Auto Ball Launcher Will Be Your Dog’s New Best Friend

If there’s one bright spot on the blight that is this pandemic, it’s got to be all the extra time we’re spending with our pets. Dogs especially love that we’re home all the time and want to spend it playing, but sometimes you need to get stuff done. Why not head outside with your laptop and keep the dog happy with an automatic ball launcher?

This is a work in progress, and [Connor] plans to publish a BOM and the STL files once it’s all finished. For now, it’s a working prototype that shoots a ball into the air and about 25 feet away, from the looks of it. Far enough to be fun, but not so far that it goes over the fence.

All [Connor] has to do is drop the ball in the top, which you know is going to lead to training the dog to do it himself. A proximity sensor detects the ball and starts up a pair of 540 R/C motors, then a servo drops the ball down the internal chute. The motors spit the ball out with great force with a pair of profiled, 3D-printed wheels that are controlled by a Turnigy ESC and an Arduino Nano.

In the future, [Connor] plans to print a cover for the electronics and enlarge the funnel so it’s easier for the dog to drop in the ball. Check out the brief demo and build video after the break.

All dogs should be able to get in a good game of fetch as often as they want, even if they happen to be blind.

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Tennis Ball Launcher Has Puppies Running The 100m Dash

Launching Tennis Balls with Ease

[Brian] from 24 Hour Engineer has a friend with arthritis who can’t easily play ball with his new puppy — so [Brian] stepped in and built him this awesome tennis ball launcher.

You see, most tennis ball launchers require a solid flick of the wrist, and since just plain old throwing it is out of the question too, [Brian] had to make him something powerful and easy to use. After sketching out some designs he came up with the basic concept that eventually became what is pictured above.

The frame is made of 2″ PVC pipe, which serves two purposes, support, and safety. The bungee cord launching system is actually contained within the pipe, keeping it out of the way, and free from catching on anything during firing. A pair of pulleys mounted at the cord opening ensure the cord doesn’t wear out.

What we really like is the trigger mechanism [Brian] made out of some carefully cut wood,  a steel corner brace and a few nuts and bolts. It’s a simple mechanism that provides leverage and an easy way to release the bungee cord.  Continue reading “Tennis Ball Launcher Has Puppies Running The 100m Dash”

[Dino] Builds A Fetch-O-Matic For This Month’s Make

Perennial Hackaday favorite [Dino] has an article in this months Make magazine. It’s an automated ball launcher that allows you to play fetch with your dog without wearing your arm out.

The powerhouse inside [Dino]’s ball launcher is a windshield wiper motor powered by an 18 Volt cordless drill battery pack. When a ball in dropped into the hopper, it turns on a switch sending some power to the motor.

The swing arm that actually launches the ball is anchored to the frame of the ball launcher with a spring. This stores energy for one half of a rotation of the motor until the arm rotates half way around inside the box. Then, the arm quickly accelerates and launches the ball across the yard.

[Dino] says he’s working on training his dog to drop the ball into the chute after retrieving it, creating a perpetual game of fetch. At least until the battery runs down, that is. Video after the break.

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