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Homing Disk

Automatically Accurate 'Aerobie®'
  [vote for,

This idea modifies an existing product; The 'Aerobie Pro Ring’ from Superflight Inc. <link>

B: "Daddy, I want a Frisbee that steers itself."
C: "Yeah, me too!"
Me: "That's a WIBNI."

For those who haven't had the pleasure: The Aerobie Pro Ring can be described as a Frisbee with a far superior aerodynamic design. Good throwers can easily play the length of a football field (either one), but accuracy over long distances can be problematic, even for the best. Just a few degrees off throwing and... You get the picture.

Another source of inaccuracy is the disc itself. It can get 'out of tune' (not perfectly shaped) causing it to bank to one side or the other. This can be remedied by bending the disk up to correct a right bank, or down to correct a left bank (assuming clockwise rotation). When releasing the disk from this bending, it returns to what appears to be exactly the same shape. The difference between 'out of tune' and 'in tune' is imperceptible until it is thrown. It is this very slight bending that is the inspiration for this idea.

Note: 'A' refers to the thrower, and 'B' refers to the recipient.

An imaginary line is created between two players wearing radio transmitters operating at different frequencies. The Homing Disk (an Aerobie until just now) has two small directional antennas just beneath the rubber exterior on the outer edge. These are situated 180 degrees apart. Each antenna feeds a receiver tuned in to one of the frequencies.

The receivers poll for signal strength and signal the processor when the strongest signal is detected. When the disk is rotating, the strongest signal will be confirmed when the antenna is just past facing the transmitter. The processor functions as a stopwatch; It clocks the time between notification of the strongest signal received on frequency A and frequency B, then the time between B and A.

If the time between notification A and B is zero, the disk is on the imaginary line between the players. If the time between A and B is not zero, and the time between A and B is greater than the time between B and A, the disk is right of the line from player A to player B. If the time between A and B is not zero, and the time between A and B is less than the time between B and A, the disk is left of the line from player A to player B.

The disk 'knows' where it is with respect to the imaginary line. So what's it gonna do when it's off the line? Dynamic in-flight tuning obviously. As described above; A minuscule change to the shape of this disk alters the aerodynamic properties significantly. An imperceptible bend up or down will affect a turn left or right, respectively. Built into, and spaced evenly around the flexible core (polycarbonate backbone) of the disk are small PZT stack actuators and electrostrictors divvied across two separate circuits - one configuration to bend the core up, the other down. The processor determines which circuit to apply a voltage to, and how much voltage based on how far off the imaginary line the disk is. It steers towards the line.

With a half-decent throw, the Homing Disk will hit its mark. Great for playing with not-so-accurate throwers, or playing on the beach when you don't want to get wet. If you enjoy running for the catch, then run - it will follow. For manual control, be sure to purchase the R/C option.

- The thrower is known as player 'A' by having the greater signal strength of the two frequencies at the time the disk is thrown (centrifugal force detected).
- All the electronics built into the disk (batteries included) are balanced throughout the core.
- Lefties playing with righties: Didn't Mommy say that was bad? Perhaps not, but I'm not going to think about it 'till tomorrow. Good night.

Shz, Nov 12 2004

Aerobie Pro Ring http://aerobie.com/Products/Pro.htm
One of my favorite toys [Shz, Nov 12 2004]

Tuning an Aerobie http://aerobie.com/...rintFAQs.htm#tuning
[Shz, Nov 12 2004]

(?) Xena's chakram http://www.xenafan....ior_princess_01.jpg
[2 fries shy of a happy meal, Nov 13 2004]


       Wow. Nicely thought out.
bristolz, Nov 12 2004

       Cool. I want one.

(Note that the same technology solution would work for 3 players standing in a triangle. The disk would be set up with receivers 120 deg apart and would use adjusted "straight line" timing intervals.
Programmable timing intervals would allow the evil player to set up the disk so that the "straight line" path was always, say, 2m to the right of the other player - "C'mon, run! You can get it!")
hippo, Nov 12 2004

       Need an investor?[+]
jurist, Nov 12 2004

       Aerobies are *really* thin. I'm sure you could miniaturise the elecrotronics easily, but how are you going to do the actuators? <goes away, looks up "PZT Stack Actuator" and "Electrostrictor">   

       Oh, ok then. Bun.
wagster, Nov 12 2004

       I second the other sentiments. Very well thought out! [+]
contracts, Nov 12 2004

       I'm not certain the difference in signal strength will be strong enough to steer the thing, but there should be some way around that. Perhaps triangulation?
RayfordSteele, Nov 12 2004

       I used to love throwing an Aerobie around. But all the fun was in the distance, not the running to recover a horribly off course ring. My initial reaction to this was not good, but then I realized that you'd get even more distance out of a straighter throw. Excellent.   

       Now then, how about a guaranteed return mechanism for that boomerang type thing the Aerobie people built?
Noexit, Nov 12 2004

       Change your antenna system to be directional, then it will act much like a radar system that you see on ships. That will show the relative positions, but not the direction of movement. Good for returning to sender.
Alternatively, use remote control. Something on the back of your hand which senses level.
Ling, Nov 12 2004

       This finally explains Xena's weapon.

Seriously though Shz, kick ass concept. With enough spin and a launcher you should be able to fly one of these and do loops even. (+)

       I can see how useful this would be to people who can't aim that well, or are at the beach as you said. But I feel that the fun in running for the catch is that you have successfully judged where you need to be, rather than just running and having the disk follow. The RC option sounds like a lot of fun.
fridge duck, Mar 13 2005

       [daseva]'s idea reminded me just how good his one was [+]
zen_tom, May 31 2005

       Tis very good. I want one. The disc sounds truly intelligent. This would be so fun to run from the disc and see how well it could follow.
daseva, May 31 2005

       oh yes. <throws homing croissant very hard out of his window>.
neilp, Jul 28 2005

       + So where is [Shz]?
xandram, Apr 27 2007

       indeed where?
simonj, Aug 05 2010

       This is 6 years after inception, someone must have baked it by now.
ixnaum, Aug 05 2010


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