Mousetrap vehicle – science olympiad student center wiki

One or two mousetraps are mounted on the vehicle. Most often, a long dowel or other type of rod is attached to the mousetrap, and a string is attached to the rod which is then looped around the axle. When the mousetrap is triggered, it pulls the rod and the attached string, which unwinds from around the axle, which turns the wheels, thus propelling the vehicle.

Many different kits and books are available in hobby stores to help educate participants on how a mousetrap vehicle works. These kits are usually made of balsa wood, but some kits are available that are made of plastic for home experimentation. Careful examination should be made to ensure that these kits do not have any illegal parts. It is also possible to 3D print a vehicle, but this can be expensive.


The building materials that can be used vary greatly depending on the builders’ skill level. Experienced builders might use lightweight balsa wood and carefully crafted plans. Many methods can be used to build a mousetrap vehicle, and it is suggested that anyone interested go to the Mousetrap Vehicle Forum for more tips and information.

CDs wrapped with rubber balloons for traction are a cheap and easy option. To ensure that they are centered properly around an axle, you can make your own CD spacers, and they are also available for sale online. Good wheels can be found at local hobby stores – airplane wheels are often light and come in a variety of sizes. The only main problem is they can sometimes be expensive. Other options include Banebot wheels, which provide excellent traction, but are on the smaller side and may need to be drilled to reduce weight, and lasercut wooden wheels which can be very light but require a lasercutter.

Victor and Tomcat wooden mousetraps are the most common ones used. The rod should be firmly attached to the mousetraps – zipties are a good option, as they are easy to fasten and remove. It may be best to move the mousetraps as far from the driving wheels as possible. This enables the participants to maximize the length of the lever arm and drive string. If the lever arm sticks beyond the axle, the string must extend back to the axle to wind around it, meaning that any additional string is wasted. Furthermore, the initial power from the trap will be wasted until the lever arm is vertically positioned over the axle. It is recommended to mount the mousetraps in a way that they can be removed and replaced, as mousetraps lose some force after each use. Swap out for new ones before competition and after a few uses while practicing, as they can greatly alter the speed of the run.

To figure out the number of winds needed, all that must be done is get the circumference of the drive wheels and divide the distance by the circumference. However, due to inertia and other factors, many test runs must be performed to find out exactly how many winds the vehicle’s drive string initially needs. Some vehicles require more or less than others, even with identical wheels and axles. Careful attention should be taken to ensure that the track is free of debris that could affect the vehicle. High-caliber teams should take every detail to attention to help ensure a winning score.

To reach the next level, the vehicle‘s design should be adjusted to better fit a variety of properties. There is no single strategy that will yield a perfect vehicle, and adjusting one element to fix one property of the vehicle may cause a negative change in another property. This is all part of the design process. All of the following tips require testing to reach the vehicle’s full potential.

Making the vehicle travel quickly is an important factor in the score. Follow these tips to make a vehicle go faster. Please note that the first two are the opposite of the distance tips, so the participants will need to find a balance between the distance the vehicle will travel and speed. They will generally want to just be able to make the distance, with a little wiggle room.

Another factor in the score is the accuracy of the vehicle when stopping at the stopping point. It is common to include a braking system in mousetrap vehicles to ensure the vehicle’s stopping on the right spot. Especially common are wingnut brakes. Please see the brakes used in the previous event, Scrambler, for an example, or the picture at the link in the next section.

In the 2018 competition, the track must be at least 1 meter wide. Therefore, traveling straight is important. If the axels cannot be built to be exactly straight and parallel, then there are some other options. One commonly used solution is to build the vehicle in two halves. The front axle will be part of the front half, and the rear axle will be attached to the back half. The two halves of the vehicle are connected together with a bolt that runs to the middle. To adjust the path of the vehicle, simply loosen the bolt, turn the front half, and lock it in place by tightening the bolt again. Now it is possible to adjust the curve or lack thereof without taking the vehicle apart.

• If possible, try to test the vehicle on a surface similar to the one that will be encountered at the next competition. Testing on tile and then competing on hardwood will affect the vehicle’s performance. The best way if the competition surface is unknown is to test on multiple surfaces and keep data for each one. Also, the importance of clean floors cannot be emphasized enough: the results will be varied if the floors are dusty or have small pieces of trash on them.

• When building, it may be best to move the mousetraps as far from the driving wheels as possible. This enables the participants to maximize the length of the lever arm and drive string. If the lever arm sticks beyond the axle, the string must extend back to the axle to wind around it, meaning that any additional string is wasted. Furthermore, the initial power from the trap will be wasted until the lever arm is vertically positioned over the axel.