light enough to obtain lift.  However we learned that this wood model would not be as durable or aesthetically pleasing as the plastic model.  A way to improve on our project would have been to very simply find a stronger propeller and motor to power our device.  Although our device sacrificed durability for speed and lift, it did function very well at its job, and could achieve lift and torque on many surfaces.