Not much of a reason for this post, but now that the sharpest pangs of disappointment no longer haunt me
, I thought it would be helpful to share my nats buggy experience.
Venue and Competition Area:
Buggy was run in a very nice venue, track ran parallel to the floorboards which made aiming/sighting a bit easier. A nice part was that there was a "viewing" platform upstairs in watch the buggies. The video was clearer this way, and I was able to better see and understand what happened to my buggy during the run from the angle at which my mom took the video.
My partner and I underestimated how much time we would need in order to setup. It took us 5-6 minutes to prepare and setup for the first run, and because of that we had to rush on the second. Track was already pretty clean, since William Diamond went before us and they swiffered already. Still picked up some dust, but it was much better than setting up for a testing session inside our school's gym.
First run was like 2-3 centimeters too far to the left, causing it to hit the outer can (the cans weren't weighted so that can got yeeted forward at least 9 meters). Ended up a little more than 20 centimeters from the target point, with a perfect distance lengthwise (the buggy was off the center line). Time on this run was 2.484 (time second to only Springhouse
from the scores report mentioned above) I was pretty shocked honestly, because hitting the cans was not something I was really worrying about (we did 20 cm quite consistently and comfortably in practice).
After we picked up the vehicle, the ES told us that we needed to hurry, and that we had 1:50 left. It was pretty nice of him to do that, and being completely honest I might not have realized that our 8 minutes was that close to being up had he not warned us. Our setting for wheel rotations seemed pretty good, and the caliper is harder to adjust on my vehicle, so I decided to change the starting angle. We implemented a pretty neat and precise system for aiming, but in the heat of the moment I forgot that an position adjustment of 10 didn't really change the angle that much (those numbers prolly don't mean anything to you tho lol). At this point, we had less than 30 seconds left to start our final run. Second run went much like the first, since the starting angle did not change all that much. The front wheels made it through, but the back wheel barely clipped the edge of the outside can (not even joking, we would have made it through if it was 0.5 cm to the right
). Don't remember the distance off, but from the video it looks very close. It was a bit to the left of the target point. Fyi cans weren't weighted so the arc was barely affected. Time was also under 2.5 or 2.6 I think.
Looking back, I could have probably solved the can-collision problem by doing one of a few things, in order of speculated effectiveness:
1. Not changing my batteries. Sounds weird, but if I had forgotten to change my batteries before the tournament everything could have gone very differently. In practice, my buggy clocked between 2.5 and 3.5 seconds, I think depending on the freshness of the batteries. Note that I've never practiced with a photogate, and my coach believes that he's always a bit slow to hit stop. When I heard that they timed my buggy at 2.484 seconds, I should have remembered about understeer and accounted for that on my second run. Understeer is when certain factors, like most prominently, speed change, causes the vehicle's arc of travel to become slightly wider (hence the 20 something centimeters to the left). If I hadn't changed the batteries to completely new ones, I doubt that the buggy would have hit the outer can, which would dramatically change my current situation. Personally I think I would have had an almost perfect run (perhaps medaling?). For a more detailed explanation about understeer, windu talks about it beginning at around 48:30 iirc in his video:
2. Changing the starting angle/position by a bit more. I'd say that an adjustment between 20-25 would have done the trick.
3. Changing the caliper steering setting: The arc of the vehicle seemed pretty ok, other than the starting position. However there's a chance that a caliper steering change would have done the trick.
Ended up 30th place and quite disappointed (though you probably already know that). Higher than the team average, yes, but everything that should have gone right went wrong. Might be kinda biased, but I think that my buggy definitely had the capability to medal at the national level. In practice, iirc I was pretty consistently getting scores of -30 and below. Vehicle was just 9.2 cm wide, so I could have pushed for a 15 cm bonus had I had more time. I was expecting to place around top 10, a top 15 at the very least, and estimated my chances of medaling in Buggy at around 60% (it sounds arrogant I know, and I hope this doesn't offend anyone, but I'm trying to judge myself as impartially as possible). So yeah I choked pretty bad. But I'm not making excuses for what happened. Everything that happened is on me, and not blaming anyone here. The ESes were pretty awesome. But nothing's gonna change that feeling of disappointment in yourself when you know that you could have done so much better. It's a pretty sad way to end my division B career, but I'm extremely thankful that I was able to go to nationals all three years of middle school. If you read all of this, I hope you learned something. Just don't make the same mistakes I did at nationals, which costed me a *possible* medal, because that would really suck.
If you want to see pictures or videos of my nationals runs, just PM me. @bernard I'd be more than happy to post on Best of Nationals 2019 but I didn't place in the top 10
But still disappointed