Friday, January 16, 2009

Final Disclosure

Ok, high time i did a proper post on what I had been involved in for the past 5 months.

I had been part of a truly awesome team which designed and built this baby in 5 months. And we are really proud of what we had pulled off, despite some setbacks and disapointments and annoyances along the way.

for the record, we are called LMTForce (Launch Mechanism Task Force) , i guess it took someone 5 mins or so to come up with it, sure got a ring to it though..... :P

Okay, this is my second time building a rube goldberg machine of sorts. Its basically a chain reaction machine for the purpose of entertainment.

The first one was this:

It took BC, YQ , Vee and me a month to plan and build it. Cost = S$0.00

Boxes are nicked from NTU libraries, tennis balls from me, Masking tape and binding materials were from YQ.

We entered it into a rube goldberg challenge the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering school was holding, and we came in second.

Now, Singapore will be hosting the 2010 Youth Olympics and NTU will be the Olympic Village (the reason a lot of people are now worried about losing their rooms). I am pretty sore about NTU just offering to host the athletes without caring for the student population which will be denied rooms.

Now I have no idea how its going to work. Maybe we can get rooms after the Games are over or something. But this is another story altogether.

The point is, on that day, the Youth Olympic Games committe (hence will be refered to as YOGs) came down to take a look at what sort of machines we were building , and then approached Iris later :

meet our boss...

Iris was in charge of the organising team for the rube goldberg challenge, and then she contacted me and i was hooked and managed to rope in BC and YQ. And then we decided to make her the boss again....cause she's awfully good at running teams and projects. She liasoned with profs and lab techs and just made things smooth for us to work. Awesome :P

And so we had meetings........

brainstorming into the morning

showing full scale drawings for visualization. BC adding in details and improvements suggested by the rest.

food keeps us happy and ok with the idea of working late

And so, after 2 weeks, we came up with a not-so-finalised plan which my Roomie rendered in 3D:

I must say, the final thing was soo different. We were even adding in last minute mechanisms a week before launch date.

But it worked out well, despite the pressure. Cause you see, NTU's name and the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering school's name was on the line if we screwed it. And we sure were reminded of that fact many times, especially during visits by one very annoying and totally beaurecratic chap (LMTF, you know who I mean).

Amongst all the advisers we had, I only truly liked one:

Prof David Butler

We were pissed off after the ceremony had ended cause of 2 issues. One, we had built and tested the machine a 7 ply wooden backdrop. If you don't know what i mean, its the extremely tough plywood used to make concrete moulds for construction of buildings.

The idiotic event company gave us cheap 2mm or so thick plywood. We had to wait for it to be reinforced later on before we could start assembly on site.

And to top things off, after the whole thing was over, the YOG committee which wanted the machine taken to their exhibition centre brought a idiotically sized truck to transport it.

Idiots forgot about 2 things.

How the hell are you supposed to move it when you gave us cheap plywood in the first place? The damn thing flexes when you try to shift it.

And how the hell are you going to move it WITHOUT dismantling it?

Cause we were under the impression that after event day, our job was done. Apparently not. Cause we now have to reconstruct it again for exhibition purposes after taking it apart for transportation.

I don't mind doing that, cause i want to see closure to this whole project. But NOT during semester. Call us back in July please.

*apologies for the ranting*

We then decided to sod it and went to celebrate with Butler. He handled the bill after witnessing the previous night's fiasco. Even came down around 12 am to keep us happy with chocolates. Call me cheap, but you can make me very happy by just handing me some chocs.

New York, New York has pretty good food.

even master eater cannot finish half of that

describing what pressure feels like..

Technical Details

Its quite a machines cause we can almost guarantee success everytime we run it. A lot of mechanisms ad manual triggers and switches behind in case things do not go well.

For example, one mechanism was an arrow being shot form a bow. The bow was strung and held by electromagnets which would turn off when a microswitch is hit by a previous mechanism.

We designed the circuit to accomodate a manual switch behind to turn off the magnet manually.

A TV with live feed was positioned backstage to help us view the whole thing in action and to manually trigger mechanisms which did not go off.

On the event day, only the arrow failed to go off, and noone except us knew it was manually triggered.

Now you do too.........

Final Expenses : S$ 8000


The team


Event venue @ Singapore Management University


our work area for a month, and our much better quality backdrop.

It was by far the largest project i have ever worked on. And was quite an experience.

Cheers from the,