Designing a Tennis Ball Launcher: Overcoming Constraints and Maximizing Accuracy

In summary, this launcher must be able to fire a tennis ball (between a 5' to 20') with an accuracy of +/- 3', must fit within a 2 by 2 footprint, and must be made mostly from recycled materials.
  • #1
aqscithe
1
0
Ok, so here I go.

Problem

Objective: It is simply to create a device to accurately toss a projectile.

Constraints:
-Must fire a tennis ball anywhere between a 5' to 20' operating range.
-Must fitwithin a 2 by 2 footprint(basically when broken down into parts the device does not exceed 2' by 2').
-High pressure gases and combustible materials are not allowed(goodbye fun).
-Must be built mostly from scrap and recycled materials.

What this launcher has to do is get a tennis ball into a bucket (sitting up) at three points(chosen by my teacher) between 5' to 20'.

I am allowed three trials for each of the three points. Anything else done, parameters of course, is up to me.


Problem Attempt: Here are my ideas so far.

-I am thinking of going for a trebuchet type design. From what I've researched they are plenty accurate but I'm not sure I could break it down small enough parts to fit in a 2' by 2' footprint.


From there I've considered everything from a pitching machine to a simple catapult(basically I have made little progress). The calculations involved when it comes to getting the angle and velocity right, I have no problem with. All I'm hoping for are a few ideas from which to build momentum.

Thanks in advance guys and please inform me if anything needs to be clarified.
 
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  • #2
Beforehand I must add a disclaimer: I didn't do much engineering projects but most of them tended to fail miserably :smile:

Anyway, maybe you can use a spring to launch the ball. If you can find a rigid spring (high spring constant) you won't need much space, and if you have a metal barrel then you will have relatively low friction so it should be fairly easy to do theoretical calculations (i.e. how much do I have to compress the spring to get the required velocity).

The biggest problem in predicting the goal will be the friction, both with the launching mechanism and air friction while the ball is in-flight. Luckily you are shooting a tennis ball, which should provide relatively low friction. If your tests show that it is rather small, you can probably predict where the ball will land quite accurately.

By the way, what is 2 by 2? Inches, meters, yards, Boeing 747 wing spans?
 
  • #3
CompuChip said:
Beforehand I must add a disclaimer: I didn't do much engineering projects but most of them tended to fail miserably :smile:

Anyway, maybe you can use a spring to launch the ball. If you can find a rigid spring (high spring constant) you won't need much space, and if you have a metal barrel then you will have relatively low friction so it should be fairly easy to do theoretical calculations (i.e. how much do I have to compress the spring to get the required velocity).

The biggest problem in predicting the goal will be the friction, both with the launching mechanism and air friction while the ball is in-flight. Luckily you are shooting a tennis ball, which should provide relatively low friction. If your tests show that it is rather small, you can probably predict where the ball will land quite accurately.

By the way, what is 2 by 2? Inches, meters, yards, Boeing 747 wing spans?
2' means two feet.
2'' means two inches.
 
  • #4
If your only constraint is 2'x2', then take complete advantage of no vertical requirement. If you drop a ball inside a vertical shaft that's attached to some sort of lever, then you can precisely calculate the launch velocity. If have a "stop" on the lever so that the ball always leaves at a certain angle, then you could completely predict the distance traveled (assuming the tennis ball's weight is negligible to the dropped mass).

good luck
 
  • #5
You want something you can completely control the release speed and angle of.

I would reccomend a catapult (spring stored energy) design over a trebuchet (gravitational pe). Think about why you could control a spring more than dropping a mass. Also from experience the energy provider in these situations is far less critical than the release mechanism.

Dont worry about friction or air resistance as its negligable.
 

What is a tennis ball launcher?

A tennis ball launcher is a device used to launch tennis balls at high speeds and long distances. It is commonly used in training or playing tennis, as well as for recreational purposes.

How does a tennis ball launcher work?

A tennis ball launcher typically works by using a motor or spring mechanism to propel the ball forward. The ball is loaded into the launcher and then released with a trigger or button. Some launchers also have adjustable settings for distance and speed control.

What materials are needed to create a tennis ball launcher?

The materials needed to create a tennis ball launcher may vary depending on the design and complexity of the launcher. Generally, you will need a sturdy base, a motor or spring mechanism, a launching tube, a trigger or button, and other supporting materials such as screws, bolts, and wires. You may also need tools such as a drill, saw, and soldering iron.

Is it difficult to create a tennis ball launcher?

The difficulty of creating a tennis ball launcher may vary depending on your level of technical skills and the complexity of the design. Some simple launchers can be made with basic materials and tools, while more advanced ones may require more expertise and specialized equipment. It is recommended to have some knowledge of mechanics, electronics, and woodworking before attempting to create a tennis ball launcher.

Are there any safety precautions to consider when creating a tennis ball launcher?

Yes, there are several safety precautions to consider when creating a tennis ball launcher. These include wearing protective gear such as goggles and gloves, ensuring all parts are securely fastened, and testing the launcher in a safe and open area. It is also important to follow any safety guidelines provided by the manufacturer of the launcher mechanism.

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