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 Post subject: New TCEA Mats for 2011
 Post Posted: Fri Sep 30, 2011 6:53 am 
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Danny, the part number for the new mat is 991896. You have the old mat number. The information that Betty Justus posted is:

Qty. of 1 TCEA Race Against Time Mat # 991896 - $ 16.00 + $ 8.00 shipping = $ 24.00

(one special order price per team, others at $40.00 each)
Is the layout of the mat the same (dimensions?) but the material is different, so there could be differences in traction?

Richard Schenke
Carnegie Vanguard HS, Houston ISD


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 Post Posted: Fri Sep 30, 2011 8:04 am 
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rschenke wrote:
Danny, the part number for the new mat is 991896. You have the old mat number.


I have the information posted on the website:
http://www.legoeducation.us/eng/product ... me_mat/277

It is quite possible that the website has not been updated, but it is more probable that the 991896 is an order number specifically for TCEA teams that provides the discount (different number, same part). This is why I specify you should contact TCEA for information on purchasing the discounted mats, as they probably have the most recent info on ordering.

Quote:
The information that Betty Justus posted is:

Qty. of 1 TCEA Race Against Time Mat # 991896 - $ 16.00 + $ 8.00 shipping = $ 24.00

(one special order price per team, others at $40.00 each)


Awesome, thanks for sharing!

Quote:
Is the layout of the mat the same (dimensions?) but the material is different, so there could be differences in traction?


Yes and "Oh, Absolutely!", respectively. The dimensions of the mat and the pattern printed on the mat are the exact same - I made it a point to specify this in the rules document. The mat material was specifically changed from previous years to focus directly on traction issues we've had in the past. The new mat will have a different traction profile than mats in previous years.

-Danny


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 Post Posted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 4:37 pm 
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Joined: Mon Aug 22, 2011 11:56 am
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Danny,

The new mats are currently sold out and Betty Justus says the mats will not be restocked until December. There are still old mats avaiable to purchase. I have a new sponsor that does not have a new or old mat so her only option is the old mat. Can you explain the differences and how the difference may/may not make a difference for her team(s)?

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Thanks,

Katie Treat | Texas Computer Education Association
Ph: (800) 282-8232 | Direct: (512) 450-5404 | Fax: (512) 476-8574
treat@tcea.org | www.tcea.org


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 Post Posted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 8:30 pm 
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KTreat wrote:
Can you explain the differences and how the difference may/may not make a difference for her team(s)?


The mat sold last year was either made of or laminated with a really glossy material, which severely affected robot traction; some teams noted that the gloss provided an "icy effect" on the surface of the mat, which particularly caused skids to rub more freely than any other mat and some tire wheels did not have much traction (needed to push objects around on the field). The cumulative effect on the robots was dubbed, "Robots on Ice." Teams found that after heavy use the mat began to "wear-in" - the gloss wore off, giving the robot more traction in the heavily used areas. This also meant that friction changed, so teams relying on a "timed turn" would not turn reliably and the robot turned differently based on where they were on the mat (and the level of wear).

Since the checkers are not heavy items causing additional friction with the mat, I would bet that the glossy mat would have less of an effect on a robot this year over last year. Teams would have to still watch out for turns, and robots may need to perform an alignment maneuver every now and again (pushing into a wall guaranteeing to "straighten" the robot's path). I believe robots employing tank treads will have less of an issue with last year's mat with this year's game, provided no other part of the robot rubbed on the mat than the treads.

The mat, however, may affect how checkers slide on the mat. The glossy mat from last year would allow the checkers to slide around on the mat easier, and the mat material this year would probably have a greater effect on checkers sliding around the mat (to prevent them from sliding around, or to cause them to topple over easier).

-Danny


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 Post Posted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 8:45 am 
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In the past 2 years there hasn't been an issue with the 4 ft x 4 ft mat fitting within the confines of the board. Unfortunately with the new mats (2011) there seems to be an issue of them fitting. Also, they do not lay as flat as the other mats have done before. We are using double sided tape on the outside of the mat and there still seems to be a "bubble" or two within the mat itselft. Is anyone else experiencing these same issues?

