Pool Noodle Size Tolerance

We cannot find 2.5" pool noodles in our area, but we have plenty of 3" noodles. The manual states to “use a stacked pair of approximately 2 ½ in.” Is this considered “approximately” or would this be considered too far off? Could we cut them down on a table saw to be 2.5" hex shape?

Knowing how strict bumper rules are, I would cut them down or order these guys:

Thank you for asking this question. We’ve decided to allow your team to use a noodle diameter that is 6-7cm (so 2.75 in. diameter noodle is allowed). You are also permitted, but not required to adjust the backing height to match the height of the two noodles. Please bring this email with you to Inspection as confirmation. Good luck this season!

Kate Pilotte

This is the question we asked at the Q&A and after the e-mail.
To be sure just email them: frcparts@firstinspires.org

I’m a little confused on this. Is this an eamil from GDC to your team?
Ultimately, I am wondering what the max and min diameters are as stated by the GDC.

We did not post that Q&A and we have not yet emailed them. I do not know where that message came from, and I posted this because that Q&A was not clear enough.

While not an official ruling about noodle tolerance, R21a specifies a 10% tolerance in the height of the wooden backing (literally 5in +/- 1/2in) , which is supposed to be twice the diameter of the noodles. I doubt that anyone will flunk inspection for noodles that are between 2 1/4" and 2 3/4" in diameter if your wooden backing matches the noodles. We most commonly use Dollar General noodles, which are cored and about 2 3/8" in diameter - and sell for $1 during the summer.

I think it was pretty clear?

The only place you’ll get official rulings is the Q&A. To my knowledge there isn’t an official tolerance in the rules.

I just saw some at Leslie’s Pool Supplies that were around 2 3/16" and 2 1/4". It makes me kind of nervous to have the team do all that work to build the bumpers and then run the risk of them being rejected.

Do you happen to know the proper speeds and feeds for a pool noodle to turn it down to the proper size?

Also, what type of fixtures to hold the noodle would you recommend? Our 4-jaw chuck seems to gouge the part when clamped appropriately, and a tailstock appears near useless when it comes to preventing part wobble and chatter while cutting.

Slow and slow. The key, though, is to use the proper cutting tool.

It turns out that the noodles from Dollar General last year were only 2" in diameter, much smaller than two years ago. The only noodles we could find in town were 3" in diameter, round, cored. We came up with a way to cut these larger noodles down to 2 1/2" without a lathe or an electric carving knife, and without losing the external finish of the noodles.

We did two lengthwise cuts outward from the axis, 60 degrees apart (Swiss army knife for the test, but we’ll use a razor utility knife for the real deal). We then squeezed the noodle until it is round again. Viola, the diameter is now two and a half inches! There is still a core, but it is quite a bit smaller. There may be a slightly better profile to cut than radial, but this seems to work OK. We haven’t decided how to secure them to remain round, whether we’ll use tape or glue (if glue, probably contact cement). We thought about welding, but quickly dismissed it as we don’t know what the fumes would be like. In any case, we’ll orient the “seam” to be towards the robot.