Yesterday was a fun day! We had nine matches, and still have two 'bots in the running as of this morning, although one of them needs a fair bit of work done, so we're up early for breakfast and coffee, and headed to the Farm Show Complex at 8am, to try and beat the mess we encountered yesterday morning. Fortunately we found a decent parking spot this time, and headed in to fix up the beetleweight and check on the hobbyweight. Hit Back after viewing an image.
First order of business - other than coffee - is swapping out the drive and weapon motor speed controllers in Didactic Duelist 1.5 as the original ones all seemed to have burned up in our match against Shame Spiral yesterday. We pulled the BB3-9 controllers from the defunct Unlettered Understrapper 2.5 and those went in without a hitch, but we didn't have an exact replacement for the brushless controller, although we did have a reversible 60A controller spare. Back when we were building this 'bot we tried using a 35A car speed controller without much success, so we were leary of this one, but after hooking everything up, it seemed to work fine, so okay.
By 9am we'd completed the repairs to the beetle, and most competitors had returned to the arena area. The noise levels grew as the morning went on, until finally the competition was on again! We were the second and fourth fight of the morning, so we were glad to have gotten here early and already had everything charged up. It didn't take long before it was time for our first fight - Nihilistic Naysayer 2.0 versus Placebo:
Whew! The blade Ravi has on Placebo certainly chewed our hobbyweight up nicely! Again, the drum shaft came loose, and one side of the drive appeared to have given out again, so we tapped out. You can also see in the photo that the back wall came loose too, but that's our fault for using bolts that are too short. Lessons learned for the next version ...
We didn't have too much time to mourn, because we're up again - this time for Didactic Duelist 1.5 versus Chobham 2.0:
One side of the drive on our beetle seemed to be out at the start of the match, but despite that we were able to put up a pretty good fight, and it was a fun match! Ultimately the Judges gave the decision to Chobham 2.0, and so there we have it - our competition is done! We still had the rest of the day, though, so decided to see what we could do to repair Steel Stiletto and Nihilistic Naysayer 2.0 and maybe get them to face off later in the day.
These are the trophies for the event - alas, we weren't going to be taking any of them home this year, but there's always next time :-)
Here's what's left of the fleet now our matches are done. The circular Poor Punctuation 2.0, the tracked Unlettered Understrapper 2.5 and the large Formidable Fustigator 2.0 are all in pretty poor shape, but the rest are actually in decent shape, and with some tweaks could fight again.
Speaking of fighting again, we spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon swapping motors and controllers in Steel Stiletto, and bolting Nihilistic Naysayer 2.0 back together, and decided to have a grudge match, to help the event organizers fill in some of the dead time that tends to crop up towards the end of the event while the remaining competitors are using their guaranteed 20 minutes between matches to repair and recharge.
The drumbot got one good hit in on Steel Stiletto, but once again the drum finally came undone, and I also managed to wedge myself into the seam at the side of the arena, so this match went to Lauren's Steel Stiletto - next time ... ;-)
As the event was winding down, we cleaned up the pit space, and packed up the 'bots. Once the matches came to an end, it was time for trophies and prizes.
With the awards done, it's time for some forced labour! Well, not really forced, a bunch of the competitors hung around to help take down the big arena, and after a couple of hours it had been stowed in the Bensons' trailer, ready for the trip back to Massachusetts, and all that was left to do was throw our stuff in the 'BotMobile and find out where we're all heading for the End Of Event Dinner.
Which was, of course, Texas Roadhouse! The dinner is always great fun, with the competitors and event organizers able to relax after the long weekend and chat with each other - about robots, typically :-) After a good steak and better conversation it was time to bid adieu to our friends, and head back to the hotel. Another great event is done with, and we need to rest up for the drive back.
P.S. We didn't get to see any snow in Harrisburg, but it snowed Sunday night in Virginia, and we did get to see plenty of snow on the drive back, so Mission: Accomplished!
Tags: motorama, competition, beetleweight, hobbyweight, dd1, ss, nn2
After a restful night, today's the day the Big 'Bots fight (and hopefully win!) so it's time to throw on some clothes, find some coffee, and get the rest of the fleet through safety inspections. Having decided to leave the Sportsman alone, we didn't have any last-minute building to be done, so we decided to head in later than we've done in previous years - that was a mistake! We got to the Farm Complex about 9am, and the main parking lot was already full! We were herded over to a secondary lot and took a bus to the main event complex. Hit Back after viewing an image.
By the time we arrived at the pit table it was pushing 9:30am, and most competitors were already here and going through safety inspections. Lauren took Steel Stiletto over for a safety check, and passed without any issues. I took the two beetles and Nihilistic Naysayer 2.0, and again we had no worries getting through safety.
That left the thirty pounder, and we had actually done some last-minute meatball surgery, as the hole we'd milled in the front wall wasn't exactly lined up with the path of the blade, and with Milly 1500 miles away, back in Texas, we took the easy way out and cut the front wall with the jigsaw. After that, the safety inspection was fine, and we were ready to compete!
It typically takes a while for things to get going, the first morning of the Big 'Bot event, and this year was no exception, but eventually the Drivers Meeting was held, and the crowd began to assemble in the stands, as the brackets were being drawn up.
It seems like we usually miss out on byes at Motorama, but this year Didactic Duelist 1.5 and Nihilistic Naysayer 2.0 both had byes, and yikes! Formidable Fustigator 2.0 is the first match of the event! With all the 'bots charged up, we steeled ourselves for the competition to begin!
Here we go with the first match of the event - and it's not looking like a pleasant match-up! Formidable Fustigator 2.0 versus the full-body spinner of Tetanus:
Thanks to Mike for the video. Ouch. Pretty much a repeat of what happened to us in our second match last year, but hopefully we'll be able to patch this up and run the featherweight on two wheels for it's next match. In theory the two remaining omniwheels ought to let us move around the arena. We checked the brackets, and Didactic Duelist 1.5's bye just went by, so up next we have our oldest 'bot, Unlettered Understrapper 2.5 versus SID (Sadistic Infernal Device):
Thanks to Kyle for uploading this video. Yay! A win! After eight years we finally get the 'bot into an arena with a working weapon and come away with a win - neat! At this point we have a bit of a breather before we need to load up again so the 'bots are back on the battery chargers, and Lauren's on her way back from hunting down some lunch. Nihilistic Naysayer 2.0 has a bye, so up next we have Steel Stiletto versus the old warhorse War Drums:
Thanks again to Kyle for the clip. YAY! Steel Stiletto beat War Drums on a Judges' decision, after a couple of decent slams dislodged the two rear wheels from War Drums, and the front wheels were looking a bit wobbly too! Despite the couple of initial hits from War Drums, we couldn't find any damage back at the pit table, so the 'bot was put on the charger, and we scanned the brackets for our next fight.
There's plenty of activity in the seconday pit area, with 'bots being repaired and charged as the day went on. It's great to see so many familiar faces, and the spirit of cameraderie is evident, with builders helping each other get their 'bots back together - sometimes the driver who just destroyed you is the first one to offer to help!
There was a bit of downtime for us before our next match came up, which was going to be Unlettered Understrapper 2.5 versus Maniac Kathy:
The carcas of Unlettered Understrapper 2.5 after the beating it just took from Maniac Kathy. Suffice it to say, with one win and one loss, we're happy with this old 'bot, but it's time to put it out to pasture. The insides are in good shape, but it can't be fixed up for another match, so we forfeited the next match against Ripto 3.0 and turned our attention to the 'bots that were still running.
Didactic Duelist 1.5 had been slated to fight Traumatizer in the beetleweight brackets, but due to damage Traumatizer received in its first match against Revenge of Dr. Super Brain, it had to forfeit to us. Our next match was going to be in the hobbyweight division, putting our drumbot Nihilistic Naysayer 2.0 up against another veteran 'bot, Alan's Zandor:
Again, thanks to Kyle for the video. A lot of folks on the NERC Forum were skeptical about the UHMW drum, and as it happened, there was a failure, but not of the drum itself - but the bolts holding the dead axle sheared after a weapon-to-weapon hit with Zandor, and ultimately the drum separated from the 'bot. Back at the pit table we quickly extracted the sheared bolts, and replaced them. The front wall had taken a hit from the drum as it separated, and the polycarbonate had shattered on one end of the wall, so the 'bot was a bit rickety, but lives to fight another match!
Up immediately after the drumbot was Steel Stiletto, versus the nasty spinning bar of Fiasco:
Thanks again to Kyle for the video.
Steel Stiletto took a fair bit of abuse from Fiasco before breaking it's weapon, and at least one of the speed controllers went up in smoke, leading to the tap-out. Lauren set about disassembling the 'bot to see if we could get it back up and running for it's next match. After tinkering for a while, we weren't going to be able to make the repairs needed in time for its next match against Placebo, so with a 1-2 record, Steel Stiletto is out of the competition. We will try to finish the repairs though, in case there's an opportunity for a rumble or grudge match tomorrow.
