Project 1


The purpose of Project 1 was to familiarize the team with the many software and hardware components available in the lab and the ways in which they interface with the Arduino platform.  In order to achieve this, the team needed to build an apparatus able to hover a styrofoam ball at a specified height set wirelessly from a base station using a game pad.  To float the ball, a combination of motors and sensors attached to Arduino microcontrollers was to be used, along with a funnel type structure to direct air flow.  This website will detail the materials and design of the ball hovering apparatus, as well as the methods employed to achieve the final result.

Complete assembly of the entire apparatus

Electronic Materials

Base Station

Hover Station

Non-electronic Materials

  • 2 bread boards
  • cardboard tube
  • cardboard ruler
  • construction paper
  • styrofoam
  • electrical tape
  • fiberglass mesh
  • aluminum motor mount
  • hot glue
  • parts made from a 3D printer (Sonar mount, ruler mount)
  • 1 styrofoam ball


To solve the ball hovering problem, two components were built: a base station and a hover station.


The base station was designed to take input from a Logitech gamepad and transmit the inputs wirelessly to the hover (receive) station.  In order to read inputs from the gamepad, a laptop computer with two USB ports was required to interface with Uno board and gamepad.  Using a custom Python script, the laptop read inputs from the gamepad and communicated the button presses to the Uno via a serial over USB connection.  By constantly polling the serial connection for data, the Uno received and converted button presses into a string, and transmitted the string wireless to the hover station.

Hover Station

The hover station was built to control motors and sensors able to float a styrofoam ball and regulate its height.  Furthermore, the station could receive wireless commands dictating the desired height of the ball.  After connecting two 12 volt batteries and turning the Seeeduino  controller on, the hover station slowly increased the speed of the motor inside the funnel.  The microcontroller continued to increase the motor speed until the ball reached a height of 8 inches, as read by the sonor sensor, and stabilized the ball.  Upon reaching this desired height, the station was programmed to poll the wireless radio for any commands from the base station.  The program could receive two commands: move the ball up or down by 1 inch.  The ball’s height ranged between 0 and 15 inches, which was enforced by software.  However, during testing the ball could reach a height of 19 inches but was very unstable.

3 thoughts on “Project 1

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