This section defines the rules that will govern The Tech Challenge 2013. The section is divided into Five (5) categories: Device Design, Device Performance, Reset Rule, Safety Requirements and Spirit of the Challenge.
Note: As The Tech Challenge progresses, participating teams and The Tech Museum staff may discover issues requiring updates to the guidelines. Any changes will be posted on The Tech Challenge website and registered teams will be notified by email regarding significant changes. All posted changes will be identified with the date next to the update. Please check the website often for important updates.
Device Design Rules
The design of the device(s) (refer to rule #16) must be compatible with the design rules defined in this section. It is useful for the design teams to keep in mind that if the design rules do not specifically prohibit a particular approach, then that approach is acceptable. There are answers to some frequently asked questions (FAQs) on the FAQ page. FAQs are intended to provide additional insights on what are, and are not, acceptable design approaches. Please take some time to read over all the FAQ's
1. Each of the instrument packages contains a single, raw chicken egg in a sealable heavy duty plastic bag. The bag must be transparent so that the judges may see the egg without having to open the bag. There can be material outside the egg-bag to protect the egg from damage. To minimize direct handling of eggs in The Tech Museum or Parkside Hall, sealing the eggs in the plastic bag must be done prior to the team entering any of the buildings that will be used for the challenge. There may be nothing inside the plastic bag other than the egg and some air. Teams must provide their own eggs and bags – for both event day and any test trials they attend. The teams may choose any size/grade of chicken egg they wish.
2. There will be significant scoring penalties for any teams which cause egg leakage onto to the test rig or the floor; this means effective sealing of the plastic bags is important.
3. The eggs must be raw and cannot be modified in any way. Hard boiled eggs or eggs that have had their contents removed (or other modifications) are strictly prohibited. On event day, the judges will randomly select eggs and evaluate them for compliance with this rule. Any team found to be using modified eggs will be disqualified and asked to leave the event.
3. Each team will be allowed a maximum of nine (9) instrument packages (eggs).
5. Egg breakage will be assumed if there is evidence of moisture inside the plastic bag since this would indicate the egg membrane is broken. Minor cracks in the shell will not be considered breakage.
6. Teams are free to provide protective packaging around the sealed plastic bag. The protective packaging must be easily removable so that the judges can assess the post-test condition of the egg.
7. The entire launching device and all team members must remain in the launch area at all times. This means that teams may not use long poles or other structures to deliver the instrument packages to the targets. The dimensions of the launch area are show in the test rig description section.
8. The launch device must have a launch trigger which the teams will use to initiate a launch, while standing a safe distance from their device.
9. Only the instrument package can leave the launch area. This means that wires or strings trailing behind the package are not allowed.
10. There will be a ravine between the spacecraft and the target areas. It will be impossible for wheeled vehicles to cross the ravine.
11. Asteroids have no atmosphere. This eliminates the use of devices that generate lift via wings or buoyancy. This includes devices such as helicopters, planes, parachutes, and balloons.
12. The power used to operate the launcher may be anything that is safe. See safety rules below.
13. The power of the human body may only be used to load, sight, and trigger the launch device. This eliminates approaches like (but not limited to) throwing the packages or grapples to the targets, or using handheld devices like bow or air guns.
13. The total package (egg plus protective material) cannot weigh more than 1 lb.
14. To avoid impact on the roof or lighting fixtures, the maximum height of the package flight path must be less than 20 feet.
15. The device must not damage or leave any residue (glue, for example) on the test rig or on the floor.
16. Teams may use more than one launching device. However, only one spacecraft has landed on the asteroid and all launching devices must be part of the single spacecraft. This means that all launching devices must fit on the launch platform at the same time.
Device Performance Rules
The following rules will apply when the design teams are at the Test Rig and are testing their device to see if it can meet the challenge. There are 2 distinctly different time intervals involved; these are the set-up time and the device performance time. Quite often during the 3-minute test period, a device will become inoperative and needs to be reset. The rules governing resets are described later.
When the teams get to the test rig, there is a two minute setup time during which the teams prepare for (but do not start) testing of their device. The judges will tell the teams when this setup period starts and ends. During the two minute setup time, the teams must comply with the following:
1. All members of the team must be entirely within the launch area (see Test Rig section) Team members may lean over the boundaries of the launch area but must not step out of it.
2. During the two minute setup, the team will place and setup their launch devices on the designated launch platform. The teams may not start the challenge during the two minute setup period. However, if the team is ready to begin the challenge in less than two minutes, they should let the judges know and the challenge will be started.
