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Thread: 2019 FSAE Oz (Australasia)

  1. #1
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    2019 FSAE Oz (Australasia)

    Should anyone still be reading this I feel compelled to make some comments about the recent 2019 FSAE-Australasia competition.
    ~o0o~

    I didn't bother going this year, mainly because I expected more of the "same-old, same-old...". And, indeed, social media suggests it was exactly that. Monash brought two fairly vanilla-spec cars, albeit very well built and thoroughly tested, and the rest of the teams were the proverbial country mile behind. Monash's C-car (214 kg) won by ~210 points, their E-car (238 kg) by ~140 points. And, as always, roughly half the cars failed to finish Endurance.

    Despite the above results, and again as ever before, there was the never-ending hype about "the amazingly high standard of all the cars", "the really tight competition", "the excellently prepared students", and other such cobblers. Huh? Read above paragraph. Google "Escher's staircase".

    Truth is, with the exception of Monash, Oz-teams are going backwards.

    In any race, whether technical or otherwise, if you are standing still relative to those moving forwards, then you are going backwards.
    ~o0o~

    The most disappointing part of this competition was the Acceleration Event. There are only two possible explanations for the "amazing" results.

    1. Incompetence by the Accel-Event marshals. I doubt anyone could be so stupid, but if so, the higher-ups should have corrected it.

    2. "Cheating" by the officials. This to make it look as if Oz-teams are "getting much faster". Take your pick, but this one makes most sense.

    To be clear, the problem was that most cars were "staged" a long way behind the start-line. This staging distance was variable, but typically ~1 metre, and in some cases much more. The winning time of ~3.75 seconds by RMIT-C came from a "flying start" closer to 2 metres, maybe more. A typical FSAE car drops its "Real 75 m Time" by ~0.4 seconds when staged 1 metre behind the start-line. Staging 2 metres back drops Real-Time by ~0.6 seconds. Cars with poor launch technique, typically the bottom-of-ladder teams, benefit most from these flying starts.

    In fact, what had me smelling a rat when I first saw the Accel-times on Natsoft, before I saw any video, was the almost universal improvement of all cars by about half-a-second. By some miracle the cars that normally do ~5.0s were in the mid-4s, cars normally at mid-4s were around 4.0, and so on. Maybe a handful of teams might find such an improvement in one year, but not all of them.

    In short, the official 2019-Oz-Accel-Times are meaningless. They are no indication of the real performance of the cars. For realistic times, add half-a-second. There has been no improvement in the majority of team's real Accel-times. And impossible to know if any single team really did improve its time.
    ~o0o~

    To sum up, a bit over a year ago the Australian Cricket Team was caught cheating. This was the result of general laziness and incompetence at the top levels of the team, combined with the need to appear internationally competitive in order to keep jobs. So the team took shortcuts such as sandpaper (look it up) to get an advantage. After the cheating was made public there was a bit of a clean-out, but some of the stain will never be washed out. It is there forever. And all Australians are now tarred with that same brush.

    This year a similar thing happened at FSAE-Oz. I washed my hands of FSAE-Oz last year, largely because of similar, though less obvious, nonsense in the previous years. I am now posting this to make it clear that I consider the "fixing" of the 2019-Oz-Accel-Event to be abhorrent. It is a sure sign of a rotten culture, which, unfortunately and unfairly, stains the reputation of all Australians.

    As for those of you who are still part of FSAE-Oz, well, your choice...

    Z
    Last edited by Z; 12-17-2019 at 05:49 PM.

  2. #2
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    Welcome back Z, nice to see you posting here again. FSAE.com is pretty quiet, but not completely dead (yet?)

    Here's the acceleration video I found, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQo1CndWHg8
    If the timing really started at the cones & painted stripes (and not with a transponder?) then I agree that this is a ridiculous amount of "shallow staging".

    Here's how it's done in drag racing, at least in USA-- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7i_RnAiQzP4 The video mentions that the pre-stage and stage light beams are 7" (178mm) apart.

  3. #3
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    Hi Doug,

    Hmmm..., so a few old-farts occasionally coming here to mumble and grumble about stuff maketh a quorum for a forum? Maybe...

