A servo inside the launcher retracts and allows the ball to fall into the path of a spinning drum. Reloading the ball is achieved by spinning the motor at a slower speed in reverse. The unusual shape of the launcher allows the user to pick the ball up without having to bend down (essential for our target user group), and the 3 launch speeds make it suitable for different sizes of dog. The lithium ion battery can be removed for charging and is sealed with an O-ring for safe outdoor use.
Getting the launcher to fire the ball reliably, quietly and efficiently was a huge challenge. I made 3 static testing rigs to fine tune various parameters of the mechanism: the distance between the drum and the ball, the diameter and mass of the drum, the feed angle and the motor speed. I also tested various trigger and reload mechanisms.
The next stage of product development would be sending off technical drawings to be mass produced. As the prototype was entirely 3D printed in 6 large sections, major design changes were required to prepare the product for production. I designed an injection moulded clamshell housing along with a suite of technical drawings.