On July 25th, 2014 the Rochester Red Wings defeated the Indianapolis Indians with a final score of 5 to 3. There were a couple highlights. Part of a broken bat was sent flying into the crowd in the 1st inning and Josmil Pinto hit a 3 run homer in the bottom of the 6th for the Wings. However, the real action took place before the game… for me at least.
In early June, I spoke about my UAV quadcopter project at a Monroe Community College (MCC) Foundation Board meeting. The quadcopter was built as part of a design project at MCC by myself and my partner, Jeff Daring. After the meeting, the President of Rochester Community Baseball Inc. (owners of the Red Wings) approached me about doing something at Frontier Field involving the quadcopter. After some discussion, we decided that the quadcopter would deliver the first ball to the pitcher’s mound before a home Red Wings game.
This was clearly an opportunity I couldn’t pass up, but there was one problem. My quadcopter wasn’t setup to carry a baseball. So what does an engineer do when there is a problem? Design something in SOLIDWORKS of course! After a few revisions and some input from the AE’s here in our Rochester office, we came up with a pretty sweet delivery system. Two claw-like arms would hold the ball and open to release it, using an on-board servo. I was even able to verify the intended motion in the SOLIDWORKS model.
Here’s a Photoview 360 render of my assembly.
Unfortunately, the baseball enclosure design seen in the render never actually made it to prime time. It was printed but I simply did not have the time to install and test it before the game. In the end, I went with a much less interesting basket-like system that was used for a couple test runs at Frontier Field. So on July 25th, just prior to the start of the game, I launched the quadcopter from just beyond first base with the baseball in tow. The pre-determined mission plan was executed and I watched nervously as the copter completed a slow path around the field ending with the baseball dropping onto the pitcher’s mound. A successful mission!
Here’s a picture of my project partner, Jeff Daring, on the left, and I before the game started.
Despite contract offers from a couple single A ball clubs, I’ve decided to retire with a perfect pitching record of 1-0.
Go Red Wings!