Building an Electric Football Board 101

Building a Miniature Football Board 101
by Joe Allore

Ever since I got into this hobby I always wanted to make my own board.  I get satisfaction out of “doing it myself” so I wanted to make myself a 24×48” big board that ran both fast and smooth.  The techniques I will share with you are a culmination of both suggestions I’ve received and observations that I’ve made from analyzing various boards that I’ve seen all over the country.  In no way would I suggest that this the best or only way to make a board, but I can say with a lot of confidence that the style of board I am going to describe runs very well.  Below is a list of the items that I used along with the major steps that were taken to make the board.  Overall the project was a success as the big board I made runs very nicely and is very simple and easy for playing and storing.  There are many great board builders out there, but if you are a “do it yourselfer” like me, then I would recommend giving this a try. Lastly, if making a board is not for you at least will be able to appreciate the effort and skill required to make it, which is what you pay for if you were to buy a custom board like this.

Materials needed:

(1) 24×48″ 24 gauge steel with 1/2″ pan

(40) 8×5/8 wood screws (flat bearing surface on underside of head)

(2) 48” long section of 3×1”pine wood (side frames)

(2) 25.5″ long section of 3×1 pine wood (end frames)

(1) Motor: You can make your own motor or else old Tudor motors can be used as well as motors from any board maker out there.

Wall mounting tape

Jumper leads (or motor wires)

Duct tape

Field cover (to match board size)

Steps:

1) Measure and cut wood to create perimeter frame (wood should be cut at the exact size, or slightly greater, than that of the metal field). Paint or stain the frame at his time if desired.

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2) drill 5/32 size holes into perimeter of the pan bend on the metal field at ~4 inch increments.  The holes should be roughly half way up the side wall of the bend. You can save a lot of time if you can get your local sheet metal supplier to do this step for you.  Be sure to use a hardened drill bit to cut thru the steel.

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3) Drill 5/64 or 3/32 pilot holes into the inside of the wood frame to match up with the hole locations on the metal board.  These will be for the attachment screws, so be sure to drill a very short hole and to not drill thru the entire frame or it will become visible on the outside. To insure the holes on the board match up with the holes on the frame, assemble the board into the frame (upside down) and mark the board’s hole locations with a pencil.  This step is where you set the height of the board relative to the top edge of the frame so use a shim to set the height that is desirable to you. I would recommend the board be at least ¼” below the surface of the top edge of the board so the players won’t run off the board.

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4) Attach the metal field to the wood frame with the short wood screws.  This can be tricky to get a large automatic driver into this space since the screw will only be ~1/4” above the underside of the board.  Therefore you will probably want to do these by hand.  See figures 1&2 for view of underside of attached board, see figure 3 for top side of attached board with ¼” ledge around playing field.

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5) Apply double sided wall mounting tape to the bottom surface of the motor box and then stick it in a corner of the field. Place a felt or cloth like material between the motor box and the inside of the frame to eliminate potential for rattle. In this case, a 308 motor from Footballfigures.com was used to mount to the underside of the board (See figure

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6).  The two most common motor types are cylindrical rotary motors and electromagnetic motors.  The 308 motor utilizes a rotary motor while traditional Tudor and Miggle boards use the electromagnetic motor.

6) Add footings the board frame.  You can use simple household items like felt chair footings or simple shims.   By using footings, it will incrementally raise the height of the board to allow wires to pass under the frame.  In addition, I noticed that the footings allow the frame to be less constrained which helps reduce any vibration dampening in your entire board system.

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7) Flip over the board and apply field cover.  Field covers can be found from various hobbyists on the miniature football chat board under buy and sell.  Some field covers come with magnets, some with adhesive, and some require spray on adhesive (such as Duro spray adhesive).

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8)  Electrically connect the motor.  Old Tudor motors have the ac/dc adaptor built in with the speed control dial on the top; therefore it can be plugged right in to work.  Motors like the 308 utilize a train transformer for ac/dc conversion and for speed control.  Using jumper leads (with alligator clips to avoid the need for soldering) you can connect the wires from the motor to the speed controller used for the 308 motor system (see figure 9).

9) Begin tweaking the board.  Because I recommend a solid 24 gauge metal and a lot of screws, the field should be very firm and flat.  Therefore you will need a motor strong enough to power the board without dead spots.  I recommend finding a motor that has the ability to vibrate the field on its own as opposed to needing multiple motors.  With a powerful rotary motor like the 308 motor, the field may be a little jumpy in the middle.  This can be addressed by reducing the counterweight size of the motor, but I found that by simply applying a field cover with adhesive the hot spot in the center of the field was minimized.  Other techniques include running duct tape on the underside of the board from end to end which will smooth out any hot spots in the same way that the field cover does on the top side of the board.

10) Get to playing!

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Comments (4)

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  1. detroitchild says:

    I followed these directions from Joe Allore to build my own board. Did not think I could pull it off but the board turned out great. Looking to build another one next year.

  2. Coach k-lo says:

    thanks for the work Joe.

  3. MANTARAYDRE says:

    Mich-j

    Incredible write up on building a board for ones self. Buying a custom board can be costly and you have given the community the blueprint to create one themselves. If you dont mind a little labor, a coach can be well on his way. Actually, this is great information because this will encourage many to get back into the hobby knowing they can build something for themselves if money is tight in their household.
    If a person is not tool time tim, im sure he has a friend or two who are handy around a garage workbench.

    Can you touch upon creating an entire new motor from scratch. I understand radioshack carries model motors. What is the science in putting them together and watching them work to perfection. Great blog !!

    MANTARAYDRE (LIVE FROM BROADWAY)

  4. anthony says:

    where did u get a field cover and the gauge steel

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