General Questions

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Re: General Questions

Postby penclspinner » April 25th, 2010, 3:45 pm

cypressfalls Robert wrote:At state we saw a team getting DQ'ed for having a tank of compressed air at 160psi, the guys said it was a safety hazard and should've been at 130psi max, but nothing like that was in the rules...so


I would beg to differ, rule 3b gives the event supervisor authority to not let a team run their device and give them only participation points. As to what constitutes a "safety hazard" that is up to each individual event supervisor.

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Re: General Questions

Postby fleet130 » April 25th, 2010, 5:33 pm

Compressed gasses are especially hazardous and few recognize their dangers. In my opinion, 160psi is about 155psi over the maximum safe pressure although volume also enters into the equation.

Another safety topic is the use of protective equipment. Once the need for safety equipment (e.g. eye protection) is identified, judges cannot allow teams to participate without it. This means teams may not be assessed a penalty and allowed to compete.

Some folks ask why disallowed hazards aren't defined in the event or general rules. The problem is, If the definition misses some hazard, teams could argue that judges must allow it.

Safety is paramount and must not be overlooked or simulated at any time! This makes it a tough issue. There is no way an event supervisor can allow you to operate a device they feel is unsafe. It's not just the hazard to you, but to the judges, spectators and other teams.
Information expressed here is solely the opinion of the author. Any similarity to that of the management or any official instrument is purely coincidental! Doing Science Olympiad since 1987!

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Re: General Questions

Postby gh » April 25th, 2010, 5:58 pm

fleet130 wrote:In my opinion, 160psi is about 155psi over the maximum safe pressure although volume also enters into the equation.
Wait, atmospheric pressure is about 15 psi.
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Re: General Questions

Postby old » April 26th, 2010, 4:14 pm

At our State competition 4 teams got the maximum possible points (all tasks compteted, 40 seconds of mass moving and perfect timing) so it went to tie breaker. Since the first tiebreaker is fewest penalty points, and none of these teams got any penalty points, the tiebreaker became closest to ideal time. I am concerned that if 4 teams got perfect scores at States then probably at least a dozen will do so at Nationals so the medals will be awarded based on stop watch timing to less than 1 second accuracy. Since it is very difficult for the timers to anticipate the final task it is likely that the timing accuracy will be very poor, and therefor the medals are going to more reflect the accuracy of the timers than the accuracy of the Mission possible device. Anyone have any thoughts on this?

I believe that a couple of years ago the Robo Cross event had over a dozen teams that got perfect scores and the medals were determined by stopwatch timing, but in that event the times varied by tens of seconds, not hundredths of seconds.

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Re: General Questions

Postby penclspinner » April 26th, 2010, 4:52 pm

old wrote:At our State competition 4 teams got the maximum possible points (all tasks compteted, 40 seconds of mass moving and perfect timing) so it went to tie breaker. Since the first tiebreaker is fewest penalty points, and none of these teams got any penalty points, the tiebreaker became closest to ideal time. I am concerned that if 4 teams got perfect scores at States then probably at least a dozen will do so at Nationals so the medals will be awarded based on stop watch timing to less than 1 second accuracy. Since it is very difficult for the timers to anticipate the final task it is likely that the timing accuracy will be very poor, and therefor the medals are going to more reflect the accuracy of the timers than the accuracy of the Mission possible device. Anyone have any thoughts on this?

I believe that a couple of years ago the Robo Cross event had over a dozen teams that got perfect scores and the medals were determined by stopwatch timing, but in that event the times varied by tens of seconds, not hundredths of seconds.


Yeah that sounds like it might be an issue.

To be perfectly honest, MP was way too easy this year. If you take a look back at the rules from 2005 I'd wager that there weren't quite as many tie breakers for first place, if any at all. That set of rules seemed quite daunting and a lot more interesting than what we have this year.

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Re: General Questions

Postby GoNerdHerd » April 26th, 2010, 5:35 pm

Does anyone know where you can find the Division B results for the Michigan 2009 state tournament?
2010 Regionals
1st Dynamic Planet
4th Meteorology
8th Can't Judge A Powder

2011 Regionals
2nd Meteorology
5th Compute This
6th Battery Buggy

2012 Regionals
1st Meteorology
4th Disease Detectives
5th Awesome Aquifers

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Re: General Questions

Postby Uncle Fester » April 26th, 2010, 9:31 pm

Multiple comments:

Yes, atmospheric pressure is 15-16 PSI. But, the downstream side of air pressure gauges are set to open air; correct measurement is PSIG, with "G" meaning, obviously, "gauge". After all, air at atmospheric pressure is pretty useless in machinery.

But. . . ONE HUNDRED SIXTY FIVE PSI? No way would I ever allow it, and there's nobody on the planet who can MAKE me allow it. many times the opposite of "safe" isn't "unsafe", it's "stupid."

'Nuff said about that.

