MagLev C

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Re: MagLev C

Post by iwonder » March 15th, 2014, 10:53 am

That's an integrated circuit (if you take the covers off it's got a ton of components in it), so no, it wouldn't be.
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Re: MagLev C

Post by philip284 » March 15th, 2014, 7:16 pm

chalker wrote:Yeah, as pointed out a few posts back, the FAQ should probably be worded better to point out the safety concerns, not the spirit of the problem ones (although I think that's also a factor). We're always trying to balance allowing creativity, innovation, etc with 'spirit of the problem'. In fact you'll note that we often answer FAQs by pointing the General Rule #2, which says by default things are allowed. However I'll also point out general rule #1, which says teams can't interpret the rules to have an unfair advantage. Personally I think that applies here as well. The vast majority of teams are tackling this problem via slow speeds. While starting and stopping is a creative solution, it likely doesn't occur to most people (and in fact hadn't occurred to me prior to seeing this recent FAQ, yet I spend a LOT of time thinking about SO rules.)
How am I supposed to know what the vast majority of teams are doing? When I read the rules I immediately thought of using this idea and then had constructed the circuit a few minutes after. Later I even added in relays to make it safer with an automatic shutoff switch. So saying safety is the issue at least for my implementation would be an inaccurate statement (I of course also had rock solid mounting of the propeller and the arguably the safest shroud at our regionals). Plus no where in the rules to me at least does it seem to hint at moving at a slow steady pace, so where could I have looked to discover what the spirit of the problem was before it was stated? How could THINKING of the problem given, traveling a set distance in a unknown time, be an "unfair advantage." Well actually I must say I've lied previously in this. I did not think of doing it in the way completely allowed by the rules. I first thought about using a 555 timer, but that is illegal as it is a ic. So I had to move back a decade or two to junction fet tech. I find that rule 2 could basically mean that the judges could declare their own "spirit of the problem" and then screw over certain teams. I also don't see it as a creative solution. Saying that it is a creative solution is akin to saying using only one pole on the track and vehicle. Most of the people making their track probably made it using the two poles. Also may I have what they define "interpret" as? So that I can design my next system fully within the specs, defined somewhere unreleased to the public. I feel that instead of giving rules out to the teams, they should just release a step by step guide on how to build all the events. They seem to word the rules in a weird fashion that always leave plenty of room allowing many different assemblies just to disqualify teams when they present. If they didn't want a start stop system they should have put that explicitly in the rules because otherwise the ambiguous wordings will screw over many teams. It never crossed my mind that it would be against the unreleased rules because as I have said many times over the rules never even hinted at that. Hmm heres the rule sheet and my idea doesn't violate any of the rules, so it must be allowed. Saying that it is an unfair advantage would hint at it being only my idea and no one else could use in which case it would be, but as proven in this thread many people have thought of this idea. I initially thought this was a competition to see who could make the best vehicle to accomplish the task, but it has turned out that I was wrong. This is a competition of who could copy better.

On a side note: I'm always disappointed that I can't use a microcontroller. They take an otherwise simple task and make it a billion times harder than it needs to be. Using cost I see is not a decent reason too. Maybe this is because I am use to using microcontrollers for most problems I face(also might be because I have a box full of them on the shelf). And using the reason that people may not understand it. I also can't comprehend. People can always use the almighty google to blindly put together a circuit to use no different if it is in a microcontroller.

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Re: MagLev C

Post by chalker » March 16th, 2014, 7:52 am

philip284 wrote: If they didn't want a start stop system they should have put that explicitly in the rules because otherwise the ambiguous wordings will screw over many teams. It never crossed my mind that it would be against the unreleased rules because as I have said many times over the rules never even hinted at that. Hmm heres the rule sheet and my idea doesn't violate any of the rules, so it must be allowed. Saying that it is an unfair advantage would hint at it being only my idea and no one else could use in which case it would be, but as proven in this thread many people have thought of this idea. I initially thought this was a competition to see who could make the best vehicle to accomplish the task, but it has turned out that I was wrong. This is a competition of who could copy better.
Bravo to you for your creativity and engineering. It is indeed a very elegant solution, and quite honestly one none of us on the rule committee thought of to address in the rules. But that doesn't mean we explicitly wanted to include it. While you clearly have the engineering acumen to implement it safely, it's still a very dangerous approach that would result in many injures I fear. As I indicated earlier this year in this very thread, our primary goal with the rules changes from last year was to make the event safer for everyone. I also would dispute your statement that many people have thought of it. I've heard from I think 3 people on SciOly who thought of it (and SciOly is NOT representative of SO at large). I haven't heard from ANY event supervisors over the past few month who have seen this technique in competition - hence my statement about catching us off guard a bit. There are still a LOT of creative ways to tackle the problem, and I've personally witnessed many in competition.
philip284 wrote: On a side note: I'm always disappointed that I can't use a microcontroller. They take an otherwise simple task and make it a billion times harder than it needs to be. Using cost I see is not a decent reason too. Maybe this is because I am use to using microcontrollers for most problems I face(also might be because I have a box full of them on the shelf). And using the reason that people may not understand it. I also can't comprehend. People can always use the almighty google to blindly put together a circuit to use no different if it is in a microcontroller.
Again, the fact you are comfortable with them and have many available isn't indicative of the general population of SO competitors. We always try to 'think of the least common denominator' in the rules, while at the same time providing some leeway and challenges for the elite competitors like yourself. You're absolutely correct that using a microcontroller often makes events WAY easier - but SO isn't about making things easy, it's about giving people learning opportunities and a passion for STEM fields. Several years ago we learned a hard lesson in an event called Junkyard challenge where we decided to allow microcontrollers. That resulted in the vast majority of teams at Nationals trivially getting essentially perfect scores and thus having to go to something like the 3rd or 4th level of tie-breakers. Nobody was really doing much creative with the bulk of the event rules, but rather focusing on maximizing one little trivial aspect that we had thrown in almost as an afterthought because we didn't think we'd need to go to that level of tiebreaking. Yes, we could have written the rules better, but we are all human and have day jobs, so there's only so much we can think about and put into the rules. Hence we rely upon FAQs and Clarifications for situations when competitors such as yourself come up with solutions outside the box so to speak.

