MagLev C

erikb
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Re: MagLev C

Postby erikb » May 23rd, 2013, 5:06 am

Just wondering what is the normal stopping mechanism at the competitions? I know when this was done last year as a trial event in WI, there was nothing to stop it from going past the track. The best stopping mechanism was using a magnetic plate that curved up to catch the car. It caught our mag-lev which was like 2 pounds going at 2+ m/s.
Poudre used a metal plate on a separate track that would slide to absorb the energy so the mag lev slowed down gently.

We found that things like a foam stoppers were not safe since the sled had more thrust then needed to leave the track. With a sudden stop the sled would come off the track and the blades would explode.
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Re: MagLev C

Postby chalker » May 23rd, 2013, 9:56 am

Though taking away competitive advantages of the neodymium track would make sense (basically all the top 10 teams at nats had them), it would be a shame to make teams throw away the tracks they put so much time and effort into.
I have a few ideas on how to make the event safe and a few other things..
Safety is a top concern for us and we must make changes to address that this year. And it's not just safety during the event, but also in the preparation and led up to the event. Rare earth magnets in particular can be very dangerous to work with. In addition, as in all events, we don't like to encourage solutions that require throwing more money at them to win (which is what happened in this case).

You don't have to throw away your track, you just won't be able to use it for this event next year. There will be SIGNIFICANT changes to the rules that address safety from many different fronts, while also introducing some new challenges to the event to make it 'fresh' (and potentially will make optimal solutions this year far from optimal next year;).

As always, I'm open to suggestions (and have received some very good ones already), although the window on getting them into the rules is very short at this point.

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Jdogg
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Re: MagLev C

Postby Jdogg » May 23rd, 2013, 9:58 am

Just wondering what is the normal stopping mechanism at the competitions? I know when this was done last year as a trial event in WI, there was nothing to stop it from going past the track. The best stopping mechanism was using a magnetic plate that curved up to catch the car. It caught our mag-lev which was like 2 pounds going at 2+ m/s.
Poudre used a metal plate on a separate track that would slide to absorb the energy so the mag lev slowed down gently.

We found that things like a foam stoppers were not safe since the sled had more thrust then needed to leave the track. With a sudden stop the sled would come off the track and the blades would explode.
Yeah, I think it depends on the weight of your vehicle too. Cause we had a metal plate stopper that we use for our light car. But with the heavy car, the metal plates wouldn't slow down the car at all, causing it to hit the wood bar at the end of the metal stopper with just about the same velocity of it coming off the track. Plus the metal plate was lighter so it would take off with the maglev... So we ended up using a piece of foam and had a lip on our car, such that the foam got jammed between the top lip and bottom of the track. This also kept all the foam and any other material away from the propeller when stopping too.
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erikb
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Re: MagLev C

Postby erikb » May 23rd, 2013, 10:05 am

Yeah, I think it depends on the weight of your vehicle too. Cause we had a metal plate stopper that we use for our light car. But with the heavy car, the metal plates wouldn't slow down the car at all, causing it to hit the wood bar at the end of the metal stopper with just about the same velocity of it coming off the track. Plus the metal plate was lighter so it would take off with the maglev... So we ended up using a piece of foam and had a lip on our car, such that the foam got jammed between the top lip and bottom of the track. This also kept all the foam and any other material away from the propeller when stopping too.
Your design was genius.

You solved every problem we could not. More weight, more thrust and the ability to to stop it neatly.

We are sill in in amazement how you built multi-bladed propellers that did not come apart and were still efficient. The kids tried for several months and had to abandon it.
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Poudre High School, Fort Collins CO.

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Re: MagLev C

Postby GoldenKnight1 » May 23rd, 2013, 12:04 pm

Safety is a top concern for us and we must make changes to address that this year. And it's not just safety during the event, but also in the preparation and led up to the event. Rare earth magnets in particular can be very dangerous to work with. In addition, as in all events, we don't like to encourage solutions that require throwing more money at them to win (which is what happened in this case).

