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Ping Pong Launcher Project

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Ashley Lam

on 20 March 2014

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Transcript of Ping Pong Launcher Project

Ping Pong
Summary of Research
Factors Considered:
The (Modified) Spring
Design & Construction
Schematic Diagram
Works Cited
Experimental Data

Collection & Analysis
launcher durability
loading time
overall feasibility
Design 1:
The Mousetrap
Simple and cheap
Few materials needed
Consistent and durable
Easy to build
Low accuracy due to restricted adjustability, despite consistency
Very limited range!
Although consistency is key for this project, a flexible range is vital for Part B, where ping pong balls must be launched in buckets 2, 4, 6, and 8 metres away.
Therefore, the mousetrap would not provide the optimal design.
Design 2:
The Trebuchet

Fairly consistent, if same weights are used
Sturdy , stable, and durable
Great for long range
Many materials are needed
Complex and thus difficult to build
Adjustability depends on the various weights used
Loading time would yield difficulties for Part C
Although the trebuchet is reliable and powerful, the difficulty lies in its complicated design. Poor construction would result in additional errors and inaccuracies that would negate the benefits of the trebuchet. Therefore, the trebuchet would not provide the optimal design.
Launcher Research Images
Design 3:
The Slingshot
Simple and cheap
Few materials needed
Easy to build
Release angle can be adjusted to 45 degrees
Low accuracy due to restricted adjustability
Very limited range
Elastic band can easily snap
Unreliable and inconsistent
The simple slingshot would be unable to provide enough force to launch a ping pong ball into a bucket 8 metres away. The design also allows for inconsistencies, as the ball easily sways from left to right prior to the launch, and is not guaranteed a straight path. Therefore, the slingshot would not provide the optimal design.
Design 4:
The Catapult
The ping pong launcher must:

launch ping pong balls to distances ranging from 2 to 8 metres
have a base and be placed on the ground, behind the starting line
be no larger than the indicated box
be stable and durable
use only elastic power
With strong elastic bands or cords, 8 metres is achievable
Loading requires little time
Release angle can be adjusted to the optimal 45 degrees
Launching angle and resulting amount of potential energy and tension can be adjusted for varying distances
Accuracy and consistency depends on the ability to pull and release in a straight line; launching arm can waver from left to right
Elastic bands are not the most durable or reliable; again, they easily become deformed
The catapult is certainly capable of performing the task at hand, and would provide an excellent design for Parts B and C. However, the major concern revolves around the inconsistency, for the launching arm could easily move from left to right, even if the elastic band
was replaced with a cord or spring. Therefore, the catapult would not provide the optimal design.
The tube is replaced with a smooth and sturdy cardboard base, in addition to two wooden blocks on the side of the launch pathway. These allow for the straight path of the ping pong ball, without the difficulty of finding or building a tube. Also, the plastic piece pushing upon the spring, resulting in its contraction, is replaced with thick string, to allow for the pulling of it when the base is sitting flat on the ground.

Additional markings are added onto the wooden blocks, indicating the varying distances the spring needs to contract in order to launch the
Design 5:
The Spring
The full range from 2 to 8 metres is achievable
Springs are durable and reliable
Loading requires little time (useful for Part C)
Release angle can be adjusted to the optimal 45 degrees
Difficult to find or build a strong tube in which ping pong balls fit perfectly
The tube or pipe allows for excellent accuracy and consistency, with the ball launching in straight lines
Resulting amount of potential energy and tension can be adjusted for varying distances
The spring would be ideal for the purposes of this ping pong launcher project, as it accounts for all the considerable factors previously listed. If a hard tube of the perfect size could be found or built, the spring would provide the
optimal design!
* with the blue elastic replaced by a spring inside the tube
hot glue
wood glue
thick string
1 spring
ping pong balls
4 target buckets
utility knife
power drill
hot glue gun
2 small wood blocks
(see diagram)
2 large wood blocks
(see diagram)
Materials & Equipment Images
By Ashley Lam
January 2014

ping pong 2, 4, 6, and 8 metres. The greater the contraction, the more potential energy is converted to kinetic energy. As a result,
more force is applied to the ball, there is a greater initial
velocity, and thus the ball travels a greater hori-
-zontal distance.
Side View
Top View
3D View
measuring tape
For increased consistency:

Secure the plastic bottle to the wooden bridge
HOWEVER: Inability to adjust the angle resulted in inaccurate shooting

Add a bottle cap to the plastic bottle, and thus limit shifting around of handle upon launch
HOWEVER: Ping pong balls travelled significantly less distance

For increased power:

Loop multiple elastic bands together
Use thinner or thicker elastic bands
HOWEVER: Two medium-sized elastic bands worked best

Use the longer plastic toy handle and foot long PVC pipe for greater distance coverage
HOWEVER: Thin sturdy handle and shorter plastic bottle worked best
Considerations & Improvements
Blueprint for Successful Launching
Distance of 2 m

Pull plastic handle up to the
2 m marking
Align plastic bottle
to the end of the wooden bridge tunnel
Pull up plastic bottle to the
greatest possible angle

Distance of 4 m

Pull plastic handle up to the
4 m marking
Align the plastic bottle's
4 m marking line
to the end of the wooden bridge tunnel
Pull up plastic bottle to remain

with wooden board underneath
Increase speed

of elastic release accordingly

Distance of 6 m

Pull plastic handle up to the
6 m marking
Align the plastic bottle
to the end of the wooden bridge tunnel
Pull up plastic bottle to remain
with wooden board underneath
Increase speed
of elastic release accordingly

1. Be consistent!

2. Adjust according to
varying environmental
conditions and factors.

3. Remain relaxed.
Recorded Trial 1
Long plastic toy handle + PVC pipe
Multiple looped elastics
Recorded Trial 2
Thin sturdy handle + PVC pipe
Multiple looped elastics
Recorded Trial 3
Thin sturdy handle + plastic bottle
Two looped elastics
Part B
(2 minutes for each bucket):
Furthest distance was 2 metres

Part C
(1 minute for maximum shooting):
Inefficient and inconsistent
With repeated testing, plastic handle
eventually softened with use
Part B
(2 minutes for each bucket):
2 metres was more consistent (avg. 1/4 landed)
4 metres possible (avg. 1/8 landed)

Part C
(1 minute for maximum shooting):
Inconsistent, with long preparation time
Focused on maximizing 2 metre successes
Part B
(2 minutes for each bucket):
Was able to launch into 2, 4, and 6 metre buckets within alloted time

Part C
(1 minute for maximum shooting):
2 metre and 4 metre distances remained consistent with calibration each time
Averaged 13 balls of 2 metres in 1 min
Full transcript