The Meccano Society of Scotland

Menstrie Meeting 2023

In May 2023 we held our annual Menstrie Meeting. The challenge this year was to build a machine from standard and/or compatible Meccano parts that is able to shoot miniature basketballs (ping pong balls) at a basketball hoop placed on the Menstrie Scout Hall floor.

Menstrie Challenge - Report (by Andrew Knox)

This year’s challenge was entitled “Shooting hoops” and was the Meccano equivalent of basketball but using ping pong balls propelled by a variety of different contraptions. A total of 9 machines were entered and all acquitted themselves well. The competition was held over 6 rounds, each being 2 feet further distance from the hoop than the previous round.

The assembled machines are shown in the photo below and the range and imagination used in the different techniques used to propel the ping pong balls was most impressive. David Stanford was Chief Scorer and gave an update to members present of the scores after each round.

It turned out to be a remarkably close competition. All members participated in the retrieval of errant balls that missed the hoop and subsequently managed to find their way into every corner of the Scout’s Hut. Reflecting the construction skills and careful design lavished on the machines, rather unusually all were still functioning at the conclusion of the competition, although some running repairs were needed on occasion.

At one point Brendan’s Mortar experienced what Elon Musk would call an 'unscheduled rapid disassembly', scattering nuts and bolts more or less the length of the hut. (These were found, retrieved and successfully re-fitted.)

What was particularly interesting to note was how the “misses” evolved from being distance-related to direction-related as the distance to the hoop was increased. For any other clubs and societies who might wish to try this competition for themselves, at the start of each round it would be very useful to allow a few (3?) “ranging” shots to get the machines lined up and adjusted for distance.

At the competition conclusion, the entrant with the highest number of “baskets” was declared the winner. The scores for each entrant and round were as follows:

Chris Shute75111116
Andy Knox66243021Third
Douglas Carson67803125Joint First
George Roy32313012
Craig Lennox52301011
Ken McDonald1112005
Gordon & Sheila 86411525Joint First
Alistair Innes1222108
Brendan Harris1101003

In the final round Gordon and Sheila managed an outstanding score that tied them with Douglas (who had been in the lead for most of the competition) for first place with Andy coming third. In a change to the usual prize format, Douglas has very kindly donated to the Society a trophy to be used for this and subsequent years’ Menstrie Challenge competitions.

All in all this year’s competition was hugely enjoyable and entertaining for the participants and the other members on fielding duty. No damage was done to the balls, hut fixtures and participants (Douglas did have a few near misses with the backswing.) It is heartening to see so many of the members participating.

Pictures from Menstrie 2023

High resolution versions of the photos are also available for download if desired.

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