Next into the arena we have our damaged featherweight Formidable Fustigator 2.0 going up against a Canadian saw-bot by the name Gloomy:
Once again, thanks to Kyle for the video. Two things about this match: first, we actually went the distance - the full three minutes; and second the weapon spun up which we were very happy to see! Even though we didn't do a whole lot of damage to Gloomy we were able to knock his saw blade off, and by spinning the 'bot (the DeWalts were in high gear) we got a couple of good thumps in for good measure, but at the end of the day the Judges gave the match to Gloomy, rightly so.
Here's the carcas of Formidable Fustigator 2.0 following its match with Gloomy. Note the very clean cut on the bottom-left of the 'bot: if that cut had been on the right side, there would have been an interesting circumstance - that's where the batteries were! As it is, there's a number of chewed up power and signal cables in there, so the post mortum back at the Build Space will have to weed out the re-usable parts from the destroyed parts.
There was a pretty good crowd in the stands today. Truthfully it thinned out a bit towards the end of the day, but for the better part of the fights today I'd have to guestimate that the stands were 90% full. At this point it's getting on for 5pm, and the fights are spacing out a bit, but it's time again for us to throw a 'bot in the arena; specifically our beetleweight Didactic Duelist 1.5 goes up against the über-speedy Shame Spiral:
More thanks to Kyle for the video. As you can see, Thomas's 'bot completely out-classed Didactic Duelist 1.5 - the weapon died shortly into the match, and after being slammed around the arena, and being left inverted, everything pretty much died after a few more slams, leaving Shame Spiral with a win by Knock Out.
There's your problem! This is the PWM cable for the weapon speed controller in Didactic Duelist 1.5, and as you can see, it's been rubbing against the weapon motor, and that's chewed through the insulation and cable, shorting it, which is why things went quiet in that last match. We also have amber lights on the BB3-9 drive speed controllers, so first thing tomorrow morning we're going to have to switch out both the drive speed controllers and the weapon ESC too!
We hung out for a while to see whether we were going to have any more fights this evening, watching some of the matches, and generally hanging out with some of the great folks running and competing in the event. As 6:30pm rolled by, it became obvious we weren't going to have any more matches this evening, so we tidied up, and called in a reservation to the Texas Roadhouse near the hotel. It was going to be a two-hour wait, so we headed out to the car and ran a couple of errands before dinner.
After dinner it didn't take long for the hectic day to take it's toll, and wrapped up the day with a gin and tonic, and review of some of today's matches.
Tags: motorama, competition, beetleweight, hobbyweight, featherweight, dd1, uu2, ss, nn2, ff2
Last night we almost had another 'bot finished, but the weapon wouldn't spin up, so the first order of business this morning is figuring out why! We had put a 35A reversible ESC in the 'bot and the weapon motor kept just twitching. We hunted out the manual for the ESC and tried to go through the programming steps to calibrate it, and change some settings for a softer start, etc., but nothing helped, and the battery wound up extremely hot! Hit Back after viewing an image.
So we took the reversible ESC out and swapped back in the original 40A single-direction Plush ESC we used last time, and the weapon motor spun up just fine. The design of Didactic Duelist 1.5 isn't really invertible anyhow, so we decided to re-use this ESC.
The Plush ESC is roughly the same size as the 35A reversible one, so we were able to keep the layout the same inside, and added a power light for good measure. We also added a couple of nuts and bolts under the front of the 'bot to stop it from scraping along on the titanium plow.
And so there we go: 2lb 13.4oz - underweight with a couple of ounces to spare, and it's time for a proper test run. Unforuntately the video isn't great, and the 'bot doesn't drive particularly well on our curving driveway, but the drive works, the weapon works, and the 'bot is ready for Motorama!
Tags: beetleweight, dd1, done, build
A small yet expensive box of parts from SDP/SI showed up this evening, so that meant we had what we needed to finish our second beetleweight. We'd ordered a selection of MXL timing belts for the weapon, as we weren't 100% sure what size we needed, so let's see if we can wrap this 'bot up! After finishing Hit Back after viewing an image.
After some test-fitting, we figured out the right size belt and disassembled the side of the 'bot to take the motor out.
We had lost the original 12-tooth pulley, so had ordered a new one, and it didn't take very long to drill it for a 1/16" roll pin, and attached it to the motor.
With that done, the last thing - as always - is wiring the 'bot up. Fortunately in this 'bot we have plenty of space for wiring, and it's just a matter of hooking everything together.
We know it doesn't look all that neat, but it fits. We also trimmed down some of the bolts, as we'd neglected to order some that were the right length, but the Dremel-ish took care of that in no time.
Grr ... the 'bot drives fine (although it could use a the same tweak we did to the previous version with a couple of nuts under the front of the baseplate) but the weapon won't spin up. We even took the top off to see what was going on, whether it was friction, or something up with the ESC, but we couldn't tell, and it was getting late, so we'll have to do a bit of troubleshooting this weekend.
Tags: beetleweight, build, dd1
Today is Martin Luther King Day, and our office is closed today, a double-bonus, especially after the BCP Test this past weekend, so after running some errands we hit the Build Space, determined to make some progress. Hit Back after viewing an image.
We're starting with a bare baseplate, and spent a bit of time 'hardening' the drive motors, following the information on Pete's web site. Fortunately the additional gearbox diameter from the heat-shrink didn't wind up being too much to fit in the 'bot. As you can see we've also mounted the weapon motor.
Next we want to put the pulley on the weapon shaft, so we pressed a couple of bushings into the sides, and set about positioning the pulley.
A 1/16" roll pin and a 1/4" shaft collar later, and that's the business end of the weapon taken care of. For some reason it took aaaages to get that roll pin hole drilled - but at least it's in the right place!
Time to consider the internals. This was one test layout, but we haven't figured out yet how to keep the weapon ESC and battery in place.
Here's another option ... but routing the cables from the weapon ESC might be awkward, so we'll go back to option one.
The next thing to check is the weapon motor. We're using a reversible ESC, so we needed to figure out whether it (a) had any foibles; and (b) which direction on the rudder was the right direction. The ESC does do some wacky things when you send it in one direction, but we learned the trick and will use this pic to make sure we hook up the ESC the same way when we finally come to wire it.
Here we've been installing the drive wheels. We used a setscrew to hook the axles to the motor shafts, and pinned the hubs to the axles. The tires are new 1.75" rubber tires versus the 1.5" ones in the last version.
Here we're testing the connection from the BaneBots 3-9 ESC to the motor, to make sure we're about to hook it up the right way soldering. It was a 50-50 chance, and we got it right the first time. Time to break out the soldering iron ...
Ugly, but effective. We quickly solder up both motors, and remove the on/off switch from the weapon ESC too, soldering the wires together.
We had a brainwave, and decided to make a retainer for the battery pack out of 1/32" polycarb, which we snipped to shape, drilled, and used it as a template for drilling the baseplate.
Here's the battery pack bolted down. This is just a test, so the bolts are over-sized, and we're not using locknuts, which we will when we come to do the final installation.
And we've done the same thing with the weapon speed controller, only this time using 1/8" aluminium, which should act as an additional piece of heatsink (we took the fan off the ESC). We've also installed the Whyachi power switch (albeit temporarily) and everything looks good.
The drive ESCs have been wedged into the space between the weapon ESC and drive motor.
This is where we wrapped up for tonight, with just a couple of things left to do, unfortunately one of which means waiting for an SDP/SI order, which can take ages - connecting the weapon motor to the business end, and finishing up the wiring.
Tags: build, beetleweight, dd1
We haven't made much progress this week, as we've been preparing for a Business Continuity Test that's happening tonight, but we're ready for it, and have a few hours free before the test starts, so it's time to hit the Build Space! Hit Back after viewing an image.
Here are our customary To Do Lists, and as you can see, there's quite a lot to do! Hopefully we can check a few things off today. We're going to tackle some of the jobs that were holding us up with the drill press out of commission.
But now we're back in business! We went through a number of different size and lengths in V-belts trying to find one that worked, and ended up with a 3L330, which is a little big, but works, so we're going to run with it.
Starting out today with the rebuild of Didactic Duelist and we've piled on all the parts, coming out at 2lb 12.6 ounces, so we're well underweight, and can get on with assembly.
First up for the repaired drill press are the aluminium side walls for the Beetle, and it doesn't take too long to drill them out.
Some time later, after a lot of tapping and a couple of episodes of The Invisible Man, we have all the chassis parts tapped, so moving on ...
Lauren popped over, and spent some time working on her antweight Malicious Mule, including a turn with Milly, cutting slots on her chassis parts.
Here we're drilling the mount holes for the weapon motor, using the old mount as a template. That worked quite well.
So we put the parts down in the Paint Shack, and liberally applied the Radicus Purple to the Beetle's frame pieces.
While those parts were drying, we turned our attention to the drum for Nihilistic Naysayer 2.0 and drilled out the mounting holes for the end caps.
A bit of tapping later and we had the weapon pulley mounted to one end cap, and the end caps ready to be mounted, but before we could do that ...
... We needed to mount the teeth!Truthfully it's been a good long while since we worked with tool steel, and drilling the holes in the teeth took quite a lot of time, pressure, cutting fluid, and drill bits, but eventually we were done!
Et viola! The completed drum, ready for installation into the 'bot.
Which was quick and easy, so there we are - after all this time, we've almost finished the rebuild of the drum-bot.
