Team Turkey

FullSizeRender (8)

Project Overview:

Individuals with severe physical and mental disabilities often lack refined gross motor skills, which include broad arm and leg movements. At Marvin Picollo School, a special education school in Reno, bowling is an activity that is used to practice gross motor skills. Quick transitions during activities are important in special education classes because distractions are a common issue for special-education students. Currently, Buddy Lowe, the adaptive Physical Education teacher at Picollo School and the sponsor for this project, manually resets the bowling pins for his students. A primary focus of this project will be to minimize the time between students’ turns.  Team Turkey is designing a portable bowling pin setter that resets the pins. The instructor can then spend more time with the students, and students can take more turns within their allotted PE class time.

Design Concept:

The bowling pin setter is designed to be used at Marvin Picollo School during adaptive PE to assist in gross motor skills.  The current bowling activity at Marvin Picollo School consists of regulation bowling pins placed on the gymnasium floor with no lane, enclosure, or resetting mechanism.  Team Turkey was then asked to design a portable bowling pin setter that can be used on any flat surface.  The device is composed of four main sections: the frame, electrical components, plastic bowling pins, and acrylic spacer.  The frame holds all of the components together and protects the electrical components in an enclosed casing.  The acrylic spacer is used to ensure that the pins will be in the correct position when resetting.  The electrical components consist of a Raspberry Pi 2 computer, motor driver, and power supply.  The Raspberry Pi 2 computer is programmed to control the motor.  The pins are attached to bobbins on an aluminum rod that is connected to a single motor via fishing line.  This ensures that the pins will be correctly spaced and reset at the same rate.  There is a controller that controls the resetting of the pins.


Fig. 1: SolidWorks model of device

Figure 2 shows the SolidWorks model of the device with the front panel of the frame being transparent.

1)  Raspberry Pi 2 computer

2) Motor driver

3) Motor

4) Power supply

5) Hole for power cord to feed through

6) ABS alignment cups

parts listed

Fig. 2: SlidWorks model of device with transparent front panel

Proof of Concept:

The purpose of the Proof of Concept was to address the primary design questions of the current concept before attempting to build the entire device.  The PoC will test the motor to see if it is capable of lifting three pins, and to see if the program is able to run on the Raspberry Pi 2.  By scaling down the design concept to a simplified version, certain factors, such as programming and motor power, can be addressed with fewer resources than necessary for building the full-scale device.  To test the motor, Team Turkey mounted the motor, Raspberry Pi 2 computer, and motor driver onto a 2″x4″x2′ piece of Douglas Fir Lumber.


Fig. 3: A representation of the PoC design illustrating a motor supported by the wood piece hoisting the pins

The outcome of the Proof of Concept proved that the motor was more than capable of lifting three pins, and that Team Turkey was able to program the Raspberry Pi 2 computer to lower and lift the plastic bowling pins.

Design Overview:

The bowling pin setter is designed to help special education students with gross motor skills by allowing the students to participate in the activity of bowling.  The bowling pin setter helps the students because the PE instructor, Buddy Lowe, will be able to reset the pins with the touch of a button on a controller that Team Turkey designed which will take away the long wait time between each turn.  These long periods between bowling turns disrupts student’s engagement and limits the effectiveness of the activity.  Team Turkey’s bowling pin setter design allows Mr. Lowe to spend more time helping the students and less time manually resetting the pins.  Once the pins are struck, Mr. Lowe will then push a button on the controller which will lift the pins up.  After the pins are up, another button will be pressed to lower pins and in turn successfully set the bowling pins.


Team Turkey’s automatic pinsetter will be built using a variety of different items.  The frame of the pin setter will be built from a 4’x8’x.75” piece of laminated poplar wood.  This will serve as the main skeleton of the overall project and all electrical and mechanical components will be connected to this in some fashion.

IMG_9534   IMG_9535

Fig. 4: Assembly of the frame and attachment of acrylic spacer

A crucial component to the overall design of the pin setter is the acrylic spacer that will serve as a partition between the pins and the motor that is retracting them.


