Electric Vehicle C

jander14indoor
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Re: Electric Vehicle C 2009

Post by jander14indoor » September 4th, 2008, 11:42 am

What's cool about this list and SO folks in general is exemplified in the responses to my note.

You accept the limits some schools have even if they don't apply to you. And even more important lots of creative work arounds.

thanks

Jeff Anderson
Livonia, MI

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Re: Electric Vehicle C 2009

Post by sachleen » September 4th, 2008, 6:59 pm

andrewwski wrote:I'm sure you can use a computer somewhere though. School, library, friend's house, etc.

But the way they then use "electronics" in general is too limiting...a simple timer circuit requires no microcontroller, and no computer access at all. Yet it uses electronics.
Before I got the old laptop, I couldn't use any computer at school. Just because you have computers doesn't mean you can install software on them. We have laptops in the science dept.... I asked if I could use one for EV testing/programming and found out I needed to enter a password to install anything... So we have a lot of computers at school, but you can't install anything on any of them and the tech people probably wouldn't let me (I never asked, but I doubt they would have) because I'd be installing something on their computers :o and they'd probably imagine the worst case situation.... and say NO. :P

I work as a tech support agent now and one thing they really stress on us is that when you have to say "our product doesn't support this feature" or "you can't do that", it should be followed by a "however, what you can do is....." So I've learned now more than ever before to have an alternative solution to things I would say "nope, can't do it.. too bad.." to before. :)

So to you, I really recommend buying a cheap laptop from eBay or something. It's gonna help you out soooo much over the long run. It doesn't have to be good or anything, just needs to work. Older is better because they have serial ports. :) My laptop is over 1" thick and I've never heard of the company before but it works great for my EV programming!

If you really can't buy a cheap one online, plan out the code for your EV and how everything will work, go to a friend relative's house, code it and download it to the EV and then do what I did with buttons and LEDs to input distances. Once you've gotten the code set and it works, you just need to test at the various distances, you shouldn't need a computer anymore.

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Re: Electric Vehicle C 2009

Post by seth959ci » September 4th, 2008, 7:45 pm

hello everyone, i was just wondering if anyone could post some of their distances/times from last year's events. i am just curious how fast everyone's cars go down the track. thanks!
when the fear of crashing is greater than the thrill of speed,BRAKE!

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Re: Electric Vehicle C 2009

Post by eak227 » September 4th, 2008, 9:41 pm

Is the nationals rule still the same this year? The one about them choosing both a distance and time between 1.5 and 4.0 sec/m?

Because that's what we had our EV set to do. Without any fancy computers or microprocessors. All we used was a switch, a motor, and a potentiometer to vary the speed of the motor, and thus the speed of our car.

But anyway, with the motor the way it was, our car would go about 1 second per meter, so 10 seconds for 10 meters at full throttle, and then with the potentiometer set, we could go infinitely slow pretty much. But the slower you can get your car to go the better in this event.
Ethan K
Valparaiso, Indiana SO Alumnus
Ben Franklin MS
Valparaiso HS
Harvard University 2012

Nationals: OSU '03, Juniata '04, Wichita State '07, George Washington '08 -- Team place: 22, 18, 11, 11

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Re: Electric Vehicle C 2009

Post by captbilly » September 4th, 2008, 11:21 pm

jander14indoor wrote:OK, so how do you interface with those cheap electronics? If you say laptop or palm device BZZZZzzzzzzt, the cheap 20 dollars of electronics on your vehicle just went to $220 to $520 minimum and THAT's the expense of concern.

Note, I don't think there's anything WRONG about the approches you guys are discussing, they are all valid ways to learn about science and technology. And trying to save money can be a BIG driver of innovation. But, you should understand the rest of the story.

One of the percieved (and probably real) issues with SO is lack of participation by disadvantaged schools and students. Here in MI we have regular debates on the state board about allowing the use of computers at any event. My local region (region 8, Wayne Co) includes areas ranging from the most impoverished areas of Detroit to some of Michigans wealthiest suburbs. For some schools even the entry fee is challenging so we've established grants to recruit them. But computers at such schools are RARE and not widely available for uses such as this.

