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Forum - Module Design Contest for Brickworld Chicago 2016

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For the last two years we've run a GBC module build workshop. The first year Rafe Donahue happened to have a robust, inexpensie, extensible design at the ready. The second year Bryan Bonahoom designed a remarkably consistent and remarkably stackable module.

For year 3, I am opening the design up to the community. Here are is a draft of the rules, open for discussion:

  1. The module must be Standard.
  2. The module must have as few leaks and jams as possible.
  3. The module must use as few parts as possible. All parts must be unmodified LEGO elements.

There will be a qualification round, conducted by the designer or her designated third party. To qualify the module must pass tests 1, 2, 3 and 4.3. In addition it must have at least one trial tested as in 4.1. where at least 30 balls are output during the 30-second trial.

Modules which have passed qualification will be subjected to the full suite of tests. Tests will be conducted by me or by someone I designate. All qualified modules must be submitted by January 15th, 2016. The winner will be announced at Brickworld Indy in mid-March, 2016. The winning module will be used at the Brickworld Chicago 2016 GBC Build Workshop and will be part of that event's GBC.

Tests:

  1. Does a line extended from the front edge of the output fall inside the in-basket, and does a line extended from the back edge of the output fall inside the in-basket?
  2. Does the in-basket size tester clear the in-basket when suspended over it inline with the output? (Tester model will be posted later.)
  3. Is the front of the in-basket 32 studs or less from the back of the module?
  4. The following tests will be conducted using a LEGO 12VAC power supply and LEGO 9V train controller. The "speed" setting is determined by the designer but must be the same for all trials of all three tests.
    1. The flow rate will be measured as the average of multiple trials. Each trial will be 30 seconds long. Balls will be fed into the module at between 1.0 and 1.1 bps. Each trial will start at a random time after flow is "fully developed". Trials will be run until it can be determined with 90% confidence that the rate is or is not at least 1 bps. Leaks and jams will be tallied. If the in-basket ever contains more than 30 balls the trial in progress will be discarded, 15 balls will be removed from the left end of the in-basket and trials will resume. This does not count as an intervention.
    2. Starting with an empty in-basket, 10 batches of 30 balls will be fed 30 seconds apart. The test will start with the dumping of the first batch and end when balls stop exiting the in-basket. Leaks and interventions will be tallied. (Tester model will be posted later.)
    3. Starting with 30 balls in the in-basket and a fully developed flow, balls will be recirculated through the module as fast as the module can process them up to 1.1 bps (33 balls per 30 seconds) for 10 minutes. Leaks and jams will be tallied. If a jam requires more than momentary intervention, timing will stop when the intervention starts and resume when the intervention is demonstrably successful. A module which requires more than two non-momentary interventions is disqualified.

Scoring will be as follows:

  1. Any module which does not pass test 1, 2, 3 or 4.3 is disqualified.
  2. Any module with an average in test 4.1. of less than one bps (with 90% confidence) is disqualified.
  3. Each leaked ball during recorded trials will count as 3 points.
  4. Each jam occuring during a recorded trial which requires intervention to correct will count as 30 points.
  5. Each part used counts as 1 point.
  6. Every part which is not available from either TLC or at least three bulk vendors, or is not availabile in total quantities of at least 50, counts as 100 points. Color is not a factor.

Bonus points:

  • The module with the fewest parts receives -25 points.

These are draft rules, open for discussion.

Posted by ALittleSlow (administrator) on 20 October 2015 at 05:29.
Edited by ALittleSlow (administrator) on 20 October 2015 at 05:55.
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I think there should be a significant bonus if you can power more than one copy of the module from one motor (and still have the modules arranged such that they feed each other). Added bonus if the motor can be easily removed from the module and a hand-crank installed in its place.

The idea being that the workshop kit is motor-less (therefore much cheaper), but can easily be fitted with a motor if necessary. For the display, you'd have XL motors (geared up to M motor speed) driving several copies of the module.

Posted by Captainowie on 20 October 2015 at 09:14.
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As for the setup for test 4 I think emphasis should be put on having the train controller NOT set to the fist or second mark. Just my 2 Technic pins worth.

Tom

Posted by 54.166.158.73 on 21 October 2015 at 15:09.
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Posted by Tom Atkinson on 21 October 2015 at 15:09.

»As for the setup for test 4 I think emphasis should be put on having the train controller NOT set to the fist or second mark. Just my 2 Technic pins worth.

Tom«

Ideally the module would be geared such that the motor is running at full power (so that if you only have a battery box you can still run the module without throwing balls everywhere). Perhaps have a penalty of (6 - n)^2 points where the test is done on the nth mark.

Posted by Captainowie on 23 October 2015 at 08:28.
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Posted by Captainowie on 2015-10-23 at 08:28:02.

»Ideally the module would be geared such that the motor is running at full power (so that if you only have a battery box you can still run the module without throwing balls everywhere). Perhaps have a penalty of (6 - n)^2 points where the test is done on the nth mark.«
For me the ideal is 4 or 5. As a way of revealing potential problem areas, I like to stress test my modules. One way of doing this is by over-clocking them. which is difficult if the controller is naturally maxed out. Also setting the natural speed below 6 gives some room to compensate for situational input power variations.

Posted by ALittleSlow (administrator) on 28 October 2015 at 11:46.
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That's a reasonable argument.

But not everyone has access to a train regulator. I can accept having no penalty for a module that's designed to run on 4 or 5, but I'd still like to see a penalty if full speed is too fast (by "too fast" I don't mean a throughput of higher than 1bps, rather that things jam or fly apart at that speed). Surely we want anyone with a battery box to be able to play with their module at home?

Posted by Captainowie on 29 October 2015 at 11:33.
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Posted by Captainowie on 2015-10-29 at 11:33:33.

» Surely we want anyone with a battery box to be able to play with their module at home?«
I hadn't considered that. And in this case, that's probably what the majority of workshop participants will have. Would bonus points for battery box run-ability cover this?

Posted by ALittleSlow (administrator) on 3 November 2015 at 04:19.
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Bonus for battery box, penalty if it can't. Tomayto Tomahto.

Posted by Captainowie on 3 November 2015 at 06:09.
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Where can I find info on the winning design?

Posted by 54.166.158.73 on 31 May 2016 at 02:30.
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Sadly this contest kinda fizzled. The push behind it (ALittleSlow) had to go and get a new job, jeez. There is a module design for the Brickworld Workshop this year. Instructions will eventually be made public.

I think we should try again for next year.

Posted by 54.166.158.73 on 4 June 2016 at 15:30.

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