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Outdoor Gaming Table - input needed

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bowmanjo0
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Covid-19 has had my friends and I playing board games out on each other's decks so we stay a decent distance apart and have very good air flow to help somewhat reduce our risk. I not here for a Covid-19 debate.
Playing board games outside leads to using weights to hold down card decks all other components which can wear down the finish on the cards and game board sections. Cards sleeves work for the cards but game board sections are beginning to show signs of wear.
My thoughts to try and solve this dilemma is playing on a vacuum table kind of like a reverse air hockey table.
Based on the board games we play I am thinking the following criteria
-36" x 42" play area.
-quiet so it does disturb game play (Air hockey table blowers are too loud)
-portable. I was thinking a table topper so it can be sat on any table.
-battery powered. no cords to trip on and can be used while camping.

I have most of it figured out at least in theory and the math checks out for the fluid dynamics, but I have to build it and see.
Anyway if my first one works as planned, I am trying to figure out if there is a potential market for something like this. I cannot find anything like it on the internet.

So my question is as a group of game board designers do you think this is an idea that could be a seller in the board game community?

questccg
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TBH

I don't know exactly what it is that you have planned... Am I correct in thinking that you will do the opposite of an air hockey table (which has pin holes from which the air emanates). I know you want to keep your details secret (and this is 100% acceptable)... I'm just wondering HOW you get the air to flow DOWN so as to keep the cards, board and other components down on the "table"...

Just curious... Feel free to share what you feel comfortable talking about openly.

Cheers! (And I personally think it's a good idea... Just wondering how the fluid dynamics would work...)

bowmanjo0
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.

well its just reversing the fan direction from an air hockey table so the fan sucks the air instead of blowing it out.

questccg
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Haha... Makes 100% sense

I feel dumb that it's such a simple solution... So kudos to you. Like I said earlier before you explained your idea... I think a unit for camping or just in the backyard... Works because all you need is one gust of wind and your gaming session is over.

That could not only spoil the play session... But an afternoon could be spoiled too... And it's a shame too. You want positive experiences.

About the size, I would ensure that the play area fits on outdoor wooden tables.

But definitely sounds interesting!

Jay103
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Sounds interesting, but..

Sounds interesting, but.. does that work? Will suction be created if there's one fan and a few hundred holes? It would have to be strong enough that you could, for example, play Magic on the table in a breeze, and I'd honestly be surprised if that would work.

let-off studios
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Feedback

Will people buy it?
Sure, if it works there will be plenty of people willing to throw their money at something like this? I imagine the "upscale gamer" would love something like this on their back deck or whatever.

Will it work?
Wind might not lift a game board off this table, but anything on top of that game board will still be blown around. In fact, it seems to me that anything stacked will not hold so well. Have you thought of this puzzle? Like, how to keep a deck of cards from blowing around? How to keep miniatures from blowing around?

larienna
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Maybe putting an edge of

Maybe putting an edge of plexiglass around the table like a real hockey arena (to stay in theme). Lower the wind blow and the chance for components to drop off table.

Else, digital games or components, or game you can play by phone might be a better solution to play board games from a safe distance.

bowmanjo0
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Stacked items and card decks

Stacked items and card decks are items I haven't figured out yet.
As far as miniatures go I am hoping that by holding down the play surface they will have less issues.

One idea I had was for a map insert area so the map is contained and other items can be held down by the vacuum but that is kind of a stage 2 idea after I build the prototype to test if it will even hold cards down.

Thank you for the feedback.

bowmanjo0
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edge of board

I was already planning on having a 1/4" raised border for aesthetics, but now that you mention it being a potential wind block I might experiment with the height of it. Thank you.

We have found tabletop simulator for most games but I worry about copyright issues and taking money away from the game creator so we stick to games that have an official game DLC for Tabletop Sim (very few) or games at least one of us actually owns so we are still supporting the creator in some form...

bowmanjo0
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Does it work?

I don't know if it will truly work until I build it, at least the numbers are promising on paper. The hole pattern will be one 1/16" hole every inch so over ~1,400 holes.
If that turns out not to hold a standard business card down with a standard box fan blowing across the surface. I can add a second fan or find a more powerful fan. or create zones inside the vacuum box to better control the pressures.
Conveniently I have the tools to measure the actual air flow and pressure differential so I can make a calculated adjustment to the prototype.

bowmanjo0
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Table Size.

Table size is such a difficult item to account for so I chose a size that fits easily in my Honda Civic trunk, fits the games I am most actively playing (nemesis, Saboteur, Catan, etc..), and fits on the tables at my local park.
If the initial prototype works and I decide to sell it to the general public and it had good sales, I might expand different sizes or offer custom sizing or something. That's another 'stage 2' idea.

let-off studios
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Overhead Projections

bowmanjo0 wrote:
One idea I had was for a map insert area so the map is contained and other items can be held down by the vacuum but that is kind of a stage 2 idea after I build the prototype to test if it will even hold cards down.
There has been some headway in using a projector above a table, projected downwards, for map surfaces and game boards that won't move around. Projectors have even been made dynamic and can provide sophisticated zoom, rotation, special effects, and real-time updating.

Maybe collaboration with these projection designers is an avenue you can try?

bowmanjo0
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Overhead Projections

I did not think of that idea. Thank you for the suggestion.

larienna
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I think my post was lost.

I think my post was lost. Magnet et metallic surface can also be used.

bowmanjo0
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UPDATE!

I built a mini version that is like 12" x 12" out of scrap wood and I ran into an issue of the the fan type I chose not being able to overcome the back pressure and pull a vacuum through the holes. I was trying to use a standard PC Fan but the design of that type of fan does not work. Now I'm waiting on a centrifugal Fan to arrive. A type of this fan is used in household vacuum cleaners so in theory I should have better luck.

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