A quick sanity check, to make sure we weren't going to encounter the "Three-Eighths Issue" we had with version one: the teeth do, in fact, clear the chassis, which is a plus :-) And that's where we're going to leave it for today, as we need to go make some dinner and get to the office for the Business Continuity Test. More next week!
Tags: build, antweight, beetleweight, hobbyweight, dd1, nn2
With the drill press still out of commission, we're falling a little behind in our build schedule, but we found a few other things to be getting on with today, including a non-'bot-related job for a friend at work. Hit Back after viewing an image.
A friend at work caught wind of the fact we have a CNC-equipped mill, and asked whether we could help him with a part he needed fabricating. As we can't get on with a whole lot at the moment, we said sure, and invited him round to the Build Space. The part is a mount for a telescope, and he needed some holes milled for alignment.
It took about an hour to learn about the G2 and G3 codes, and eventually had a G-code script written to mill the three holes. There were a number of firsts - for us - in this simple project, including actually milling all the way through a 3/4" piece of aluminium!
Et voila! In fact, David even paid us for it :-) Good thing too, because we were about to take a hit to the wallet ...
We'd received a call from a machine shop in South Austin that we'd contracted to fix up a few parts for us we couldn't manage by ourselves. Here's the weapon for Didactic Duelist 1.5 all MIG-welded up.
And a couple of parts for the hobbyweight Nihilistic Naysayer 2.0, namely the drum on the left, which had been bored to 1/2" to fit the endcaps, and the rear walls on the right, cut from 4" pipe. Unfortunately the bill for these parts wound up being double the original telephone estimate, so we weren't real thrilled about that, but the work was good.
Here's one of the endcaps in place, although we can't drill and tap it at the moment - hmph!
Same deal with the rear wall ... we sure hope one of the 2L V-belts we ordered from McMaster will fit the drill press when they arrive on Tuesday!
With the exception of a few bolts, we're at 11lb 2.4oz out of the 12lb limit, so we have plenty of weight free on the 'bot we can invest in securing the teeth to the drum.
Turning our attention elsewhere, and we're following some advice from the NERC Forum to switch the output on the weapon motors to decrease the leverage on them and their mounts. Here's one of the weapon motors disassembled.
And we used the arbor press to push the shaft through to the other end of the motor can. This took more force than we would have thought - the shaft is a pretty tight fit in the can, but that's a good thing!
We added a couple of new flats to the shaft for the setscrew and collar. We can reuse the flat already on there from the shaft collar for attaching our pinion gear later.
And we're halfway done. The motor on the left is the adjusted one. We just need to follow the same procedure for the one on the right. Those magnets are really very strong! To reassemble the motor we just put the can in the vicinity of the windings, and everything jumped into place!
And finally two adjusted motors with their mounts attached. We need to add spacers for the pinion gears, and re-attach them to the walls, but that's a task for another day.
Last photo of the day, and it's a Pile-o-Parts we just happen to have sitting around the Build Space ... we wonder if we could make anything with these ...
Tags: mill, build, beetleweight, dd1, hobbyweight, nn2, fairyweight, ff2
Still feeling slowed and sluggish from this cold, we spent most of the day under the care of our favourite Alka Selzer Cold medicine, but by mid-afternoon felt like going and being quarantined in the Build Space - who knows, maybe we could screw some screws in or something. As it happened we were able to do a little more than that. Hit Back after viewing an image.
After rummaging around we found some more ring terminals, installed them on the drive ESCs for the the hobbyweight drumbot and suddenly we were ready to see if we could get the wiring finished up so the 'bot would be driveable.
After connecting and tidying the drive ESCs, we were able to package them rather neatly into the space between the gearboxes and the middle wall, so that was looking good.
The rest of the wiring, however, was not quite as neat - crammed into the battery compartment in the top-left of the pic. Everything fits, but only just! We have a Whyachi MS-05 power switch, weapon motor ESC, battery, receiver, and common ground all stuffed in there.
But, at least everything's wired correctly! The power lights at the bottom of the picture are on, and nothing exploded, so hurrah! We also did a wheels test, and found one of the ESCs had been connected to the motor wrong - it was going in the wrong direction, so we stopped a moment to fix that.
The top plate was then marked, drilled, and installed - we were ready for a test-drive!
What the short video didn't show is that we were having the same issue as the first version of this 'bot: the drive would keep cutting out, again presumably because we're sending the BaneBots BB-12-45 ESCs into thermal shutdown, with high amp draw due to friction in the drive train. In the last version we got around that by switching to Victor 883s, but this time we can't do that, because there isn't enough room inside the 'bot for them. Instead we've ordered some Turnigy TY-P1 25A Brushless ESCs which we're going to hack into 25A brushed speed controllers. Let's hope they come back in stock soon!
The scale says 13lb 14oz, but of course that's with the huge piece of 6061 aluminium tube on there - we'll only be using about eight ounces of the pipe, so we're expecting to be a bit under the 12lb weight limit.
For fun we pressed the tool steel teeth into the UHMW pipe to verify the fit. We think we've located a local machine shop that can turn the inner diameter to 2" for us, so hopefully we'll get out to see them some point soon.
Just verifying we have all the parts we need - axle, end caps, pulley, washers, tube, teeth, bolts - check!
One more sanity check - the tube and teeth are 4" diameter - there's 2.25" from the shaft to the front wall. We're not making the 3/8" Mistake again with this 'bot!
Having run out of things to do with the drumbot, we turned our attention to the redesigned beetleweight. Here we've laid out some parts, just to remind outselves of what the plan was ...
... and the 'bot ostensibly looks like the previous version, although this time the wheels will be on the outside, rather than inside.
All our 1/4" polycarb and 6061 aluminium have been marked up and punched, so now it's time for our favourite task: drilling and tapping!
So we procrastinated and did some counter-sinking instead :-)
We did actually get off and running with the drillings, and then heard a twang from the drill press: the belt - which is the eleven year-old original - had finally given up the ghost on us. Still ... 11 years is a pretty good run, don't you think?
We had finished drilling all the polycarb pieces, so we tapped them, and did a little assembly.
Coming together nicely. We'll try to locate another belt tomorrow, and in the meanwhile, it's time to head back inside and warm up with some hot chocolate, more Alka Seltzer, and bed!
Tags: beetleweight, build, dd1, hobbyweight, nn2
We've had a pretty productive week so far! We're making good progress on two of the beetles, have one 'bot done, and are really waiting for parts to show up to get cracking on the others we're planning on taking to Motorama 2012. While we wait for those parts we have some pieces we can make ourselves, and we still have the wiring to do on Unlettered Understrapper 2.5. Hit Back after viewing an image.
We set Milly off and running on the remaining aluminium parts for the featherweight. While that was going on we decided to finish the lifter for the beetle. We've drilled and tapped one hole for the crank, to fit a #6-32 1" screw which will be Loctite'd in after assembly.
Looks like Milly has finished - we have the three aluminium wall pieces and a spare for each. Still some drilling and tapping to do, once the top and base plates show up.
With the aluminium done, we set Milly off on the UHMW wall pieces, and went to go find something else to do.
Here we've bolted in the crank for the beetle lifter. We still need to round off the ends on the sander, but it's looking okay so far.
A bit more drilling and tapping and the rocker arm has gone in place. Again we need the edges rounding down, but it's coming together nicely.
For fun, we decided to put the arm into place in the 'bot, using hex keys, and the holes all line up, so yay! :-)
Here's where the arm extends to, give or take, and it ought to be enough to be able to fall to one side and roll on to the wheels again. The only issue is that cranking the arm takes a bit of force, and we're not entirely sure whether the HD servo we have is up to the task. We'll have to see when the 'bot is a bit more assembled. We can always switch to a gearmotor, and figure out limit switches using a Team Delta relay.
Yay! The UPS guy just dropped off a fairly large box - let's see what's inside!:-)
Parts for Formidable Fustigator 2.0: base plate; top plate; and boom strengtheners.
Parts for Poor Punctuation 2.0: top and bottom plates for a one-weapon-motor configuration; top and bottom plates for a two-weapon-motor configuration; a pair of UHMW rings; and titanium weapon ring and gears.
Parts for Malicious Mule: top and bottom plates; inner walls; spare outer walls; front and back plates; and aluminium outer walls.
Parts for Didactic Duelist 1.5: base plate; top plate; side walls; wheels walls; engine mounts; rear walls; and side walls.
We couldn't resist: we had to do a little on the antweight parts! Here we've drilled the UHMW rings slightly to accomodate #4-40 locknuts.
And with minimal effort the locknuts have been pressed into place. We had originally envisioned regular hex nuts, but inexplicably we don't have any, hence the locknuts.
Here's how the antweight parts stack together - polycarb, UHMW ring, titanium weapon ring, UHMW, and then polycarb. There will be a bunch of spacers holding everything together.
Meanwhile, Milly is still turning away on the UHMW parts. Because even half-inch thick UHMW is a bit bendy, we're only doing four inches at a time - the width in the vise, to ensure that at least that much doesn't flex while we're cutting.
