Derby car mentor?

Secrets, tips, tools, design considerations, materials, the "science" behind it all, and other topics related to building the cars and semi-trucks.
Post Reply
Gidget
Apprentice
Apprentice
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu May 20, 2010 3:32 pm
Location: Orange County, CA

Derby car mentor?

Post by Gidget » Fri May 21, 2010 1:44 pm

I'm in Orange County, CA, and am looking for someone that can help my friend's son build a pinewood derby car. We're looking for someone that can work with him to come up with plans for the car, preferably someone with aerodynamics or engineering experience. Does anyone know of someone, or somplace that I could go and talk to someone, about hiring a mentor for this project? Thanks!



User avatar
gpraceman
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 4607
Joined: Fri Jun 20, 2003 12:46 am
Location: Highlands Ranch, CO
Contact:

Re: Derby car mentor?

Post by gpraceman » Fri May 21, 2010 1:46 pm

There is no one in your pack that is willing to help you and your son build a car?


Randy Lisano
Romans 5:8

Awana Grand Prix and Pinewood Derby racing - Where a child, an adult and a small block of wood combine for a lot of fun and memories.

Gidget
Apprentice
Apprentice
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu May 20, 2010 3:32 pm
Location: Orange County, CA

Re: Derby car mentor?

Post by Gidget » Fri May 21, 2010 2:17 pm

He's not in a cub scout pack. I have no idea where to begin even looking for someone that can mentor him. When I came across this forum, I was hoping to find some ideas.



User avatar
sporty
Pine Head Legend
Pine Head Legend
Posts: 3355
Joined: Sun Feb 13, 2005 2:00 am
Location: rockfalls, Illinois

Re: Derby car mentor?

Post by sporty » Fri May 21, 2010 2:33 pm

Pm me, I will offer my help 4 free, but im not in ca and lets see what I can help you with and so forth.

Sporty



User avatar
FatSebastian
Pine Head Legend
Pine Head Legend
Posts: 2646
Joined: Wed Jun 17, 2009 2:49 pm
Location: Boogerton, PA

Re: Derby car mentor?

Post by FatSebastian » Fri May 21, 2010 2:35 pm

Gidget wrote:We're looking for someone that can work with him to come up with plans for the car, preferably someone with aerodynamics or engineering experience. Does anyone know of someone, or somplace that I could go and talk to someone, about hiring a mentor for this project?
Welcome Gidget. Sorry I can't help your friend's son directly, not being in your area.

What is his purpose in building a car? Science fair? AWANAs? Just for fun? The purpose may affect what he does and how he does it.
Gidget wrote:I have no idea where to begin even looking for someone that can mentor him.
Have you considered buying a book on building Pinewood Derby cars, such as Pinewood Derby Speed Secrets: Design and Build the Ultimate Car by David Meade? Stan Pope, a powerhouse contributor to this forum, also has an "eBook".
Last edited by FatSebastian on Fri May 21, 2010 2:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.



User avatar
gpraceman
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 4607
Joined: Fri Jun 20, 2003 12:46 am
Location: Highlands Ranch, CO
Contact:

Re: Derby car mentor?

Post by gpraceman » Fri May 21, 2010 2:36 pm

Gidget wrote:He's not in a cub scout pack. I have no idea where to begin even looking for someone that can mentor him. When I came across this forum, I was hoping to find some ideas.
I assume this is to compete in some local race event. Is the organization that is running the race conducting any construction workshops? That would be the first thing to check. If they are not, you can try checking with other parents entering the race to see if any will help out. Is this for Awana, Royal Rangers, YMCA, or some other group?

Also, when I say help out, I mean someone to help both you and your son in building the car. I think it will be far more memorable for you and especially your son if you work together on it and get some needed guidance along the way. This forum can certainly provide guidance. If you don't have some basic tools, then you would need to seek out someone that can provide access to them and help you two use them.


Randy Lisano
Romans 5:8

Awana Grand Prix and Pinewood Derby racing - Where a child, an adult and a small block of wood combine for a lot of fun and memories.