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Re: MagLev C

Post by philip284 » March 16th, 2014, 1:17 pm

chalker wrote: Bravo to you for your creativity and engineering.
Thank you.
chalker wrote:It is indeed a very elegant solution, and quite honestly one none of us on the rule committee thought of to address in the rules. But that doesn't mean we explicitly wanted to include it.
Last time I checked science didn't have rules, so perhaps SO should remove science from its name. Why would the committee want to remove what is arguably the most correct answer to the problem given? Just about any other way doesn't gain the accuracy this method has.
chalker wrote:While you clearly have the engineering acumen to implement it safely, it's still a very dangerous approach that would result in many injures I fear. As I indicated earlier this year in this very thread, our primary goal with the rules changes from last year was to make the event safer for everyone.
I still would like to hear how this is a "very dangerous approach that would result in many injures."
chalker wrote:I also would dispute your statement that many people have thought of it. I've heard from I think 3 people on SciOly who thought of it (and SciOly is NOT representative of SO at large). I haven't heard from ANY event supervisors over the past few month who have seen this technique in competition - hence my statement about catching us off guard a bit.
3 people did say they thought of it. There are 49 unique posters in this topic(including you, Jim_R, and the other division Grads). So about 6% of people have thought of this idea on these forums. I'm pretty sure a large number of students participate in SO, and last time I have checked a small percent of a large number is still a large number. Assuming that the 6% transfers up to the whole SO community which I think it does. Plus I'm saying people who have thought of it and not people who did it, so you using the fact you or others having not seen it in action is not valid.
chalker wrote:There are still a LOT of creative ways to tackle the problem, and I've personally witnessed many in competition.
And I can still think of many ways to tackle this problem. A lot of them relying on pure luck. Many of them also do not, reying on actual science to do the task.
chalker wrote: Again, the fact you are comfortable with them and have many available isn't indicative of the general population of SO competitors. We always try to 'think of the least common denominator' in the rules, while at the same time providing some leeway and challenges for the elite competitors like yourself. You're absolutely correct that using a microcontroller often makes events WAY easier - but SO isn't about making things easy, it's about giving people learning opportunities and a passion for STEM fields. Several years ago we learned a hard lesson in an event called Junkyard challenge where we decided to allow microcontrollers. That resulted in the vast majority of teams at Nationals trivially getting essentially perfect scores and thus having to go to something like the 3rd or 4th level of tie-breakers. Nobody was really doing much creative with the bulk of the event rules, but rather focusing on maximizing one little trivial aspect that we had thrown in almost as an afterthought because we didn't think we'd need to go to that level of tiebreaking. Yes, we could have written the rules better, but we are all human and have day jobs, so there's only so much we can think about and put into the rules. Hence we rely upon FAQs and Clarifications for situations when competitors such as yourself come up with solutions outside the box so to speak.
This here I didn't really care that much about. It was in the rules, so I wouldn't actually try to get away with it. If I needed a microcontroller to do something and the rules said something against it, I would just build one out of transistors, but that would be incredibly hard. But then again I always wanted a reason to do it anyway. I do agree that the rules are terribly written, and I do realize that I am in the minority in this aspect. Not using one in most cases is a simple and easy to navigate around like this one.

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Re: MagLev C

Post by joeyjoejoe » March 16th, 2014, 2:52 pm

Last time I checked science didn't have rules, so perhaps SO should remove science from its name. Why would the committee want to remove what is arguably the most correct answer to the problem given? Just about any other way doesn't gain the accuracy this method has.
C'mon dude, every competition has to have rules.

I am sure that very many teams thought of this method but, like our teams, decided that it would be a violation. We actually went so far as to build a time delay relay circuit ( a couple of transistors, resistors, caps and a relay) to implement this design- look on the various electronic forums for a guy named "Piddler". The entire time we were building this we felt like I imagine those warriors in the Trojan horse felt -"Oh boy are they are they gonna have their minds blown when we show up with this!"
It just suddenly became too easy....