Here's the front wall for the 30lb'er, and it's 26.5" long, so we're having to work around the lathe chuck to be able to get the middle of the part, but we finagled it successfully.
Here's a test-fit of the 30lb'er walls on the baseplate. If you look at the back wall, it's not sitting on the baseplate, so obviously we messed something up. On closer inspection we mis-measured the length of the side aluminium walls - they should be a quarter-inch shorter! Thankfully that'll be pretty easy to take care of tomorrow, so we've put it on the list of things Milly has to do tomorrow.
A quick trip to the mailbox yielded junkmail and a package from Hong Kong - more spiral bevel gears! We were planning on using these on the 30lb Sportsman Walker Cyber Scorpion 0.9, but we've scrapped that idea - just too complex with not enough time for Motorama 2012, but on the plus side it'll be a project that will keep us engaged in 'bot-building through the year, rather than just the few months leading up to Motorama 2013 ...
Here we've already counter-sunk all the holes for the top and bottom plates for the antweight's two-motor configuration, so we're about to throw some team colour on them, while we fiddle with some other parts ...
... Namely the antweight weapon motors. They came with set screws in place for prop-savers, but by golly they were in there tight! We ended up Dremelling them off.
Right - we've taken the can off one of the motors intending to press the titanium ring onto the can!
Er - yeah ... not so much. We've mangled the can pressing the gear on, so something's obviously not right here. We broke out the calipers, and groaned. For a press fit you typically aim for three or four thousandths difference in size. What we have here is four hundredths difference. Grr. Our bad on the DXFs we sent to the Whyachis, so what can we do about it?
We set the Dremel-a-like onto it and see if we can neatly take the inner diameter of the gear to somewhere close to the motor outer diameter. Unfortunately we got far too carried away - not realizing the Dremel-a-like worked so quickly on Grade 5 Titanium, and now the ring just slips down the motor. Drat!
At this point we have one good motor, one bad gear, and two fresh gears. Obviously we're going to have to order some more motors, but we started wondering whether we could reclaim the bad gear some way, so we built a jig ...
... And applied some Loctite to the motor/ring combo. Ordinarily we'd have used duct tape, but felt this operation needed a little more finesse. The jig has the ring 0.25" from the bottom of the motor, so if this works we have one working weapon motor. We'll find out in the morning whether we were able to save the titanium gear.
But the first thing we have to do tomorrow is clean, tidy, and organize the garage Build Space, because we wasted a whole heap of time today simply trying to find things! This place is a bomb site hit by a tornado! So that's the plan for first thing tomorrow. For now, we're going to have a gin and tonic, and order some motors ...
Tags: antweight, beetleweight, build, dd1, featherweight, ff2, mill, pp2, vv1
As we continue to unpack from the last Motorama, we're checking out the remains of the 'bots we took, and looking to see what's salvageable and what needs to be reworked. Tonight it's the turn of the beetleweight we took: Didactic Duelist 1.0. Hit Back after viewing an image.
There were some obvious wounds, courtesy of Jim Iocca's Mr. Croup. The sides are cracked and bent, and obviously it's missing a weapon disk that came off in a match.
Close-up of the back-left corner. A multitude of things wrong here, including the weapon motor pulley came off, and the drive motor fell off the gearbox! And the general mess inside there, presumably from the floor of the arena.
On the other hand, having powered up the 'bot, you can see the orange receiver light and two green drive ESC lights, so the electronics are good - we were able to run the drive and weapon motors just fine, so that's a plus. It seems what we need at this point is a fresh chassis to put the pieces back into.
Starting with the frame, and we need to keep the dimensions the same as the first version, because we want to be able to re-use the titanium plates we had cut. Instead of 100% polycarbonate, the outer side walls and rear wall will be 1/4" 6061 aluminium.
Adding the 1/8" polycarbonate baseplate and the 1000rpm Hobby Motors for drive, with the aluminium axle 'enhancers'. Note there's no center wall this time around.
We've moved the motors closer to the rear wall than they were in the first version to the BaneBots ESCs (red boxes) need to sit in front of the motors rather than behind. The wheels are going from 1.5" diameter to 1.75" diameter, and with that they protrude past the back wall and top plate, so hopefully we'll be a little more invertable.
The rest of the components are the same: battery, receiver, weapon motor and ESC, and powerswitch. This time, though, we're putting the pulley on the end of the weapon shaft, as the teeth will be welded on this time.
And there you have it! Albeit without the purple paint on the titanium front plate. At present we're estimating a whole three ounces available for wiring and screws, so we may make a couple of posts for the top panel to truly make it invertible.
Tags: beetleweight, dd1, design
Tony's Competition Diary - February 20th, 2011
All right! Here we go with the last day of Motorama 2011, and there's work to be done! I was up and about on the dot of 6am, with plans to pick up DD coffee and go reassemble the featherweight. I figured the competition wouldn't start until some time after 10am, so I'd have three hours to finish re-working the 'bot, and get it back on it's feet. Click Back after viewing an image.
It didn't take long to get here, and one of the benefits of being early was a primo parking spot, so it would be easy to find the Botmobile later on. Last night we had disassembled and tested all the individual drive components, and also the weapon ESC. All the pieces checked out, so the task this morning was to reassemble them and get everything working together. It took a while to reassemble the 'bot, and once that was done, the wiring took a little longer still. Scott showed up sans family, who were taking advantage of the luxury hotel suite for the morning, so we chatted while working on the 'bot. Finally we were at a point where we were ready to try powering things up, and still we had the flakiness. Then a thought hit me. Without the weapon ESC, the drive ESCs and receiver worked fine - okay. Without the drive ESCs or BEC, the weapon ESC and receiver were okay - good. Eventually realization dawned that whatever this issue was, it stemmed from having to BECs powering the receiving - or at least that was a good hunch. So I pulled the red pin from the weapon ESC's receiver connector and hey presto! All looked good! The Victors had solid lights, and the weapon ESC played it's little tune. Time to double-check, with the 'bot in the arena.
For some reason that video doesn't want to play smoothly, but it does actually show the weapon on Formidable Fustigator 1.0 spinning up, so it's 9:30am, and we're ready to rock! We talked nice to Joe Provenzano, and he was kind enough to apply some welds to the remaining tooth on our Beetleweight to try and avoid having it shear the shaft, as happened yesterday. Hindsight being 20/20 we should have just had the teeth welded to begin with, but not having a welder hander you don't always think of these things ...
More people are beginning to arrive, so we take a break for a morning beverage, and chat with folks while we wait for this morning's fight roster to be posted. We had both 'bots still in the competition charging up, so all that was left to do for the moment was hang out.
It certainly didn't take too long for things to ramp up this morning, and already we're checking the brackets - we're up first and fourth this morning! We made doubly-sure that the beetle had not only been charged but that the battery had actually been reconnected, as it was the first match of the day, and the featherweight will be following it along a couple of matches back. The beetleweight's first match is against Jim Iocca's Mr. Croup, a vicious little 'bot that took first place at last year's Franklin Cup event. Time to get it on!
Ouch ... that first hit from Mr. Croup pretty much nailed it. Given Didactic Duelist 1.0 can't run inverted (something to remember for version two) I waved Jim into hitting me again to try and right me, which didn't quite work out, and the third hit ripped the front plate off three of it's four bolts, so at that point I tapped out. Jim certainly has a mean-hitting 'bot - well done Jim! First match of the day, and the beetle is out of the competition, but a 3-2 record isn't too bad for a first-time 'bot, so we're pretty happy with it, and ought to be able to get the 'bot rolling should there be a rumble later today. No time to think about that right now though, as we need to get ready for our next match: Formidable Fustigator 1.0 versus Moros:
Sooo .... yeah. The weapon almost spun up ... no idea why it didn't, but the first hit from Moros took off the timing belt, so that was pretty much it at that point. A spectacular, but disappointing, fight, and event as I went into the arena to "disarm" Formidable Fustigator 1.0 I had figured out two things for version two: (a) The weapon belt needs to be run inside the 'bot; and (b) I'd built the 'bot backwards. More on that later - for now we have a lot of pieces to pick up!
Pete Smith wanted an 'after' shot, having previously taken a 'before' photo of the 'bot yesterday, so we laid out the pieces we'd recovered. Ironically, Pete had been prophesizing on the forums that the weapon 'arm' wasn't going to hold up in the arena ... turns out it was all the rest of the 'bot that didn't hold up ;-P
The biggest bummer was the loss of a $40 omniwheel ... I had plenty of battery packs and DeWalt gearbox housings, but all told we'll be able to rebuild using the vast majority of the same components. But the design is backwards, where the rear wheel is, is where the blade shaft needs to be, and the rear wheel needs to be where the weapon shaft is, so the wheels are angled away from the opponent. Duh. Still, lessons learned are a good thing - right? I wonder if there's a prize for most spectacularly lost match ...
With all our 'bots out, save perhaps for a Beetleweight Rumble later today, we were able to relax some. Scott packed up, to retrieve the family from the hotel and head back to North Carolina, with a detour through Washington DC, so we said our goodbyes, and already started making plans for next year's Motorama. I took a walk around the event, which was a huge as it ever is. It didn't occur to me to take photos until I was almost back at the 'bot event hall, walking through the R/C hall.
