Roller Coaster Project December 6, 2008 Tommy Wulz Carson Barnes Aaron Morris Joe Yantis Julianne Swafford Abstract Our roller coaster, How the West was Won, is made out of plastic tubing that is ½ inch thick, wooden dowels, a thick wooden base, screw hooks, and plastic PVC pipe. Small metal balls represent the “cars” in our roller coaster. The plastic tubing starts at the top, and is wrapped around the wooden dowels in a wide spiral. The plastic tubing then leads directly into the PVC pipe maze about ¾’s of the way down from the original height. The ball is first placed in the plastic tubing at the maximum height of the ride. It runs through the spiral until the tubing runs out. The ball then runs directly through the pipe, and the ride ends once the ball gets to the bottom. The one problem that we were having with our ride was that it never ran the same way twice. It could run over 15 seconds on time, and the next run would be around 13 seconds. We taped up the tubes at the angles that took up the most time, and could only hope that it would have a long run when we presented it. We did all that could be done to make it as consistent as possible. We spend a total of about 6 hours on building the project, and around 2 hours working on the presentation and the report. Our total cost was around fifteen dollars. ii Introduction There were a few objectives that we were trying to accomplish while creating our roller coaster. First of all, we wanted to transport an object from a starting point to an ending point. Secondly, there was a 15 second time requirement. Our coaster was supposed to last as close to 15 seconds as possible. Thirdly, the entire coaster had to fit in a half of a meter box. The dimensions of the ride were to be ½ meter X ½ meter X ½ meter. Design Process When we were discussing the original design, our only concerns were the fifteen-second-time requirement, the cost of materials, and the space requirement. We had very high hopes for the creative side of our project because we were told that creativity would help us win a great grade. We really originally wanted a spiral that lead to a loop and then to a jump and then through the PVC pipe maze. Of course, we originally wanted to have a loop as well. However, the plastic tubing that we purchased kept creasing when we tried to make a loop, therefore not letting the ball pass through. The loop idea was quickly discarded and replaced with the idea of a jump into a small plastic funnel. However, our spiral did not produce enough speed to make a significant jump, so we ended up leading the plastic tubing directly into our PVC pipe maze. Once we had made the final decision on our design, we then went to Home Depot to purchase the supplies. We ended up buying a block of wood for the base that only cost us fifty cents. Then, we purchased two long wooden dowels with intentions to cut them in half and make the skeleton and support for our ride. The wooden dowels were about ninety-nine cents apiece. Then, we needed our tubing. We wanted to have the smallest tubing possible in order for it to be light and easy to work with. We had already decided to use a small light ball to represent the cars of the coaster to take up more time, so light, small tubing was essential. We found a huge roll of clear plastic tubing for about five dollars. We then realized we needed something with a classy look to hold the tubing onto the four wooden dowels. Screw hooks were our best bet, and we ended up grabbing three packs of six for 99 cents apiece. After all of our supplies were bought to build the roller coaster, we needed the balls that were representing the cars. We made our way to Dick’s Sporting Goods to browse through the airsoft gun section. We ended up buying small, light metal balls that weren’t completely round in order to take up even more time. In the end of our shopping spree, we ended up spending around fifteen dollars. Luckily, someone in the group already had a small piece of wood and a PVC pipe to create the PVC pipe maze at the end of our coaster. Device We started out with a 2-inch thick wooden block as our base. Four holes were then drilled into the base, and four wooden dowels were placed and glued in the holes. The ½ inch thick plastic tubing was then wrapped around the dowels, and the screw hooks were placed accordingly. After the tubing was secure, the PVC pipe maze was put onto the wooden base so the plastic tubing would run directly into the initial hole of the maze. Calculations We used Conservation of Energy equations to calculate the maximum theoretical speed of our roller coaster during its run through the track. The ball begins with only potential gravitational energy. As it rolls it gains speed and kinetic energy. Our roller coaster is approximately half a meter tall. At a height of .027 meters the ball enters the PVC pipe system. The maximum speed it will have reached by this point is .8046 meters/second. 1 Energy = Energy > ℎ= mvℎ+ 2 9.81m 9.81m 1 > .5 = .027m + v s s 2 Vmax = 3.046 m/s Results Our roller coaster ran well. At first we used the steel balls mentioned above. However, these balls had a large mass and ran through the track too fast. So we decided to use light, plastic air-soft BB’s. These lighter-massed balls ran through the track at much more manageable pace. Its time was approximately 13.5 seconds. We do not think that the ball reached the theoretical speed that we predicted. This is due to friction between the ball and the tubing and also environmental factors (temperature, humidity, etc.). We learned a good deal about working as a team. Through this project we taught ourselves how to take several different ideas and combine different components of each idea into one fantastic super idea. References We used only our super smart brains and mega creativity skills to engineer this project.