Sunday, 22 July 2012

Auto Poker Table

For a long while I've wanted to create a poker table (cos I play poker), however my small flat doesn't have room for one. As a result, I decided to create a coffee table that could transform into a poker table... electronically of course. Originally I was going to get cooler and add an entirely pointless auto-levelling telescopic leg setup as well, but I'm gonna leave that till later or it'll take ages!

I started from this basic design, which is based around the idea of a rotating midsection controlled by 2 motors at each end:

On John's advice we decide to build the table out of marine ply wood - a very high quality and strong material, ideal for projects like this. It turns out you can only by 2.4mx1.2m sheets, so I grab one that is 18mm thick and another that is 12mm thick, which comes to quite a lot of money, but what the hell - this is a piece of furniture so needs to be beautiful as well as functional!

Anyhoo, once the basic idea is down on paper, the actual mechanism needs designing. After some pondering I came down to:
  • 2 miniature high torque geared DC motors to turn the central section
  • 4 solenoids placed along the sides of the table that retract when the lid turns, then pop back out to lock it in place
  • 4 microswitches placed along the sides of the table to detect when it is in the correct position
  • An Arduino Nano to drive it all
  • A rechargeable battery stashed in one of the legs
  • A pair of switches (one of which is a key switch) to trigger a revolution.
The pair of switches is quite crucial, as the last thing we want is accidental table turning. Hence I'll have 1 switch that you must turn on with a key, before hitting a push button to actually trigger the turn. Once this has happened, the key switch must be de-activated before another turn can occur. I'm also tempted to set it up so the push button must be pressed within 30s of the key switch being activated. Super careful basically. I don't want my dinner suddenly flipped upside down accidentally!

So, with this in mind, I switch to a CAD program to model it. First up, a view of the actual table:

As you can see, it looks like a fairly classic 2 shelve design, the real difference being that the glass central section can spin round to reveal a felt lined surface, ideal for poker.

These next 2 images show some of the intended components:

Components embedded in table

Components raised out of the table so you can see them.

You can see the key parts here - a solenoid and microswitch to make up the detect/lock mechanism, and a motor with a long axle to turn the central section.

The few remaining bits to work out are:

  • Where to put the battery? I'm thinking a rechargable battery embedded in one of the legs would be ideal. I'd rather not have a mains cable trailing to my table the whole time :)
  • Should the table talk? It only seems logical for the table to say 'table taking form of poker' when you press the button....
  • Will it actually work?

We've started actually building now, so next post I'll add some pictures of the components and the wood work itself. I'm also planning to blow a load of money on some nice new power tools, so I'll probably post pictures of them too.


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