User avatar
sporty
Pine Head Legend
Pine Head Legend
Posts: 3355
Joined: Sun Feb 13, 2005 2:00 am
Location: rockfalls, Illinois

Re: Derby car mentor?

Post by sporty » Fri May 21, 2010 2:44 pm

My first postdid not get added, I get that darn thing where a new post was made while I was doing a reply and I forgot to say post anyway and I lost the reply I had for her.


Good questions,

rules ? type of race ? format ? what kind of kit ? Whats this for ?

I e-mailed her, as I need more info in order to offer my help and define at what level I could help. Cartainty not in ca and not headed there anytime soon, But also I do not work with a child without a adult, in person or over a phone, Unless family known / ect.

A confrence call may be something, but will await what she has to say and when she responds.


I also do not build cars for people.

But I think many will agree I am one to be considered qualified to help. But have to have more info and can go from there.


Sporty



User avatar
FatSebastian
Pine Head Legend
Pine Head Legend
Posts: 2646
Joined: Wed Jun 17, 2009 2:49 pm
Location: Boogerton, PA

Re: Derby car mentor?

Post by FatSebastian » Fri May 21, 2010 3:39 pm

sporty wrote:rules ? type of race ? format ? what kind of kit ? Whats this for ? I e-mailed her, as I need more info in order to offer my help...
:thinking: I am also now wondering, based on the initial request for "someone with aerodynamics or engineering experience" "to come up with plans for the car", if Gidget might be seeking assistance for a soapbox derby car? (That could also explain why the boy is not affiliated with a Pack.)
sporty wrote:But I think many will agree I am one to be considered qualified to help.
:nod: soapbox or pinewood!



Gidget
Apprentice
Apprentice
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu May 20, 2010 3:32 pm
Location: Orange County, CA

Re: Derby car mentor?

Post by Gidget » Fri May 21, 2010 4:43 pm

Hi guys,

Thanks for all your replies. No, I'm definitely looking for help for a pinewood derby car. My boy built one this year and had a great time. He's not in scouts, nor does he have a specific race in mind at this time. Eventually he will want to race this car, we just don't have a specific race picked out for it yet. I'm hoping to find someone with experience in aerodynamics or car design that can walk him through the mechanics of designing the car. The end result would be a new design for his next car that we can take to a woodshop. I'd like for this to be a summer project for him. I'm hoping that in the fun of designing this car, he will also learn about aerodynamics, mechanics, etc., so it's fun as well as educational. He likes science, so I know he will really enjoy learning how things work as he builds. I hope this makes what I'm looking for a little clearer? If no one on this board is local, any ideas where I could go to find a person to help us with this project?



User avatar
sporty
Pine Head Legend
Pine Head Legend
Posts: 3355
Joined: Sun Feb 13, 2005 2:00 am
Location: rockfalls, Illinois

Re: Derby car mentor?

Post by sporty » Fri May 21, 2010 4:50 pm

I would try local scout packs in the area. I'm sure their you are likely to find someone close.

Sporty



User avatar
FatSebastian
Pine Head Legend
Pine Head Legend
Posts: 2646
Joined: Wed Jun 17, 2009 2:49 pm
Location: Boogerton, PA

Re: Derby car mentor?