Timing less than a second? For the love of electrons, people, quit whining about timing. As Fleet and I have mentioned countless times since the Amish had an unfair technology advantage, there is an incredible difference of response time accuracy between a totally random event and and watching/waiting for an expected event at a specified time. There's another difference between stopwatch operations by experience level. So, statistically (yes, I've collected data on this over the years), the 59-61 second machines will have the best timing, while the 6 second and the 165 second times will have the most inaccurate results-- quite the opposite from what you'd expect.

That's why I always, always, always ask detailed questions about how any timed portion of their device runs, if it stops slowly/quickly, noisily/silent, smoothly/erratically, etc. After a thousand times, you get good at it.

That one year Mission had to have a timing circuit put in, it was quickly determined that there was no appreciable error between "automated time" and "judge time". I had THREE that were off by more than .1 second, and on all three I was able to point out the device's clock start/stop points didn't coincide with actual start/stop locations. Design error.

Fun story that illustrates the pitfalls of assuming your device is perfect and you don't make errors yourself: My favorite year for Mission was in '99; one team had a pendulum with a digital counter. They actually LECTURED me about how I'd better get the correct time because "everyone was off by at least 1/2 second". Well, they "measured" 60.0, I timed them at 59.55 seconds, and my backup had 59.70. Yup, out came the complaints and name-calling, until I had them back things up and, by holding the pendulum between swings, proved that their counter showed 1.0 seconds at 0.5s, 2.0 seconds at 1.5s, etc--- in other words, I was off by 0.05 seconds and they were off by 10 times as much! Precise, yes (off by 0.5 seconds every second), accurate, no (half second is a LOT).

The question that I don't ask irate coaches and kids because it really ticks them off: "If what you claim about accuracy is true, than how come YOU know YOUR time is correct?" Funny how THAT time is always assumed to be right, never has response delay, ad nauseaum.

Last comment about timing: I fortunately have the luxury of being able to pick from the best event help out there, with promises of food, a very nice hotel room, etc. Yes, I had two rookies who were there mostly for training purposes (gotta start them somewhere), but I was lucky in that my LEAST EXPERIENCED crew-member with serious-decision-making authority was none less than our own DARK SABRE, who, I might add, did a bang-up job of running things while I dealt with two annoying arbitrations. No complaints, no timing error allegations, no score sheets to re-do or error-check. Might have something to do with EXPERIENCE LEVEL. He's done this for how many years. . . and you?. . . . .

Ties for first? Sorry, I just don't see an abnormal number of ties this year when compared from year to year. I hear this every year-- "It's so simple, everyone will tie", and the person who tells me this is subsequently never seen on an award stand! Add the variable time done at States, and it gets harder. I've had two tournaments that had ties, two ties apiece, and both had the ties at a lower medal-winning (3rd and 4th, if I recall correctly), and the other in the middle of the pack.

Nationals is a slightly different story, and that's because of the rules, and not due to event super inaccuracy: Look at the tie breakers, and you'll see that the rules assume a non-perfect score. Well, with a perfect score, you WON'T have penalties, WON'T have anything but proper times; heck, they won't even have anything out-of-the-ordinary! Height of the flag would have been a better tie-breaker because every perfect-scoring device WILL have some kind of flag height! But, alas, I can see someone complaining, "They didn't measure our flag right. . . ."
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The Revenge of the Electric Detention
The Curse of the Electric Detention
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Re: General Questions

Postby Curt » April 29th, 2010, 5:59 pm

question... I have been having problems getting a long enough time to get high enough for the "ideal time at states" sure i can add more time to my mass but its at 45seconds now to meet 60 seconds for the whole run. the electronic magnet has overheated before and its like blistering hot at 45 seconds. so i cant add to much without the magnet overheating and failing (droping the ball) ive tried using lower voltage but only a 9v can give it enough power/current (not sure exactly what to use) to hold the steel ball up.

so i thought of an idea about the flag. is a balloon filled with hellium with the flag attached to it. and a string can that be considered the flag and flagpole? the only rules i see against it is the (no flameable materials) but i don't think hellium is very flameable but I'm not sure. can anyone steer me in the right directions?

if i cant use the balloon it will put to much of a "toll" on my magnet causeing it to over heat.

to clerify the balloon will not be just flying up it will be hooked to a string with somekind of braking mechanism. Can the flag be just under the balloon or must if be at the top of the "flagpole"
can the balloon be considered as the flagpole?

i have two TSL's one stating the flag and other saying the balloon so i am prepared to change it to a flag if needs be. oh and States is in two days :oops:

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Re: General Questions

Postby Dark Sabre » April 29th, 2010, 10:21 pm

Curt wrote:question... I have been having problems getting a long enough time to get high enough for the "ideal time at states" sure i can add more time to my mass but its at 45seconds now to meet 60 seconds for the whole run. the electronic magnet has overheated before and its like blistering hot at 45 seconds. so i cant add to much without the magnet overheating and failing (droping the ball) ive tried using lower voltage but only a 9v can give it enough power/current (not sure exactly what to use) to hold the steel ball up.

so i thought of an idea about the flag. is a balloon filled with hellium with the flag attached to it. and a string can that be considered the flag and flagpole? the only rules i see against it is the (no flameable materials) but i don't think hellium is very flameable but I'm not sure. can anyone steer me in the right directions?

if i cant use the balloon it will put to much of a "toll" on my magnet causeing it to over heat.

to clerify the balloon will not be just flying up it will be hooked to a string with somekind of braking mechanism. Can the flag be just under the balloon or must if be at the top of the "flagpole"
can the balloon be considered as the flagpole?

i have two TSL's one stating the flag and other saying the balloon so i am prepared to change it to a flag if needs be. oh and States is in two days :oops:


Of course, only your event sup can answer your flagpole question for sure, but here's my take on it:

Is a balloon a pole: No.
Is a string a pole: No.

