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WSU 2009 Shocker MINDSTORMS Challenge

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


Please check this site frequently. Any notifications and/or clarifications for the 2009 missions will be posted here as soon as they become available. Answers will not be returned through e-mail.

If you have a question about a mission or the Challenge in general, please click on the "Questions" link to the left and fill out the FAQ form. This method will help us answer questions more efficiently and archive questions and comments for use in future planning. Please do not send questions through e-mail. Thank you!

When asking questions, please keep in mind that the FAQ page is meant to address questions about basic design or fundamental rules and goals of the Missions. The Missions are designed to encourage teams to think about alternative ways to design and program their robots to complete specified tasks. Exact reproduction of the courses is not necessary for programming and development. On Trial Day, each team will have the opportunity to ask detailed questions about the Missions and visit with the Mission designers. Teams will also have time to test their robots on each course and make modifications to their designs and programs as needed. MINDSTORMS robots are meant to be autonomous - they should react to their environment. For example, if the tape is not in the exact position as noted, the robot should not be affected. Also, note that there is a 1/8" tolerance on the building of all competition courses.


Topic Question Answer
General What happens if one of the team members is sick the day of the competition and that makes our team below the number required? You need at least five (5) registered team members (Beginner) or eight (8) registered team members (Intermediate and Expert) present on Challenge Day to be eligible for the awards. If something happens to make it so that less than the minimum number of team members shows up, then the remaining team members are MORE than welcome to compete, but they willl not be eligible for awards and/or trophies.
General Can we use different base units comprised of more than one kit, but we would only be using one NXT. In other words, we want to just place the NXT controller onto the bases. If you mean place the controller (RCX or NXT) in a different shell, the answer is yes. However, the controller must be same for all the missions (registered).
General Is there any kind of penalty if a piece falls off the robot (intentionally or unintentionally) while completing the scenario? Unless explictly stated by the course mission itself, there is no penalty.
General Are judges' choice awards per mission awarded in each participation category or per mission for all participation categories together? Are there 6 judges choice awards in "expert" and 6 in intermediate or just 6 awards overall? The judge's choice are per course, not level. So, this year there are nine awards.
General Where is the form to order badges? The form is now posted. Remember, that each student registered (and one coach) gets a free badge. Use this form for extras.
Table Display and Notebook Can your display face multiple directions? No, your display should face one direction. It is likely that your table will be placed against a wall or something else blocking one side of the table from view.
Table Display and Notebook Can coaches stand next to you and tell you where to put things on your table display? No. The creation and set-up of the Table and Notebook display should be done entirely by the student team members.
Table Display and Notebook Are dates important on individual entries in the notebook? Dates are not mandatory but could be important to show the process or progress of learning over a period of time.
Table Display and Notebook Do team members need to stand beside the Table Display and Notebook? No. The Table and Notebook Display does not need to be manned.
Table Display and Notebook Does each team have to have a separate Table Display and Notebook? We have three teams and are making one team notebook and Table Display. Each team is entering the challenge completely independently, and in competition with each other. Each team must complete the missions independently and separate from each other - this includes the Table Display and Notebook. You MUST designate which team the Table Display and Notebook is for.
Table Display and Notebook How many team members may be used to setup the display. All student team members (no adults allowed!)
Table and Notebook May we move the table within our allotted space? No.
Table and Notebook Where can I find information about what we need for the table display? Teams have a great deal of flexibility in both the display and the notebook. Guidelines and a scoring rubric are on the website. Also, a few sample pictures of table and notebook displays from previous years are available here.
Table and Notebook Can a display hang over or extend beyond the table? No. The display cannot be larger than the table top. Exception: a cloth or table cover can be used. It can hang below the table top, but should not take up any additional space and will not be part of the information judged.
Table and Notebook What size is the table for the Table Display and Notebook? CORRECTION: The tables are 2.5' x 6' (as opposed to the original size given of 3' x 6').
Line Follower Is the robot only allowed to use one light sensor? No, multiple light sensors are now allowed.
Line Follower What are the dimensions of the styrofoam ramp; is it centered on the straightaway; is the surface of the ramp just the exposed stryrofoam painted; what are the angles? It is centered along the 44.500 dimension.
1” tall
17.5” in length
15 degree on approach
25 degree on opposing end
Exposed Styrofoam painted black with White electrical tape centerline
Line Follower If a robot has more than one sensor, must both be positioned on the centerline tape at the start? No.
RampIt! At the top of the ramp, will there be a black line for the robot to "see" and stop? No.
RampIt! Does the entire robot have to be on the grade or just touch the grade? Any part of the robot on the grade counts.
RampIt! Can other sensors be used to find the slot? Yes.
Table Runner Do you have to use touch sensors for this challenge? There is another way. From the web, "The purpose of this Apprentice Mission is to utilize the touch sensor capability of the RCX/NXT unit. You must therefore show satisfactory evidence to the course Judge that the unit is utilizing a touch sensor to direct its motion and change of direction when reaching the edge of the table."
Table Runner Is there a specific starting orientation required? No.
Table Runner How are corners scored? Going off the edge in a corner will only count as one side. The side counted will be the one scored with the majority of the robot arm.
Table Runner Does the robot have to stop when completed? No.
Table Runner How are multiple touches scored? The entire robot must fully return onto the table before the second touch can be scored. 
MOC Can you enter with a friend? Yes.
APICS (Loch Ness) Did the scoring table change? The scoring table was modified during the day on Saturday (Jan. 10). If you printed it before Jan. 11, please reprint it.
APICS I can't find the dimensioned drawing. The drawing is now posted. Sorry for the delay.
APICS What are the dimensions of the floor, including location of the path? The path (electrical tape) is centered in the track.
APICS What are the ramp dimensions/slope height, etc.? These dimensions are on the plan view (length of plateau, distance from beginning to end of ramp and height of ramp)
APICS What is the height of the wall? 4 inches
APICS What is the brand and type of paint? The paint brand is Behr and the paint finish is flat.
APICS The instructions say "The direction arrows are drawn on the track", but I don't see any direction arrows in the pictures. And if the robot can "travel in any direction at any time", why do we need direction arrows? You are correct, there is no need for the direction arrows.
APICS Is there a significant difference in the light values of the black line on the blue? (Such as 5 or greater difference). You are correct, there is not enough of a difference between the blue paint and the black tape. Therefore, the black tape will instead be yellow tape.
APICS When it states you have to touch part of the line, does it mean the designated lines at A, B, etc, or the black line in the center?
At each "designated line" there is a light chalk mark on the course (the chalk line does NOT cross the tape), when your robot crosses that line, points are credited.
ASME (Casey Jones) I cannot read the dimensions on the drawing. In the MS-Word document, you can zoom in or there is now posted a jpeg with a larger sized view.
ASME Do the train cars magnetically attract to each other or is polarity an issue? If so, can you tell us which way the train cars will be oriented on the tracks? Polarity is NOT an issue. The cars attract to each other no matter their direction.
ASME The dimensions of the LEGO train does not appear correct. Which size LEGO car is it, small or big? We looked at the number of notches and it does not match our LEGO bricks. Also it appears the trains are 5 inches long, not 2.5. The cars are the "big" sized Duplo LEGO. The dimensions on the course are not the total length of the car- the 2.5 inches is the distance between where the two wheels of the car rest on the ground. Those dimensions are drawn lightly on the course (in pencil) so that the cars will always be placed in the same locations.

