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Measurements of Aerodynamic Properties of Badminton Shuttlecocks

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Abstract and Figures

Unlike projectiles, the shuttlecock generates significant aerodynamic drag and complex flight trajectory. Despite the popularity of the game, scant knowledge is available in the public domain about the aerodynamics of shuttlecocks. The primary objectives of this study were to experimentally measure the aerodynamic properties of a series of natural feather and synthetic shuttlecocks under a range of wind speeds and pitch angles. The drag coefficients for shuttlecocks were determined and compared. The natural feather shuttlecock indicated lower drag coefficient at low speeds and significantly high value at high speeds. On the other hand, the synthetic shuttlecocks have shown opposite trends. The average drag coefficient for shuttlecocks found in this study was between 0.5 and 0.6.
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Procedia
Engineering
Procedia Engineering 00 (2009) 000–000
www.elsevier.com/locate/procedi
a
8
th
Conference of the International Sports Engineering Association (ISEA)
Measurements of Aerodynamic Properties of Badminton
Shuttlecocks
Firoz Alam*, Harun Chowdhury, Chavaporn Theppadungporn and Aleksandar Subic
School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, RMIT University, Bundoora, Melbourne, VIC 3083, Australia
Received 31 January 2010; revised 7 March 2010; accepted 21 March 2010
Abstract
Badminton is a high drag game. The aerodynamic properties of badminton shuttlecocks significantly differ from other ball, racket
or projectile sports. Being a bluff body, the shuttlecock generates high aerodynamic drag and steep flight trajectory. Although a
series of studies on aerodynamic behaviour of spherical and ellipsoidal balls have been reported in the open literature, scant
information is available in the public domain about the aerodynamic behaviour of badminton shuttlecocks. The primary objective
of this work was to evaluate aerodynamic properties of a series of shuttlecocks under a range of wind speeds. The non-
dimensional drag coefficient was determined and compared. The natural feather shuttlecock displayed lower drag coefficient at
low speeds and significantly higher drag at high speeds. On the other hand, the synthetic shuttlecock demonstrated the opposite
trends.
© 2009 Published by Elsevier Ltd.
Keywords: Aerodynamics, badminton shuttlecock, drag coefficient, wind tunnel;
1. Introduction
Originated from ancient Greece and China, Badminton is one of the oldest and popular sports in the world. The
modern version of the game was imported by the British from India to Great Britain in the middle of 19th century
and spread to other parts of the world. Although the modern Badminton rules and regulations were introduced in
1887, the first Badminton World Championship was held only in 1977. The Badminton game was initially
dominated by the Europeans and Americans; however, currently the game is besieged by the Asian nations
especially, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan and Singapore. The popularity of game is so immense that over 160
countries have officially joined the Badminton World Federation (BWF) - a governing body of the game. Its initial
name “International Badminton Federation” (established in 1934 with it’s headquarter in England) was renamed as
BWF in 2006 and it’s headquarter has been moved to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia in 2005 from England. Currently,
in accordance with the BWF estimates, the game is played by over 200 million people worldwide and over thousand
players participate in various competitions and tournaments around the world. Badminton has been introduced for
* Corresponding author. Tel.: +61 3 99256103; fax: +61 3 99256108.
E-mail address: firoz.alam@rmit.edu.au
c
2010 Published by Elsevier Ltd.
Procedia Engineering 2 (2010) 2487–2492
www.elsevier.com/locate/procedia
1877-7058
c
2010 Published by Elsevier Ltd.
doi:10.1016/j.proeng.2010.04.020
2 F. Alam et al. / Procedia Engineering 00 (2010) 000–000
the first time as an Olympic sport in 1992 Barcelona Games. The centre piece of the game is no doubt a shuttlecock
which is made of either natural feathers or synthetic rubber with an open conical shape (described and shown later).
The cone comprises of 16 overlapping goose feathers embedded into a round cork base which is covered generally
with a thin goat leather or synthetic material. Unlike most racquet sports, a badminton shuttlecock is an extremely
high drag projectile and possesses a highly skewed parabolic flight trajectory. Most amateur players use synthetic
shuttlecock as it lasts longer and costs less (cheaper) compared to feather shuttlecock which is predominantly used
by the professional players and have high initial velocity. Generally, three types of synthetic shuttlecocks
(distinguished by color code) are available in the market. They are: a) Green shuttlecock (for slow speed), b) Blue
shuttlecock (for middle speed), and c) Red shuttlecock (for fast speed). Frequently, the red shuttlecock is used in
colder climates and the green shuttlecock is used in warmer climates.
Despite the enormous popularity of Badminton game, the aerodynamic behavior of the shuttlecock (regardless of
feather or rubber made) is not clearly understood. Its flight trajectory is significantly different from the balls used in
most racquet sports due to very high initial speeds (highest speed is 332 km/h by Chinese player Fu Haifeng in
2005) that decay rapidly due to high drag generated by feathers or rubber skirts. While some studies by Alam et al.
