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Answers to
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Please check this site frequently. Any notifications and/or clarifications for the 2015 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 Our team has a community/business sponsor.  Can we acknowledge them on our team t-shirts? Yes, we are very happy if teams can get support from the community and you are welcome to acknowledge that support on your team's t-shirts.
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 explicitly stated by the course mission itself, there is no penalty.
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 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.
General Are teams allowd to use the tiny white rubber bands that come
in the MINDSTORMS kits to secure pieces of the robots?
Any official LEGO part can be used on a
robot.  Any rubber band, tie, cardboard, etc., that is used to pack a kit cannot be used.
General If I have multiple sensors attached to my robot, do I need to remove the unused ones when I move to the next course? Any sensor can be attached to your robot, however, certain courses limit the sensors that can be used to run the course; for instance, the Table Runner requires that the touch sensor (only) is used.  See the individual course rules for details concerning use of sensors.
General Is the old RCX allowed? Yes.  Teams may use the RCX, NXT, or EV3.
General For the beginner level, is it ok to complete all four courses and use the best three scores? Yes.  The best three scores are used to determine the overall points.
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 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 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.
Team Display and Notebook What are the dimensions of the table for the team displays and notebook. The tables are 6' x 2.5'.
Apprentice Courses Is there a time limit for the Apprentice courses? For Line Follower, Table Runner, and Maze Runner, the maximum time limit is 3 minutes.
For MOMS, the maximum time limit is 5 minutes.
Line Follower Is the robot only allowed to use one light sensor? No, multiple light sensors are allowed.
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 Can you use a color sensor? Yes, you can use either a light sensor or a color sensor.
Line Follower What constitutes the ‘back’ of the robot? The last physical piece of the robot including wheels, wires, and sensors.
Line Follower What constitutes ‘1-inch’ off the track? The entire robot has to be more than 1” off the black track.  As long as the robot is touching or at least within 1” of the track, they are okay.
Line Follower Does the robot need to be programmed to report the time it took to run the course? No. The judges will use a stop watch to determine the time in which the robot finishes the course.
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 NXT/EV3 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 Are ultrasonic sensors allowed? No.
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.
Table 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.”
Maze Runner Do robots need to use a specific sensor on Maze Runner? No. Any sensor can be used.
Maze Runner Can multiple sensors be used on the same robot? There is no limit on the type or number of sensors used for the Maze Runner.
Maze Runner Are we encouraged to design a program optimized for the
particular maze, eg., by instructing the robot to go forward by 2 feet,
then turn left, then go forward by 1 foot, etc.; or design a
sensor-based universal program that would work for other mazes,
sacrificing the efficiency for the specific one?
There are no limits to how you use sensors or program your robot for the Maze Runner.  The goal of the course is for students to build and program a robot that autonomously responds to its environment.
Maze Runner Can the robot's height break the plane of the top of the Maze Runner walls? There are no restrictions on robot size or construction.
Maze Runner If there is a tie for 1st and 2nd place, will a winner be determined by how quickly they finished the course, or will it remain a tie? The scores earned for each course are only a small part of determining an overall winner at each level (Beginner and Beginner II).  Time is not a tie-breaker consideration.
MOMS Does it count as a deduction if the robot touches the back of the wall after it touches the finish box (yellow finish area)? What occurs after a run is finished does not affect the total score.
Daleks Correction On the Bill of Materials, the listing for the 1-qt Black Gloss paint should be Flat and not Gloss.  The build instructions, item #26 is correct, and indicates flat black paint. (This change had been made to the mission page.)
Daleks We can extrapolate the radius of the line from the start block. What is the radius for the remaining two curved lines? It would be good to have the distance from edge of course for the two turns as well. An additional drawing has been added to the Daleks page, Drawing - Line Radius
Daleks Will the white line mismatch (where the two pieces meet by the yellow starting square) be the same way on Challenge Day? Yes.  The course will not be altered.
Daleks Does the entire robot have to start inside the yellow square? Robot must start with any part of the robot touching inside of the yellow box. (This change has been made on the Mission page Scoring Matrix.)
Daleks Can the blue blocks be moved in any order? Yes.
Daleks Will points be deducted if a white block is moved by something other than the robot? No.
Dawn of the Daleks Can a companion be dragged through the multi-colored square From the Mission page, “Blocks are considered retrieved when any part touches the center square – when this happens, the companion is "rescued" and does not have to remain on the center square to receive points.”
Dawn of the Daleks Do you have to drive over the bridge? You may choose your own path to achieve the tasks in the scoring matrix.
Desolation of the Daleks Correction On Page 2 of the drawing (titled “Back baseboard around tower”), the 6.50” dimension should be 5.50”.
Desolation of the Daleks Can we use the sonic screwdriver (the remote control that comes with the EV3) to control the robot?

From the Rules/Equipment:
"No form of remote control can be used in the missions including the LEGO remote control that can be purchased separately. Each robot must be programmed to perform autonomously and can have NO human contact of any kind during the mission unless it is specified in the mission guidelines. Anyone using a remote device to control any EV3/NXT will be disqualified.

Desolation of the Daleks Where can we find the "Darice Bamboo Cord" used on the course? Some builders have expressed difficulty finding the Darice Bamboo Cord. The couse builders purchased the cord at Walmart, 29th and Rock.  A team coach found the cord at Walmart in Goddard.  A link to the Walmart listing for the cord has also been posted on the mission page.