Each team will be given a three minute period during which they operate their device and attempt to meet the challenge. The time will carefully controlled by the judges. The three minute performance period will start when the team says they are ready to begin or when the two minute setup time has elapsed. During this three-minute performance period, the teams must comply with the following:
1. All team members must remain inside the launch area but may stretch their bodies beyond the boundary.
2. When the team indicates it is ready to start the performance, the judges will start the three minute timer. The judges will stop the timer when three minutes have elapsed. At this time, the judges will terminate the testing -- even if the team has not successfully met the challenge.
3. In the event an instrument package is only partly in the target area, it will be considered success if more than half of the package is in the target area.
4. After the three minutes have elapsed, the judges will examine those packages which have successfully landed on the targets. The teams must be able to hand just the eggs in the sealed bags to the judges for inspection. The judges will inspect the eggs in the bags for evidence of breakage.
5. The judges will not permit launching of any package they think has a high probability of releasing egg material onto the test rig or the floor.
6. The teams will not know if any of their eggs are broken until the judges examine the instrument packages after the three minute performance period is over.
7. During performance testing, safety of the participants is The Tech's first priority. The following is a suggested sequence of events that will ensure the teams are in compliance with TTC rules governing safety. It also demonstrates what is acceptable human control of the device.
When preparing to launch, the teams will load the instrument package(s) onto the device(s), aim, and secure trigger(s). The teams will then stand back from the launching device(s) and after ensuing it is safe to do so, the teams will activate the trigger(s) to initiate the launch. This sequence will be repeated for the next launch.
During the three-minute performance period, something may happen which makes further progress impossible. To allow the teams to continue, they may request a “reset”. The judges will note on the team’s score sheet that a reset occurred. This will result in a reduced score. Within the three minute time period, there is no limit to the number of allowable resets – though the total number will be noted on the score sheet.
An example of a reset: A team launches all nine of their instrument packages and they do not have at least on package on each of the targets. Under these circumstances, and assuming the judges say it is safe to do so, one team member may leave the launch area and retrieve as may packages as the team wishes to re- launch. This could, if the team so wishes, include retrieving a package that landed in the target area but the team feels may contain a broken egg.
Teams that have launched all of their eggs in less than three minutes are not required to go through a reset. If a team believes it has completed the challenge by having landed one or more instrument packages on each of the targets, they are free to tell the judges that the team has finished testing. This option allows the team to avoid the scoring penalty associated with taking a reset. However, the condition of the team’s eggs will not be known until the judges have completed their post-test examination of the eggs.
The three-minute timer keeps running during any reset. The judges will note on the team’s score sheet that a reset occurred. This will result in a reduced score. Within the three-minute time period, there is no limit to the number of allowable resets – though the total number will be noted on the score sheet.
1. During device testing, the first priority is safety. The judges have full authority to stop any activity they view as unsafe. Teams are expected to handle and operate their devices safely. The judges’ word is final on any safety related issues.
2. Devices may not use flames, flammable liquids, flammable gases, animals, or unsealed lead/acid batteries. Sealed lead/acid batteries showing obvious signs of damage and/or wear and tear will not be allowed at the test rig. Any sealed lead/acid batteries must remain in the launch area. – they cannot be carried aboard any object that leaves the launch area.
3. Use of AC power is not permitted.
4. Devices may not use high pressure gases. In addition to prohibiting the use of gas cylinders, this rule prohibits the use of pumps to pressurize devices at the test rig. Low pressure pneumatic systems similar to those founds in construction kits may be used for control functions. For example, actuation of a remote switch by a low pressure pneumatic system is acceptable.
5. The packages being launched must not have features that could raise safety issues. An example would be a package that has very sharp points on it. The judges ruling on instrument package safety will be final.
6. Important New Safety Rule for TTC 2013
All members of the team must wear eye protection gear when they are at the rig demonstrating the performance of their device. Teams must provide their own eye protection gear – glasses, goggles, masks etc. Teams will not be allowed to compete unless all members of the team have the required eye protection devices.
Spirit of the Challenge
The Tech Challenge organizers have always emphasized to the design teams the importance of developing design solutions which would be practical in real life. For example, TTC test rigs almost always involve small scale replication of large scale, real world conditions -- and this is the case for TTC 2013. The design teams should understand this scale difference, and they should attempt to develop designs which could be scaled up from TTC scale to full, real life scale. This scale-up ability would permit the team’s basic approach to make an effective contribution in real world situations. Tech Challenge entries which have this scale-up ability are said to have met “The Spirit of the Challenge.”
Compliance with “The Spirit of the Challenge” is an important factor influencing the judges’ assessment (and scoring) of TTC designs. Prior to event day, the judges are briefed by The Tech Museum staff and, amongst other things, the judges are encouraged to ask the teams about the real life practicality of their designs. Teams should expect the judges to press them on this issue and the teams will be asked questions such as “How would your design work in real life?” A good explanation of how their design approach is compatible with “The Spirit of the Challenge” will have a very positive influence on the team’s score.