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Re: General Questions

Postby Uncle Fester » April 29th, 2010, 11:49 pm

I'm inclined to agree with DS.

Might want to add a few 1 ohm, 5 or 10 Watt resistors in series with that electromagnet (there's no such thing as an "electronic magnet" to cut down thye current-- taht's what's making thye heat. Another alternative would be to aim a low-voltage fan at it to push the heat away.

Or, add delay at another step.
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The Misadventures of the Electric Detention
The Revenge of the Electric Detention
The Curse of the Electric Detention
>> Three full-length adventures, 26 short stories and counting!

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Re: General Questions

Postby Curt » April 30th, 2010, 12:47 pm

all right thanks !

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Re: General Questions

Postby GoNerdHerd » April 30th, 2010, 8:31 pm

Does anyone know where to find the Division B results from the 2009 Michigan State Tournament? :D
2010 Regionals
1st Dynamic Planet
4th Meteorology
8th Can't Judge A Powder

2011 Regionals
2nd Meteorology
5th Compute This
6th Battery Buggy

2012 Regionals
1st Meteorology
4th Disease Detectives
5th Awesome Aquifers

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Re: General Questions

Postby fleet130 » April 30th, 2010, 10:36 pm

gh wrote:Wait, atmospheric pressure is about 15 psi.
Pressure is commonly stated referenced to ambient atmospheric pressures. This means that 5 psi is actually somewhere around 20 psi absolute. This has always been a problem in writing rules. Is language to be interpreted as its technical meaning or as it it commonly used? In my experience, the technical meaning was rejected in favor of common usage. Unfortunately this is not always the case at invitational, regional, and state tournaments.
Information expressed here is solely the opinion of the author. Any similarity to that of the management or any official instrument is purely coincidental! Doing Science Olympiad since 1987!

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Re: General Questions

Postby old » May 1st, 2010, 5:21 pm

Regarding timing accuracy using stopwatches you say that as an example, "I timed them at 59.55 seconds, and my backup had 59.70." That looks like an error of 0.15 seconds, and there is no way to know if either time was correct or if they were both long, both short or bracketing the actuall time. Based on numerous objective scientific studies the commonly accepted reaction time for a visual stimulus for a human is about 0.19 seconds, that would seem to make it impossible to place significance on stopwatch timing to greater accuracy than this. I don't think that the fact that teams do or do not complain abou the timing accuracy is of any significance to the underlying science of reaction time. What would seem the most likely scenrio for Mission is that the stopwatches will start more accurately than reaction time (because of the countdown) but will stop based on 0.19 second reaction time because the event coordinator would clearly not want to stop the timing simply based on an expectation of the final event finishing but rather must wait until the flag has actually raised and stopped + 0.19 seconds for reaction time. I had assumed tha the reason for basing the score on whole seconds was due to the realization that a human with a stopwatch is only capable of being accurate to a few tenths of seconds. But by making the Mission taskes fairly easy, and then making the first meaningful tiebreaker based on timing the timing error ends up a major factor in the teams tied with perfect scores. My long winded point being that one cannot do anything to enable them to measure a time to better than their ability to see and react to the end task (0.19 seconds for college age healthy subjects).

I don't mean this to be any sort of complaint against the people running the event. There is essentially nothing that a human can do to improve their reaction time, so there is no way I would blame the event coordinators for their inability to accurately measure more accurately than that but it still leaves us with the uneasy feeling that the winner, as well as several of the other places, is likely to be a matter of timing accuracy of the timers rather than actual performance of the Mission device. As you say, if would have been nice if the tiebreaker could have been the height of the flag rather than timing. I am not so conceited as to think that if the scoring (timing) was perfect that I would be the one to win. I may benefit just as much from the timers reaction time as any other competitor but I just want to know objectively how well I did. Is there any way that this could be changed prior to the National competition

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Re: General Questions

Postby penclspinner » May 1st, 2010, 5:50 pm

old wrote:Is there any way that this could be changed prior to the National competition


Liked reading thru your post. You made some good points.

And as I said earlier and as you just iterated, I feel like a big portion of this problem stems from the fact that MP was very easy this year.

And to answer your question -- No I highly doubt that anything that hasn't already been announced on the soinc.org website will be changed at this point in time.

I assume you are going to be at the National competition and wish you the best of luck, may timing accuracy (or lack thereof) be on your side =).


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