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suction techniques required!

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bitsimo:
hii,

i was thinking of participating in a upcoming robotics comp called VOIDS, in this the basic task is to pick up and deposit as many plastic table tennis balls inside a container in under a min.

now i have seen in the same comp. last year everyone used a arm type pickup mechanism , i was thinking to use a suction mechanism to pick up or at least to get the balls in the right orientation , so as to pick it up easily , as most of the teams spend a lot of time in getting their grippers in the right place?

i tried making one with a cpu fan , but it was simply useless and could only pickup  small foam pieces,i think i would need a more heavy duty yet lite system, with a compressors and all, any suggestion for a cheap sys that i can hack or build!


by the way , wonderful job with this site, hope i had found it earlier!
keep it going!

thanks in advance!

JonHylands:
A couple things you could try:

http://www.skyhooks.ca/kp.htm#KP44

That would have a little more suction, although you might burn out the motor.

You could also, depending on how big the robot was, mount a cordless handvac.

- Jon

polar bear6:
you can check out what this guy here did.
http://www.ranchbots.com/vac/vac.htm
it sounds like he did the same thing you want to do.
hope it helps!

Admin:
considered doing a 8+ finger hand? all the fingers could be actuated by a single pull string, and so the hand grabs the tennis ball at all angles . . .

i couldnt find a pic of it online, but i remember seeing it somewhere . . .

as for vacuums . . . not sure if this is helpful, but might give you ideas:
http://www.birdieball.com/customdocs/pubs/warm-up-range-uber.jpg

Cognaut:
What about using a spinning brush or pair of brushes that propel the balls into a funnel shaped dust pan that guides them into a bucket?  It would take a lot less power than a vaccuum - just a small motor or two.

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