Mini projects FAQ

1.      Q: What kind of flooring for the mousetrap car competition?
A: Low-pile carpet (see the floor in DCC 308).

2.      Q: Where can we get practice courses for the line follower?
A: The practice course is available on LMS as a .pdf document. You can print it on one of the large-format plotters at the VCC. (See website for more info on printing at Rensselaer. Direct link to plotter information: ). A plotted course is also available for use in the IED Fabrication Area JEC 2322.

3.      Q: Can we use compressed air for our marshmallow launcher?
A: No. If you read the rules, you'll note that compressed air (above 5 psi) is not allowed.

4.      Q: Is the distance to the target (mousetrap or marshmallow launcher) measured in feet or inches?
A: Inches. The target will be on the centerline of the course, with the distance measured from the starting line. Examples of possible target distances: 96 inches, 125 inches, 80 inches

5.      Q: What size / brand of marshmallows?
A: "Standard size", no particular brand. These are commonly available at grocery stores, often under the name "Jet Puffed." They are cylinders, around 1 inch tall and around 1 inch in diameter. When you buy your marshmallows for testing, you are urged to measure them for a better approximation of size and mass.

6.      Q: Can I place the mousetrap car at the finish point and then roll it back to the starting point to set it for the right distance?
A: No. You are expected to have calibrated your machine prior to the competition. You may want to have a lookup table or graph so that when the distance is announced you can simply look up the proper settings for your device.

7.      Q: Can I place a piece of string on the mousetrap car tied to a weight/anchor at the start so that the car stops when it fully extends the string?
A: No.

8.      Q: Can I use an arm for the launcher that folds or collapses to fit inside the size limits but then un-folds or extends prior to launch?
A: No.

9.      Q. What voltage are the line-follower motors rated for?
A. Unfortunately, we do not have specs on the motor. From the pictures, however, it can be assumed that they can be powered by 4 AA batteries.

9.      Q. The holes on the motor mount / battery holder do not line up with the holes on the chassis - what do I do?
A. The kits are very low cost and not made with high manufacturing precision. The chassis is only a starting point for your project. You can drill new holes or enlarge the current ones and make other modifications as needed.

More to come as questions are asked...