After a hard day demon hunting, there’s nothing quite like a game of air hockey. But what if you could also play Doom while you play air hockey? Answering the needs of those who made no request, Downing from Downing’s Basement has created this amazing custom air hockey table that uses two Raspberry Pi boards both capable of emulating games like Doom.
According to Downing, this project required quite a bit of work and took around 2 years to complete. He essentially built a functional air hockey table from scratch including the frame and blower system to the electronics that handle the gameplay mechanics. The table is fitted with an LCD screen at the top that can be used to run pretty much anything on the Pi like RetroPie which is what makes it possible for Doom to run. Thanks to some clever component choices, the video output can also be displayed on the RGB LED matrix, albeit at a lower resolution.
The main controller is a Raspberry Pi 2 and is responsible for monitoring points and outputting to the LCD screen. However, the table uses quite a bit of hardware and there weren’t enough GPIO pins left over to operate all of the LEDs for the scoreboard. To solve this issue, Downing is using a Raspberry Pi Pico to handle the LED control. The Raspberry Pi Pico itself is able to run Doom, but it would eat up all of its resources, and GPIO pins.
The frame for the table was made using boards cut with a CNC machine. 3D printed components were included, as well, to help mount the hardware to the frame. You could use any of the best 3D printers to make these parts. The blower system is comprised of two 120mm fans that are capable of moving air at around 80 CFM. Speakers were thrown into the mix for dedicated audio output.
The scoring software is handled by the Raspberry Pi and was programmed by Downing just for this project. You can read more about this Raspberry Pi project in greater detail including how it was constructed over at Downing’s official Downing’s Basement website. There’s also a video of the table in action and a closer look at how it operates over at YouTube.
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Ash Hill is a Freelance News and Features Writer at Tom's Hardware US. She manages the Pi projects of the month and much of our daily Raspberry Pi reporting.