Nerdy Derby Car From The Future

I made the car “Sling Shot” to enter in the 2012 Milwaukee “Nerdy Derby” at Barcamp7 this weekend.  A lot of people were talking about adding motors and fancy electronics, but my car is powered by a spring – a 10 foot length of surgical tubing that is stretched to another block of wood that must be clamped down.  I added wheels, but they aren’t necessary – they don’t actually even touch the track.

Check out what may end up being the only two runs the car has.  Fortunately, JRock captured some video of them.  I’d estimate that the car took 0.1 or 0.2 seconds to travel the 40 foot length of the race track, giving an average speed of 300 feet per second (200 mph!).  The great part about this “sling shot” design is that the car is accelerated by the surgical tubing spring throughout the first 30 feet of the track – until the surgical tubing is completely unstretched.  “Beautiful!”

 

Who wants a Junk Car?

Junk Car

Don’t feel bad for Junk Car… Junk Car does the best it can with the parts it’s been dealt. As we prepare for our Nerdy Derby, we’ve been working on our own cars, but we also want people to bring the cars they’ve made, and we know that some people will show up, and say “Damn! I wish I had a car!” so for those people we’re assembling a box o’ parts. We’ve got some bodies and wheels, and I’m sure the folks at Bucketworks can dig up some crafty materials for decorating the crap out of your crap car. (Remember, there are awards for style as well as speed!)

Spare Parts

And hey, don’t feel bad for Junk Car, it’s just a name. In the hobby robotics world people often use the term “Junk Bot” to describe any robot cobbled together out of spare parts they had lying around, so this is pretty much the same thing.

(And yes, those are laser-cut wheels, and 3D printed wheels you see in the photo.)

Milwaukee’s Nerdy Derby

The Nerdy Derby

One of the things happening at Maker Faire New York this year is the Nerdy Derby, which is described as such:

A no-rules miniature car building and racing competition inspired by the Cub Scouts’ Pinewood Derby. With a larger, more undulating track and no restrictions on the size of the cars or materials participants can use, the Nerdy Derby rewards creativity, cleverness and ingenuity.

We thought this looked like fun and decided to get in on the act and hold our own Nerdy Derby right here in Milwaukee. There’s been a bunch of talk around the space about car design, melting lead, putting the new lathes to work making wheels, and of course, laser cutting cars.

I’ve actually finished my first car, which has a body make entirely of laser cut Baltic Birch plywood, and is filled with sand for weight, which I call “Poundin’ Sand”.

Poundin' Sand

We’ve also got interest from people outside the space, in the greater maker community in Milwaukee. Here’s the amazing progress of Frankie Flood, who is building a replica of a “belly tanker” for his car.

Frankie's Belly Tanker

I can see this thing winning on style points alone! :) (And yes, there are multiple categories you can win, not just “fastest car.”)

There are other cars in progress, and lots of ideas being thrown around the Makerspace about what people are planning to build, so it’s just a matter of time before we start careening down the track. Speaking of the track, we’ve got a regulation Cub Scout track so far, which we may try to modify to match the “official” Nerdy Derby track before the big race.

And when is this “big race” you ask? Well, we’ll probably do a good test race at the space this month, and then if all goes well, we will have the big race at Bucketworks on Saturday night, October 6th, 2012 during BarCampMilwaukee.

And we want you to join us! All you have to do is build a car, and show up. I know we said “no-rules” but we do have two semi-rules: don’t damage the track,and don’t make anything so dangerous it could easily injure someone. Besides that though…. anything goes! Don’t have all the parts you need to build a car? We’ll do our best to provide some parts at the race so you can make one on the spot.

See you at the races!

Red Lotus Build [Time Lapse Video]

This is a time lapse video of “Red Lotus” the Power Wheels race car that Milwaukee Makerspace built for the 2012 Power Racing Series. Tom Gr. did almost all the work (with some help!) His original plan was to do the whole build in one weekend… It took a little longer, but not much.

We’re looking forward to the 2013 season and have already started planning. I’m going to say this right now: Sector67 and i3Detroit, we’re coming for you!