The Stability and Flight Trajectory of Badminton Shuttlecocks
Darren Wang
Prince of Wales Secondary
Floor Location : M 011 D

Have you ever marvelled at the phenomenon of a badminton shuttlecock’s turnover/ flipping motion during its flight path, and pondered about the differences of all the types of shuttlecocks? Does looking at the trajectory of different badminton shuttlecocks through computer analyzing programs interest you? As a competitive badminton player, these question have interested me and propelled me to investigate into this subject. This experiment explores the turnover stability and the turnover completion times of feather, nylon plastic, and carbonsonic (foam) shuttlecocks to determine the performance of each shuttlecock through various methods of chronophotography, digital video analyzing tool, which in this case is a program named Tracker, and finally, some elements of math.

I have used a tripod and a video camera with a remote shutter controller to film the flying shuttlecocks. I hit every tested shuttle within the camera's field of view of an angle of approximately 35 degrees in respect to the horizon, with an estimated force of 0.004N, and a target for aim.
The entirety of this experiment is conducted indoors as so there is minimum airflow disturbance, and every shuttle was tested roughly during the same hours of the testing days to ensure that there is minimum air temperature influence. In addition, the videos were shot at slow-motion and at the highest frame rate per second, which is 120 fps in this particular experiment, to achieve the highest quality motion videos.

In order to determine the performance of a shuttlecock, I have stated that a shorter turnover completion time will result in a longer post-turnover stabilization period, and a smaller range of position angle (calculated in Tracker) will result in a smoother and stable flight trajectory. Adobe Photoshop was implemented to create choronophotographies of each of the shuttlecocks, and they serve as a visual impression of each of the tested shuttlecocks. For analytical and scientific data, I have used a vector-based digital video analyzing tool, Tracker, to collect the data of position angles as well as finding the frame numbers to substitute into an equation that I have created to determine the turnover completion times.

Through the journey of this project, we have discovered that the seemingly exorbitant feather shuttlecocks do have a reason to be rightfully expensive and highly graded. The Yonex AS 50, as the tournament grade and the most expensive shuttlecock, displayed an outstanding performance, ranking first in overall performance. Contradicting to traditional perspectives, the plastic nylon shuttlecock, the Black Knight TruFlight 3000 out-performed many other feather shuttlecocks, which is exceptional. Lastly and shockingly, the Victor Champion NO.5 did not display satisfactory performance in this experiment, and this is an upset since the shuttle was generally known as the standard practice grade feather shuttlecock.

In the future, I intend to conduct a follow up research and innovation project to enhance the performance of the shuttlecocks, using some of the data that I have discovered in this current experiment.