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JPL Annual Invention Challenge - ENTRY 02
a) What your team thought of the challenge (objective)?
The "team" being me (other than the two big guys used as ballast)... More difficult than most previous contests... large structure, high forces, extra testing equipment necessary

b) What ideas your team considered?
Only one... as constructed

c) What was your final design?
High starting acceleration (via bungie cord), S-shaped ramp, auxiliary bowling ball used to remove velocity

d) What was your testing process and how did you improve?
Used hand-fed bowling ball thru ramp to test ball stopping concept and check for residual spin. Used stiff foam rubber pad on auxiliary bowling ball to soften impact, and had to experiment with ball weight to compensate for inelastic collision (ended up with 16-pound ball). Did not get full functional test until Thursday night... too late for any more improvements.

e) What were your feelings or experiences at the JPL contest?
Annoyed at myself for not being totally prepared and ready, and not putting on all of the bungie cords I had planned to use. Multiple human timing system did not seem accurate enough to use for sub-second events of the highest-performance machines. In spite of this whining, it was a fine event... much more fun for spectators. There is stress and pressure on the entrants, but that's the way it goes in competition, especially where there is a complex set-up and a time limit.

f) How would your team improve your design?
1) More POWER!! More bungie cords.
2) Less pieces, no shimming or adjustments. (Not enough time on stage to adjust everything perfectly)
3) Better release device. Cutting a wire is hard to time... use a mousetrap-like overcenter release

To return to the results page please click here.
For a photo gallery of the 2004 event, click here.
For the event rules please click here.

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