The track they had going here looked a tad bigger than the one Mike and Chris run over at Speedster Hobbies, but it was fun to watch the cars zip by with intentions of doing something other than demolish all their opponents within three minutes ;-)
I left the beetleweight on the charger and watched some of the matches, into the early afternoon, when things started slowing down. One of the problems with double-elimination tournaments, especially when you guarantee a 'bot 20 minutes between fights, is that you start to get gaps in the action as 'bots are being repaired and recharged, so during the downtime I started packing up my pit table, making notes as I went of things I'd forgotten to bring (e.g. drill press chuck key!), and things I'd brought but never used, to try and get back into the swing of planning for competition. I used to be pretty good at the logistics of competing, but the five-year gap has obviously left me a bit rusty. Not having a spare weapon ESC for the featherweight was the biggest aggravation this weekend, so ensuring that I have at least two of everything is the biggest note I made packing up.
Time for one final hurrah: the Beetleweight Rumble! Didactic Duelist 1.0 wasn't in tip-top form, but it could move, and the remaining weapon tooth spun, so what the heck - let's go have fun!
Rumbles are given up to five minutes, but as you can tell from the video it really didn't take too long for Pete Smith's Weta - God of Ugly Things to demolish the opposing crowd. This was Pete's first rumble in a very long time, as he's usually one of the final two 'bots still fighting at the end of the double-elimination competition, but as he'd gone out with third place this time he got to have some fun too. Good job Pete! This photo is of the spiral pattern running across the arena from the blue square to the middle - that was Didactic Duelist 1.0 running upside down :-)
Intending to beat the crowd, I packed away Didactic Duelist 1.0, scrounged a flatbed cart from Dalton (thanks Dalton!) and hoofed my stuff out to the 'Botmobile. It was definitely fun, and further fueled the fire for competing, with design improvements starting to percolate out of the issues and problems I'd encountered during this competition.
It wasn't much past 5pm when the last of the matches were wrapping up, which was earlier than I've ever known a Motorama event to end, despite having over 80 'bots competing these two days (another 20 or so fought on Friday). With the final match ended, I helped the NERC folks get ready for the award ceremony, and generally hung out chatting with people. I must have not been paying attention, because for some reason there were four or five "Miss Motoramas" doing the prize ceremony this year ... perhaps it's because we finished before their competition did, and so they hadn't picked a winner yet - that would certainly be a first!
Following the awards ceremony things started moving quick! Both the small and main arenas were torn down in near-record time, with the small arena eventually loaded back into Ed's trailer, and the large arena packed safely and securely in the Benson Family's trailer - all this done before it was even 7pm - wow! I've been to quite a few Motoramas over the years, but I've never seen the whole event done and packed this early on Sunday - major thanks to everyone who stuck around to help with the disassembly and loading, competitors and staff alike!
A side benefit of being done so early was that we'd be able to go practically anywhere for the Post-Event Dinner and be able to get tables for 25 people. Unfortunately Damon's (a favourite location) had closed down, so seeing as though the majority of the folks going to dinner were staying in or near the same hotel, it was decided to get dinner near the hotel - which meant another fine steak at the Texas Road House! :-)
At dinner I sat with Brian Benson and the members of Team Canada, and aside from a tasty meal it was fun to trade stories and relive highlights of the event, so much fun that after the meal, and seeing that what had looked like rain had turned to a decent amount of snow falling outside we elected to continue hanging out at the bar, with more stories going back and forth. As the call for Last Orders went out we all decided to meet back at the Team Canada hotel room, and I dropped my stuff at my room, after getting a new key - I'd managed to demagnetize the one I had, and walked over to the Holiday Inn.
We all sat for quite a while, talking about previous competitions, design options, motors and machining, and a whole slew of topics, until today had turned into tomorrow, and it was time to call it a night - thanks for the hospitality Team Canada, and the advice on parts!
I walked back to the Country Inn through the snow, happy to find my key worked this time, and crashed out for the night!
Tags: beetleweight, competition, dd1, featherweight, ff1, motorama
Tony's Competition Diary - February 19th, 2011
Alright ... so this morning it was actually the alarm clock/wake-up call combo that got me out of bed. Hadn't done anything on either of the beetles last night, so it was an early start to get to the pits and fix up the two 'bots in time for safety.
After foresaking a trip to Dunkin' Donuts (Beth said she'd bring coffee :-)) I rolled into the parking lot and hauled my stuff back into the pits. The first order of business was to switch the ESCs in Didactic Duelist 1.0, but after catching up with Pete Smith again I also bought a couple of his 1000rpm Hobby Motors and to into the 'bot. Pete's motors seemed a lot more torque-y than the ones I had, so hopefully they'll do better at getting this 'bot moving. Click Back after viewing an image.
Here's a shot from the external pit area, from while I was helping a couple of folks get ready for safety, and trying to track down Pete for the motors. The robot pits are inside the yellow caution tape - outside the tape are pits for the dirtbike and quad riders who are competing in the arena further down the complex.
Swinging around a bit, and we have more of the same - pits everywhere!
And a bit further around. Out in the West Hall (through the doors you can see) was the electric R/C car event, on a large dirt track, much like the one at Speedster Hobbies, but on a slightly larger scale I think. Anyhow - loads of people out there! Speaking of people, Scott had arrived! He was accompanied by his wife, Liz, and step-son Kyle, and had driven up from North Carolina to hang out for the event. It was great to catch up with Scott and meet his new family.
In between installing drive motors and ESCs in the beetle, chatting with Scott and family, and check safety on some of the new competitors I had to safety the hobbyweight, which weighed in at exactly 12.0 pounds and had no safety issues. I also installed the battery packs into the featherweight Formidable Fustigator 1.0 and took it to the arena for safety checks after verifying the 29.4lb weight. I wish there had been a camera on the safety check because the flames were quite impressive after I powered up the 'bot!
There was a little concern floating around that perhaps it was the Lithium-Polymer batteries that had gone up in flames, but the smell was more 'electronics-y' than 'lithium-y', so once things quietened down we took the 'bot back to the pit table and took the base off to take a look. Fortunately, if you could use that word, it was the weapon ESC that looked like it had been pinched behind the battery pack and something had shorted. Good, because the weapon motor should still be running, bad because of all the things we had spares for, this wasn't one of them! After asking around, the builders of Higgins Mike and Dan, had a slightly smaller ESC they were willing to lend us, and Dan offered to switch the connectors, being the master solderer that he is. Given our phenominal lack of soldering skills we took him up on that offer! After not too long we were back in business! Ironically, when the brackets were published for the day's matches, we'd be going up against Higgins first, but more on that twist of fate in a few.
Finally we were able to install the new drive motors and ESCs in Didactic Duelist 1.0 and the drive torque was hugely improved! The moral of the story is that even cheap Chinese motors can have cheaper Chinese knock-offs, so caveat emptor. With that beetle through safety and the competition about to start we gave up on reassembling Unlettered Understrapper 2.0, put it away, and elected to have fun with the three working 'bots we had out.
The competiton got underway around 11:30 in the morning, and we were a little ways down the fight roster, but we were all ready to go! First up would be our hobbyweight, then the beetle, then the featherweight. We plugged the first two into the battery chargers, and set about installing the replacement loaner weapon ESC and a smaller battery pack, as it was only rated for six cells, rather than the eight we were using.
It's just gone noon, and time for our first match of the day. Cantankerous Cowpoke 3.0 is a crazy-fast 'bot, and we hadn't gotten around to configuring the dual-rates on the transmitter that would let us control it a bit easier, so we were just going to have to wing it!
Now that was fun! Not only did we score a win, but we actually knocked another 'bot out! Bonus! :-) We were pretty happy with that, and went back to the pit table with smiles all around. The spikes on the front of the 'bot needed tightening, and other than charging the batteries we didn't have any other maintenance necessary. It seemed like no time at all, though, before it was time to head to the arena again, this time with our beetleweight Didactic Duelist 1.0.
Well ... not the most exciting match we've ever had, and the drive train on our beetle is a bit wonky, so driving in a straight line is nigh impossible, but we squeaked out a judges' decision in our favour for the second win in two matches! This is a great start to the day, and we were very happy! Again, not much in the way of maintenance necessary, just a top-up of the batteries, so we checked the brackets, and saw we were about to be in the arena again, this time with our featherweight Formidable Fustigator 1.0.
This time the judges didn't swing for us, and Higgins was declared the winner. We had no idea why the weapon didn't spin up ... although truthfully we didn't test after installing the replacement weapon motor speed controller - that'll teach us! We congratulated the team from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and they helped us troubleshoot the ESC, finally determining that it was dead. We couldn't determine when it died, but luckily Pete Smith came through for us again, with a spare 60A controller he could sell us. Dan, once again, kindly agreed to desolder the terminals from the dead ESC and put them on the new one - thanks Dan!
