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blog wp8 breadboard An Intro to Cybernetics via the 555 Timer Ball Whacker

As part of our Weekend Projects series of beginner-friendly projects, the 555 Timer Ball Whacker proves that you don’t always need a microprocessor to perform complex actions. When you’re done building this device and you turn it on, be prepared, because it has an analog mind of its own! The ball whacker is very much inspired by the field of cybernetics, or “the study of systems and processes that interact with themselves and produce themselves from themselves” (aka feedback). The whacking arm has an almost lifelike quality to it, its action caused by the ball blocking its light, which causes the arm to hit the ball, which only causes the ball to swing back and block more light (see the video below).

And what’s especially interesting to me is this project uses many similar components used in the Light Theremin, including a solderless breadboard, 555 Timer IC, and photoresistor, but it builds a completely novel project. This is important because if you build both projects, it’ll help you understand the diverse applications of these common, identical components, and perhaps inspire you to design your own Weekend Project!

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See all of the RadioShack Weekend Projects posts (to date)

Nick Normal

I’m an artist & maker. A lifelong biblioholic, and advocate for all-things geekathon. Home is Long Island City, Queens, which I consider the greatest place on Earth. 5-year former Resident of Flux Factory, co-organizer for World Maker Faire (NYC), and blogger all over the net. Howdy!

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