Lunacy Game Ball Kits: for sale!

Parents of a Team 980 student member have produced a kit for assembling ten, high-quality, durable Lunacy Game balls at ~$125 (shipping included) for on-line sale to FIRST teams:

Lunacy Game Balls - The Complete Kit

The professionally manufactured kit includes 60 pre-cut lexan strips, 60 sown spandex fabric tubes (30 ea. orange and purple), super-strength adhesive patches and tape for fastening the plastic strips, and simple instructions for assembling the balls.

The initial production run is for 500 balls, but 100 have been committed for the SCRRF pre-ship scrimmage. So, it’s first come, first serve for the 40 kits available (limit 2 kits per team). Orders received by noon (PDT) Saturday will be shipped same day via Priority Mail (2-3 day delivery within the US).

Based on initial demand, additional kits will be put into production and should be delivered to teams prior to robot ship date. These balls are practically indestructible and are suitable for robot testing and human player practice throughout the Lunacy season and off-season.

You are amazing. I hope you know that.

The parents who pulled-off the “crash” manufacturing effort deserve the credit.

I’ve attached the assembly instructions, complete with photos of the ball weaving process. Taping the first three strips to the table makes weaving much easier. The first six steps are pretty quick and easy. Weaving in the 5th strip is probably the most error-prone part of the process. We’re still looking at alternatives to sewing the ends of the fabric together, but stitching them isn’t too difficult if the fabric is gathered near the ends.

A few notes about these Lunacy balls: they are a bit stiffer (10-15% in compression), the fabric is not as cushioned, yet the coefficient of restitution (bounciness) appears to be almost identical to the Orbit ball. One thing for sure, the Lunacy ball is far more durable than the Orbit ball.

LunacyBall_Assembly_Instructions.pdf (263 KB)

LunacyBall_Assembly_Instructions.pdf (263 KB)

I hope other teams find this in time to order use the assembled kits for practice. This will really help with training our driver for collection and scoring!

Teams 2404 and 980 will have a ball building marathon this weekend to prepare for the pre-ship scrimmage. We’ve got to make 100+ game pieces from these kits.

wow, great job 980! :slight_smile:

For those mass producing balls this weekend… we have had really great luck using this template and one preformed ring.

For the most part it has taken the guesswork out of weaving the fifth and sixth strip. We have been able to have one group weave the 5 strips flat and stage them for the final ball weavers. Attaching the ring to the strips is almost intuitive at that point, tuck the outermost strips to the inside or the ring while curving it into a bowl shape. Slide the ring down to hold them in place. Then cross the new outside strips inside the other strips.

Once the five strips are interlocked with the sixth hoop, it forms a uniquely shaped hat that our students cannot seem to resist putting on their heads. (I should go to our website and see if I can link a photo here… :rolleyes: maybe I’ll come back to it) So once you pry the ball-helmet from their heads you can start with any strip and attach its ends. It does take a little care to close the other 4 to make sure to maintain the over-under proces, but since the strips are locked together by the bottom half of the ball, it is easier to get them all tucked end to end and verify the pattern before completing sealing the ends.

Both methods of weaving work, I know, but for some reason, when we switched from the “do three and the rest one at a time” method to the “weave five and one” method, it has seemed more repeatable by more of our team. So if you get to a point where they say “we can’t do this!” try the alternative method. And good luck!

Fantastic idea and execution. My only concern is that the extra “stiffness” will make the balls behave differently in some mechanisms.

Have you seen this thread? Maybe polypropylene could be used in the future?

At the time the kit was being designed, we knew that the plastic strips in the official Orbit ball were not lexan. The Orbit ball strips are injection-molded PP with “lips” along the edges and short studs and holes at the ends for joining (with heat). Also, we had a few Orbit balls break during testing and rough handling. We decided that the kits should produce much more rugged balls (given the cost and effort to make the balls). The Gus ball approach was examined for ways to reduce the labor for teams to assemble balls. Providing pre-made fabric tubes was one of the time-savers we selected. We also chose a joining method that’s faster and easier than riveting. The high-strength adhesive patches make joining the hoops very easy, but probably wouldn’t work quite as well on polypropylene.

As usually found in the engineering and manufacturing world, some trade-offs had to be made. The parents who put the kits together decided that durability and relative ease of construction was a better option for these practice balls than attempting to make a true replica of the Orbit ball.

In case you’re wondering, the parents first explored the option of buying Orbit balls from Blip Toys in mass quantities. The minimum order was $50,000 with minimum six-week delivery from China. Being familiar with the import process they knew that 6-weeks could really be 10 or more weeks, so this wasn’t a viable option. Hence the kits…

How long does it take to assemble the kits?


We haven’t really gone into “mass production” (that’s Saturday’s task), but we’ve got students weaving the balls using the 5-strip plus hoop method in less than five minutes/ball. The prep work (rounding the corners of lexan strips and sliding fabric onto the strips) goes pretty quickly as well (a couple of minutes per ball). Once you figure out the trick to gather both fabric ends away from the hoop joint (by sliding the hoops around within the ball), sewing is pretty straight forward. With a few whip stitches on each hoop, a ball can be completed in about 3 minutes as well.

I think a production line approach with 3 or 4 students will easily get all ten balls completed in less than 2 hours.

Wow, this is a great idea! Do you by any chance ship to Canada?

Excellent idea, very, very cool that your parents are able to come up with an innovative way to solve this problem.

I have a small concern though, and I am raising this for the benefit of the parents and your team… Are these orbit balls patented? If so, are you violating any patent laws selling these copies in mass quantities?

Just thought ask and be proved wrong would be better than not asking and be sorry.

making your own lunacy balls is fun and all but i take $10 a piece at walmart over trying to make some myself. it’s not as hard for something not as important. we bought like 20 of these kick off night at walmart.

Ken, the Orbit Ball is just a plastic version of a Greek paper football, so I’m willing to venture that even if the Orbit Ball was patented, it’d never be enforceable.

Thanks to the Thunderbots for making these available. We purchased a kit, had a devil of a time figuring out how to put them together, but ended up with ten crude approximations of Orbit Balls that made it possible for us to test our design when we weren’t lucky enough to snag more than one real ball from Walmart.

also a good point. i’d stick with going to walmart and paying $10 and not risking the patent thing.

That’s not the intention of my post. :wink:

I would say in your case it is important to support the “local” business so they can continue to come up with innovative ways to solve problems like this. You should have no trouble using their products.

I just raised it in case the Thunderbolts haven’t considered this side of the business. Doesn’t hurt to spend 15 minutes researching something to cover all basis, right?

If these were available at Walmart, we’d all drive 20 minutes to the nearest one and buy them there.

But they aren’t, and that is why 980 is making and selling them.

Based on the analysis of the real balls as compared to the homemade versions, and the availability of the greek paper football techniques on line, it would be difficult to actually say that they are violating anyone’s copyright.

The balls are not made of the same materials, do not have the same imbedded structure in the strips, do not have the same fastening method… I could also include the finished ball characteristics - do not have the same durability (they’re better), the same squishiness, and only approximate the same weight and size.

On top of that, the game ball kits from Team 980 aren’t even balls. They are offering a do-it-yourself kit. And not called Orbit Balls, but called Lunacy Game Ball Kit. I’d say they are in the clear on this one.