This is the Team MBA Ball Drop page.
Our group initially played around with several ideas, including a parachute, a catapult, a ramp (using the wooden rods), a zipline (using the duct tape), or a combination of these. We eventually eliminated the parachute idea since we thought it would not be efficient for maximizing horizontal distance. In the end, we decided on a zipline since we thought that it would allow the tennis ball to go the farthest.
Before finalizing the design of the zipline, our group tested various means of moving the ball down the line with the least friction. Methods included sending the noodle (the ball being attached to the noodle with the string) down the line as well as sending the roll of duct tape as a carrier. Setting aside the duct tape roll as an alternate option, we decided to cut a grove into a section of the noodle, insert the sign and a wooden rod through the noodle, and attach the ball and string to the edges of the rod. The objective was that as the noodle "wheel" rolled down the line, the rod and ball would remain stationary while the groove provided support. In addition, we thought that keeping the center of mass low would help maintain stability. To make the line itself, we cut the duct tape in half and then folded it inwards.
A model of our initial design using Google Sketchup
Results and Modification
After an initial test, we realized the grove would not provide sufficient control for the ball carrier; the line's inherent instability kept causing the ball carrier to fall off to one side. To remedy this issue, we quickly designed a way for the wooden rods to keep the carrier in better control; however, we could not find a proper way to attach the rods. In the ball drop, our design predictably failed due to a lack of control.
In an effort to redeem ourselves, we quickly switched to our alternate design in which we duct-taped the ball to the duct tape roll and sent the roll down the line. The sturdy roll effectively overcame the line's friction.
While we are not certain of the exact horizontal distance that the ball travelled in our second -- and much more successful -- attempt (our estimate is 15 feet), it is safe to say that the zipline accomplished its goal.