Scientifically Cheating: Engineering the Auto-Strike Bowling Ball!

Not sure about you, but I have never wanted to go bowling more in my whole life. At the time of writing, we’re two months into our “shelter in place” orders, meaning all bowling alleys have been closed for 7 or 8 weeks.

I grew up in southwest Ohio, where bowling is ALWAYS a possibility, especially for kids in high school. It’s one of the few things you could do almost any day or night. Its never “plan A,” but it’s always “plan B” or “plan C.”

Full disclosure, I haven’t gone bowling since 2017, and I didn’t miss it until It was prohibited. But now, all I can think of is the smell of imitation popcorn butter mixed with stale beer and shoe disinfectant spray. I yearn for the sound of urethane balls crashing into wooden pins. I dream of handing paper money directly to another human so I can borrow sporting equipment in a public setting.

Alas, it’s probably not happening soon, especially for someone who has to borrow a ball from the alley. At least there’s still good videos on YouTube!

Watch Mark Rober Engineer the Auto Strike Bowling ball

You may remember Mark from such YouTube classics as “Glitter Bomb vs. Package Thief” and “How to skin a watermelon.” These may sound trivial, but he’s a former Nasa engineer and has a great way of making science and engineering cool.

Mark had an itch to go bowling too, but he didn’t have the skills and was being dominated by all of the local kids. Now, he’s engineered a bowling ball to get strikes or curve automatically. Look out kiddies!

Mark called in the reinforcements for this one, enlisting toy designer and real-life iron-man suit maker, James Bruton. James has actually created some working BB-8 replicas, which was extremely useful for this project.

Mark and James hollowed out a ball, creating a cavity for them to build their engineered masterpiece. Its an amazingly simple machine. By placing a gyroscopic counterweight inside of the ball, they can make it curve and bend in any direction. The controls and programming are where it gets a little complex. They use a body sensor to communicate via radio frequency (RF) to an Arduino unit inside the ball. This way, whichever way Mark leans, the ball goes. Let the cheating begin!

If you love this kind of crazy engineering projects, check out Mark Rober or James Bruton on YouTube!

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Adam Beck

Director of Marketing at CADENAS PARTsolutions | A Marketing graduate from the Miami University, Farmer School of Business in Oxford Ohio, Adam has years of experience in marketing and design for a variety of industries.