The rule you see is partly an offspring of this issue. It is there to encourage those without access to computers to compete without at least the perceived barrier of lack of resources.

Hope that helps understand how the bonus came about, I'm still curious to see both the mechanical solutions AND the cheap electronic ones.

Jeff Anderson
Livonia, MI
Are you telling me that nobody on an SO team would have access to a laptop computer, how do they research their study events. how do they post their myspace? I find it hard to believe that a serious hurdle for an SO team would be access to a computer. SO is a science event not an arts and crafts event, I am more than sympathetic with kids who are so disadvantaged that they cannot even borrow a computer to use in SO competition, but those same kids would be at such a disadvantage as to make competing in all the events virtually impossible anyway. You simply cannot do meaningful science projects without access to technology. If access to the necessary technology is a real problem for SO competitors than we should all get together and lobby companies to donate the necessary items for teams that cannot afford them. I think many companies would be thrilled to donate their microprocessors for SO. Microchip Technologies, makers of the PIC microcontrollers gives away samples for free by the way, as does almost every manufacturer of microcontrollers. Where I live companies regularly donate their old computers to almost any school that wants them. At my sisters school I once volunteered to set up a network of a bunch of used computers that were donated by some state agency, to make a language lab and a reference center in the library. When I got there I couldn't believe my eyes, they had dozens of maybe two year old computers, laser printers, monitors, etc. filling an entire room.

You need only a very basic computer to write code and program a microcontroller, and even less of a computer to connect to the controller on you EV to set distance or timing. If we dumb down these events to the point that all you need to compete is some popsicle sticks and Elmers glue, it becomes not Science Olympiad but more like an elementary school fun project. Learning to program a microcontroller is a skill that while quite easy to learn, would make virtually anybody who can do it instantly employable in the real world, that's a worth while skill.

By the way there are schools that spend thousands of dollars building robots for Robo Cross, Robo Billiards, Robot Ramble, and Sumobots, and there are teams that spend probably less than $10, but I would say the correlation between money spent and score achieved is slight. On my desk right now are a bunch of free sample PIC microcontrollers and a programmer that cost $30 I think. The software for writing the code for these processors, including a C compiler cost... nothing, you can download it from the manufacturer. Lets do some science that actually teaches us some useful skills. I say there should be an event that requires a microcontroller.
Last edited by gh on September 6th, 2008, 7:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Electric Vehicle C 2009

Post by seth959ci » September 5th, 2008, 7:22 am

yeah i figured slower would be better, but i like to go fast for the reaction of the crowd, even if we made it to state competition my partner and i probably wouldnt go because of the rest of the team might not make the requirements. so our car is really fast- it did a 5.5m track in 3.2 seconds, we came in second at regionals by a hair.
when the fear of crashing is greater than the thrill of speed,BRAKE!

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Re: Electric Vehicle C 2009

Post by sachleen » September 5th, 2008, 6:52 pm

wow, slow down the car and you'll get a better score lol.. I see no reason to go fast.. If you want reaction from the crowd, get it by getting a perfect score ;) and slaughtering the competition

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Re: Electric Vehicle C 2009

Post by seth959ci » September 5th, 2008, 9:00 pm

yeah, i probably should slow down, but im a car guy and speed is in my blood. we are redesigning the car to be precise and fast this year. it was redneck(but awesome) last year and we're cleaning up some slop in the chassis this time around.
when the fear of crashing is greater than the thrill of speed,BRAKE!

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Re: Electric Vehicle C 2009

Post by andrewwski » September 6th, 2008, 12:44 pm

I'd rather use up almost all of the allotted prediction time and be .1 cm from the wall than make a flashy and fast car that gets there in 5 seconds but stops .3 cm from the wall.

And what do you mean by chassis? It doesn't need to be any cool looking car design (unless you have a lot of extra time on your hands). Mine was simply a couple of motor boxes mounted to a slab of pine with my circuit board on top.

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Re: Electric Vehicle C 2009

Post by seth959ci » September 7th, 2008, 6:51 am

no, its not cosmetic or anything, just using ballbearings to get rid of some play in the axles, new wheel mounts, and the rest will probably be made of thin plywood to keep weight down.
when the fear of crashing is greater than the thrill of speed,BRAKE!

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