While Dan took care of the ESC for us it was time to run back to the arena again, for another match with our 12-pounder Cantankerous Cowpoke 3.0, this time against the fast-moving wedge Apollyon. We had no doubt that Mike was better at driving his 'bot than we were with ours, but who knows - maybe we'll get lucky :-)
Towards the end of the match I realized I wasn't doing a whole lot of damage, and Mike had controlled his 'bot a fair bit more skillfully than I had, so I tried spinning, hoping the kinetic energy would do some damage when we connected, but alas no. With about thirty seconds to go, one side of the drive gave out, so I tried to do what I could to hide that fact, but the judges' decision was for Apollyon, which was fair. Dumping the hobbyweight back at the pits we made a mental note to check out the drive train, which was proptly forgotten, and started buttoning up the beetle for it's next match against D-12.
So that was a little humiliating! Out-driven and out-pushed by an old BattleBots™ toy! Still ... it could have been worse - at least nothing broke! We hooked our beetle up to the battery charger and sat down to work on replacing the weapon motor ESC in the featherweight again.
We'd checked out the brackets, and there was going to be a lunch break before any of our 'bots came up again, so with at least an hour spare we set about installing the weapon ESC. With safety guards in place, we kept trying to get things to beep the way they should, but to no avail. Either the ESC would beep that it wasn't getting a signal from the receiver, or the receiver would light up and the ESC would do nothing. Plus, throw into the mix that the drive ESCs would randomly have and lose signal, and we were scratching our heads as to what the heck was going on!
The two hours since our last match flew by, and suddenly we were up again with the 12lb'er: Cantankerous Cowpoke 3.0 versus Max Planck. Remember that mental note we made earlier to fix the drive train? We didn't ...
Darn ... in all the excitement and frustration of trying to get the replacement ESC working in the featherweight we'd forgotten all about the fact that the hobbyweight had lost half the drive train, and hadn't fixed it for this match. Lesson learned - pay attention to the whole fleet! Cantankerous Cowpoke 3.0 was out of the competition with a 1-2 record, and most likely a couple of blown Victor speed controllers. Note to self - put the Victors in Coast Mode for this 'bot, not brake mode - the load is too much!
No time to worry about it though, as we need to hurry and bolt up Didactic Duelist 1.0 because it's up against Mulcher right now!
Yay! An honest-to-goodness win! And we're slowly getting the hang of making Didactic Duelist 1.0 run in a straight line ... bonus! The win came at a price though - in one of the earlier hits the weapon shaft snapped where one of the teeth was pinned, and the tooth had fallen out - oops! Still ... Unidactic Duelist 1.0 had advanced another round in the competition, and that was great. We dumped the 'bot on the pit table and went straight back to working on the weapon controller for the 30lb'er. At this point we'd tried re-binding the receiver, but it was still acting funky, so we started working our way through our spare receivers, hoping one of them would work, and hoping we weren't frying each one in turn as we went!
Here's a quick shot we took from the pit table while working on the 30lb'er - as you can see the event drew quite a good-sized crowd through the day, and the audience certainly seemed to be enjoying the show! Meanwhile we'd decided we were going to try and eliminate the power/radio/gremlin issue from Formidable Fustigator 1.0 by going systematically through the components one by one: taking them out, trying them separately, and ensuring we didn't have any shorts, etc. The only issue is that this was going to be a loooooong process, and we knew it would be coming up for it's second match soon. We got to work, hoping to have enough time to get through the tear-down before having to fight.
Beth came over and told us that the matches would be stopping about 7pm, and it was currently 6:10pm, so the 30lb'er's next match would actually be tomorrow morning. That was very good news! We'd have enough time to work out this problem - hurray! Except the beetleweight was due to fight again in five minutes, and we'd been so wrapped up in the featherweight we hadn't even put the beetle on to recharge! We quickly hooked it up, despite knowing we were only going to be able to pump a few minutes of charge into it. We waited for the call to the arena before yanking it off the charger and screwing down the top and front, and legging it to the arena.
Standing outside the arena, we were waiting on Didactic Duelist 1.0's opponent, Misdirected Aggression who hadn't shown up yet, and we were wishing we could have used this extra time hooked up to the battery charger. After a couple of minutes of standing arena-side the judges gave Misdirected Aggression a two-minute warning to appear, and we nervously began hoping it wouldn't as we were pretty sure we wouldn't have enough battery life to fight the match. 3 ... 2 ... 1 ... and the match was declared a Win by Forfeit for Didactic Duelist 1.0. Not a particularly glamourous win, but a welcome relief given the lack of charging time.
Back at the pit table, I took the top off Didactic Duelist 1.0 intending to put it back on the charger, and broke out laughing: I hadn't connected the battery pack before the match! If Misdirected Aggression had shown up for the match we'd have had to forfeit, as the 'bot would have sat there in the arena doing nothing! Talk about playing a bluff with no cards - we won just by standing next to the arena! Well ... sometimes luck has everything to do with it.
After another half an hour working through the drive train components on Formidable Fustigator 1.0 we were sure there were no problems with the DeWalts or Victor speed controllers, so we decided to call it a day there, and go get some food, then come back early tomorrow morning to finish reassembling the 'bot and checking the wiring out.
Scott, Liz, Kyle, and I headed out to the good ol' Texas Road House just around the corner from the hotel, and spent a few hours chatting, laughing, telling stories, and generally having a good time. It was great to catch up with Scott again after four-ish years, and fun to get to know Liz and Kyle. Around 10:30 we called it a night, and it was time to head to the hotel. Tomorrow would start early, and hopefully give us a chance to put the featherweight into the arena with all guns blazing!
Tags: beetleweight, cc3, competition, dd1, featherweight, ff1, hobbyweight, motorama
It's our penultimate day before we jump in the 'Botmobile and take to the highways in search of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and at the moment we have two completed 'bots. The goal today is to increment that number by at least one. It's "Beetle Build Day" out in the Build Space. Click Back after viewing an image.
In our last attempt at making progress on the beetle we managed to snap a 1/16" drill bit off in the weapon shaft, so we started today by cutting a new one and re-drilling it - this time without incident.
Without much ado we installed the weapon shaft pulley, and also attached the pulley to the weapon motor. Given our past lack of success in pinning a pulley in the antweight we decided to cheat, and just superglued it on.
As we have all the parts we need now, we decided to do a weight check, and at the moment we're at 2lb 8.7oz, without frame bolts or wiring connectors. No problem.
Time to move on to the drive, and we switched from Lite Flite wheels to Dubro solid rubber wheels - we were having problems figuring out how to attach the Lite Flites to the axles. We're waiting for UPS to drop off some 2.6mm screws for mounting the motors, so we haven't pinned the hubs on yet.
This photo comes from an hour of trying to pin the teeth to the axle. Perseverence paid off, and we now have a weapon assembly! Hopefully there won't be a need to disassemble it, because it's not coming apart in a hurry ...
You can just see the weapon ESC dangling off the bottom of the photo - this is because we ran a quick test with the weapon installed to ensure it works - and it does! Hurrah.
The weapon ESC is ridiculously large, so we're trying to figure out the best positioning for it ... one option is to put it on the same side as the motor, and put the drive electronics on the other side. The downside is running wiring to the ESC to power it. We decide to leave it on the other side with all the electronics.
The front titanium plate has slots for the teeth, and is a good way to ensure the teeth and weapon shaft are aligned. A bit of tweaking later and we're good to go.
We've installed the Whyachi power switch and put the access hole on the bottom, to the side. Now we have a reference point to begin wiring from.
HEre we've attached a length of silicone wire to the power switch and run it in a slot next to the battery to the other side of the 'bot. We'll cut it to length when we know how long it needs to be :-)
Yay - the UPS guy just dropped off a very large McMaster box, with a very small set of contents, amongst which are the all-important mounting screws for the drive motors. Time to assemble the drive train!
Except those aren't the right size after all ... the 2.6mm bolts just fall right out. In desperation we grab some 3mm bolts we bought a few days ago for the weapon motor for the featherweight and wouldn't you know it - those are the right size! So much for the published specs! Still - thinking positive thoughts we moved on to assembling the wheels and axles.
A quick test-fit tells us that because the Dubro wheels are wider than the Lite Flites we need to enlarge the wheel holes in the base, which we do with the jigsaw, and all is well.
The drive speed controllers are a pair of old beta BaneBots 3-9 ESCs, which we've run in a number of 'bots, and at this point are beginning to look a little ratty. The PWM cables need to be replaced, as they were cannibalized a while back. We were leary of doing this, as we're not exactly expert solderers, but with a minimum of fuss we pulled off the old PWM cables and set to installing new ones.
Not too shabby! One of these days we might get the hang of this soldering thing. We've left out the red PWM cable as the weapon ESC has a battery eliminator circuit, and we don't need multiple ones.
This mess of gadgets and wire is us testing the drive system - with the power on the drive motors spin - hurrah! We didn't destroy the ESCs with our soldering, so now we can move to installing the motors in the 'bot.
But not until we've applied some heatshrink to the ESCs to help protect them ... one of these days we should probably invest in a heatgun, but for now a lighter is fine.
The first drive motor goes in. The ESC has been threaded through to the side where all the electronics will live.
And the second motor goes in. We've fitted ring terminals to the power leads to hook reds to reds and blacks to blacks.
Here we've installed the weapon ESC - we took this shot to show the [lack of] clearance between the ESC and the weapon tooth. Those zipties are rock solidly tight, though, so hopefully this layout will work.