Fig. 5: CAD drawing of the acrylic spacer

After the acrylic had been mounted on the wooden frame it was decided that alignment cups were also necessary to guide the pins in straight up and down position.  These guides were constructed out of ABS pipe and caps.  With the addition of these alignment cups it allowed the pins to come up perfectly straight through the guide holes.

IMG_9269   FullSizeRender

Fig. 6: ABS pipes and caps on acrylic spacer

The motor, Raspberry Pi 2 computer, and motor driver are attached to a self on the inside of the enclosed frame.


Fig. 7: Placement of motor, motor driver, and Raspberry Pi 2 computer

The fishing line is attached to bobbins on an aluminum rod that is connected to the motor. Team Turkey kept the bobbins in place by putting epoxy between the aluminum rod and the plastic bobbins.

IMG_9378   IMG_9345

Fig. 8: Bobbins attached to aluminum rod which is connected to the motor

The pinsetter was mounted on casters which allowed the project to be moved easily by one person.  The casters are able to roll in every direction and can even be locked so the unit can become stationary.  Team Turkey mounted the casters in such a way that the overall depth of the pinsetter was not affected.  This was important to the team and their sponsor because having the project be able to roll through a door was of paramount importance.

Caster   IMG_9553

Fig. 9: One of the four casters used to move the pinsetter

The overall function of the project rested on Team Turkey’s computer programming.  Team turkey used a Raspberry Pi 2 computer, motor driver, power supply, and motor to retract the pins.  This part of the build proved to be a large ordeal because it involved a lot of programming to get everything to work the way that it should.

motor driver

Fig. 10: The motor driver used in the bowling pinsetter

To control the program a wireless remote control was constructed.  The controller runs on two Arduino computers that talk to the Raspberry Pi 2 computer via an attached antenna.  The approximate range of the device is about fifty feet.  This will allow for the user to stand just about anywhere in a room and still be able to rerack the pins.

Controller1   Controller2   receiver

Fig 11: Full assembly of remote including the inner components and the receiver that relays commands


Final Project:

The final product is a success.  The team worked within their given parameters to fabricate a working product to simulate bowling at the Marvin Picollo School.  Team Turkey met all of the requirements that were created by their sponsor and are excited to be able to assist the students at the school.  The system will allow for the instructor to keep an eye on the students as they bowl allowing him/her to give their students full attention.  This will help ensure the students are getting the care they need to succeed.

FullSizeRender (9)

Fig. 12: The bowling pin setter in completion

Meet the Team

Team Turkey

Tamzin Atkins – Team Leader


Tamzin is a senior at the University of Nevada, Reno getting her degree in Mechanical Engineering.  She is originally from Seattle, WA and moved to Reno when she was a freshman in college.  She is the leader of Team Turkey and handled the computer code for the project.  She was also in charge of communicating with the Team’s sponsor. In her free time she likes to go snowboarding and hiking.

Hayden Nickel


 Hayden is a senior at the University of Nevada, Reno getting his degree in Mechanical Engineering.  He is originally from a Camino, CA which is a small mountain town on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada’s.  Hayden contributed to the team by offering the calculations for the motor that would be needed and he helped with the construction of the project.   In his free time he enjoys skiing, biking, climbing, and disc golfing.

Destiny Phan


Destiny is a senior at the University of Nevada, Reno getting her degree in Mechanical Engineering.  She is originally from Reno, NV and decided to attend school here as well.  Destiny assisted to the team with the SolidWorks drawings and the construction process.  In her free time she enjoys playing guitar, ukulele, volleyball, basketball, playing with her hedgehog Jawn Watson, longboarding, snowboarding, cooking, watching TV, and volunteering at the Humane Society.

Walfredo Publico III


Freddy is a senior at the University of Nevada, Reno getting his degree in Mechanical Engineering.  He is originally from Las Vegas, NV and moved to Reno his freshman year of college.  Freddy helped the team with the risk analysis that was performed on the project as well as construction of the finished project.  In his free time he likes to draw, play video games, and guitar.

Joseph Young


Joseph is a senior at the University of Nevada, Reno getting his degree in Mechanical Engineering.  He is originally from Sparks, NV and decided to attend UNR after spending his freshman year at University of Utah.  Joseph contributed to the team by assisting with purchasing, building, drawings, and document control.  In his free time he likes to spend time with his family.