[1, 2], Mehta et al. [3], Smits and Ogg [4] and Seo et al. [5] were conducted on spherical and ellipsoidal balls, no
study except Cooke [6] and more recently by Alam et al. [7] was reported in the public domain on shuttlecock
aerodynamics. The knowledge of aerodynamic properties of shuttlecocks can greatly assist both amateur and
professional players to understand the flight trajectory as player requires considerable skills to hit the shuttlecock for
the full length of the court. The parabolic flight trajectory is generally skewed heavily thus its fall has much steeper
angle than the rise. The understanding of aerodynamic properties can significantly influence the outcome of the
game. Therefore, the primary objective of this work is to experimentally determine the aerodynamic properties of a
series of shuttlecocks (synthetic and feather made) under a range of wind speeds, and compare their aerodynamic
properties.
Nomenclature
D Drag Force
C
D
Drag Coefficient
Re Reynolds Number
V Velocity of Air
ν Kinematic Viscosity of Air
ρ Density of Air
A Projected Area
d Shuttlecock Diameter
2. Experimental Procedure
A brief description of badminton shuttlecocks, experimental facilities and set up is given in the following two sub
sections.
2.1. Shuttlecock Description
As mentioned previously, the feather shuttlecock is made of 16 goose fathers with a skirt diameter of 65mm,
mass is around 5.2 grams (g) and total length is approximately 85mm. Figure 1 shows general features of a standard
feather shuttlecock. A typical feather shuttlecock and synthetic shuttlecock are shown in Figure 2.
As part of a larger study, twenty new shuttlecocks were initially selected. However, only 10 shuttlecocks (five
feather shuttlecocks and five synthetic shuttlecocks) were used in this study. These 10 shuttlecocks are: a) Grays
nylon, b) Grays plastic, c) Grays volante, d) Mavis – Yonex 500, e) RSL standard, f) Grays volant en plumes, g)
2488 F. Alam et al. / Procedia Engineering 2 (2010) 2487–2492
F. Alam et al. / Procedia Engineering 00 (2010) 000–000 3
Yonex mavis 350, h) RSL silver feather, i) Arrow 100, and j) RSL classic tourney. The dimensions of all these
shuttlecocks are shown in Table 1.
Total Length
Fig 1. Nomenclature of a typical standard feather shuttlecock
(a) Feather shuttlecock (b) Synthetic shuttlecock
Fig 2. Types of shuttlecock
Table 1. Physical parameters of shuttlecocks
Total Length Length of Cock Tip Skirt Diameter Mass
ID Type (mm) (mm) (mm) (g)
S-1 Synthetic 84 25 65 5.215
S-2 Synthetic 82 25 63 4.867
S-3 Synthetic 83 25 66 6.231
S-4 Synthetic 78 25 68 5.26
F-1 Feather 85 25 66 4.959
F-2 Feather 86 25 65 4.913
S-5 Synthetic 80 25 65 5.244
F-3 Feather 85 25 66 5.12
F-4 Feather 85 25 65 5.181
F-5 Feather 85 25 65 4.891
F. Alam et al. / Procedia Engineering 2 (2010) 2487–2492 2489
4 F. Alam et al. / Procedia Engineering 00 (2010) 000–000
2.2. Wind Tunnel Testing
A sting mount was developed to hold the shuttlecock on a six component force sensor. The mounting gear and
experimental set up in the test section are shown in Figure 3. The aerodynamic effect of sting on the shuttlecock was
measured and found to be negligible. The distance between the bottom edge of the shuttlecock and the tunnel floor
was 420 mm, which is well above the tunnel boundary layer and considered to be out of significant ground effect.
(a) Experimental rig only (a) Experimental rig with shuttlecock
Fig 3. Wind tunnel testing of shuttlecock
In order to measure the aerodynamic properties of the shuttlecock experimentally, the RMIT Industrial Wind
Tunnel was used. The tunnel is a closed return circuit wind tunnel with a maximum speed of approximately 150
km/h. The rectangular test section’s dimension is 3 m (wide) x 2 m (high) x 9 m (long), and is equipped with a
turntable to yaw the model. The stud (sting) holding the shuttlecock was mounted on a six component force sensor
(type JR-3), and purpose made computer software was used to digitize and record all 3 forces (drag, side and lift
forces) and 3 moments (yaw, pitch and roll moments) simultaneously. More details about the tunnel can be found in
Alam et al. [8].
The aerodynamic drag coefficient (C
D
) is defined as: C
D
=D/0.5
ρ
V
2
A, where A is calculated as projected frontal
area of shuttlecock without any deformation. The Reynolds number (Re) is defined as: Re=VD/
ν
. The lift and side
forces and their coefficients were not determined and presented in this paper. Only drag and its coefficient are
presented here.
3. Results and Discussion
Shuttlecocks were tested at 60, 80, 100 and 120 km/h speeds. The shuttlecock was yawed relative to the force
sensor (which was fixed with its resolving axis along the mean flow direction) thus the wind axis system was
employed. The aerodynamic force was converted to non-dimensional parameter (drag coefficient, C
D
) and tare
forces were removed by measuring the forces on the sting in isolation and removing them from the force of the
shuttlecock and sting. The influence of the sting on the shuttlecock was checked and found to be negligible. The
repeatability of the measured forces was within ±0.1 N and the wind velocity was less than 0.5 km/h.