You don't have to throw away your track, you just won't be able to use it for this event next year. There will be SIGNIFICANT changes to the rules that address safety from many different fronts, while also introducing some new challenges to the event to make it 'fresh' (and potentially will make optimal solutions this year far from optimal next year;).

As always, I'm open to suggestions (and have received some very good ones already), although the window on getting them into the rules is very short at this point.
I completely get the safety aspect and from experience felt that this was going to be one of the more dangerous events from the start and in practice and as an event supervisor I saw that that was true. It seemed clear that from a safety standpoint every fan should have been ducted to protect people and after hearing all of the bloody stories on here I think that has been proven. But while rare-earth magnets can be dangerous I had not heard of many people with these tracks having safety issues once they were made. And for those teams that already have them I think that the rules could be written in a way that does not force them to put it on the shelf and buy a new track. Many of the ideas mentioned already would completely negate the power of a rare-earth track by making the score not be just based on weight or speed. If it was turned more into a gravity-vehicle-style event (go a certain distance in a fixed time) or go out a certain distance and them come back to a starting point (like one of the variations of Mousetrap. All of these would not encourage new teams to make a rare-earth track while still allowing those tracks currently out there to still be used.

While I get the idea that you don't want to encourage solutions that require throwing more money at them to win, the rules for this year were designed in that exact way. Rare-earth magnet tracks were allowed with heavy vehicles being a significant advantage. Those two things together strongly encouraged expensive tracks. Just eliminating the need for heavy vehicles will significantly decrease rare-earth magnet tracks from being needed and the only ones that will have them are the ones that have already made them. Making these teams buy or build another track just forces them to throw more money at the problem.

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Re: MagLev C

Postby erikb » May 23rd, 2013, 1:57 pm


While I get the idea that you don't want to encourage solutions that require throwing more money at them to win, the rules for this year were designed in that exact way. Rare-earth magnet tracks were allowed with heavy vehicles being a significant advantage. Those two things together strongly encouraged expensive tracks. Just eliminating the need for heavy vehicles will significantly decrease rare-earth magnet tracks from being needed and the only ones that will have them are the ones that have already made them. Making these teams buy or build another track just forces them to throw more money at the problem.
As a team that was top ten in the nation I can say that rare earth magnets were not needed to win.

Our magnets were taken from the tech lab chalk boards. It cost us nothing but the paint and duct tape to make the track.

The mag levs cost less than $15 each to make and the batteries cost $50 total

We did waste money on more expesive motors that we did not use because we could not figure out how to make multi- blade props. If we could have solved that issue we would have doubled thrust.

So I would say that this year was not the money pit it would have been if they allowed brushless motors
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Re: MagLev C

Postby iwonder » May 23rd, 2013, 3:43 pm

Here's the other way to look at it. A track with ceramic magnets is fairly cheap compared to a track with rare earth magnets, and teams with rare earth tracks probably only have to swap out for ceramic magnets. Those teams obviously have a large amount of money, so I don't see the problem with forcing teams that have already shown that they have plenty of money to spend replace theirs gets with ceramic.
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Re: MagLev C

Postby mj » May 23rd, 2013, 10:22 pm

Here's the other way to look at it. A track with ceramic magnets is fairly cheap compared to a track with rare earth magnets, and teams with rare earth tracks probably only have to swap out for ceramic magnets. Those teams obviously have a large amount of money, so I don't see the problem with forcing teams that have already shown that they have plenty of money to spend replace theirs gets with ceramic.
You cannot profile teams that have nice things. Some teams, realized that their students were putting in a ton of effort to make a really strong design for Maglev so they did extra fundraising to provide those members with the best track possible. Unfortunately, rare earth magnets do need to be eliminated from the rules because they are unsafe. A good rare earth magnet track requires alligning hundreds of cubes in an array, each with 7-8 lbs of pulling force, easily pinching your fingers and breaking skin. Just assembling the track alone, with the safest precautions, would be no task that an average teenager could do safely.

