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JPL Annual Invention Challenge - 1999 Rules
Footbag Toss for Accuracy: The Section 352 Annual Invention Challenge is ready for its second year. Last year, as some of you may remember, we had a large turnout for the Balloon Car Contest. This year, in order to keep the innovations new and fresh, there is a completely different contest. The short title for this year's contest is the Footbag Toss for Accuracy. The objective and rules are listed below. Questions related to this contest should be directed to: Paul MacNeal, work phone x47824, FAX x31324, M/S 301-320, located in 301-325Q, e-mail to

Objective: Create a device that accurately propels an official footbag exactly 5 meters from a measured spot. The contest winner will be the person who has their footbag touch (first contact) closest to the target.


  1. The contest is open to all JPL employees, contractors, and immediate family members. Family members and friends are welcome to watch the contest, but must be cleared through the security office prior to arrival. Applications for entering the contest must be filled out and submitted prior to December 8, 1999. FAX or e-mail preferred.

  2. The contest date is Friday, December 17, 1999 between 12:00 and 1:00PM. The area to be used is just north of the fountain area in front of Building 180.

  3. Each contestant will be given one, and only one, chance to operate their propelling device. No practice runs are permitted. When the footbag first touches on the ground, the distance from the target will be measured to the nearest 1 cm. The final resting position will also be measured (see rule 12).

  4. The official footbag is a small beanbag (like a Hackysackí). Each contestant will have a choice of either the turquoise footbag (51.3 grams) or the purple footbag (58.3 grams). They are soft and pliable and covered with a woven fabric. Approximate dimensions in a flattened state are 6.6 cm in diameter and 3.3 cm tall. When puffed up they are approximately 5.5 cm in diameter and 6.4 cm tall. Only the two official footbags are permitted for the day of the contest. The chosen footbag will be dusted with a light coat of colored chalk to aid in determining the exact point of contact when the footbag first hits the ground. Practice footbags are available through the contest organizer for loan or purchase.

  5. At some point in its travel, the footbag must be at least 120 cm above the ground. This rule will be strictly enforced.

  6. The area for conducting the contest will be as flat and level as possible. To enable as many contestants as possible, two starting areas will be used which point at the same target. The starting areas will be 90 degrees apart. Concentric circles will be marked on the ground to help determine the distance from the target. There is no differentiation in accuracy with regards to being in front of, behind, to the left, or to the right side of the target. Contestants will have a choice as to which starting area they will utilize. A rough sketch of the area is available from Paul MacNeal.

  7. The propelling device must be completely self contained. This means that after the operator sets the device up and loads the footbag into the device, the only contact with the device can be a single starting/firing mechanism. To clarify, the operator may not touch the footbag in any way that would aid in the propulsion or accuracy of the footbag's trajectory.

  8. The device must initially fit within a volume of 75cm x 75cm x 75cm. Once deployed, the device may exceed these initial dimensional constraints, however, at no time may any part of the device contact the ground outside of the 75cm x 75cm starting square.

  9. The starting areas will contain a heavy metal plate with threaded holes to act as a reaction pad. Area 1 uses a 23.5" x 23.5" x 3" magnesium plate weighing 46.0 kg. Area 2 uses a 23.5" x 23.5" x 1.5" aluminum plate weighing 34.7 kg. The device may be bolted to either metal plate if desired. A complete description of the hole patterns for each plate will be available when the application is turned in. The leading edges of the metal plates will be accurately located relative to the target.

  10. The operator will be given a maximum of 5 minutes to set up and operate the device. This includes the time required for the footbag to contact the ground. Exceedance of this time will result in disqualification.

  11. The method of propelling the footbag is open. Prior to the contest, each contestant must submit a brief description of the method of propelling the footbag in order to assess safety issues. For example, explosive chemicals may not be used. A powered electrical extension cord will be available for use.

  12. In case of a tie, the closest distance from the target at which the footbag comes to rest will be used to determine the winner. If a tie still exists, then multiple trophies will be awarded. Trophies for accuracy will be given for first, second, and third place.

  13. Certificates will be issued for the lightest, smallest, largest, most unusual, most artistic, and most creative designs.

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