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Mouse trap powered car- with fast acceleration

  1. Oct 5, 2007 #1
    Hi, i'm making a mousetrap powered vehicle, but it's to travel 5 feet and stop. Most designs online are made to travel the longest, so can I get advice on making it travel a short distance in the shortest amount of time?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 5, 2007 #2
    My opinion would be to apply the acceleration force as quickly as possible. You should use tires with smaller diameter and larger width to increase traction. Also, minimizing weight won't be near as important as when going for distance since you need some weight for traction.
  4. Oct 14, 2007 #3
    sry to bring this back again, but would weight shift matter? for ex., if I added weight to the front and relieved weight from the back, would it make the car faster?
  5. Oct 15, 2007 #4
    It would matter in the case of traction, but I don't think in ideal circumstances, the distribution of mass affects the translational speed. I know it does in rotational speed, which would require some look into the moments of inertia. Different mass distributions (e.g. a solid cylinder, a hollow cylinder, a ball...etc) have different moments of inertia, which affect how much energy is required to get them to a particular speed. This is relevant when you pick your wheels/tires. You'll want to minimize your moment of inertia so that it takes the least amount of energy to get it up to speed. Off the top of my head, a hollow cylinder probably has the smallest, but that's just your typical tire. The effect might be negligible, but maybe try and make your wheels hollow in the center. Low inertia means it's easier to change speed, therefore it would get fast faster and slow down faster, which fits your goals of going fast and then stopping in a short amount of time.

    Edit: Maybe make your car in the shape of a big hollow cylinder some how and exploit this fact. If the cylinder were wide, you wouldn't have much trouble going in a straight line, and you'd effectively have one big tire. If nothing else, it would look cool ;).
  6. Oct 15, 2007 #5
    Turn it upside down and leap the 5 foot.
  7. Oct 16, 2007 #6
    Tie a match the the mouse trap and when it goes off, have the match swing down and light a bottle rocket on the back of it.
  8. Oct 16, 2007 #7
    Or tie a rubber band to a steely and then to the mouse trap. Launch the steely and it'll drag the trap five foot.
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