Sunday, March 13, 2011

If you ain't cheatin', you ain't tryin' hard enough.

It wasn't cheating.  It was within letter of the rules, but maybe not the spirit.

Okay, definitely not the spirit.

The last two years Robert hasn't won anything Pinewood Derby.  Every year I let him come up with the design and do most of the work.  And every year he's been beaten by kids whose dads or grandfathers are engineers who just happen to have a workshop that would make Norm Abram cry.  He hasn't won one of the various design awards, or even the giant candy bar they give out for dead last place.  So on our way home from PWD last year, he looked at me and said "Dad, I'm tired of losing, I want to win next year."  I agree, losing is well, for losers.  The boy wants to win, then by g-d, were going to come up with a way to win.

So off we go to American Science and Surplus on Roosevelt Road in Geneva.  After CabelaBassGanderProMountain this our favorite store.  Their website doesn't do them justice. They have aisles and aisles of shelves filled with what most people would call junk.  However to someone with a little electromechanical imagination or just a creative bent, there's hundreds of projects just waiting to be built.  I can walk in there with $20 and walk out with enough stuff for projects to keep Robert and I busy over a rainy weekend.  We've built crystal radios, foxhole radios, camp stoves, simple motors, a telegraph system and a jet powered pinewood derby car.

The rules state that the car cannot weigh more the 5 oz and cannot have motorized wheels or axles.   So we were dealing with a weigh constraint and hey, if we use a fan that's NOT motorizing the wheels or axles.

Finding a ducted fan that had a positive thrust to weight ratio when powered by a 9v battery took some time, but if you dig through enough bins at AS&S they do have the right one.   Robert did the sawing, cutting, sanding, painting, and assembly.  I handled the wiring.

Then there was the testing.  hehehehehehehe  We both giggled like schoolgirls when we put the car on the floor, released the kill switch and watched as it took off like a rocket.  hehehehehehehe

So today at the Pinewood Derby, there were some protests from other cub scouts and their parents "Hey, that's cheating !!"; "You can't do that!!" and "That's not fair !!".   Oh yeah, show me the rules.

It was cool to watch it come down the ramp, and when they hit the level part of the track all the other cars would start to slow down, but Robert's sped up. hehehehehe

So here's the car:

And here's the result:

That's a first place trophy and ribbon, with the Derbydome to put the car in, along with one very happy Cub Scout.

I got a feeling they'll amend and revise the rules next year.  But that's okay, Robert will be a Boy Scout then.

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