Micromouse competition 22/6/98
This is a personal viewpoint from
Duncan Louttit. I may have some details wrong but this is
how I saw it. I apologise for the long download times but
some viewers will want lots of detail in the pictures to
get ideas for their own mice.
Click here for a
gallery of schools' mice.
The schools competitions were very
well supported. Many entrants were using
DASH FREE kits and associated components with a
wide variety of results.
As ever, practice was the exciting
part. Many mice arrived unfinished, untested or damaged
in transit. There was a great deal of frantic last-minute
soldering, mechanical adjusting and software development
going on. Our works-supported team of Creag Louttit and
Steve Eakins had a catastrophe when one of the sensors
was broken. Fortunately, they had spares and tools and
were able to repair the damage in plenty of time for
practice but there were several teams who had travelled
all the way there but were unable to compete.
The moral is: Make a good travelling
container for your mouse and ensure that all your
soldered joints are reliable. In the background of this
picture you can see the sophisticated travelling box for
Ysgol Gyfun Aberaeron's ARCHER. Perhaps it is no
coincidence that ARCHER won the standard
There were so many schools that it was
not possible for everyone to run in the finals. To get to
the finals you had to come in the top 15 of the times
posted in the morning.
Everybody seemed to have plenty of
opportunities during practice. They were allowed up to 8
laps to post a good time but there was some flexibility
for those with problems. The most organised teams,
notably Woodbridge school's SNIFFER, used their laps one
or two at a time and made adjustments in between. SNIFFER
certainly lopped at least half a second off their time
between practice and finals.
The very fastest high-tech mice in the
open classes made just the one trip to the practice
course, ran one or two laps to check that they were in
the finals and left it at that.
As times were recorded, they were put
up on a large whiteboard. It was easy to see how everyone
was doing. Some teams needed to improve by only a few
tenths of a second to get further up the leader board and
these were the ones involved in the most intense
At the end of practice we were
relieved that Creag and Steve were in pole position in
both classes. It seemed as though they were in with an
The finals are run in reverse order of
lap times. These are the times we noted for the school's
St. Benedict's R.C. High
School's TEAM SPIRIT
Royal Grammar, Newcastle's
Devonport High School for
Lancaster Grammar School's
Welshpool High School's
Sawston Village College's
Gravesend Grammar School's
Dane Court Grammar School's
Ysgol Gyfun Aberaeron's
In the standard open class there was
only one entry. This was THRUST SSM which had
works support from Swallow Systems
Louttit's THRUST SSM
These times are in running order. You
will notice that it is tough at the top; in the school's
class the top three are within 3/4 of a second. You may
also notice that the final order did change a little
between practice and finals. The result was:-
From our point of view, the results
were excellent. The top two both used DASH FREE
kits. THRUST SSM was convincingly faster than the
schools competition entrants and has considerable
development potential. Perhaps next year there will be
more open class entrants as it should be very easy to get
a place in this class.
There are pictures of the first three
in the school's class and THRUST in the gallery.
In the super-standard class, there
were fewer mice but some very creditable efforts. The
course had some tricky parts including long straights and
a very tight U turn. The times were:-
Sawston Village College's
The final times were in the same order
as the practice times even though the course was much
longer and trickier.
In the blue-riband super-standard open
class there were just two contestants, but it was a truly
intercontinental competition between America's James
Otten and the U.K.'s Creag Louttit and Stephen Eakins.
James Otten's MILLENNIUM 2 is a
very sophisticated mouse (see
gallery) with a PIC processor
and an excellent design concept. It is mean,lean and low.
Creag and Stephen's S.P.E.E.D. won
last year's open class and is probably the ultimate
development of DASH FREE technology. It uses our
drive train with larger wheels and grippier tyres, active
braking on both wheels, three sensors; two of which give
area coverage, and a CMOS demultiplexer chip to give
the switching. The whole thing exudes a "string and balsa
wood" approach to mouse construction; see
Both mice ran cleanly on the course
and the result was that S.P.E.E.D. beat MILLENNIUM 2
by 1.27 seconds with a time of 14.7seconds.
From our point of view the results
were most gratifying. Not only did our sponsored mouse
run the best time of the day, beating all comers, but LES
SCARGO won using a DASH FREE kit and BENJAMIN
came third using DASH components.
This is just a footnote about the
complex maze-solving competition. I turned up with a
slightly improved DASH 2 for the intermediate class. At
the start of the day there were 7 entrants in this class.
By the end of the practice session only one had run (me)
and I had failed to get to the centre.
The final was a walkover for me but
I did manage to get to the centre (more by luck than
judgement). This means that I am no longer eligible for
the intermediate class and have to compete with the big
boys in the advanced class. You can expect to hear very
little about my maze solvers for a couple of years as
I work out how to be competitive.
In the teenage class, Bolton School's
ORION beat Kings of Wessex Community School's FRED
In the advanced class, Dave Otten's
MITEE 8 beat his own MITEE 7 and Dave Woodfield's
ENTERPRISE to take the prizes again. There were a lot of
entrants in this class and the standard is very high. Not
for the faint-hearted!