Engineering School Innovations: PitchPALS

May 1, 2012
Combining data acquisition and video analysis leads to development of unique baseball training tool for grip analysis.
Project Name: PitchPALS
Students: Ashley Herron, Henry Zhang, Jenny Sullivan, Pete Hoagland and Sharon Du
University: Rice University
PitchPALS, Pitch Pressure Analysis and Logging System, is a baseball- training tool for grip analysis. It provides comprehensive data on a pitcher’s grip over the course of the entire throw. It collects information about the contact points between the hand and the ball as well as how much force is applied at each point. This data is synchronized with high- speed video data in a convenient user interface.
This data is collected through a replica baseball that has been tiled with force sensors on the outside. This is called the PitchPALS baseball. The PitchPALS baseball is to be thrown by the pitcher like an ordinary baseball. It actively records the force data from each sensor to provide the desired grip data. This data is displayed in a 3-D color map, giving the user an easy way to see the data.
There is also an accompanying motion capture video that records the motion of the entire body. The video is synchronized with the sensor data. Not only does this provide another source of data for grip analysis, but it also acts as a reference by correlating the sensor data to a specific point during the pitch.
National Instruments: Elvis II+; LabVIEW; Multisim; Ultiboard; DIAdem; and high-performance camera link frame grabber card PCI3-1433
Solidworks (for modeling the baseball shell)
FlexiForce piezo resistive sensors
Texas Instruments’ 8-channel analog multiplexer/demultiplexer; 12-bit, 4-channel parallel output sampling analog-to-digital converter; Mixed signal microcontroller MSP430F5438; and dual 200mA output linear voltage regulator voltage regulator
Rayson’s BTM-182 Bluetooth module
Watch video below to see the PitchPALS baseball in action and get an in depth look into its operation.

Automation World would like to thank National Instruments for connecting us with the Rice University PitchPALS team to make this "Engineering School Innovations" installment possible.

If you know of an engineering school project we should feature, contact [email protected].

About the Author

David Greenfield, editor in chief | Editor in Chief

David Greenfield joined Automation World in June 2011. Bringing a wealth of industry knowledge and media experience to his position, David’s contributions can be found in AW’s print and online editions and custom projects. Earlier in his career, David was Editorial Director of Design News at UBM Electronics, and prior to joining UBM, he was Editorial Director of Control Engineering at Reed Business Information, where he also worked on Manufacturing Business Technology as Publisher. 

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