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PlayingFieldSimpleDesign.html

FIRST LEGO League Simple Playing Field Design

I think it is good to share lightweight table designs so that anyone building a table can consider them.  Here is mine.  I would like to see other designs.  I can easily lift this table and move it by myself.

The FLL website has the detailed construction information (page 6 of Food Factor Challenge Description) for their version of the playing field, but I prefer a much simpler playing field design detailed here.  I can easily lift this table and move it by myself.

 


 

This my first version of my table building notes.  I hope to add more detail and pictures when I build the next batch of tables.

 


Construction

I have constructed 5 tables.  I have settled on a lightweight design.  I made my original tables out of 3/4" Melamine.  These were very heavy and difficult to move.  I have since rebuilt them.  I now use the white board that is used in showers and bathrooms.  It is about 1/8" thick and costs about $20/sheet.  I use the whiteboard sold by Minton's Hardware (sadly in 2003, Minton's Hardware changed their supplier so they no longer have the high quality whiteboards.  I will have to find another source.  Jan 9, 2004) over the whiteboard sold at The Home Depot because the Minton's Hardware whiteboard is a little thicker and flat while the Home Depot whiteboard does not lay flat when put on a flat surface. (Good news, I purchased a Home Depot highly warped white board for a Botball team (another robotics program) and after a week of laying on a flat surface it has flattened out nicely and is just fine for FLL use.  Aug 21, 2004)  I use 2"x4"'s painted flat black for the boarders.  The best 2"x4"'s are kiln dried so they are light, straight so that they don't twist the playing field, and are either knot free or have tight smooth knots so the robots can run down them and not get hung up on a hole. A friend suggested buying kiln dried hem fir 2"x4"'s from Pine Cone lumber in Sunnyvale.

I finally got smart and cut some construction guides from strips of wood to the inside dimension of the table.  These construction guides shorten the build time considerably and help make a better table.  These lengths are 45" and 93".  You can get away with one each but having two of each will speed construction.  Be very careful about cutting them to the proper length since they will determine the size of your table.  I screw long and short 2"x4"'s to the two edges and then use the guides to space out the other boards and then screw them on.  This goes very quickly and makes a very nice light weight playing field.

Usage

I put a few beach towels on my dining room table and then lay the board on the towels for the weekly meetings.  The table is so light that we can easily take it in and out of the house.

We put on competitions with 10 or so teams.  For competitions, we place the tables on the floor and then have people sit on the carpet around them for a first row or two of spectators.  We have two rows of chairs behind these and then people stand behind the chairs.  This forms a natural set of bleachers for very little effort.  We have used it for about five events and are happy with it.  The tables stay flat and as level as the floor is level.  We use the overhead fluorescent lights rather than building the light part of the tables.  This has worked well and no one has reported light sensor problems.

I think it is good to share table designs so that anyone building a table can consider them.  If you have a design you would like to share, then please send it to me at FLLBoardsailor.com.

Los Altos FIRST LEGO League Homepage.

Changes Log:



21 Aug '04 Put in note saying Home Depot white board look good after laying out for a week.
1 Sep '03 First cut.

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