Hoop Dreams

Earlier this week I made my first attempt at creating an interactive basketball hoop.  I went into the lab with Bill Turkel to do some preliminary testing to see what we could do.  My initial idea for this hoop came back in January, and now I’ve finally made some headway on this project.  As a hoop I am using a mini Baden glow-in-the dark basketball hoop.  The brand or the fact that it glows in the dark doesn’t matter for this project, but it’s a durable little hoop, and the ball is made of a synthetic, leather-like material, stuffed with synthetic cotton, like unto what you would find in a stuffed toy.

Baden glow-in-the-dark mini basketball hoop

Baden glow-in-the-dark mini basketball hoop

In order for it to be interactive, we are also involving the use of the MakeyMakey, an easy-to-use invention kit that allows users to send keyboard and mouse messages using arcade buttons and joysticks, and unconventional items such as Play-Doh, fruit, and tin foil.  For this project, I am not using any unconventional items.  The idea is simply that when the basketball goes through the hoop, it makes contact with an arcade button, triggering a sound effect and a score tally.  The MakeyMakey is connected to the laptop via USB cable, and the arcade buttons are connected to the MakeyMakey using wires with alligator clips on each end.  Each button requires two wires to function, one to ground the circuit, and the other to transmit the keyboard or mouse message (see the images below).  In order to keep score and store sound effects, I am also using Max 6 programming software which I will talk about later.

 

Back of MakeyMakey and Alligator Clips

Back of MakeyMakey and Alligator Clips

Front of MakeyMakey

Front of MakeyMakey

The first challenge I came across was that when the ball goes through the hoop, it doesn’t go straight down.  Especially, if it goes straight through (swish), the mesh doesn’t offer much resistance and cannot force the ball straight down.  As you can see in the images above and below, we initially tried to create a cardboard receptacle to receive the ball, but the ball would completely miss the receptacle.  We also found that the receptacle was a little flimsy and the plastic clip we were using to hang the receptacle wasn’t strong enough to handle the pummeling of multiple shots.

Cardboard receptacle with arcade buttons inside

Cardboard receptacle with arcade buttons inside

To resolve the waywardness of the ball, I purchased a simple food storage container from the dollar store with a similar circumference to the basketball rim,  and cut off the base using a Japanese saw.  I then cut three holes in the top rim of the container and attached the container to the basketball rim using cable ties.

Container and Japanese saw

Container and Japanese saw

I am now at a point now where when the ball goes into the hoop, it pretty well funnels down into the same place.  The challenge is to place the buttons in such a way that the ball will strike them every time it goes through the hoop.

 

 

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