The Drop Tower enables visitors to repeatably drop a racquetball 20 feet onto an angled surface. The angle and material of the surface can be changed, enabling users to experiment with the 2 variables and discover how they affect the trajectory and bounce height of the ball. The targets provide a goal for visitors to aim for, though many simply experiment on their own.
We built and tested several prototypes to determine whether or not our plans were visitor-friendly, the reliability of the ‘dropper’ mechanism, and the feasibility of the chain conveyor. See images below for more details…
- Reliability was a serious concern since some of the working parts are 20 feet in the air, and difficult to access.
- The height of the design was difficult since the museum lacks an appropriate lift or convenient ceiling lift points. The shop ceiling is not much over 8 feet, and the freight elevator is very small, so the components were built in sub-assemblies, test-fit and finished in the shop, and fully assembled on the exhibit floor
- Gear reduction and a rotary damper prevents visitors from spinning the Prism in an uncontrolled fashion
- Controls for steps 1,2, and 3 (Load, Adjust, Drop) are arranged in sequential order for intuitive operation
- An angle indicator makes the experiment replicable
Below are examples of construction drawings I created with Solidworks. They were given to a commercial welding company, who fabricated and delivered the pieces.