And finally connecting everything together. To try and corral the wiring away from the weapon blade we've used a few strategically-placed zipties, and all in all things aren't looking too bad. The only thing left to do is hook up the connection back to the power switch.
And there you have it! It's time to power up and test this 'bot out!
In putting the top plate on we realized that we forgot to enlarge the holes for the drive wheels as we'd done with the baseplate earlier - doh! Soon rectified though.
A shot from the front with the titanium plate installed.
Hm. As you can tell in the video the weapon works just great. The drive is terrible, though. It seems like the motors have barely enough power to move the 'bot, and one is too flaky to even spin half the time. It could be that we have a couple of duff motors, or we did indeed damage the ESCs when we soldered new PWM cables to them, or we've just generally underestimated the very popular 1000rpm Hobby Motors that seemed quite popular. Guess we have a bit of troubleshooting to do. Fortunately we have plenty of motors and ESCs we can switch in and out as we go, so we'll figure this out.
A final photo for tonight - Didactic Duelist 1.0 weighing in at 2 pounds and 12.3 ounces. No worries about weight at all. Tomorrow is our final day before we hit the road, and there's no way we can finish the three remaining 'bots we registered ... we'll have a think about what to do tomorrow over a late night meal, and be back tomorrow - same Bot Time, same Bot Channel!
Tags: beetleweight, build, dd1, done
"So much time and so little to do. Strike that. Reverse it."
Willy Wonka, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl.
We were hoping to be able to give you another "Presenting ..." post tonight, but it didn't quite work out. Today was a day of tackling challenges, and being beaten soundly by them! We didn't take photos of everything, but enough to give you a flavour of what went on today. Hopefully tomorrow will be über-productive. Click Back after viewing an image.
First up, milling slots in the UHMW pipe that's to be the hobbyweight's drum. This operation at least went without incident.
Here we realized that the teeth are wider than we thought, having ordered 3/4" steel, but received 7/8" steel. We do have the clearance in the 'bot for the width, but the question is wether we have the weight. We may wind up having to cut the teeth back a bit.
Milly seems to be cooperating with us today - here we've loaded one of our new endmills into a collet and cut a quarter-inch slot in the front and middle walls for the weapon motor mount.
At this point we'd just finished recharging the two 4S packs that go together in series to power the featherweight's weapon, and plugged in the 6S drive pack, intending to recharge after our recent drive test and go again, but what's this? "Voltage error?" Darn ... inspection of the pack showed it to be a bit 'puffy' - not a good sign with LiPo packs, and the voltage read 14V, meaning the 6S pack looked to be a 4S pack. Drat. We hopped online and ordered a couple of spares to be delivered to our Motorama hotel - so much for test driving. To really hammer homethe misery we soldered connectors to a new weapon ESC for the 12lb'er - misery loves company.
While soldering we had an "Ah-ha" moment and figured out what we'd done wrong with the antweight - we used the wrong weapon shaft pulley which is why the belt seemed so loose. To use the 24-tooth pulley we needed to enlarge the space in our bearing block we made a while back, which we did, and pinned the new pulley to the shaft.
This serene photo does nothing to convey our mounting frustration trying to re-pin the weapon motor pulley to the weapon motor shaft. We went through about a dozen rollpins, and finally - just as we seemed to have cracked it, when the motor pulley pinged off and across the build space for the umpteenth time we threw our hands up and put the 'bot aside for the day. We have another motor showing up tomorrow, so we'll re-do it tomorrow.
Back to the drumbot and we re-drilled the new polycarbonate weapon motor mount using the old one as a template. At least that was straight-forward.
With a bit of drilling and tapping the motor mount is done. A minor victory, but a victory none-the-less.
Looking at one of the beetles, and the titanium front fits just right. We're going to ditch the front wheels and just run 2WD on the back with skids up front.
Here's a quick test layout of the weapon blades, and we decided to move to drilling and pinned them to the shaft. That didn't go well, with the drill bit snapping off in the steel rod, so we're going to have to cut another one and start over. Grr.
At least the drive motor axles fit properly, although we have no idea how to mount the Lite Flight wheels, so we may switch them out for some different, beefier ones. We did some other miscellaneous stuff, but nothing that added up to a finished 'bot, so we're going to have food and make it an early night, hoping tomorrow will be better ...
Tags: build, dd1, beetleweight, hobbyweight, nn2, antweight, pp1
Due to some work requirements, we weren't able to get any building in last night, plus UPS were still keeping our missing parts from Whyachi hostage, so we were a bit miffed. Today was quite different, though, because not only did UPS finally drop off our parts, we had the whole evening to work on the 'bots. Granted it was below freezing in the Build Space, but we were determined to keep moving and cross some items off our To Do Lists. Click Back after viewing an image.
Here's one of the more exciting parts that showed up via UPS from Team Whyachi: the hardened steel blade for our 30-pounder Formidable Fustigator 0.9. That's a 24" quarter-inch thick piece of chromoly.
More Whyachi parts - the top and bottom plates for the 30lb'er, cut from 3/16" polycarbonate. We've been really looking forward to receiving these, so we could get on with assembling the 'bot.
Some more parts, although on a different scale. 0.07" titanium front panels for the beetleweight Didactic Duelist 0.9, and three chromoly blades for the 'bot too, also heat treated.
Despite below-freezing temperatures in the Build Space we decided to try and put a coat of paint on some of the featheweight and beetleweight parts. Due to the low light in the Build Space it wasn't until we took this photo that we saw the first coat barely coloured the parts, much less covered them. Guess it's time to give a second coat.
There were a few holes to drill in the top plate of the 30lb'er, to mount the drive motors and wheel walls. We didn't have them waterjetted because we didn't know where they needed to be at the time. It was pretty easy to mark up and drill the top plate, though.
As you can see, this 'bot is bigger than our drill press, so working on the base plate proved to be a logistical challenge, trying to work around the limitations of the drill press to get to the holes we needed.
We chucked up the countersink and went to town on the top and bottom plates. We find countersinking to be a very relaxing operation ... wonder if you can be a professional countersinkerer ...
Now that the top plate has been drilled out, we're ready to give it a coat of paint. The blotches on the camera are condensation on the lens, although we did end up applying a second coat to the top plate. We decided not to paint the baseplate, as it wasn't necessary, and we wanted a way to be able to see into the 'bot after a match.
While the 30lb'er parts dried, we decided to look at the hobbyweight, and work on the gearboxes we're building. Here we've pressed a second ring gear into some delrin tube, and we're collecting up gears to install.
After working on this for a little while we realized we'd made a slight error - the gearbox plates that the motor mounted to should have been a quarter of an inch thick, instead of an eighth of an inch. We'll recut those at a more socially acceptable time to be using the tablesaw.
While we continued to wait for the painted parts to dry, we decided to install some components to the baseplate. Here we've installed the weapon shaft bearing and the strengthener for the bottom plate, along with the lower blade sheath. It all went together easily - bonus marks for waterjetting!
Here's the flip side of the part. The half-inch bolts are just the right size, and the bearing fits very nicely into the base of the aluminium parts.
We couldn't resist test-fitting the blade. We bolted in the weapon retainer, and pressed the shaft into the blade. With the aliminium brace installed the parts seemed reasonably solid, so that's good. Maybe it'll make it past one hit ;-)
We changed tack as the painted parts were still tacky, and decided to sweat some small stuff. We've never done this before, but we installed zipties to the FETs on the Victor 883s for the 30lb'er to try and protect against the two bridges shorting on an impact. It was easy enough, and passed the time while parts were drying.
Here we failed miserably to install a 45A Anderson Powerpole connector to a battery pack. We used to have no problems doing this, but we must have lost the knack. We scoured YouTube for a while, and dinked with a spare connector or two, and finally managed to get them installed.
Our parts are dry to the touch, so we decided to soldier ahead with the assembly. Here we've loosely installed the weapon motor mount and the rear curve wall. We decide to install the rear drive motor next, but a mistake in our design meant the wall and the mount overlapped, and we'd need to clear that up.
Ordinarily we'd have sanded down the wheel mount using the sander, but we realized we had Milly sitting in the corner, so we decided to cut out slots for the motor mount to fit in. At this point we realized it was gone 11pm, and down to the teens temperature-wise, so we called it a night, and headed into the warmth.
Tags: build, ff1, featherweight, nn2, hobbyweight, dd1, beetleweight, mill
We had a pretty productive day yesterday, and temperatures were up, so we were hoping for an equally productive day today. As we were still waiting on some parts for the bigger 'bots we decided to spend some time on one of the beetles. Click Back after viewing an image.
Having cleaned up all the bolt holes in the top and bottom plates, we were able to think about putting some colour on the chassis parts. We taped up all the tapped holes and pulled out the paint shack.
A few squirts later and the parts have a nice - although slightly uneven - coating of matte black for the chassis parts.
After the paint had dried we pressed in a bunch of 5/16" and 1/4" bearings. We bevelled the holes with a countersink a touch and used the arbor press to insert the bearings.
