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2012 Shocker MINDSTORMS Challenge


Answers to
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Please check this site frequently. Any notifications and/or clarifications for the 2012 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 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 and fewer than the minimum number of team members shows up, then the remaining team members are MORE than welcome to run the courses, but they willl not be eligible for awards and/or trophies.
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 Where is the form to order badges? Each student who is registered (and one coach) gets a free badge. Use the order form for extra badges.
General The members on our teams have changed. How can we change the registration information? Once a team has been registered, the team members' names cannot be changed online. If you have a change, please email that information to karen.reynolds@wichita.edu. It will be the coach's responsibility on Trial Day to check the list of team members' names to ensure accuracy.
General What software is required to run the robots? There are no restrictions on the software used to run the robots at the MINDSTORMS Challenge.
General Can robot parts be labeled? Robot parts can be labeled as long as the label does not provide a competitive advantage, does not add functionality, or does not in any way interfere with the performance of the robot.
General Can teams bring their laptops to the mission areas? No. Laptops are not allowed at the mission areas. Laptops must remain at the teams' table/work area.
General When will the MOC Awards be announced? The MOC Awards will be made during the Expert/Intermediate Awards ceremony.
General Can I attend both Awards ceremonies? Yes, anyone can attend either or both ceremonies.
General What awards will be made at the Beginner Awards ceremony? Beginner 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th
Beginner Team Display & Notebook
Beginer Spirit & Sportsmanship
General What awards will be made at the Expert/Intermediate Awards ceremony?

Expert 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th
Expert Presentation
Expert Team Display & Notebook
Expert Spirit & Sportsmanship
Intermediate 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th
Intermediate Presentation
Intermediate Team Display & Notebook
Intermediate Spirit & Sportsmanship
All MOC Awards

General Can a 9-year-old 3rd grade student participate as a registered team member? Yes, at the discretion of the team coach.
General On Challenge Day, can parent mentors help at the team table and as needed to provide asssistance to the team coach? Absolutely! Parent mentors are welcome and encouraged to work with the team. Parent
involvement should be limited to "mentoring". Only team members should be
building and programming the robots, and only team members should carry
the robots to the courses and complete the runs.
Spirit & Sportsmanship We will be taking 2 teams, do each of our teams have to wear different shirts or can both of our teams use the same shirt. Both teams can wear the same shirts. It is suggested that team members do something to distinguish themselves from other teams (for instance,  a cap, or a wristband). This will allow the judges to distingish between teams.
Team Display and Notebook Can your display face multiple directions? No, your display should face one direction. It is possible that your table will be placed against a wall or something else blocking one side of the table from view.
Team 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 Team Display and Notebook display should be done entirely by the student team members.
Team 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.
Team Display and Notebook Do team members need to stand beside the Team Display and Notebook? No. The Team Display and Notebook does not need to be manned.
Team Display and Notebook Does each team have to have a separate Team Display and Notebook? Each team is entering the challenge independently, and in competition with each other. Each team must complete the missions independently and separate from each other - this includes the Team Display and Notebook. You MUST designate which team the Team Display and Notebook is for.
Team Display and Notebook How many team members may be used to setup the display. All student team members (no adults allowed!)
Team Display and Notebook May we move the table within our allotted space? No.
Team Display and Notebook Where can I find information about what we need for the Team 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.
Team Display 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.
Line Follower Is the robot only allowed to use one light sensor? No, multiple light sensors are allowed.
Line Follower If a robot has more than one sensor, must both be positioned on the centerline tape at the start? No.
Line Follower Does robot have to stop at end of run? No.
Line Follower What is the start position? The rules state: Your robot must begin its run while the back of your unit is lined up with "A" (Note: The sensor must be positioned along the centerline tape with the unit as far back towards the "A" as possible.).
Line Follower What are the dimensions of the styrofoam ramp? 1" tall
17.5" in length
Line Follower Is the styrofoam ramp centered on the straightaway? It is centered along the 44.500 dimension.
Line Follower Is the surface of the ramp just the exposed styrofoam painted? Tempered hardwood (not styrofoam) painted black with white electrical tape centerline
Line Follower What are the angles of the ramp?

