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I'm developing a 2D golf game in VB.NET 2005, but I am stuck on how to implement air or wind drag that should affect the ball.

Already I have these equations for projectile:

Vo                            `<-Initial velocity of golfball when hit or fired`

Vx=VoCos(theta)               `<-Vertical component of velocity of golfball`

Vy=VoSin(theta)-gt*           `<-Horizontal component of velocity of golfball`

X=VoCos(theta)t              `<-Vertical dixtance of golfball`

Y=VoSin(theta)t-(0.5)g(t*t)  `<-Horizontal dixtance of golfball`

How do I add air drag to this equation to properly affect the velocity of the golf ball? I don't have any idea how to do it, has anyone worked with similar equations?

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up vote 9 down vote accepted

I'm not sure if there even exists a closed form for drag or wind, but it is quite easy to simulate in a step-wise fashion (like all the physics libraries do):

1) set your initial condition:

x, y, vx, vy , (for t = 0)

2) update position:

x += vx * dt, y += vy * dt , (where dt is the time elapsed since the last update)

3) calculate these velocity helpers:

vsquared = vx * vx + vy * vy and vlength = √(vsquared)

4) calculate drag force:

fdrag = c * vsquared , (where c is the coefficient of friction small!)

5) accumulate forces:

fx = (-fdrag * vx / vlength), fy = (-fdrag * vy / vlength) + (-g * mass) , (where mass is the mass of your golf ball)

6) update velocity:

vx += fx * dt / mass, vy += fy * dt / mass

That's basically Euler's Method for approximating those physics.


A bit more on how the simulation as requested in the comments:

  • The initial condition (t = 0) in your case is

x = 0, y = 0,

vx = v0 * cos(θ),

vy = v0 * sin(θ)

It's basically the same as in your basic trajectory formula where every occurrence of t is replaced by 0.

  • The kinetic energy

KE = 0.5 * m * (V * V) = 0.5 * m * vsquared

is valid for every t (see vsquared as in (3)

  • The potential energy

PE = m * g * y

is also always valid.

  • If you want to get the current (x,y) for a given t1 what you need to do is initialize the simulation for t = 0 and do small dt updates until t = t1

  • If you already calculated (x,y) for a t1 and you want to know their values for a t2 where t1 < t2 all you need to do is calculating those small dt update steps from t1 to t2


simulate(v0, theta, t1)
  dt = 0.1
  x = 0
  y = 0
  vx = v0 * cos(theta)
  vy = v0 * sin(theta)
  for (t = 0; t < t1; t += dt)
    x += vx * dt
    y += vy * dt
    v_squared = vx * vx + vy * vy
    v_length = sqrt(v_squared)
    f_drag = c * v_squared
    f_grav = g * mass
    f_x = (-f_drag * vx / v_length)
    f_y = (-f_drag * vy / v_length) + (-f_grav)
    v_x += f_x * dt / mass
    v_y += f_y * dt / mass
  end for
  return x, y
end simulate
share|improve this answer
Thank you so much for this, i'll try it out an get back to you. – Smith Apr 15 '11 at 7:47
from these equations you provided, i'd like to get the current X & Y for a give time (t), should i replace my Vo with V_x and Vo with v_y? Also if i need to add the initial KE with which the ball was fired, will this KE=0.5*m*(V*V) be valid? – Smith Apr 15 '11 at 8:28
@Smith I'll edit my answer to account for your questions – LumpN Apr 15 '11 at 10:00
this is exactly what i did, and x is always negative, why? – Smith Apr 15 '11 at 11:29

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