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.

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