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Anthony Barrera
Crowell Robotics


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 Post Posted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 1:37 pm 
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abarrera wrote:
Unfortunately with the new mats (2011) there seems to be an issue of them fitting.


The mat doesn't fit within a 4'x4' area, or is it because the mat isn't exactly 4'x4'? I've already provided the resolution to this problem. Right?

-Danny


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 Post Posted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 2:30 pm 
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both! yes you have. I just wanted to share what we have experienced with this issue. The irregularities of the mats should have little to no effect on the programs. If they do, we will simply have to "roll with the punches". Looking forward to competition!

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Anthony Barrera
Crowell Robotics


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 Post Posted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 2:52 pm 
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abarrera wrote:
both! yes you have. I just wanted to share what we have experienced with this issue.


Okay, I was just wondering if there was anything "new" - I definitely want to hear what others think about the mats, good or bad, so we can make adjustments as necessary. We also considered going "matless," but the mats solve very specific problems we've had over the years (even though they seem to add just as many "complications" too!). I'd love to hear additional ideas!

Yeah, I'm looking forward to this season as well. I'll be at the Area 20/13 tournament in New Braunfels on 12/10, I can't wait! I might also be at a tournament on 1/14 (my schedule may have opened up that day), but no plans have been made yet.

-Danny


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 Post Posted: Fri Nov 04, 2011 8:32 am 
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I might be beating a "dead horse", but were we not PROMISED that the new mats would be manufactured to the exact specifications? The main reason of displeasure from last year was the inconsistency of the mat from the manufacturer. Granted, the surface of this year's mat may very well be consistent throughout the entire line, however, there is another "kink" in the mat itself concerning the inconsistent dimensions.

NOTE: I UNDERSTAND THAT THESE ISSUES ARE OUT OF THE HANDS OF DANNY DIAZ, TCEA, AND/OR LEGO.

Should we as sponsors come to realize that each year regardless of the efforts to be as consistent as possible, that there may very well be some aspect of the mat, board, or whatever that will be slightly varied from team to team.

Thank you for all of your dedication to LEGOs and TCEA! It is great that you get out to see some of the Area competitions and show your support to the students and sponsors.

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Anthony Barrera
Crowell Robotics


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 Post Posted: Fri Nov 04, 2011 11:30 am 
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abarrera wrote:
I might be beating a "dead horse", but were we not PROMISED that the new mats would be manufactured to the exact specifications?


Technically, no. They never promised us that the mats would be manufactured to exact specifications. We had two primary complaints that we asked them to resolve:

  1. Mat material must be more robot friendly - I haven't heard anyone telling me that the robots still have the "ice effect" as shown last year, and since I never received a mat (I received/tested/approved a sample of the material) I can only assume that the deafening silence about this specific problem is because it's been solved.
  2. Grossly inconsistent trim on the mat - Specifically I told them their mats could not exceed 4'x4' without providing us with instructions on how to properly trim the mats. Last year some mats had up to 3 inches of "extra" trim, which made the mats lopsided and did not fit on our boards - the website and specifications state that the mat is 4'x4', so I took that as the maximum dimensions of the mat and asked them to hold to that maximum dimension. When it comes down to it, a smaller mat can be dealt with, but a larger mat is much more difficult (especially if extra trim is grossly inconsistent)

When manufacturing mats, a 1cm tolerance over 120cm of material (roughly 0.9% tolerance) is actually pretty good, given the materials used. You have to consider that the plastic material in the mats themselves literally shrinks after the printing and cutting process - that's inherent in the material itself warming and cooling throughout the printing process - and every mat shrinks at a slightly different rate. 3M manufactures the mats for FIRST LEGO League, and traditionally the mats have varied up to 1-2cm over 240cm of material (roughly the same tolerances) - that's why even FLL has setup instructions on how to "align and center" mats on the competition field; I assume we'll have to do the same in upcoming years. Getting EXACT measurements all the time is difficult and expensive.

So, yes, you're right - it's something out of our hands. The exact size and dimensions of the mat is not something we can specifically control. Even in FLL teams complain that, "At home our robot works perfectly on our mat, but here it doesn't". That's the nature of the beast. :)

-Danny


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