MagLev C

Robotica
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Re: MagLev C

Post by Robotica » March 19th, 2014, 3:27 am

akmshr07 wrote:Chalker, I know it says the track must be placed on a level surface, but what about propping the track at a small angle to reduce the speed of the car? I can't find any rules to prohibit this so I'm hoping this would be allowed.
I'm sure this should be submitted as an FAQ, but since the topic was brought up. What about the opposite, tilting the track to gain momentum at the start?

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Re: MagLev C

Post by chalker » March 19th, 2014, 6:13 am

Robotica wrote:
akmshr07 wrote:Chalker, I know it says the track must be placed on a level surface, but what about propping the track at a small angle to reduce the speed of the car? I can't find any rules to prohibit this so I'm hoping this would be allowed.
I'm sure this should be submitted as an FAQ, but since the topic was brought up. What about the opposite, tilting the track to gain momentum at the start?
Noting that as always this isn't the place for official statements, etc. etc. I'll point out that in the description at the top of the rules it states the vehicles must be self-propelled. Also note that the event supervisor is the one who picks the start and stop lines, thus if you try to incline the track, you might find yourself running in the 'wrong' direction because of the choices of the supervisor.

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Re: MagLev C

Post by joeyjoejoe » March 19th, 2014, 8:30 am

We use a level to verify the track is perfectly flat. The track has two thumb screws at each end to adjust the height of the track to achieve this. Without a perfectly level track, our data is crap. It seems pretty fair to me to require that the track be level.
BTW, I'm glad we did this because at regionals, the fold out lunchroom table that was used to support the track was nearly an inch off end to end!
Most competitors after us then used shims to level their track.

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Re: MagLev C

Post by akmshr07 » March 19th, 2014, 10:11 am

chalker wrote:
Robotica wrote:
akmshr07 wrote:Chalker, I know it says the track must be placed on a level surface, but what about propping the track at a small angle to reduce the speed of the car? I can't find any rules to prohibit this so I'm hoping this would be allowed.
I'm sure this should be submitted as an FAQ, but since the topic was brought up. What about the opposite, tilting the track to gain momentum at the start?
Noting that as always this isn't the place for official statements, etc. etc. I'll point out that in the description at the top of the rules it states the vehicles must be self-propelled. Also note that the event supervisor is the one who picks the start and stop lines, thus if you try to incline the track, you might find yourself running in the 'wrong' direction because of the choices of the supervisor.
The rules also allow us to turn the track around, so as far as slowing down the car with a tilt is that ok? I don't think that would violate the rule of self-propulsion

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Re: MagLev C

Post by Stingray355 » March 19th, 2014, 10:14 am

I know this is not the place for official rulings but your comments trigger some questions. It says level surface not that the track is required to be level or to what degree of accuracy. We have more often than not competed on a table that was not level to the necessary tolerance for our vehicle not to be impacted by it. We use the first run to calculate how much more/less thrust we need to adjust to compensate. I know there are many designs out there but ours is very senstitive to this and differences as small as 1/16th" or less will require compensation.We have not witnessed any ES equiped to measure the level of the table at any event this year or last and certainly nothing that could measure the tiny differences that will impact our thrust setting.

We took extra steps in the construction of the track to insure that our track is level so that any differences( time) we measure from the first run are due to the table we are sitting on. If we had the luxury of always running on a perfectly level table it would make first runs more predictable and fewer or smaller adjustments would be needed for a second run. However in the real world this is not what we find and we try to prepare for how to deal with the differences we see at each venue.

I find no tolerances/specs for what is considered to be a level table and it is not even mentioned in the track specifications.

Teams that supply their own tracks have to have some demonstrated way to stop the device at the end of a run. This is often build into the track in one way or another and would define which end of the track is the finish and would make the other end the start. At the events we have competed in in doesn't matter whether we run left to right or right to left, the ES tells us which gate is the start and we orient the track so that our 95cm marks align with the gates.Maybe we will be running uphill or maybe downhill but the timer will tell us which way to adjust after we make a run.

If it happens that you are running uphill, this would definately not a source of propulsion, just the opposite it will slow down the device and require even more thrust to hit whatever the target time is. Downhill is just as bad, we ran an 8 second time on our first run at a practice tournament with a calibration setting that should have produced a time close to the target time of 13.2 seconds.We were on a permanent countertop in a lab that appeared to be level. We have considered that being able to adjust to the conditions of the venue part of the challenge and you have to be able to adjust as required based on the results of the first run and using our calibration data to determine how much to adjust.

Without guidance on the required tolerance for level for the tables and/or tracks and with the lack of sensitve enough measurement tools I don't see how this could be admisistered in a fair and objective way. Consider this is coming from a team that would likely benefit from a requirement that all testing surfaces be perfectly level and we already have a track that is level to less than 1/64" at least last time we measured it.

