Disc Pump Powered Ball Sorter - How it Works
Each year, we challenge ourselves to come up with new and engaging ways of showing off the capability of our unique micropump technology through the creation of marketing demonstrators. Our most recent system - a coloured ball sorter - highlights the incredible response speed and high-precision control of Disc Pump. We caught up with William Deeks, Senior Engineer at TTP Ventus, to discuss how it works.
What are the main components of the system and how do they interact?
WD: At the heart of the system is our Disc Pump evaluation kit, consisting of a pump mounted on a drive electronics board. The pump is connected to a ball-launching chute via a tube. Balls are loaded into the chute one at time by a motorised wheel.
Mounted on top of the chute, we have an Adafruit RGB colour sensor, controlled by a Nucleo development board. The Nucleo board detects the presence of a ball, measures the colour (orange, yellow or green) and issues a short pulse to the evaluation kit - the exact length of the pulse depends on the colour of the ball. The evaluation kit drives the pump for the duration of the pulse, creating a puff of air that drives the ball up the chute and out onto an inclined base plate.
Longer pulses send the ball further than shorter pulses. This is where the sorting aspect comes in. The base plate has three target bins, created by dividers - one bin for each colour. The aim is to fire the balls into the matching coloured bin.
To capture attention further, we added addressable LEDs - again controlled by the Nucleo board. These LEDs light up the bin that the system is aiming to fire the ball into. A second strip of LEDs lights up the chute as the ball fires.
The ball ultimately returns down a guide rail, leading to the motorised wheel which loads the ball back into the chute for the process to repeat.