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1930 - Jim Reynolds on the platform, two photoelectric beams and can be used to measure speeds which have never before been measurable because of the nature of their force


E&MP 94.005

Photo Electric Cells

June 1930

The measured speed of a driver when it connects with a golf ball is from 70 to 125 miles per hour was shown today in the research laboratory of the General Electric Company here when a series of tests was conducted by means of a device utilizing the phototube, or "electric eye".

Jim Reynolds, of Schenectady, winner of the national driving championship at Chicago in 1930, made the mark of 125 in his second attempt.

The device used in the laboratory to obtain the speed of the club was developed by H. W. Lord, vacuum tube engineer.

It employs two photoelectric beams and can be used to measure speeds which have never before been measurable because of the nature of their force.

Reynolds, who has a reputation for obtaining remarkable distance in driving, stepped on the platform in his first attempt and registered a speed of 106.

His second swing was 125, the high mark for the afternoon, while other attempts ran from a low of 72 to 102 miles per hour, varying with the length of the club used.

Alex McIntyre, professional of the Edison Country Club, Schenectady, also swung a driver several times from the platform, and his speed when connecting with the practice ball ranged from a low of 70 to a high of 97 miles per hour.

The tests demonstrated that lightness rather than weight in the head of the club, and length of shaft contributed to the higher rates of speed.

The apparatus developed by Lord for making the measurements includes two phototubes and light sources which effect two beams of light about six inches apart.

These beams run at right angles to the path of the club, which is swung from a platform.

The driver cuts the first beam a split second before it strikes the ball on its tee and almost immediately afterwards cuts the second beam.

Both phototubes operate Thyratron tubes, the first one causing a condenser to begin charging and the second one stopping it.

The resulting voltage charge across the condenser is measured by a meter, which is calibrated in terms of miles per hour.

The calibration can be altered to measure much slower or much faster speeds, and it is possible to measure speeds up to about a thousand miles per hour with the device.

Original Caption by Science Service
© General Electric Company

National Museum of American History


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