The C
D
variations with Reynolds numbers for standard shuttlecock and synthetic shuttlecock are shown in Figure
4. Also the average values of C
D
of all 5 standard (feather) and 5 synthetic shuttlecocks with wind speed variation
are plotted and presented in Figure 5.
The average C
D
value for all shuttlecocks is lower at low Reynolds number initially and increases with an
increase of Reynolds numbers. However, the C
D
value drops at 80 km/h and above (see Figure 4). Figure 4(b) shows
a significant variation in drag coefficients among the synthetic shuttlecocks which is believed to be due to varied
geometry of skirts and deformation at high speeds. On the other hand, less variation of drag coefficients was noted
2490 F. Alam et al. / Procedia Engineering 2 (2010) 2487–2492
F. Alam et al. / Procedia Engineering 00 (2010) 000–000 5
for feather shuttlecocks as shown in Figure 4(a). As expected, the variation in C
D
is minimal for the feather
shuttlecock due to less deformation at high speeds and also less variation in skirt geometry. The average C
D
value
for feather shuttlecocks is higher at low speeds compared to synthetic shuttlecocks. In contrast, the average C
D
value
for the synthetic shuttlecock is higher at high speeds compared to the C
D
value of the feather shuttlecock.
The experimental results indicate that there is notable variation in drag coefficients between the standard feather
and synthetic shuttlecocks. These variations are believed to be due to structural deformation of the synthetic
shuttlecocks at high speeds. Additionally, the skirt perforation and geometry of some synthetic shuttlecocks
significantly different from their counterpart, feather shuttlecocks. As a result, the airflow behavior around the
synthetic shuttlecocks varies notably compared to the standard feather shuttlecocks. The degree of structural
deformation of synthetic shuttlecocks was not considered in this study. However, work is underway to address this
issue.
0.30
0.35
0.40
0.45
0.50
0.55
0.60
0.65
0.70
0.75
0.80
6.0E+04 8.0E+04 1.0E+05 1.2E+05 1.4E+05 1.6E+05
Drag Coefficient (C
D
)
Reynolds number (Re)
Drag Coefficient Variation with Reynolds Number
F-1 F-2 F-3 F-4 F-5
0.30
0.35
0.40
0.45
0.50
0.55
0.60
0.65
0.70
0.75
0.80
6.0E+04 8.0E+04 1.0E+05 1.2E+05 1.4E+05 1.6E+05
Drag Coefficient (C
D
)
Reynolds number (Re)
Drag Coefficient Variation with Reynolds Number
S-1 S-2 S-3 S-4 S-5
(a) Standard feather shuttlecock (b) Synthetic shuttlecock
Fig 4. C
D
as a function of Reynolds numbers
0.3
0.35
0.4
0.45
0.5
0.55
0.6
0.65
0.7
0.75
0.8
6.0E+04 8.0E+04 1.0E+05 1.2E+05 1.4E+05 1.6E+05
Drag Coefficient (C
D
)
Reynolds number (Re)
Comparison between Standard and Synthetic Shuttlecock
Synthetic Feather
Fig 5. Comparison between Standard feather and Synthetic shuttlecocks
F. Alam et al. / Procedia Engineering 2 (2010) 2487–2492 2491
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4. Conclusions
The following concluding remarks have been made based on the experimental study presented here:
The average drag coefficient for all shuttlecocks tested is approximately 0.61 over 100 km/h and 0.51 at 60 km/h.
The average drag coefficient for shuttlecocks made of feathers is approximately 0.62 over 100 km/h and 0.49 at
60 km/h.
The average drag coefficient for shuttlecocks made of synthetic rubber is approximately 0.59 over 100 km/h and
0.54 at 60 km/h.
The synthetic shuttlecock is subjected to higher deformation at high speeds compared to feather shuttlecock and
becomes more streamlined. Hence it produces less aerodynamic drag.
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for Sport Simulation (edited by M. Peters). Springer, Germany;2009;pp103-127.
[3] Mehta R D, Alam F, Subic A. Aerodynamics of tennis balls- a review. Sports Technology 2008;1(1):1-10.
[4] Smits A J, Ogg S. Golf ball aerodynamics. The Engineering of Sport 5 2004;pp 3-12.
[5] Seo K, Kobayashi O, Murakami M. Regular and irregular motion of a rugby football during flight. The Engineering of Sport 5 2004; 567-
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[6] Cooke A J. The Aerodynamics and Mechanics of Shuttlecocks, PhD thesis, University of Cambridge, UK;1992.
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The Aerodynamics and Mechanics of Shuttlecocks
  • A J Cooke
Cooke A J. The Aerodynamics and Mechanics of Shuttlecocks, PhD thesis, University of Cambridge, UK;1992.
  • F Alam
  • H Chowdhury
  • C Theppadungporn
  • A Subic
  • M M Khan
Alam, F., Chowdhury, H., Theppadungporn, C., Subic, A. and Khan M.M.K (2009), Aerodynamic Properties of Badminton Shuttlecock, The International Journal of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science 2009;4(3):266-272.