We'd had some problems with the antweight so we decided to take a moment and test our connections. We'd soldered the bullet connectors to the weapon ESC, and hooked up one of our tiny Spektrum-clone receivers, wanting to make sure it fail-safed properly. Not only were our connections good - hurray - but the receiver fail-safed on all four channels, which was great!
Moving back to the chassis, we started bolting in pieces. The front wheel axle mounts were good and straight, and the axles we made over at Speedster Hobbies earlier this week fitted nicely on the motor shafts.
We originally planned on using a 1000mAh battery and had designed around that, but wound up ordering in-stock 850mAh packs, which had different dimensions. This meant that we had to cut a notch in the middle wall, which we did with Milly. As you can see the battery pack fits snugly. We've also drilled a hole for the weapon motor leads to pass back through to the ESC.
Happy that the battery fits snugly we've started assembling the chassis to test the fits of other parts. Here we've installed the outer walls and the weapon shaft.
At this point the weapon motor mount is in place, and we're focusing on the drive motor mounts. We've started thinking about the wheels, and we're not entirely sure how that's going to work, but we'll figure it out.
Although the weather is warmer, there's something happening out there because we have a heckuva headache. We decide to wrap up for the day, and throw all the parts we have on the scale. Without the front titanium plate or weapon blades we still have over a pound to spare, so no problems there. Time for Tylenol and a dark room ...
Tags: beetleweight, dd1, build
Today was officially a Snow Day, with Austin having received a couple of inches of snow overnight - not a common occurrence as you may imagine. Amidst the chaos and devastation [Rolls eyes - Ed] we snuck out and went back to see Chris at Speedster Hobbies to do a little more sawing, and to use his very nice lathe. Granted, Milly is part mill-part lathe, but right now she's set up for milling, and so it was just easier to do the things we needed to do over at Chris's place. Thanks again Chris! Click Back after viewing an image.
First on the bandsaw were the DeWalt keyed shafts for Formidable Fustigator 0.9 to trim them down to size, which hardly took any time at all. You'll note that the bottom shaft is different from the rest - it's not an official Team Delta shaft - it was one we cooked up many years ago, but works fine.
We also re-ran the aluminium tube parts for the featherweight - we had forgotten until we laid the parts out the other night that the lengths of tube were oversized, so it was a pretty quick and painless operation to trim an eighth off each piece. Not shown here are the twelve pieces of 5/16" aluminium round we cut for axles for the two beetleweights.
Moving over to the lathe and we had a couple of things to accomplish. Firstly trimming and boring the beetle axles, which was faily quick and easy, and we're sparing you the photo. Second we needed to cut a well in the two blade caps for the delrin bearings, which is what we're up to here.
Ta-daa. The 3/16" delrin protrudes the required 1/16", and all is well. On to the second one.
One of these days we'll learn that material measurements aren't exact. For example, the nominally 3/16" (0.1875") delrin was actually 0.22" inches thick, so we had to go a little deeper on the wells to make the stack of two blade caps and two delrin washers 1.25" tall, but eventually we did. With profuse thanks to Chris we headed back to the Build Space.
This antweight will be the death of us. In reassembling the chassis we managed to snap off the power leads to one of the drive motors, and had a devil of a job reattaching them. As you can see we made a mess of the back of the tiny Pololu motor trying to attach new leads, and finally called it a night. The weather forecast for tomorrow calls for a high of 56°F, so we're going to bed early and will be taking full advantage of the balmy temperatures and maybe - just maybe - finishing a 'bot!
Tags: beetleweight, build, dd1, featherweight, ff1, lathe, pp1, vv1
Our plan for this evening was to mark up parts for Didactic Duelist 0.9, Nihilistic Naysayer 2.0, and Formidable Fustigator 0.9 so we would have something to work with this coming weekend. As it happened we had a bout of concentration, and wound up only working on the beetleweight. Click Back after viewing an image.
We've printed out drawings of the parts for the 'bot to help us figure out where to mark and drill for the chassis bolts. We do wish Rhino3D could automatically add dimensions after creating a 2D drawing from a part, but no big deal - it doesn't take too long to add the required dimensions. With these drawings we were able to complete marking up the parts, ready for drilling, in fairly short order.
There is a downside to building a 'bot with funky angles - trying to drill into the ends of the pieces. If you've been following the build reports you know we have a mill, so you're probably asking why we didn't use the big mill vise and do this on the mill - the answer is because we don't have a good chuck for the mill spindle, do we're back to our ten year old drill press and drill press vise. Fortunately we're well acquainted with the foibles of this equipment and actually do a pretty good job of getting these holes drilled fairly accurately.
After some drill-pressing, we have all the chassis parts drilled, so here we've laid out the chassis to see if things look to be in alignment.
Including the top plate, and we can tell there may be one or two through-holes we need to enlarge a tad, but otherwise things looking good. Time to move on to tapping these holes.
As you can see we've already done the rear wall, drive train mounts, and center wall. We're test-fitting using #6-32 x 1/4" buttonhead bolts, but once we're done, and know all our holes are good we'll countersink and use flathead bolts.
After a bit more tapping we've finally assembled all the chassis components. As you can see in the photo there's one bolt missing, because we need to enlarge that hole - it's a touch off. Otherwise things generally look fairly good.
Looking down from above, you can probably spot a couple of 'tweaks' to the drive mounts, so we'll have to enlarge those holes just a touch - using bearings rather than bushings will also help, because bearings can deal with a degree or two of misalignment, whereas bushings are pretty strict.
A slightly different angle, but still looking good. We've made a few notes on which holes to enlarge, and that'll do it for tonight.
Well ... except for a bit of dress-up. We slipped the drive and weapon motors in for fun. Remember that we'd already realized we need to drill a hole for the weapon motor leads, so we'll take care of that next time. Also next time, once we've touched up some holes we can paint, insert bearings, and get on with the drive train!
So we've received a metric boat-load of parts, and are gearing up for a manic few weeks of building for Motorama 2011. Unfortunately one of our pets managed to hurt himself this morning, so we've been focusing on trying to push some medicine down his throat, and had to curtail building somewhat tonight. Still, we managed to organize the build space and our piles of parts. Click Back after viewing an image.
Here we're laying out parts, including Speedy Metals and Team Whyachi parts. The pieces of tubes will be chopped up soon to better fit the 'bot.
Here's a better shot of the weapon braces we had cut from 1/4" 6061. The top and bottom bolt through them to the front polycarbonate wall and aluminium round blade caps, and bolt directly into the weapon boom, so all those holes will need to be tapped - fun!
Here we have the weapon shaft bottom bearing which still needs to be trimmed to size and have the bronze bushing pressed in. You can also see the general idea of the weapon retainer - the 1/2" 6061 round will be drilled, tapped, and bolted to the top and bottom, keeping the blade assembly tight around the weapon shaft.
We switched gears and loaded up the scale with parts for Didactic Duelist 0.9 as we now have all the chassis parts except the front plate. We're at 1lb 13.9oz without the weapon blades, drive axles, or front plate, but everything else, so weight shouldn't be an issue here.
This is a quick test layout, and already there are two problems: (1) There's no route for the weapon motor leads to hook up to the ESC which will be on the left side of the 'bot; and (2) The battery pack is fatter than the one we thought we'd be using, so if we can't secure the original packs we'll have to enlarge the battery hole.
A whimsical shot, with the lid on, but due to the battery pack not fitting right it looks a bit odd. Thankfully the wheels and weapon shaft fit well, so we're on the right track here.
Finally, to make it seem like we actually did productive, we took all the chassis parts for Didactic Duelist 0.9 and marked them up, ready for drilling. With some drilling and tapping over the next couple of days, we expect the chassis to be ready in pretty short order.
Tags: beetleweight, featherweight, ff1, dd1, build
Direct from the frozen tundra of Dorchester, Wisconsin, comes a box full of win: Whyachi-Waterjetted Parts! There are a few parts yet to come, because - get this - they're being heat treated! Oh yes! But as you can see below we have plenty to be getting on with ... Click Back after viewing an image.
These diminutive pieces are top plates for our 150 gram fairyweight. We could have done them ourselves, but with the small size of the parts and relatively large thickness of our fingers, it was just easier to add them to the batch.
Next we have the chassis and drive walls for one of our three pound beetleweights. The black block is UHMW, with some 6061 top plates, and polycabonate motor and wheel mounts.
Here are the frame parts for our other beetleweight - rear wall (with spare), outer walls (with spares), inner wall, drive and weapon motor mounts, and wheel mounts, along with top and bottom plates.
Stepping up a weight class to the twelve pound hobbyweights, and here's the chassis for the second version of our drumbot. 3/8" 6061 outer walls, and 1/2" polycarbonate internals. We're looking forward to putting this one together, because it should be fairly quick - after all, we're really just putting a new frame around the old internals.
Finally a few parts for our thirty pound featherweight. Above are the two weapon braces from 6061 aluminium, and below are some nylon bearings for the weapon blade. Unforutnately the weapon blade hasn't made it here yet, because it's being heat treated, but should show up next week, along with the top and base plates.
Thanks to Jake at Team Whyachi for the immaculate cutting job!
Tags: gearingup, dd1, ff1, nn2, vv1, mm1, build
This site contains records of our trials and tribulations in building combat robots. So much to learn, and so little time!