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FabFoos: The open source table football game by Alex Schaub

Between one soldering process and another and various lines of code, the fabbers also find time to have a little fun. If you want proof of this, take a look at Fab Foos, the open source table football game, built piece by piece by the team of Alex Schaub, coordinator of FabLab Amsterdam. The design, planning and hackerate components all originated in the Netherlands, but if you look carefully, you’ll also notice a little Italian touch.

Indeed, if you peer at the faces of the Fab Foos soccer players, you’ll recognise the features of Michelangelo’s David. The Italian connection doesn’t stop here: Alex is also a guest at Atoms, Bits & People, the event which will see Neil Gershenfeld and the European FabLabs congregating in Rome on May 24th. The trailer which describes the creation of the football game was directed, so to speak, by Angelo Chiacchio (you can find additional images here)

The idea of building FabFoos came to Alex in 2010, when he realised that a table football game would provide an excellent test-bed for various digital manufacturing techniques. To which should be added that a bit of relaxation between one milling operation and another never does anybody any harm.

Details apart, there were two basic precepts which had to be rigorously followed: FabFoos needed to be an open source project, and a table football game which complied with the official rules of the game. In addition, it had to have technological content, with an LED scorekeeping system, two USB web-cams and sensors positioned around the field.

The most interesting part of the design phase related to the figures of the players. The original concept was inspired by Bauhaus sculptures, but Alex soon realized they would not balance properly. After a brief sortie into the realm of Star Wars (the image of Darth Vader’s helmet kicking a ball in the form of the Death Star was irresistible), the Dutch team turned to another source of inspiration, the famous sculptor Michelangelo.

And so David found himself playing football in the Fab Foos arena at Fab Lab Amsterdam. Michelangelo would probably never have envisaged this, but one has to admit that he cuts a superb figure as a soccer player. If you want to know more about other projects by the Waag Society, you’ll find them here. Alternatively, you can ask Alex.

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