The dimensions of the top plate of the car are: Width: 2.5" Length: 5"

ASME Is it ok to pick up the cars, or do they have to be pushed? There is no rule stating how the cars must be moved (pushed, pulled, picked up...) just make sure the cars are not tipped over or upside down when they exit the platform.

NOTE: NEW RULE: The cars will need to exit the station right side up (rolling on the wheels) to score. -you can't get the medicine to those sick kids with a train that isn't rolling down the tracks.

ASME Will the cars always be put in the same order, based on color. For example white closest to the station and so forth? Yes, the cars and the blocks (packages) will always be placed in the same positions with respect to their color as they are in the pictures in the rules.

The order of the cars when they leave the station will not affect the scoring.

ASME The scoring table in the rules states that 50 points are given when: “Blocks Loaded on Train” but the ‘special instructions’ area states that the blocks will not count till they exit the station. The packages (Blocks) will be scored at the conclusion of the round. If the blocks are completely on the train cars, (i.e. fully supported by the car) the packages will receive 50 points each. As the car carrying the package leaves the station, the block will be scored regardless of what occurs after leaving the station.
ASME Can the robot be touching a train car before the beginning of the match? Yes, but the judges must verify that the car is in the correct location and the wheels are touching the ground before the match starts.
EC (Road to El Dorado) Do you have to go through the forest first or can you get those points after doing other parts of the course? After you have gotten up the ramp to the City of Gold, can you go back down the ramp and attempt to get more points on the course? You do not have to go through the forest first to recieve points for it. You will recieve points for the first ramp that you ascend to the city of gold. After that, you make go back down and attempt to get more points, but you will not be credited any points for descending either ramp or climbing it a second time.
EC Will the loose pieces on the city of gold and the pit of doom be fixed? Two inch clear plastic tape will be used on all edges.
EWB (Atlas) What is the diameter of the dowell rod and the height? Plus what is the depth of the ball sitting on the dowel? The dowel rod is 3/8 in diameter and has 1 7/16 inches above the course surface (app 2" total). For the ball drill a 3/8" hole 3/4" deep with a standard bit.
EWB Where is that start location on the Atlas course? The start location is the competitor's choice, anywhere on the course.
EWB Is there a size limit on the robot? Can parts of the robot be connected by only the wires? The only real limitations are that there can only be one unit (RCX/NXT) and ALL the parts must be LEGO pieces.
IEEE (Hercules) Are the Starbuck cans (pillars) empty or full? They are empty cans.
IEEE What is the length/position of the horse-shoe shaped ruins in the professor's last known location, as measured from the left edge of the foam board base? The inside dimension of the horse shoe type structure is 5"x3.75" and exterior is 7"x4.75".
IEEE Where do you have to start? Start at the little line near the end of the tape in the start area.
IEEE What is considered off the course? When the wheels go off the base and touch the floor.
IEEE Can I put a wall on the course and push the green papers out of the way? You cannot add to the course. You may attach something to the robot that later falls off.
IEEE If one wheel is off the course, is the robot considered off the course? No, ALL wheels must be off the course, for the robot to be considered off the course. If ONE wheel is still on the course, in the judge's opinion, then the robot is still on the course.
IEEE Do you have to follow the line into the professor's last location? No.
Wallace (Reach for the Stars) Where are all the constellations? A new picture has been added pointing to all the constellations.
Wallace Does the course have to be done in the order that it is stated?   No.
Wallace Is it a requirement to go up the ramp to get the "star"? No.
Wallace Can you start anywhere on the course? Yes, start the course wherever you choose.
Wallace When the Lego pieces are brought to the white dotted circle do they need to stay in the circle or does it score points simply to have brought the item to the circle? The pieces need to be inside the white circle when the course is completed.
Wallace When pushing the boat from one red dot to the other is it critical that the boat remain in position or just that it reaches the 2nd red dot? The boat needs to be touching the red dot when the time expires.