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Title: Surpassing the Age of the Pitcher: Design for a Higher-Precision Baseball Pitching Machine
Authors: Kelley, Maya
Advisors: Nosenchuck, Daniel
Contributors: Hultmark, Marcus
Department: Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Class Year: 2014
Abstract: Baseball has been known as “America’s pastime” for nearly a century and a half; however, simply because this sport is rooted in history and tradition does not mean that it has remained stagnant. Records are being broken every day as players are throwing faster and hitting harder than ever, and as a result, many teams are turning to technology to maintain a competitive edge. Batters typically train with pitching machines, but the ones currently on the market are surprisingly imprecise. The new Rawlings three-wheeled pitching machine is on average 5.86 inches off target when trying to throw a fastball down the middle; if a circle of that radius was drawn around the center of the strike zone, it would take up 69% of the strike zone’s width and 24% of its area. Along with the data, a survey conducted among baseball coaches across the country point to the same conclusion: pitching machines are not accurate enough. Since pitchers are primed with a wealth of knowledge on where to throw the ball in order to provide the most trouble for a particular batter, ideally there would be a pitching machine that could also throw in those weak spots. That way, batters can improve so that the playing field is more level. This project aims to improve the precision such that this is more a realistic possibility, and thus maintain the forward progression of baseball. By incorporating PID control to maintain more constant motor speeds, the precision of the pitching machine in throwing fastballs improved by 13% in comparison to a traditional pitching machine which uses a constant voltage. Although this percentage is small, it does open the doors towards a more precise pitching machine, suggesting that perhaps with more precise rpm measurement tools, this number can be increased even further.
Extent: 42 pages
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, 1924-2016

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