General Lab Information

General Rules

All entries must include a vehicle to be tested and a completed Student Design Portfolio (see below to determine which portfolio to use). Each student can enter more than one category by building multiple vehicles, but each vehicle can only be entered into one category. There are two main categories in this competition: Speed and Appearance.

Within these categories there are several options:

  • Speed: Wind Power, Self Propelled, Balloon, Electrified Track, Gravity (plus a figure of merit calculation)
  • Appearance: Scale Model, Futuristic, 3D Printed

Student Design Portfolio

The steps in the Design Portfolio will help you complete your MAGLEV vehicle design. Writing down what you did or found in each step will help you and others learn from your work. It will also help the competition judges understand your design approach. The design process begins with a Problem Statement. Here you should state exactly what your design is trying to accomplish. Next, under Investigation, list the questions you will have to answer to come up with a successful design. The remaining steps take you through the rest of the design process. As you complete your design, fill in your responses to each step. You may add tables, charts, drawings or anything else you think will help you and your readers understand what you did.

Speed Categories

The ability of a MAGLEV vehicle to reach high speeds is one of its most important features. In the speed categories, you must build the fastest model MAGLEV vehicle possible. The vehicle’s speed is timed on a standard track.

Self-Propelled (Balloon) – Construct a balloon-propelled vehicle that travels the length of the track. No other external energy source is permitted. The vehicle should travel the length of the track in the shortest possible time.

Self-Propelled (Other) – Construct a vehicle that travels the length of the track under its own power. No external energy source is permitted. Power sources for vehicles can include, but are not limited to: propellers, rubber bands, motors, springs, etc. The vehicle should travel the length of the track in the shortest possible time.

Electrified Track – Construct a vehicle that uses an electrified track for power. The side rails of the track will be energized with a 2-amp 12-volt direct current (DC) power supply. As seen looking down the track from the starting point, the right-hand rail will have positive (+) polarity. The vehicle should travel the length of the track in the shortest possible time.

Wind Power – Construct a vehicle that travels the length of the track powered by wind. The wind will be provided by a “Whole House Circulator” 12,500 CFM three-speed fan. The fan will be run at the highest speed level. The fan axis shall be parallel to the track centerline, and the front surface of the fan shall be located 18 inches from the first “start time measuring device” or mark. In addition, a “starting line” shall be marked on the track 2 inches upwind of the “start time measuring device” or mark. Vehicles will be placed on the track with the fan on, their front end aligned with the “starting line” and then released from this stationary position. No “flying starts” are allowed; the wind must supply the force to accelerate and propel the vehicle. The vehicle should travel the length of the track in the shortest possible time.

Speed Design Portfolio: MS Word | PDF

Speed with Figure of Merit

Gravity – Construct a vehicle that travels the length of the track under the force of gravity. The track slopes downward with a vertical drop of 2 feet over its 16-foot length. In the Gravity category, you must build a model MAGLEV vehicle which has the most cost-effective combination of speed, passenger capacity, and cost as signified by the highest FOM.

In addition to speed, the ability of a MAGLEV train to be cost-effective is another key feature. To be cost-effective, you want to try to carry as many people as possible as cheaply as possible. However, adding passengers may slow the vehicle or require a costlier magnetic suspension, etc.

To deal with these design tradeoffs, an engineering Figure of Merit (FOM) may be used to determine the best design. The higher the FOM, the better the design in terms of cost-effectiveness.

To calculate the FOM, the following variables will be used:

  • Passengers are represented by number of pennies (P) carried by vehicle.
  • Cost is represented by number of magnets (N) used to levitate the vehicle.
  • Speed i is measured as distance (D) divided by time (T). D is the distance between two points on the standard test track (in feet). T is measured time (in seconds) the vehicle takes to travel between the two points.

formula

The number of pennies carried (P) and the number of magnets used (N) are up to the designer. All vehicles will be timed over test tracks with D=12 feet. Individual FOMs are then calculated from the number of pennies, magnets, and the elapsed time for each vehicle.

Speed Design Portfolio: MS Word | PDF

Appearance Categories

Construct a model which clearly shows a design concept for a MAGLEV vehicle. It does not have to be self-propelled or carry pennies, and there are not length or heigh restrictions. It must levitate and travel down a standard track which slopes downward with a vertical drop of 2 feet over its 16-foot length. Vehicles may be entered in one of the following appearance categories.

Futuristic – Construct a vehicle that demonstrates a conceptual MAGLEV train with a futuristic design. The design need not be obviously related to a useful commercial mass transit vehicle, but if it is not, then it should clearly illustrate some special feature(s) of MAGLEV systems. Include in your design portfolio an explanation of the design concept (i.e., why the vehicle looks the way that it does).

Scale Model – Construct a vehicle that is designed as a scale model of an object. Include in your design portfolio an explanation of the design concept (i.e., why the vehicle looks the way that it does) and the scale of the model (i.e., how many times smaller than the actual object your model is).

3D Printed – Construct a vehicle that has been designed using computer assisted design (CAD) and printed on any type of 3D printer. Include in your design portfolio an explanation of the design concept (i.e., why the vehicle looks the way that it does).

Appearance Design Portfolio: MS Word | PDF

Judging Rubrics

Rubrics for judging student design portfolios in the speed and appearance categories:

Track Specifications

All tracks used in the competition are 16 feet in length, having two parallel lines of 1 inch long by 3/4-inch wide ceramic magnets (Kelvin 640092, Radio Shack 64-1875 or equivalent). The two lines are spaced 1 inch apart, forming a magnetic track 2 1/2 inches wide. The sides are 1-inch aluminum angles, spaced 2 9/16 inches apart and centered on the magnetic track. As seen looking down the track from the starting point, all magnets on the left will have their north poles facing up. Those on the right will have the reverse polarity.


Figure 1

Vehicle Requirements

The vehicle suspension must be 100% magnetic levitation. Vehicles must be 16 inches or less in length. There is no height restriction. Magnets on the vehicles should be two parallel lines of 1 inch long by 3/4-inch wide ceramic magnets. Magnetic polarity and vehicle width must be compatible with track specifications.

The vehicle must operate without being pushed, touched, or otherwise interfered with once in place at the starting position of the track. Any materials hazardous to human health may not be submitted. Any design determined by the judges or contest coordinators to be hazardous or unsafe may not be submitted.

Need Assistance?

Please contact the competition coordinator if you have questions or would like further information.

Michele Darienzo


(631) 344-7246
maglevcontest@bnl.gov