...and this is the main reason we abandoned the idea. We finally reasoned that, though not explicitly stated, it was implied that the car must at least be attempting forward motion the entire time. It was sooo much harder but we reasoned that that may be the point.


BTW, if at the end of our second successful run we have a time more than 3/4 second off from the target time, we consider it a failure so accuracy is possible with other methods.

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Re: MagLev C

Post by philip284 » March 16th, 2014, 5:00 pm

joeyjoejoe wrote: C'mon dude, every competition has to have rules.

I am sure that very many teams thought of this method but, like our teams, decided that it would be a violation. We actually went so far as to build a time delay relay circuit ( a couple of transistors, resistors, caps and a relay) to implement this design- look on the various electronic forums for a guy named "Piddler". The entire time we were building this we felt like I imagine those warriors in the Trojan horse felt -"Oh boy are they are they gonna have their minds blown when we show up with this!"
It just suddenly became too easy....

...and this is the main reason we abandoned the idea. We finally reasoned that, though not explicitly stated, it was implied that the car must at least be attempting forward motion the entire time. It was sooo much harder but we reasoned that that may be the point.


BTW, if at the end of our second successful run we have a time more than 3/4 second off from the target time, we consider it a failure so accuracy is possible with other methods.
But rules are like rules. They enforce limits. I don't like them, but I live with them. I'm mostly confused at how they can take a perfectly valid way to do and call it a safety hazard without saying why.

I know accuracy is possible with other methods, but I didn't even consider trying the other ways because it is just so much superior and easier. Since it was easy, it was my main reason to continue with the idea. If you know me in real life, you would then know that I take rules very literally, and I don't imply stuff from them.
5.b.ix wrote:If a vehicle fails to move after 3 seconds, or moves only part of the way down the track, competitors must be allowed to restart their vehicle without penalty up to four times within the 8-minute window or until two successful runs have been completed. Additional successful runs are not allowed.
It says they must be allowed to. Not that they have to. Reviewing the rules, that seems like to me the only place that one may infer that it had to keep moving. To me it sounds like they are giving the competitors the choice to allow it to continue the run or to cancel it. Which if the competitors had built this circuit, they wouldn't want to restart their vehicle.

I actually don't view slowing the car down to be that hard either at least as far as lowering the speed of the motor. Now getting consistent results from running the car is another thing entirely.

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Re: MagLev C

Post by chalker » March 16th, 2014, 6:34 pm

philip284 wrote:I'm mostly confused at how they can take a perfectly valid way to do and call it a safety hazard without saying why.
I thought the safety hazard was pretty clear in my previous post above, but to be explicit: having the motor automatically turn off for a set period of time and then be able to automatically turn on poses a risk that people might not know it's going to turn back on (or it might malfunction) and try to pick it up or put their hand near the prop. The assumption many people make is when something is 'off' it's going to stay off, not automatically turn back on.

Please keep in mind that we try to take into account safety not only during the event, but also during testing and in the preparations for the event. And safety is a multi-layer approach, so we don't rely just on the shielding around the prop, or on the voltage limit, or on the weight limit, or on the safety glasses, etc. etc. etc.

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Re: MagLev C

Post by philip284 » March 16th, 2014, 7:09 pm

chalker wrote: I thought the safety hazard was pretty clear in my previous post above, but to be explicit: having the motor automatically turn off for a set period of time and then be able to automatically turn on poses a risk that people might not know it's going to turn back on (or it might malfunction) and try to pick it up or put their hand near the prop. The assumption many people make is when something is 'off' it's going to stay off, not automatically turn back on.

Please keep in mind that we try to take into account safety not only during the event, but also during testing and in the preparations for the event. And safety is a multi-layer approach, so we don't rely just on the shielding around the prop, or on the voltage limit, or on the weight limit, or on the safety glasses, etc. etc. etc.
Who is going to try and pick it up? The competitors? Why would they when they know that is what their car is going to do? The judges? Why would they want to risk damage to the competitors vehicle? It is their best option to avoid interfering with the device during the running phase.

And what about if the device slows to an effective rotational speed?
According to you it would also be a safety hazard, but the only reasons you listed are if the propeller stops moving. Even then it is hard to believe why someone is going to do what you said.
chalker wrote: Ditto for if it just slows down for a little while to essentially a non-effective rotational speed.
What about if the rheostat malfunctions? Or how about any of the other things someone could put on it?

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Re: MagLev C

Post by gorf250 » March 16th, 2014, 9:42 pm

philip284 wrote: Who is going to try and pick it up? The competitors? Why would they when they know that is what their car is going to do? The judges? Why would they want to risk damage to the competitors vehicle? It is their best option to avoid interfering with the device during the running phase.
Phillip, I understand some of your arguments but these FAQs are almost definitely final. The Chalkers have much more experience than us and always work in the best interest of SO as a whole. I dont think harrassing their decision on these forums is a good way to demonstrate your discontent with the principles of SO.
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Re: MagLev C

Post by akmshr07 » March 18th, 2014, 9:09 pm

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.

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