I.E.E. 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 class!

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 last-minute development.

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 excellent chance.


The finals are run in reverse order of lap times. These are the times we noted for the school's standard class.

St. Benedict's R.C. High School's TEAM SPIRIT


Royal Grammar, Newcastle's SEAN

no run

Tonbridge School's MANIPULATOR


Devonport High School for boys' WEDGE


Lancaster Grammar School's LARRY


Welshpool High School's MUS


Sawston Village College's RAMPANT BEAST


Gravesend Grammar School's KG


Bancroft School's LIONEL


Woodbridge School's SNIFFER


Dane Court Grammar School's JIM


Ysgol Gyfun Aberaeron's ARCHER


In the standard open class there was only one entry. This was THRUST SSM which had works support from Swallow Systems

Stephen Eakins/Creag Louttit's THRUST SSM


Running THRUST

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:-

ARCHER first

SNIFFER second

LIONEL third

The winners!

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:-

Bolton School's BENJAMIN


Tonbridge School's B.E.N.S.


Sawston Village College's LES SCARGO


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 gallery.

Running S.P.E.E.D.

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.

Maze Solvers

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 2.

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!

 You can email queries to us at:- sales@swallow.co.uk

Date Last Modified:22/6/98