Roller Coaster Project (PDF)

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					Roller Coaster Project
 December 6, 2008

    Tommy Wulz
   Carson Barnes
    Aaron Morris
      Joe Yantis
  Julianne Swafford

      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.


      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.


      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.


      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.

       Energy          = Energy    >     ℎ=     mvℎ+
                         9.81m         9.81m  1
                > .5           = .027m       + v
                           s             s    2

                             Vmax = 3.046 m/s


      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.


      We used only our super smart brains and mega creativity skills to
engineer this project.