Ping Pong Ball Ballistics Student Project

Student Electronic Design Project carried out Spring semester 2015 at University of Nottingham Ningbo China. Here are Danny and Egor showing us around the Mechatronics Lab that has been specially designed for students in that it is equipped with many designing-making-and-doing tools and features as well as having an inviting good looking green table ambiance with many square metres of working surfaces. Danny and Egor show us some of their classmates projects and their own “piece de resistance” ultimate ping pong striker that has a machine gun rapid loader magazine system. Frank taught the students how to design and build their mechanical systems from cardboard and glue and then went on to teach them how to build and solder the electronic power control circuit board. Set your Youtube quality number to highest quality, e.g. 1080p HD

…and here below is Tom’s compact robot ball-loaded hitter that was featured in the clip above but here is shown in more detail. Set your Youtube quality number to highest quality, e.g. 1080p HD

…and here below is Qiming Zhong’s robot thrower

The Ping Pong Ball Hitter, Thrower and now Catapulter Project is carried out in UNNC’s new Mechatronics Teaching and Learning Space. Students built the electronic circuitry and the cardboard mechanical system of the ball hitter using tools in the lab and then wrote real time software to hit the ping pong ball accurately over 1.9 metres, 4.0 metres and sometimes more than 6 metres. We will be adding more machine tools to the Mechatronics lab, namely, a milling machine, lathe and a 3-d printer to do small scale design and manufacturing of intricate precision mechanical systems made from 6-series aluminium alloy, plastic, brass, steel and wood. Frank introduces students to the design and manufacture of structures and mechanical systems via 3-d Autodesk Inventor design software plus “cardboard and glue engineering!!”…cardboard is an amazing material for the fast prototyping of mechanical structures and mechanisms. Students are taught that there are 4 things which create lightweight, stiff and strong structures…they are (i) shape (ii) shape (iii) shape and lastly (iv) material….meaning that don’t waste your money and machining time on exotic materials such as 7-series aluminium alloy, titanium and carbon fibre (although carbon fibre tubes are cheap and easy to get hold of), when it is the shape of a structure that is much more important than the intrinsic Young’s Modulus and ultimate tensile strength of the material.
Frank also uses his experience to (i) lead from the front by designing products himself to inspire students and also (ii) to create an ambient, creative, inviting environment for his students. Students have their own (i) bench space, approximately 2 square metres per group of 2 students (we use copious square metres of plastic green top tables that are safe, durable and help create an inviting creative ambiance and also allow mobile robots to roam freely), (ii) soldering iron station and fume extractor, (iii) D.C. power supply, (iii) oscilloscope, (iv) multimeter as well as lab manufacturing facilities. Also Notice the flat table layout so students and teaching professor can easily see each other for effective teaching and learning and also, importantly, for safety aspects so any student in trouble cannot go unseen. 
.