Team Project: New Years Eve Ball Drop

Does your city or town want to have a Ball Drop celebration for New Years Eve???

As you may have seen on these forums, the TechnoKats conduct a Ball Drop for our town’s New Years celebration. Maybe, you saw our latest ball in our pit at the championships.

This project started back in 1998 and we have received much attention from our city. Each year, the local newspaper and radio stations give us attention, and we have access to the mayor and many local businesses becauase of this effort. Delphi, our team’s main sponsor, considers this a major effort of community involvement, since they fund our team’s ball drop costs.

We’ve gotten pretty good at conducting this ball drop, and we have a 3rd iteration of this design in the works. We are to the point that we could provide a “Ball Drop kit” to someone who would want to build a ball and conduct a similar event in their community.

Maybe your FIRST team wants to tackle a large fall project. Possibly, you are looking for a way to energize your community, bring recognition to your team (and Science and Technology), and you want to get your team working together on a technical project to get them prepared for the 2007 FIRST season.

We could provide hardware (at a cost), documentation, and advice concerning how to complete this project (free).

Let me know if you or your team would be interested in this, even if it may not be for this coming fall. If there is a strong interest from a couple of teams, then mentoring other “Ball Drop teams” would be one of our team’s fall projects.

Andy Baker

I dont know if our team would be intersted in doing it but that is a great idea for the ball drop and a kit…,

I’m pretty sure that if the price was right (my team always seems to be low on money) that my team would probably try and do it . Or we could team up with one or several of the other local teams (such as 1062, 1390, 1543, 1604 which are all in the same school district.).

The cost is not minimal, and it would not be something that a FIRST team could just buy. Your idea of teaming up with other FIRST teams in your area is a good idea. Your team(s) could build the ball and operate the lowering of the ball on New Year’s Eve, while your city organization could pay the price for the hardware.

We really don’t know what the hardware costs are, exactly, since we have been putting this on for 8 years (there are costs each year). Also, with this new design, we don’t know what all of our costs are yet.

If your team(s) went to their local Chamber of Commerce or Downtown Association or their city government, you could say that the hardware for this project could be as much as $4,000. This price would include parts for the structure of the ball, circuit boards, LEDs, fasteners, power supplies, wiring, packaging, and other stuff involved with building the ball itself. This cost would not include the mechanism needed to raise and lower the ball (we use a motorized winch, a control box, and a operator pendant).

Like I said, if there is a strong interest, we can evaluate what exactly our costs are with the ball hardware. At that point, we can give a more exact number.

Andy B.

Rather than looking at this as a $4000 money drop that you’ll never get back, try to see it as a long term investment.

Say Team “Happy Robot” decides to buy this balldrop kit. They go to their Chamber of Commerce and make a presentation about their team and what they do, and invite the members to an event. The group is impressed and agrees to fund the hardware with the agreement that Happy Robot will arrange everything and that it will be safe and within city laws.

As the year goes on and New Year comes, a member of the team that was helping run the ball drop is approached by a man whose family is extremely impressed by what the team has done. This man owns a successful engineering firm, and decides to contribute some funding, maybe $500 or so. The team invites the same man to an open house around Kickoff.

The man attends with some good friends, who are impressed by the team and tell their friends, who remember seeing the ball drop and hearing advertising. Somebody offers $1000, somebody else $2000…over the years community support builds up.

Yes, there are costs. No, you may not get this much monetary help, I’m just suggesting a situation where effective advertising and presentation could really help everything out. :slight_smile:

I know some people on 1543 (their team “leader”) and then Barry on 1604 and 1390. So I’ll get talking to them and come back and let you know if they are interested. But I’m pretty sure Barry will see this thread sooner or later.

If you can, please figure out more exact prices…It’ll be very interesting to have a ball drop here

any roc teams interested???

191, 211, 229, 340, 1126, 1450, 1511, 1567???

(sorry if i forgot a team)

229 is not a rochester team. you also forgot 578, 1405, 1559, and 1591

but i signifigantly doubt that this would work in a city as large as rochester because of logistical issues.

That’s a great idea! I would definitely be interested in doing this. Any documentation would be great so that I could present it to my team.


Team 1930 is a Rochester team too.

oops…and sorry for forgeting 1930 dan, i didnt list 1591 because thats my team…
It can work, itll just be a lot harder

Can the ball play full video or just make different colors?

As I remember, it can, but it will be severely unclear. It looks much nicer to use patterns. We had a pattern that was the globe…looked pretty cool.

I know that HOT did a nice one in 2000. I will never forget that night. Crowding in the middle of the freezing cold street. My nose has never been so cold, nor my fingers so unfeelable…

The communication protocol takes five bytes to command one triangle to a specific color. There are 240 triangles. The serial communication isn’t fast enough to do video, unless you can live with one or two “frames” per second. :stuck_out_tongue:

The software running inside the ball has “presets” that can be recalled with a single serial command, so most of the patterns are set up as 16-step animations. It takes a few seconds to load an animated pattern, but after it’s loaded it looks pretty snazzy.

we would just need a bigger ball and do it on a larger scale! :smiley:
i can’t speak for my team but it sounds cool

You don’t even have to build a ball just like ours with the L.E.D.'s. We started out with a ball that basically had Christmas lights all over it. It doesn’t have to start out big in other words, work your way up. We still are in the process of doing that.