    I still pop-in here and at other FS/FSAE related sites every now and then in the hope of seeing something interesting. Sadly, it was the blatant cheating in 2019-Oz-Accel, with no one else acknowledging it, that gnawed on me long enough that I felt I had to do some more grumbling.
    ~o0o~

    "If the timing really started at the cones & painted stripes (and not with a transponder?)..."

    My understanding is that all FSAE-Oz timing is done with transponders, possibly Dorian (?), certainly for last 5+ years. The official video you linked to shows the two grooves, cut laterally across the track and about 0.6 m apart, that house the antenna wires for the timing system. The actual transponder can be mounted anywhere along the length of the car and "the clock starts ticking" when the transponder passes the midway point between the two grooves.

    The video also clearly shows RMIT's car staged well behind the start-line (midway between grooves) just before its "record breaking" run. Using a ruler (my stone age tech) on the computer screen shows that the distance from nearest-groove to very-front-of-car is slightly greater than the car's wheelbase. So if the transponder is mounted at very-front-of-car, and the car has minimum wheelbase, then the "flying-start" is greater than 0.3 + 1.5 = 1.8 metres. If transponder mounted further back on car, or longer wheelbase (say 1.6m+), then flying-start may be much more than 2 metres.

    Adding in other assumed, but realistic, numbers for the car's initial-acceleration and end-of-run-speed suggests that a 1.8 m flying-start knocks off 0.54 seconds from a true standing-start-to-75m acceleration time. So RMIT's "record breaking" run was in fact a rather poor 3.76 + 0.54 = 4.30 seconds, or SLOWER.
    ~o0o~

    To restate the key points to any students reading this, IT IS YOU WHO ARE BEING CHEATED.
    Your cars are NOT fast. They are as slow as ever before.
    Yes, the "record breaking" times will make you feel good for a while. But eventually reality will bite, and you will learn that YOU HAVE LEARNT NOTHING AT ALL.

    Z

  4. #4
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    Erik,

    This whole thing is symptomatic of the "Motorsport Virus".

    Pat
    The trick is... There is no trick

  5. #5
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    For anyone who doesn't go back a few years in FSAE/FS, here's one article where Pat defines "Motorsport Virus":
    https://www.formulastudent.de/pr/new...or-motorsport/
    Well worth a few minutes of your time.

  6. #6
    Regardless of the context (I was extremely busy so I could not follow FSAE-A at all; even remotely), I am glad to still see a few people around. Thanks for taking the time to type your posts!

  7. #7

    Fsae-a

    Looking very quickly at the start of that video shows that those running the Acceleration Event had no experience and were "gamed" by the teams.

    Firstly, transponders should NOT be used for the Acceleration event. It should be by light beams.

    Secondly, the FSAE Rules say that "The foremost part of the vehicle will be staged 0.3 m behind the starting line", i.e. no "running starts'. This was not followed.

    Transponders can be used for the Autocross and Endurance Events. Both events are expected to have "flying starts" to some degree. Up until 2016, the FSAE Rules said for Autocross, "The car will be staged such that the front wheels are 6 m behind the starting line". We put that in years ago (as a minimum) because we found at an SAE Supermileage competition that was using transponder, the transponder could trigger the timing device while the car was stationary if it was too close to the timing wires. Our current rules czar has dropped this distance because he does not have the background. (Pet peeve). The SCCA people here in the USA are used to putting on autocrosses and know that the timing line needs to be some distance from the starting line, so no problem in the USA. Anyway we only use transponders for Endurance, so no problem. The organizers at Formula North forgot this in 2018, and the Autocross times were all messed up and the event had to be thrown out!

    For transponder location, through 2018 the FSAE Rules specified that it should be located "on the driver's right side forward of the Front Roll Hoop". For 2019, the rules writer changed it to be "it will be specified on the FSAE web site"! We used to call it out for consistncy as smart teams wiold mount it at the very rear of the car!

    So more power to the smart teams that "gamed" the organizers down in Oz!

  8. #8
    And Suzanne and I agree 100% with Pat that FSAE/FS/FH should be viewed as engineering educational competitions. And we will continue to push that view.

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