N. Cal Wind Power event was a joke

sciencecat42
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Re: N. Cal Wind Power event was a joke

Post by sciencecat42 » April 25th, 2016, 7:39 pm

Illinois state was decently run but I did have a few complaints about the setup. The supervisor decided to put the fan on top of a milk crate, and the stand wasn't tall enough so that the center of the blade assembly could line up with the center of the fan. When we tried to adjust the stand to raise it to a sufficient height, the stand wasn't tall enough and the pvc tilted back as it was too loose. I don't think this breaks the rules since technically you could still adjust it vertically, but it definitely impacted our score as our blade assembly ran best when centered on the fan.

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Re: N. Cal Wind Power event was a joke

Post by jrwood » May 6th, 2016, 10:31 pm

Correct, there were no Northern California-specific rules for the event. Just to clarify, the question here is posed regarding Wind Power Division B. I ran the blade testing for Division C at NorCal, and experienced no such issues. The issue with B was that the test setup did not allow for placing the blade any closer to the fan than approx 5 inches , where the rules allow for placing the blade as close as 5cm from the fan.

I understand that this did go to arbitration, where the conclusion was there was nothing in the rules requiring that the blade be able to be placed as close as 5cm. rule 4.f. states, "...The final position of the blade must be no closer than 5 cm from the front grill of the fan."

I have supervised Wind Power at 3 tournaments this year, and run blade testing at another 3 tournaments. I have seen and tested a lot of blades - well over 100. The best blades tend to be somewhat insensitive to a difference between being 5cm from the fan and 5in from the fan. Yes optimal performance requires optimal positioning, and some dropoff will occur if not in the optimal position, but rarely has it been substantial. So if you have a blade that will spin at one distance but not the other, then you may want to continue to work on it.

A note to prospective supervisors out there - build and test your test rigs. Often. I made my own two rigs, and tested them repeatedly. Test with a lot of different blades, putting the blade in many different positions. Ensure wires stay connected, fixtures don't wander during testing, know the limits of what the rig can handle, know the top readings you typically see. The top teams have been working on this (or any) event for many months. We owe it to them to run a smooth, well-run event.

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Re: N. Cal Wind Power event was a joke

Post by sciduck » May 15th, 2016, 11:26 am

It's unfortunate that this event has experienced so many problems, but I think part of the reason is the clarity of the rules.

I've competed in Wind Power for two invitationals, and both times it went pretty smoothly. However, our Regional's Wind Power was pretty rough, and our school shoulders part of the blame. It was a coach from my school that proctored the event Regionals, but had no experience with Wind Power beforehand (which is expected because it's a new event.) The school that was hosting Regionals said they would provide the fans. No big deal, until we realized that their high speed fan was a carpet dryer. Many teams had their blades broken or ripped to shreds. [I never gave the safety goggles much thought before this, but they are definitely needed for a reason.] Luckily, our coach had the foresight to test low speeds first so every team got at least one score. However, many teams were very frustrated because their scores were weighed down low, or nonexistent, high speed scores. Could they have built sturdier blades? Probably, but they shouldn't have to build it to withstand a carpet dryer. The lack of specified standards in the rules was what led to this particular mess.

This is new event, and was bound to have some problems. I hope the rules can be improved on by next year, but if they are not, we will just have to settle for the fact that every other team competing in that tournament is facing the same circumstances.
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Re: N. Cal Wind Power event was a joke

Post by chalker » May 15th, 2016, 1:18 pm

sciduck wrote:It's unfortunate that this event has experienced so many problems, but I think part of the reason is the clarity of the rules.

I've competed in Wind Power for two invitationals, and both times it went pretty smoothly. However, our Regional's Wind Power was pretty rough, and our school shoulders part of the blame. It was a coach from my school that proctored the event Regionals, but had no experience with Wind Power beforehand (which is expected because it's a new event.) The school that was hosting Regionals said they would provide the fans. No big deal, until we realized that their high speed fan was a carpet dryer. Many teams had their blades broken or ripped to shreds. [I never gave the safety goggles much thought before this, but they are definitely needed for a reason.] Luckily, our coach had the foresight to test low speeds first so every team got at least one score. However, many teams were very frustrated because their scores were weighed down low, or nonexistent, high speed scores. Could they have built sturdier blades? Probably, but they shouldn't have to build it to withstand a carpet dryer. The lack of specified standards in the rules was what led to this particular mess.

This is new event, and was bound to have some problems. I hope the rules can be improved on by next year, but if they are not, we will just have to settle for the fact that every other team competing in that tournament is facing the same circumstances.
Interesting. The rules explicitly state a 20" multispeed box fan, so I'm not sure that the event supervisor actually abided by them. Regardless, feel free to hop over to the Wind Power thread where I have solicited suggestions on changes to the rules for next year.

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Re: N. Cal Wind Power event was a joke

Post by sciduck » May 15th, 2016, 3:46 pm

chalker wrote: Interesting. The rules explicitly state a 20" multispeed box fan, so I'm not sure that the event supervisor actually abided by them. Regardless, feel free to hop over to the Wind Power thread where I have solicited suggestions on changes to the rules for next year.
Oops, I was not aware of that. [I haven't read those rules since fall, but that actually makes the carpet dryer even funnier (and probably more frustrating for those broken blade owners.)]

Specifying box fans should be fine because although each brand may differ in their levels of speed, they should all be in the same range.
However, would it be easier to prepare for with regular fan speeds and motor/generators? That way you can compare you're voltage levels with other people and it would be easier to keep track of how the blades do compared to each other. [Before every tournament I spent hours testing both my new blades and old blades against different wind speeds of different fans. Does anyone spend a lot of time doing this, or is this a 'me' problem now?] I understand that implementing standards may be inconvenient for coaches and test proctors (especially because some don't even follow the rules as is), but would it be helpful?
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Re: N. Cal Wind Power event was a joke

Post by kenniky » May 15th, 2016, 8:37 pm

I feel like it'd be hard to standardize even then, plus box fans cost like $35 so I feel like lots of ES's wouldn't abide to them just due to the money constraint.

plus I feel like it would still be inconsistent; you'd have to specify like a particular brand or something which would be kinda ridiculous.
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Re: N. Cal Wind Power event was a joke

Post by PHXcoach » May 15th, 2016, 9:52 pm

The 20" box fans in Arizona cost less than $20 each from Home Depot and Lowes (which was less than the cost of gas to get to some of the invitationals) so I am not sure that the cost is too high. Interestingly they are considered seasonal items so I got the last two when I purchased them in October. I did get 2 different brands but found that the blade voltage changed by less than 10% between the 2 fan brands.

On the other hand I have seen far more variability on the CD motor voltages (up to 100% difference) and I have only tried 5 different motors so far.

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Re: N. Cal Wind Power event was a joke

Post by sciduck » May 17th, 2016, 2:58 pm

PHXcoach wrote:On the other hand I have seen far more variability on the CD motor voltages (up to 100% difference) and I have only tried 5 different motors so far.
That's nice to know the fans are consistent.
And yeah, motors are super variable. At one of my competitions my slow speed voltage was more than twice as large as my high speed one (not gonna lie, I was super freaked out).
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