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By OLeary48
I have a customer who wants a custom interactive cornhole board set made. I'm in the beginning stages of design and plans on it, and need help to piece the electronic side of it together. I have some but very limited experience with arduino electronics. I own a small cnc routing business and was a commercial finish carpenter before that, so I can definitely use some help with this. So the boards are going to have LEDs backlights all around 2'x4' board, LEDs for the 6" whole, LEDs backlit plates on the sides, would like all of them to do a blue and green stream. Would like to have a switch in the hole to trigger the LEDs to react and maybe flash or faster streaming or something like that, when the bag goes in. Would also like to add audio clips and a push button scoreboard on both boards that are synced together. I saw a couple years ago sparkfun partnered up with someone to do something very similar to this but that info is no longer available. This would need to be weather resistant, reliable and will last. Like said I'm in the early stages of design, so I'm trying to get a idea of what can or can't be done or just not worth it. And trying to figure out layout for design and costs. Any and all help would be much appreciated thanks!
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By TS-Mark
Hi OLeary48,

I love this idea for a project! I found the blog post from the folks at SketchUp here but it looks like the tutorials site they hosted the relevant build information on is disabled so I am not sure if there is a way to access it now. You could try reaching out to them directly to see if that tutorial hosted somewhere else. To keep this post from becoming a (larger) novel, I am going to cover some of what I would consider the "basics" (LEDs, the switch and a microcontroller). This will get you started with the big components of the build and you can work on adding on more functionality like button inputs, wireless syncing and sound.

For your project, I recommend starting with an Addressable LED Strip. Addressable LEDs allow you to control the color and brightness of any LED along the strip. This Sealed Addressable LED Strip is sealed to protect the circuitry from things like moisture and dirt so it would work well for this project. If you want to browse through our other LEDs, take a look at our Addressable LED Category. To get started controlling them, we have a Hookup Guide that will go over the hardware, hooking it up and some example code. The "Resources and Going Further" section will have some links to other tutorials and guides that may help you progress with this project.

For your switch, a physical switch is going to be really tricky without having some moving parts that are prone to breaking or interfering with the game. What might work well for this is to use a distance sensor or an IR beam sensor like the ones you see on conveyor belts at a grocery store checkout. SparkFun does not have any IR beam sensor kits that would have the range to work well for measuring a beanbag going through a hole on this board but a search for "IR Break Beam Sensor" will point you in the right direction. The only drawback I can see with one of those is the continuous vibration caused by the bags hitting the top of the cornhole boards might throw their alignment off so you would need to monitor that.

If you want to learn more about the various types of distance sensors we carry, check out our Distance Sensing Overview page. That covers the various types of distance sensors technologies SparkFun carries as well as some other helpful tutorials and projects to provide some inspiration for your projects. With a distance sensor, you could mount one (or two for a cross-beam type of setup) on the inside of the frame so its sensing area covers the hole and have your code watch for when the distance reduces significantly, indicating a bag crossed through the hole, and trigger your microcontroller to make the LEDs react.

Finally, really any microcontroller will work for this and we carry quite a few. The code should not be terribly complex so you do not need a microcontroller with a bunch of program space. For prototyping, the Arduino Uno is always a good option. I recommend the SparkFun RedBoard Qwiicfor prototyping since it is functionally identical to an Uno but has our Qwiic connector so you can easily interface with other Qwiic boards like some of our distance sensors. The Hookup Guide for the RedBoard Qwiic will get you started with that board. The beginning of that guide will have some "Suggested Reading" links if you are not familiar with Arduino.

I hope this information is not too overwhelming and helps you get started with the basics for this project. If you have any follow-up questions about these or any of our other products or tutorials, let me know and I would be happy to help as much as I can. I would be happy to help outline some options for the other goals of this project in another post.
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By OLeary48
Awesome thanks for the help!
I'll dig into that.
Yeah from I've read so far it doesn't seem too bad. I was just not too sure about which components are best to use for this or the best way to go about the synced push button scoreboard. I'll start my list and getting everything together and I'm sure I have more questions. Haha