Dayton, OH —Every golfer dreams about hitting a hole-in-one. Well, dream no more. Now anyone will be able to give Tiger Woods a run for his money with the "Never Miss, Hole-in-One" putting green, which moves the hole to the ball.
Kent Giant, sales engineer at C & E Sales, distributor of factory automation solutions including sensing, motion, and control products, developed this putting dream machine by combining the DVT Series 600 SmartImage Sensor and the Giddings & Lewis Machine & Motion Control (MMC) Systems. "I wanted something fun for our booth at trade shows, and at the same time to demonstrate how easy it was to integrate motion and vision," says Giant.
Giant designed the 60×12-inch device at night after work, using AutoCAD to design the structure. He made the putting surface from plastic laminated particleboard. A 48-inch long gentle incline in the middle of the putting surface provides the room needed to mount servomotors and linear slides underneath. An adjoining 12×12-inch flat surface containing the hole is mounted to x/y linear actuators.
The DVT smart image sensor waits for the golf ball to stop anywhere in the flat area. The sensor captures the image using a 1/3-inch format charge-coupled device (CCD) with electronic shuttering (10 microsec to 1 sec exposure times). The image is transferred pixel for pixel from the CCD's storage to the microprocessor's RAM. Each pixel element registers a gray scale value from 0 to 255.
FrameWork, a Windows-based software application that controls DVT's SmartImage sensors, evaluates and inspects the image. The software determines the x/y location of the golf ball and sends the coordinates via a serial port to the MMC. It sends out commands to the x/y axis servomotors that move the hole toward the ball.
Turck's Q-Pak inductive proximity sensors were used on the linear actuators for end of travel detection. Once the ball drops in the hole, a Banner Mini-Beam2 diffuse photoelectric sensor tells the MMC to move the ball to the unload area. From here, a spring-loaded mechanical linkage is tripped and the ball falls out. An off-the-shelf ball return device shoots the ball back to the putter.
The 10-degree "hill" requires the golfer to apply a good deal of ball speed, says Giant. And because the two-and-a-half-inch diameter hole is smaller than a regulation golf hole, it is hard to make a hole in one without the machine intervening. "It can be done, but it is difficult," he says, "because the ball often overshoots the hole without dropping in."
"If I made the hole regulation size, it would have taken up too much of the putting area and I had to make sure everything under the hole would fit," he says.