We love hearing from the #MadeWithMODt community! This week, we’re spotlighting a user who designed and printed a project for a regional Science Olympiad using the MOD-t. Here’s a guest post from Casimir Hixon on how he used his MOD-t to make an awesome, award-winning skateboard.
My name is Casimir Hixon, and I go to school in New York City. I am currently in the 7th grade. I love math and science, and this competition was a great way for my friends and me to have extra-curricular fun with science. This is my story of using the inexpensive MOD-t 3D printer to build something cool!
Science Olympiad is a middle and high school science competition that consists of 19 events. Some of the events are tests and some are competitive construction projects. This competition is tiered from regional, then to state, then national competitions. Only the top 3 regional schools move on and the best school in the state goes to the Nationals. I competed with my school for the New York City Regional competition in March.
“Scrambler” is one of the 5 construction events for Science Olympiad. For this event, each team had to construct a vehicle that could travel a distance of 10 meters, then stop as close to a wall as possible without breaking an egg attached to the front. Competitors are also judged on the amount of time it takes for the vehicle to move. The vehicle can only be propelled by a falling weight of 2 kg.
The score is the time (in seconds) x 10 + the distance(in centimeters) the vehicle lands away from the center of the wall. Lowest score wins.
I chose Scrambler as one my four events. For my vehicle, I designed a four-wheeled skateboard-looking vehicle, with a simple brake system. My idea for the brake was a threaded rod for each axle. As the axle rotates, a nut moves across it until it hits another nut, and the car stops.
Using the MOD-t and Tinkercad
My family had just gotten a MOD-t 3D printer and I decided I could use the printer to make many of the pieces I needed to build the Scrambler. The MOD-t is easy for me to use, pretty cheap for my parents to buy, and has enough precision to print exact parts.
The next step was to find a 3D design application. One of my teachers had recommended Tinkercad to me, and I gave it a shot. Not long after, I was printing parts with this very simple website. Although I did have a considerable amount of trouble sizing and getting exact centering, I would recommend Tinkercad to beginners. All of the centering was done by eye, until I discovered the ruler tool, which made it much easier.
My Printed Parts:
I printed everything except for the axles, bearings, and body. My favorite thing about working with a 3D printer was my complete freedom to design any part that I want, and print it as many times as I needed to get it right. If one of the dimensions for a part is slightly off, then I adjust the design and print it again. Some of the parts took as many as seven adjustments before I was satisfied.
This piece allowed me to attach the skateboard bearing straight onto the body of my scramblers and hold it securely.
This was the most vital component of my brakes. It needed very exact measurements to firmly hold the hex nut and the cross connector, and took me 7 tries to get it right.
This was a very small piece that allowed the bearing to exactly fit on the axle.
I needed a part that would allow the skateboard wheel to attach to the axle by filling the place where the bearing usually goes. At first, skateboard wheels seemed like the right thing to do, because they were stable had lots of traction. This worked well, until I started using the measly 2 kg wight to launch it. With the small weight, the Scrambler couldn’t even make it the full 10 meters, and I knew I needed to ditch some weight fast.
I designed and printed a new lightweight wheel that was roughly the same size and shape as the previous ones and decided to go with it. I put rubber bands around the outside for traction. It cut the weight of the vehicle nearly in half. Now that my car was light enough to go fast, it was ready to compete.
With my new, lighter car and working brakes, I was excited for my event. Because each team was allowed two runs, or just one if you break the egg, I wanted to play it safe with first run, and wing it on the second run. When it was my turn, I set the brake to stop the car about 8 inches from the wall, armed the launcher, and launched it. My first run cruised straight down the middle of the lane, and only skidded about 2 inches. For my second run, I set the brake to stop 4 inches from the wall, and launched it. Due to an alignment error, my vehicle ended up too far to the right, so although it stopped 2 inches from the wall, it didn’t score as well as the first run.
Out of all 27 teams, I had scored second place. I feel like I easily could’ve won the gold medal if I had taken more risk in the first run, or been more careful in the second run. This is my first time competing Scrambler so I am really happy to win the silver medal, and I am excited to see what else I can do with the MOD-t and 3D printing.