Desolation of the Daleks If the string breaks during an official run, does it still count? If, in the opinion of the judges, the break of the string was not the fault of the robot or team and the break hampered the score or results, then a re-run may be awarded.
Desolation of the Daleks If robot moves red can off red square (saves human), will robot be penalized if silver can (alien) falls and knocks red can (human) over? No.  Human was saved.  However, penalty applies if robot knocks red can (human) over during its run.
Desolation of the Daleks Will the string be maintained to the exact length during the day? Some stretching of the string may occur during the day.  The string will be replaced at the judges' discretion when it appears that the condition of the string could impact the run.
Desolation of the Daleks Can the slack in the string be removed by hand or does it have to be robot removed? Participants may choose how to best set-up their robot and program its operation.  Tardis must be resting on ground at the beginning of the run and once the start button is pressed, all team members must step outside the tape line during the robot’s operation.
Desolation of the Daleks The drawing shows the distance between the pole side of the base and the center spaceship pole as 20” (see page 3 of the drawing; Main Base of Course (1/8 in board)).  The actual dimension of the competition course is 16”.  Will the completion course be changed for Challenge Day? No.  The course will not be altered. The drawing is incorrect.
Desolation of the Daleks Are two participants allowed inside taped off area during set up? Due to the lengthy set-up required for this course, a second student will be allowed to help with the placement of the robot and connections to the course.
Desolation of the Daleks Is setup time included in the 5 minute runtime? The 5-minute runtime will begin when the team member(s) with the robot enter the caution taped area to make a run. (This change has been made on the Scoring Matrix on the Mission page.)
IMPORTANT:  A “staging” table will be set up outside the caution tape.  String with LEGO Technic Cams attached will be provided. Teams preparing to make a run will be able to connect their robot to a string before entering the mission area and before the 5-minute runtime begins.
Desolation of the Daleks Do both red cans (humans) have to be moved off of the red
square before the three silver cans (aliens)are knocked off  and the
red line is reached?
There is nothing to indicate the order in which these events have to occur.
Dinosaurs on a Spaceship On the drawing, the white line does not extend into the red box, and there isn't a measurement for how far away from the red box it begins.  In the picture, the white line goes into the red box.  Which one is correct? The white tape goes to the red line but not over it.   What appears to be a white line within the box is only a shadow from the robot.  The tape line is not dimensioned on the drawing.  It is described in the build instructions that the tape line for this path is continuous throughout path (it says path 2 whereas it should say path 1 since the solid line is path 1).
Dinosaurs on a Spaceship If the robot leaves the path at a certain point in the course, does it get the score up to that point? Yes.  Points are earned when any part of the robot touches a Checkpoint. 
Dinosaurs on a Spaceship Can the robot be manually stopped after it gets to the green box at the end? Once the robot is touched, the run is over.
Dinosaurs on a Spaceship Does the robot have to stop at the end of the course? In order to score points, the robot must complete the tasks listed in the scoring matrix.
Dinosaurs on a Spaceship After the robot gets to the green box, does it have to make the last left turn? In order to score points, the robot must complete the tasks listed in the scoring matrix.
Dinosaurs on a Spaceship On the zig-zag path, can the robot go straight across? Yes.  Points are earned when any part of the robot touches a checkpoint.  The run is not over based upon the path of the robot.
Dinosaurs on a Spaceship Does the robot have to be completely inside the box at the start? Robot must start with any part of the robot touching inside of the red box. (This change has been made on the Scoring Matrix on the Mission page.)
Dinosaurs on a Spaceship Can the robot follow the zig-zag path through the first checkpoint on the zig-zag path (checkpoint 2) but then return to the path with the bridge? There is no penalty if a robot veers from one path to another, however, the robot can only earn points on one path.
Into the Dalek Does the team declare their route before the official run? Yes, the team will need to declare the robot's route before the official run. "Route Maps" have been posted on the Mission page and will be available on Challenge Day for teams to indicate their route prior to the run.
Return to Gallifrey Correction The blue ramp from the first to the second level (drawing WSU-03-01) was built at 3.50” height, however, the drawing shows 3.25”.  This difference is what creates the drop from blue to red as shown in the photo "Drop from blue to red."
Return to Gallifrey If one wheel goes off course but comes back on the course, is it okay? Yes, as long as at least one wheel stays on the course.
Return to Gallifrey Does all of the robot have to be inside the white start box? The portion of the robot in contact with
the course must within the white square.
Return to Gallifrey If the white block goes into the white zone and then falls out, does it still count? Points are scored once the block is in the safe zone (white zone).  There are no deductions if the block is subsequently knocked out.
MOC Can you enter with a friend? Yes.
MOC Can more then 2 people enter moc together, like a group of friends 3-4 people? Any number of people can work on a MOC, however, the entry must be made with one name, and only one brick will be awarded for the winning entry in each category.
MOC Can a MOC be controlled by a non Lego part such as a Logitech f310, which is sold on hitecknic website, or a computer or other electric device? No.  As stated in the MOC rules, the MOC must be 100% LEGO bricks and must be controlled by an EV3/NXT/RCX.