A high-speed actuator, Arduino, code, and a camera propels a football throwing machine into the future.Students at Florida International University have taken the standard football throwing machine to a new level with some help from Progressive Automations. The drawback to the traditional throwing machine is its inability to fire the ball towards a target that moves back and forth across a field unless the machine is manually operated. Team AFTM has found a solution with the use of an Arduino microcontroller, linear actuators, and a laptop.
Team AFTM (Automated Football Throwing Machine is made up of five members: Hital Patel, Steven Smith, Javier Olie, Yonel Jovin and Vernal Green. The team of students hails from the Florida International University's Electrical & Computer Engineering Program.
A camera, along with programming code developed by the team, is used to track the target and determine the location of the player. Once the location is determined, a laptop processes the images and sends the information to the Arduino microcontroller. The microcontroller tells the servo motor how to pan the throwing machine. Once the machine is in place, the wireless controller engages the linear actuator and the ball is pushed through the tires toward the target.
For a detailed explanation of this process and a demonstration, check out this link.
Want to learn more about the code the team crafted for this project? Check out this video.
The team chose Progressive Automations' PA-15-6-22, a high speed actuator with 6" of stroke and 22 lbs of force. As you can see in the video, the actuator was custom mounted at the back with a rod connected to the loader.
To control the actuator, Progressive Automations' PA-30 control box was used. The project is used with wireless remotes, negating the need to be right next to the device when it's operated.