Seems as though this was directly violated by the arbitration committee then. We did not directly interpret the rules to gain an unfair advantage. We could have easily modified our device to be legal within an hour had we known, and the device would not have scored any less. Instead, we lost points and our appeal failed because we failed to interpret the "intent" of the rules clarification which is literally impossible for a competitor to predict.3. The arbitration committee believes strongly in the idea that as long as it's within the spirit of the event and not explicitly forbidden, it's allowed. Over the years I've seen NUMEROUS event supervisors get upset at them for not ruling based upon their 'intention of the rules' versus what is actually written in the rules.
I still have no idea what to do differently in the future. It's impossible for me to know what the intent of a rule is and there's no way of knowing what is legal in this event, as the exact same proctor rules one thing legal in one tournament and the opposite in another without any informing of the competitor.
Frankly, I'm extremely disappointed in the way this event was handled over this year. I've now had somewhat of a loss of faith in Science Olympiad as I have seen that hard work and the spririt of the competition are not always rewarded.