Coil Springs

Small, metal coil springs would be very useful for powering latching mechanisms or other mechanical systems. We often use the springs out of the old green clutches, however they are often too small and strong. These springs could come in different sizes and strengths for to different needs. Rubberbands can sometimes do the same job, however they are much larger and apply a tension force. What do you guys think?

I like it. It’s a very easy part to add to an inventory. In fact, VEX wouldn’t even have to make a part they could just declare any spring of a specified size legal and we could get them for cheap at any hardware store.

I like the addition of something like this because it is a very cheap part. No team will be restricted by cost of such a part.

This would be amazing, it can provide a reasonable amount of tension to certain areas, would be great with lifts.

Just curious…what generally type and size are you thinking about?

Are we talking about springs the size you would find inside a pen…or several inches…somewhere in between.

There are lots of possibilities…

There could be a rule that pertains to the size of the spring:
“Any commercially available coil spring that is under 4” in length and 2" in width"

I may be wrong but I think I recall that cannibalizing the clutches for their spring was illegal. And for safety reasons I doubt there will ever be a rule allowing just any spring. There are many that are razor sharp and some that have enough power to cause a concussion.

It was legal for Toss Up and as far as know still is.
Removing Springs from Clutches <R15>/<R5>

The story behind that thread is that sometimes “don’t ask questions if the answer may be not the one you want”. Elliot asked about the clutch springs and the answer was opposite to what he expected, he had to make a carefully crafted response to the original reply and, thankfully, Karthik subsequently decided that they would be allowed.

I hate to sound like a party pooper but I don’t think using coiled springs would be safe. Of course, like everyone else, there have been many times when I’ve seen that a coiled spring would provide the perfect solution to a design problem. But I think springs would pose an excessive danger to the eyeballs of both the students and the spectators. When they slip free, springs tend to fly farther and faster than, say, rubber bands. Elastics tend to provide themselves with a considerable amount of drag as they fly through the air, especially in relation to their mass. But metal springs would have a much less drag-to-mass ratio and I’m afraid they could do more damage. If the springs are used in tension and have metal hooks on the ends or loops that can rip open and expose a sharp wire end, then they would be all the more dangerous.

Of course, some might argue that rubber bands can fly off with a piece of bar or something attached and present a similar hazard, and that’s true, but I think springs could store a lot more energy gram for gram.

Sorry, but I just had to say it.

This could be a problem, however, it seems like all the other robotics leagues seem to use springs without issues. After all, there is a reason we all wear safety glasses. I could see this being a massive danger issue with large springs that power lifts, but i could not see small pen springs posing more danger than spinning gears or rubberbands. Moreover, teams don’t just add one rubberband to their lifts, I have seen some lifts with a ton. If these were to go off, I guarantee you it would do a lot more damage than a few pen springs or a medium sized spring.

You’re right. I’ve seen some of this year’s claw deployment mechanisms that look like they could easily punch somebody’s lights out. It’s a continuous worry for me.

Regarding the safety issue I think we need to be pragmatic but realistic. I generally disagree with the argument of “we shouldn’t do something because of safety concerns”. For example, I teach science at a small high school so I get to teach everything from physics to chemistry to anatomy. I know many teachers at other schools that are choosing to forgo classic experiments in chemistry (Bunsen burners are too dangerous you know), teachers skipping real dissections because heaven forbid a student could cut themselves!

My point is, yes we need to be cautious, but the world is not a perfectly safe place. Teaching young kids how to properly use potentially dangerous things is an important thing to do. Many jobs require the use of very dangerous equipment and chemicals… Our job is to prepare students for these realities.

Having said all of that, my point is that I think a rule allowing springs… If done properly, could be very beneficial with minimal risks.

Here was my machine for the 2014 JPL challenge…

That was an 8 foot spring in the telescoping tube. It had to drop a golf ball in a hole from 1 meter away in the shortest time. The golf ball sat in a housing on the end with a damper.

Some small springs could be useful in vex and I think it would be good for students to learn about them.

Yes, that’s a good point. I know how you feel. That’s the whole point of this robotics stuff - to get the kids involved with the real world. I waffle on these concerns all the time, reminding myself if they don’t learn it now, when will they learn it?

Maybe we can get the audience to wear safety glasses, too?