When I am not at CADimensions interning, I am at Syracuse University as a full time student pursuing my B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. For my senior design class, students were put into groups of five and given the objective to build a “sphere harvester.” The requirements for the machine are that it needs to be able to pick up tennis, lacrosse, and golf balls and successfully place them into a collection bin. The machine must also be able to sort each ball type, so only a specific ball is deposited into the basket. Lastly, the machine must fit into an 11x7x9 inch box. Each team was provided with a budget of $250.00. On test day, the machine will have two minutes to traverse an area and pick up as many balls of a specified type and deposit them into a basket with one foot high sides.
It was up to each team to design how their machine would collect, sort, and transport the balls, as well as controlling the machine. Our machine relies on a tank tread system that continuously turns and pick up balls as they go between curved fins. An embedded load cell weighs the ball to determine if it is our target ball type. If we have a match, the ball will enter an onboard storage container. The other two ball types fall off the side of the machine. The storage container uses a scissor lift and a door to feed the balls into the final basket. Two main wheels, each controlled by a motor, allow the machine to make zero point turns for easy maneuverability. Each subsystem of the machine is linked to a wireless remote control.