Post by FatSebastian » Fri May 21, 2010 6:01 pm

Gidget wrote:I hope this makes what I'm looking for a little clearer?
:thumbup: Thanks, Gidget... that is clearer.
Gidget wrote:I'm hoping to find someone with experience in aerodynamics or car design that can walk him through the mechanics of designing the car.
FWIW, the aerodynamic effects of a pinewood are relatively small (not negligible, but small). There are three principles that tend to be followed to optimize speed:
  • 1. The mass (weight) should be close to the allowable maximum.
    2. The cross-sectional area (silhouette as viewed from the front) should be as small as possible. (This can be accomplished by making the car thin and making the wheels thin.)
    3. The shape should be streamlined (rounded edged in the direction of motion.)
Online sources like this can be helpful for introducing the science and techniques of building pinewood derby cars. Derby Talk is of course helpful, too. ;)
Gidget wrote:Eventually he will want to race this car, we just don't have a specific race picked out for it yet. I'm hoping to find someone with experience in aerodynamics or car design that can walk him through the mechanics of designing the car
I elaborated a bit on the aerodynamics above to make a small point. Each race has its own set of rules; you can improve the aerodynamics of the car by increasing weight and/or narrowing the wheels, but almost all race rules limit what one can do. So if the boy designs a car without a particular race in mind, odds are good that the car will end up not qualifying for any particular race.
Gidget wrote:any ideas where I could go to find a person to help us with this project?
Very many civic and religious organizations offer children programs that promote woodcar racing (they might not all go under the name "Pinewood Derby", but they are the same in principle.) I like Sporty's advice that you investigate a local scout pack in the area; however, because Cub Scouting is often coincident with the school year, and you are seeking a summertime project, I might also encourage you to look for a local church with an AWANA, Royal Ambassadors (RAs), or similar program; these programs exist to serve the local community and there will almost certainly be a derby-car guru who would love to help.

And in the interim, Derby Talk will be here to answer your specific questions. :goodluck:



quadad
Master Pine Head
Master Pine Head
Posts: 494
Joined: Wed Jan 23, 2008 12:51 pm
Location: SE, WI

Re: Derby car mentor?

Post by quadad » Fri May 21, 2010 6:51 pm

Nothing will replace a person right there, but consider these sources as well:
http://www.pinewoodderbyphysics.com/boo ... tion.shtml
http://www.pinewoodphysics.com/

I have never seen the book in person, but its pretty well acclaimed. That site has a lot of free 'lectures' also.
I have the video, I thought it was very good, albeit a bit dated and 'physics on a tight budget' (e.g. not using tungsten and nothing on rail riding method of alignment). It probably works as hard as any in advancing the engineering aspects, but don't expect your son to be ready for his PhD afterward.

I am not sure how much "engineering" you are going to have your son learn from building these cars. The reality is, there are engineering aspects to just about everything we encounter. It doesn't have to be about pinewood derby cars. While some equations of motion, etc., can be applied to predicting PWD car performance, some amount of basic science gets skewed because of the miniature scale. Now trebuchet, that has enginnering to it that scales quite nicely !!!



User avatar
FatSebastian
Pine Head Legend
Pine Head Legend
Posts: 2646
Joined: Wed Jun 17, 2009 2:49 pm
Location: Boogerton, PA

Re: Derby car mentor?

Post by FatSebastian » Fri May 21, 2010 8:05 pm

:offtopic:
quadad wrote:I have never seen the book in person, but its pretty well acclaimed.
IMO, the book is practically a college-level textbook whose contents beg some background with Differential Calculus. While the detail can be overwhelming, some have suggested the book might be a welcomed resource for children. :unsure:
quadad wrote:I have the video, I thought it was very good, albeit a bit dated and 'physics on a tight budget'
:nod: IMO quadad's review is right on. I feel the video does an admirable job at tying physics, math, engineering, and statistics into pinewood derby in a way that is acceptable to kids, although some of the recommended techniques no longer push what we might consider to be the state-of-the-art (in some ways this is also true of the physics textbook.)



dna1990
Master Pine Head
Master Pine Head
Posts: 360
Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2008 9:16 pm
Location: Houston, TX

Re: Derby car mentor?

Post by dna1990 » Tue May 25, 2010 8:35 am

Lots of details we don't know about this boy and what options make sense...but in terms of learning, I say just start building.

PWD car kits are not free, but no terribly expensive either. If the basic tools and workarea exist for this boy, order a half dozen kits from maximum-velocity and experiment.

Augment that with some reading here, or some of the books you may find at local scouts shops. Augment all that with contacting local cub scout packs - many will allow a 'guest' racer at their events.



Post Reply