Also ceramic tracks can also be very expensive if your going beyond what the bulk of the teams are building. Either way you look at it the teams with the most funding are going to on average have the best builds. That is how the world works, there comes a point where creativity and ingenuity caps out and what makes the difference between the top handful of teams in the nation is how much money they were able to spend on the event. That is just my opinion. That is completely fair though, as this is how it is in the real scientific community.

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Re: MagLev C

Postby Jdogg » May 23rd, 2013, 10:34 pm

Here's the other way to look at it. A track with ceramic magnets is fairly cheap compared to a track with rare earth magnets, and teams with rare earth tracks probably only have to swap out for ceramic magnets. Those teams obviously have a large amount of money, so I don't see the problem with forcing teams that have already shown that they have plenty of money to spend replace theirs gets with ceramic.
You cannot profile teams that have nice things. Some teams, realized that their students were putting in a ton of effort to make a really strong design for Maglev so they did extra fundraising to provide those members with the best track possible. Unfortunately, rare earth magnets do need to be eliminated from the rules because they are unsafe. A good rare earth magnet track requires alligning hundreds of cubes in an array, each with 7-8 lbs of pulling force, easily pinching your fingers and breaking skin. Just assembling the track alone, with the safest precautions, would be no task that an average teenager could do safely.

Also ceramic tracks can also be very expensive if your going beyond what the bulk of the teams are building. Either way you look at it the teams with the most funding are going to on average have the best builds. That is how the world works, there comes a point where creativity and ingenuity caps out and what makes the difference between the top handful of teams in the nation is how much money they were able to spend on the event. That is just my opinion. That is completely fair though, as this is how it is in the real scientific community.
No, just no. Money doesn't make that big of a difference. I personally spent less money than 9/10 teams that I've talked to. Money makes it easier to win, but it doesn't make a difference. Although you need to invest some money into a event to compete, like enough money for the track and so on. We spent a total of 40 dollars in motors, 20 dollars in batteries, and probably about 35 dollars in lead for our maglev. Add in extra cost of switches and wire you get to around a 100 dollars for our maglev, and we ended up getting our track essential for free. So money defiantly doesn't make the difference in between the top teams, effort does.
Another example is my robot arm, I used a lot of parts that we're just lying around to build it and only had to order a few motors this year. Totaling under 500 plus random extra parts, by no means the 3-5 grand of other robots at nats. Money helps, but it is by NO MEANS THE DIFFERENCE between the top teams. I'm sorry I got so defensive, but I truly believe that it comes down to effort/ideas and a minimum amount of money to get the parts you need. Which if you spend it right (go to china warehouses directly) you can get everything you need for very cheap.
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Re: MagLev C

Postby mj » May 24th, 2013, 12:10 am

No, just no. Money doesn't make that big of a difference. I personally spent less money than 9/10 teams that I've talked to. Money makes it easier to win, but it doesn't make a difference. Although you need to invest some money into a event to compete, like enough money for the track and so on. We spent a total of 40 dollars in motors, 20 dollars in batteries, and probably about 35 dollars in lead for our maglev. Add in extra cost of switches and wire you get to around a 100 dollars for our maglev, and we ended up getting our track essential for free. So money defiantly doesn't make the difference in between the top teams, effort does.
Another example is my robot arm, I used a lot of parts that we're just lying around to build it and only had to order a few motors this year. Totaling under 500 plus random extra parts, by no means the 3-5 grand of other robots at nats. Money helps, but it is by NO MEANS THE DIFFERENCE between the top teams. I'm sorry I got so defensive, but I truly believe that it comes down to effort/ideas and a minimum amount of money to get the parts you need. Which if you spend it right (go to china warehouses directly) you can get everything you need for very cheap.
I am sorry I mispoke. What I meant was that no matter how you change the rules there is going to be teams that are able to use money to make things easier. I agree that in the end it does not mean that if you are willing to spend a couple grand you can win any event, it means that if there is a flaw in the rules, the people with the money are the ones that are going to have an EASIER time exploiting it. A team that could just buy a neodymium track would have a lot less trouble levitating 5kg than a team with a ceramic one. Thats all.


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