I made a few clarifications this year regarding the contest rules, but I think that these changes help to clear up some problems with the rules as they’ve always been written.
I made it clear that the “Modified Light” category is basically a free for all:
- “If your build breaks the rules of the other categories, you may enter it in this category.”
You can use any host or components, outsource as much as you like, etc., it’s just that your entry will fall into this category.
Osh Park as an outside service has always been a bit of a snag, with people asking questions about it, mostly because it was never explicitly stated whether it is allowed or not.
I have added clarification to the rules:
- You may use any PCB whether you designed it or not, and you may acquire it from Osh Park or elsewhere.
Ordering driver PCBs (and presumably “contact boards”) from Osh park has always been allowed regardless of who designed the board. Some years have omitted “contact board” from the list of specifically mentioned allowable components, but prefabricated switch boards were never not allowed, and that is a contact board.
Justin allowed “driver / contact boards,” even in the hand made category in the first contest.
The bit about “contact boards” has always seemed a little ambiguous to me because of the fact that battery carriers are made from contact boards, such as this one. As far as I have seen in the previous contests, no one has ever used a battery carrier “contact board” like that in a build. Everyone has always etched or cut their own PCB traces in copperclad G10, or used other materials to make one from scratch. But a battery carrier contact board is a contact board.
Making a battery carrier using contact boards from Osh Park is not exactly the same as buying or using a ready made flashlight battery carrier, although it’s not the same as building one entirely from scratch either.
The contest rules have never specifically said that pre-made flashlight specific battery carriers are not allowed, but again, no one has ever used one of these. Many entries have used power tool packs, lipo packs, and the flat style battery holders / carriers that you can buy from digi-key and such. These are not flashlight specific parts though, they are being adapted for flashlight use, which is a distinction. But, because of the ease of implementation of a lipo pack —you just plug the thing in, a pre-made flashlight battery carrier isn’t much different in this regard.
I did not add “battery carrier” to the list of prohibited flashlight parts, mostly because I didn’t want to add confusion about whether or not battery carriers were disallowed generally, but I did not add it to the list of allowed components either. If someone asks about using a pre-assembled flashlight battery carrier I would say to try to make it from scratch, or otherwise get the PCBs from Osh Park and assemble the thing at least.
In any case, in regards to taking the easy route, the judges could simply give due credit when someone etches a PCB themselves or otherwise does anything from scratch instead of using an option which is allowed by the rules but much easier to accomplish than the more DIY alternative. This principle could extend all the way to the “no outside services allowed” rule, with that rule being changed to “try not to outsource anything. Credit is given where credit is due.” But, instead of fundamentally changing that rule, I made it clear that “anything goes” in the “Modified Light” category!
As for my hang-ups regarding the categories: drills, drill presses, and rotary tools are allowed in the “hand made” category. The issue here is that a drill press can easily be used as a lathe and a milling machine. Not a very good one, but it can do it. I have not however seen any entries which particularly exploited this fact. If an entry were largely made using a drill press, I would be inclined to say that it should be in the machine made category. The rules don’t reflect this however.
If the “hand made” rules said “you may not use a drill press with an X,Y table / vise in order to use it as a milling machine” that would clear that up, but a hand drill can easily be used as a lathe, as can a drill press or rotary tool, and this is often done for polishing and grinding and filing work on small cylindrical parts and pins, and if you can use these tools as a lathe, why can’t you use them as a milling machine?
To account for all of that, without disallowing any of it, I have titled the contest categories:
- Machine Made (Advanced Tools)
- Modified Light (Anything Goes)
Yea, you can use your hand drill as a lathe or your drill press as a milling machine in the “Hand Made” category. Those are basic tools, you see.
The “Modified Light” category means modified lights, but it also means modified rules. Anything goes.
So with those changes I no longer have any major hangups with the rules.
Maybe a line about “ready-made battery carriers like those sold for the BLF GT and other lights are not allowed. Make it from scratch or at least acquire the PCBs from Osh Park or elsewhere and assemble it” should be added for clarity.