15 degrees on approach
25 degrees on opposing end

Line Follower Can a color sensor be used on the Line Follower course? Yes, teams have the option of using either a light sensor or color sensor to complete the Line Follower course. This change is noted on the mission page in red.
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 Does the robot have to stop when completed? No.
Table Runner Does the 30 studs x 30 studs include all wires? Yes, the wires must stay inside the 30x30 during measurement and at the start of the run. If the robot extends AFTER the start button is pressed, that is okay.
Table Runner Does the robot have to touch the “X” on each pass? No.
Tble Runner Does it count if the robot rolls off the edge on the eighth touch? No.  The course rules state “Touching the edge will be determined if the activation of the touch sensor at the edge of the table causes the direction of motion to be changed without the unit falling off the table.”
RampIt! Are there any specific sensor requirements? No.
RampIt! Does the robot have to start in the corner at the bottom of the course? No.
RampIt! Opposite side of pegs on the way up and back; up one side and down the other side of center pegs or figure 8? Figure 8. Robot must cross the centerline between pegs on the way up and on the way down for maximum points.
RampIt! Can we build a tall robot and straddle the center pegs to get full points? No.  Wheels must be on opposite sides of pegs to receive bonus points.
MOC Can you enter with a friend? Yes.
A Lion in Guard's Clothing If the robot goes from A to D, does the run count. Yes, but points will not be awarded for checkpoints B or C.
A Lion in Guard's Clothing If the robot follows the gray and not the tape, does it still count? If the robot passes over the checkpoint, the points will count.
It's a Twister! Since the instructions for the Twister scenario did not include how to hookup the dimmer switch, and we ran into difficulty, we have a question we need some assistance with. Just to make sure we are wiring it correctly, please ask how it needs to be wired? The main problem we are having is that the twister will not turn until the dimmer switch is up high, and that after the grinder motor makes a lot of noise with smoke coming out of the motor. The dimmer just splices into the black line. The real problem may be the load on the motor. The spinner needs to be free of stress. They may have it in tension with the roller bearings. We had the same issue until we let the plate free of the tension.   Either way it will make noise (it's a tornado).
It's a Twister! The instructions say the table is supposed to turn clockwise. Ours turns counter clockwise and we are NOT sure, how with the given grinder we can change the direction.
Using the dimmer we can NOT adjust the table to turn slow enough (3 RPM). Is that really the correct speed and if yes, what are we doing wrong ?
Yes, you are correct. The table actually does rotate counter-clockwise. Also, the platform was calibrated using a 1.5 mass placed near the edge of the circular platform. The RPM varies but should average 15 RPM with a 1.5 pound mass.
It's a Twister! How much does the Balloon weigh? 11 3/4 ounces.
It's a Twister! Is there a location that the robot is to finish? The top of the ramp is the final destination of course objectives.
It's a Twister! Why is part of the course bowed? This is an unintended result of humidity, gravity, and storage.
It's a Twister! Why is block on corner? In order to balance course warpage with the entrance to the tornado
It's a Twister! Does robot have to touch the wall as the top of the ramp? No.
It's a Twister! If the rotation stops during the run, how are the teams supposed to proceed? The robot is to continue through the course if the rotation stops.
Save Toto! We have had some warping issues with the course. Yes, the course is built on 5mm thick plywood and may warp depending on how it is stored. The official course is stored in an upright position between flat surfaces to minimize warping.
Save Toto! After the robot pushes the dog into the basket, does the robot have to stop, or can it be grabbed by the operator? When you touch the robot, scoring stops.
Save Toto! Can the robot touch the walls out of order? There is no specific order required, but each wall is worth points.
Save Toto! Does the robot have to touch all of the walls? If you choose not to touch a wall, there will be no penalty, but each wall is worth points.
There's No Place Like WSU When pushing the tin man's heart, do we need to push it
into the cut out or just into the surrounding square? We aren't sure why the cut out is there
The cutout provides a potential obstacle for the robot to traverse.  There is no additional point value for the cutout.
There's No Place Like WSU Can you please give a dimension from one of the course edges to the tape line in the center of the course? An additional drawing has been added that provides the measurements needed to locate the tape line.
There's No Place Like WSU Does the egg have to be in contact with the course inside the WSU for score? No.
We're not in Kansas anymore I checked at Menard's for the item "Royal Ceiling White Paint (1 quart)" and they did not have it. What would you suggest substituting. Will any White Paint work? Gloss, Semi-Gloss, or Flat? Any gloss white paint can be used.
We're not in Kansas anymore How much force does it take to move the ramp? Consideration was given to clearance, friction and weight so that a robot can move the ramp.
We're not in Kansas anymore We have had some warping issues with this course. The alternate material listed in the Build of Materials is thinner than the material used on the official course and may result in some warping.
We're not in Kansas anymore Can you tell me how heavy the movable ramp component is? 2.5 pounds
We're not in Kansas anymore Is the bottom of the movable ramp painted? There is a very light coat of white spray paint on the bottom of the ramp. A photo has been added to the course page.
We're not in Kansas anymore Where is checkpoint ‘B’ It is the outer corner of the end of the black tape.
We're not in Kansas anymore If you touch the oil slick, is your run over? No.

Which Witch Wichita

Can you do the checkpoints out of order? The robot must start where indicated by "Start" on the isometric drawing. From the Start point, there is no required order in which points must
be scored.
Which Witch Wichita How wide is the narrowest part of the course?  Where is this narrowest part? All dimensions are either indicated on the course drawing or can be calculated from the dimensions indicated on the drawing.