I would be surprised if most teams have built their tracks to be that flat and then they have made lots of calibration runs to adjust their vehicle to run on the track they use. Throwing some new standard this late in the season could make all of their calibrations worthless, assuming changes had to made to their track.Also if this was a requirement earlier in the season would it have impacted results at the many regionals that have already been held?

I look forward to hearing how this gets resolved . Thanks.

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Re: MagLev C

Post by joeyjoejoe » March 19th, 2014, 11:02 am

Our team operates almost exactly as Stingray describes above. Our first run is merely a number we use to get the second run correct. BUT, a good first run makes it even more accurate. We too have noticed that if the bubble on the level is even 1/32" out of line, it could affect our times (especially at the slowest setting) by as much as 2 seconds! Furthermore, in the above scenario, if we are launching downhill, we may not be able to get above 8 seconds due the care we took to take friction out of the picture- the car will even fall (motor off) down the track in about 10 seconds in this case! Therefore a level track is crucial. I know the rules state that the track must be placed on a flat surface but nothing is said of how level it is. I can't see why there should be any problem with us leveling our tracks. .

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Re: MagLev C

Post by chalker7 » March 19th, 2014, 12:25 pm

Keep in mind this is completely unofficial and has no bearing on how the actual tournaments will be run, I just want to provide some perspective.

In the ideal world, every competition venue would be environmentally perfect, every event supervisor would have decades of experience, be well-versed in both the specifics of their event and holistically in Science Olympiad as well as control every possible variable that could impact any competing team (including the weather.) We don't live in an ideal world. One of the biggest challenges of running a tournament is finding a sufficient number of appropriate event supervisors and spaces for events, especially at the regional level. While there are a wide variety of reasons for this, one of the most common we hear as the rules writers is that the events are too complicated or too demanding. For example, in the aviation events we often hear it is difficult to get a gym at all in warm weather climates, simply because not many of them exist (schools use the outside there because they can...) Forget having a perfectly smooth ceiling, control over the AC system, etc, they just cannot find rooms big enough for model airplanes.

The same thing happens in Maglev. We want to make sure as many teams participate as possible, but that means we need to make it an event which supervisors can actually run and will not be pulled from a tournament due to not being able to find someone (unfortunately, a very common practice, especially at the lower levels.) The way this manifests in the rules is we tend to favor highly generic environmental standards. Does this make it ideal for scientific testing? No. Does it make it such that more teams can participate than otherwise possible? Yes. This means there are not (and it is very unlikely there will be in the future) any standards as to the "flatness" of the table or things similar to that. If we said that the competition surface must be X square meters, without obstructions and level to within 0.1mm across its surface, it would make for a really awesome competition....for the one venue in the country that could actually provide such a setup. Of course, we hope that every competition in the country provides as ideal of conditions as possible to the competitors, but please be mindful when considering the larger impact of the purpose of the rules (specifically in service of the mission and goals of Science Olympiad...http://www.soinc.org/mission)
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Re: MagLev C

Post by Stingray355 » March 19th, 2014, 2:20 pm

I agree with everything you said and we are all used to venues that are less than ideal, thanks for reminding me of flying in small classrooms with 8 ft ceilings!

The question for me is what are acceptable procedures/remedies for a team to use to correct a situation where their track is on an unlevel table. So far we have been able to deal with the degree of slope of the table by using our calibration adjustments. I can tell you if we hit a table that was 1" out we would be in "uncharted territory" and I don't know what would happen. I assume if it was downhill we would adjust for absolute minimum thrust and it would crash hard into the stop barrier, if it was uphill we have plenty of available thrust we don't normally use so we could drive it up the hill but it would be a guess as to what the time would be as we have not tested on a grade like that.

I hope someone has submitted for official clarification, I have not but I have some concern that the judges may have little guidance on this and that may make for some competitions that tier for reasons that are not an issue in other venues. Whatever the ruling is it should be the same everywhere and easy to understand what is OK and what constitutes a violation.

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Re: MagLev C

Post by TheGatesofLogic » March 19th, 2014, 2:47 pm

As above I'm interested in leveling of the track, but in the opposite way. Is inclining my track via shimming in order to increase the time my vehicle takes down the track contrary to any current rules? I was unable to find any rules regarding this, the only specifications being that the surface that the track rests on must be level, however I am unsure if this somehow applies to the track itself. Any help here? the resistor I'm using can only adjust my vehicles speed so far and this is the easiest way I've found to get around this.

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Re: MagLev C

Post by iwonder » March 19th, 2014, 2:49 pm

Umm... Just a tip, you can get a answers to a lot of your questions by reading the second post from the top on this exact page. Just scroll up.
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