Putting The ‘Go’ In Frisbee Golf With A Robot Launcher

If you’ve gone to a local city park lately, you might have noticed strange metal baskets on poles with chains dangling free. These baskets are spread out throughout the park seemingly at random. For the uninitiated, Frisbee golf (sometimes known as disc golf) is a confusing concept. You might not think it, but Frisbee golf can be a very big deal to some people. [Stuff Made Here] is back with a disc launcher that he hopes will put all the disc golfers to shame.

It’s no secret that we here at Hackaday are big fans of [Stuff Made Here], or [Shane] (he has his own tag after all), and for obvious reasons — the CAD design process, the careful machining and testing, and the extremely high bar that [Shane] sets for his projects. This one is no different, and it is a tale of iteration and scaling. He started out with a simple goal: break the speed record for a thrown Frisbee.

An initial design was decided upon based on high-pressure air pushing a piston to throw the Frisbee off of an arm. Initially, the arm was way too slow as the airflow was severely restricted due to air solenoids and pressure regulators. After fixing all those problems by fabricating his own solenoid and adding a secondary tank with no regulator, the arm started really moving. However, [Shane] wanted it to be able to be arm-mounted, so making sure the torque wouldn’t melt his arm bones was an important priority.

A counterbalance was added to cancel it out, but that ended up causing additional problems down the road, so the throwing arm had to be made as light as possible. The gripper mechanism had to be redesigned again and again as each time the speed was increased, a new problem arose. Turns out that small plastic discs being accelerated at many G’s tend to deform and slip out of their holders, no matter how well engineered. So [Shane] switched to a clever new design to pull the Frisbee along rather than push. It was too dangerous to really be handheld, and the only tests while he was wearing it were at very low amounts of pressure and power.

Testing it in a wide-open field at full power showed promise and while he had plenty of speed, he wasn’t able to beat the distance record. Breaking the distance record is much harder as Frisbees aren’t really designed with the sheer acceleration that [Shane] is subjecting them to, and they want to flip. Additionally, the Frisbees are lacking the spin that would keep them more stable, and what we do as humans is quite difficult to reproduce. Maybe a larger-scale version of this disc launcher could be made that accepts Frisbees?

It’s incredible to watch this contraption come together as each part needs to be designed and machined first by [Shane]. Video after the break.

10 thoughts on “Putting The ‘Go’ In Frisbee Golf With A Robot Launcher

  1. The angle at which he releases the disc just isn’t right. He should get a real professional involved , perhaps the mentionned [Simon Lizotte] , to guide him on the angle of the disc and where the machine is aiming if he wants to gain any real distance. Using the right “Overstable” disc , releasing the disc in a “hyzer” angle and aiming the throw top left instead of straight up flat would have given him much more distance, flight and glide. Using a more appropriate disc , like the “Innova Firestorm” with flight numbers 14, 5, 0, 4, would have a much better chance at handling the high speed his machine generates. The clip where he shows [Simon Lizotte] calculating his arm speed did not necessarily mean he would have thrown the furthest. Simon even shows this one of his youtube videos where he and someone else generate the exact same arm swing speed yet Simon constantly throws further that his partner. Simon has this amazing talent where he can get his arm swing speed to exactly the number you ask him to. I really hope [Shane] revisits this project by adjusting disc and angles so that we can truly see how far his machine can throw. Distance records are usually made when throwing with winds around 40-50 mph blowing in their back.. in the desert.. This machine might match the current world record of 338 meters (1,108.92 feet) thrown in a 61-67 km/h wind (38-42 mph).

    As we say in the field when someone over powers a disc, disc up!

      1. Isn’t there always, having probably spent more time in college playing with frisbee than in lessons I know how true that is – you can get serious distance just from flicking your wrist and releasing just right – more than many folks can throw with their whole body involved if they don’t have the techniques just right…

        Ultimately though more energy in the initial launch is one of the bigger factors to distance, so its the right start point in building such a daft thing to me. You just also need stability, which the right level of spin and disk selection helps with, and need the disk to be able to take the stupendous launch forces well enough to put all the energy into the disks movement not its flexing…

        I’ll second that I hope he revisits it, as his videos are always interesting as is the mind boggling large amount of money spent on such a daft endeavor as throwing a disk for no really good reason – its engineering largely for its own sake, which I love…

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