A friend began to tell me about pulling a muscle in his back because he tried to lean too far out of someone's golf cart while picking up golf balls on the fairway. He mentioned someone who had a grabber tool similar to those often used by senior citizens to pick up items off of the floor, but the grabber my friend had seen was designed to pick up golf balls. I began to think about how I could build one for him.
For this project I used:Materials
1/4 inch steel rod
1/8 inch steel rod
1/2 inch electrical conduit
1/8 x 3/4 inch strap iron
Wood for the handle
Screws and "T"-nuts for holding the handle
Angle head grinder with a cutting wheel
Flux core wire welder
1 1/2 inch aluminum angle
Step 1: How It Works
My picker upper is a 2-part cage from welded 1/8 inch steel rod. One of the halves can rotate about the 1/4 inch axle so that the cage can open. The other half is fixed to the 1/4 inch axle and cannot move. See the next step.
Step 2: How It Works 2
My fingers are lifting the cage half that can rotate. The other half is the fixed half. The cage is large enough to hold a golf ball with plenty of room to spare. This photo shows the 1/4 inch axle attached to the 1/2 inch electrical conduit shaft. How to use this golf ball picker upper will be explained in the last steps of this Instructable. It is really quite simple and features only one moving part.
(When my friend and I first began discussing a golf ball picker upper for him, I imagined using a trigger mechanism to close the open cage around a golf ball. The cage would be kept open by a light spring. But, before I got that far, I found the design shown here works very efficiently without all of the extra work of making a trigger mechanism and mounting a spring. The total length of the picker upper is 30 inches. That is what my friend said he needs.)
Step 3: How It Works 3
When the electrical conduit shaft is rotated clockwise (as viewed by the operator) the cage opens as shown here. The left half of the cage as viewed in this photo rotates. The right half is fixed to the 1/4 inch axle. You may still be wondering how this device is able to pick up a golf ball, but that will be shown in increments of motion later. I invited my friend over to check out what I had done. In just a very few minutes he was using what you see to pick up golf balls quite skillfully with only a couple of motions.
Step 4: Construction
I made numerous photos documenting each step of the construction only to discover most of them were blurred. The photo with this step shows how I used some 1 1/2 aluminum angle to hold pieces with spring clamps until I could tack weld them. The 90 degree corner allows clamping pieces to different parts of the angle so they are held in the correct orientation. It is a very handy way of working. See the yellow text boxes for more detail. In the second graphic the parts are shown in the manner of an exploded diagram. I tried using text boxes, but they did not stay in place on the browser I most often use and did not display at all on another very common browser, so I will describe the parts and the construction steps.
Look at the left piece. Bend loops in 1/8 inch rod large enough to move smoothly when on a 1/4 inch axle. Bend the 1/8 inch rod to make a "U"-shaped piece. Make another "U"-shaped piece and weld it just below the loops. Add ribs. No set number of ribs is needed. Just make certain any given opening is not large enough to pass a golf ball.
Bend a1/4 inch axle so the cages will be parallel to the ground when the picker upper is in use. Slip the cage half with the loops onto the 1/4 inch axle with two washers (not shown here). Bend another "U"-shaped piece and weld it to the axle so the ends are between the two loops on the first half of the cage. Add the last "U"-shaped piece and add the remaining ribs.
Step 5: Weld the Axle to the Electrical Conduit
I used a cutting wheel to make a 1/4 inch wide slot in one end of the electrical conduit. I bent the 1/4 inch axle so the bottom of the cages can be parallel to the ground when the picker upper is in use. (The conduit will be held at an angle toward the ground.) My welder is a flux core unit. I have not yet cleaned the flux from the welds in this photo.
Step 6: The Handle
I welded a piece of 3/4 inch strap iron to the electrical conduit to make a core for the handle. The handle will be wood. I used a router mounted in a router table to inlet the halves of the handle for the strap iron. I drilled the strap iron. I clamped one half of the wooden portion to the strap iron and drilled holes for screws. Then I removed the wood and clamped the other half of the handle to the strap iron so I could drill holes into it. This two step process made certain the screw holes would align perfectly.
Step 7: The Finished Handle
I used 10-28 screws and "T"-nuts to hold the two halves of the handle together. This picker upper is designed to be used with one hand only. This handle is sufficient for that.
Step 8: Using--step 1
The operator rolls the picker upper clockwise (from the operator's view) so the rotating half of the cage opens as shown. Move the picker upper so the opening in the cage is over the golf ball.
(My friend said the grass he encounters when picking up golf balls is not much different from the carpet one finds in the average home. He maintains the picker upper will work on the fairway if it can pick up a golf ball on carpet. Yes, the demonstration photos show a golf ball on a dining room table. Be assured, the picker upper worked very well not only on carpet, but in some medium length grass on our front lawn, even where the ground had indentations and the ball sat extra low.)
Step 9: Using--step 2
The operator rolls the shaft counter-clockwise (from the operator's view) and lowers the cage onto the golf ball with a smooth rolling motion. As seen in the photo, the right half of the cage (the fixed half) rolls under the side of the ball to contact the ground where the ball rests on the ground. The rotating half of the cage automatically begins to close around the ball.
Step 10: Using--step 3
The operator continues the rolling motion from the last step. The weight of the rotating half of the cage is enough to roll the ball onto the fixed half. You may add a slight scooping motion to the operator's right, if desired. After 15 to 20 attempts, a new operator will be picking up golf balls very smoothly and very efficiently. Lift the picker upper to chest level. Hold your open hand under the cage and rotate slightly clockwise. The ball should roll out into your hand. If it does not, just shake the picker upper a very slight amount. My friend says he expects this picker upper to work very well, even from a slowly moving golf cart. We agreed that if he has any difficulties, I will add the spring and trigger mechanism mentioned earlier. But, he is very enthusiastic about using the picker upper just as it is.