Well my first time at Motorama. The Farm Complex is a bit like Cirque de Soliel meets Kansas with a touch of Mad Max Beyond the Thunderdome thrown in.
I was well prepared with my toolbox, laptop, and Amazon On Demand video library of Top Chef Seasons 1-9...I thought, until we realized our table was about 12 feet from the electrical outlet, my power strip was 3 feet, and there were no extension cords to be had via bribery nor threats. Fortunately Near Chaos Robotics came to the rescue and soon laptops, battery chargers, and drill drivers were happily displaying their red charger lights - just like Christmas!
Fortunately I had heeded Toni's warning of little heat on Friday's, and had dressed like I was visiting the Arctic Circle. While this may have looked out of place to some (fur coat at Moto; a little odd just like if Victoria Beckham ever smiled), I was warm and toasty and am still the only one not to have the Moto Plague - thank you Macy's clearance sale!
I went through safety and was told they hadn't seen a pink robot like that since Hello Kitty.........well at least they didn't think it was Mary Kay <MAJOR BARFING HERE>; sorry but that's too much big hair and big makeup for me). Passed, and went back to my table to relax and see what everyone else was doing.
Scratch that plan; Toni has just informed me I'm up first match. I thought I'd get to watch a few matches considering this was my first event to do a little learning before my time in the Thunderdome. I'm not a gamer = not an experienced driver so I was a little apprehensive.
I spent most of the first matching dancing around the ring like Sugar Ray Leonard. Then BAM - their weapon hit MM - and THEIR weapon broke!! It took me a second to register that and the fact that MM was still entirely without damage before I finished the match (and won - yikes!). It's either in this match or the 2nd one that you can hear Toni barking at me to push my openent and me barking back to stop yelling at me - thanks YouTube :-)
Eventually, through the 5 matches (3 of which I won; 2 by breaking the openent, 1 by agression), I learned to stop dancing around the ring and actually try to hit my opponent or at least give them a good shove :-) Having a day of antweight battles helped prepare me for the 12lb fights the next day.
I am glad, in retrospect, that I was completely unaware SS's first openent was notorious for beating up bots and winning, and had done this for years. I was nervous enough as it was with the stares and snickers from the crowd over my very pink robot, and was just thankful I didn't trip and fall going up and down the stairs in and out of the Thunderdome. BAM, POW, SLAM and yet SS was still moving - enough to trap it's openent, and beat it up enough to win. Note: no snickers from spectators when leaving Thunderdome with pink robot after win.
In my second match, I'd actually managed to break yet another openents weapon when SS went up in smoke. Not repairable in time to fight again that day so I was out for the rest of Moto 12. Note on SS's second match - had to be restrained by Toni from punching announcer for referring to my bot as Mary Kay (see earlier in this post).
Overall, I was very happy with my robot's performance. This was my first time, I learned a lot - like I need a different style radio to drive with - not being a gamer, the joystick style doesn't particularly work well for me, and heavy gauge steel breaks a lot of stuff so my robots will stay sans weapons....and pink.....with lovely shoes.....
See you at Franklin!SGGS
Tags: motorama, competition
The Team Radicus fleet for Motorama 2012, before the event:
The Team Radicus fleet for Motorama 2012, after the event:
Here are some notes on the 'bots, based on how they performed, and our initial plans for upgrades, etc.
Tags: done, motorama
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
The last two days we were on the road ... it was a relatively dull drive, which is a good thing: no speeding tickets and decent time, despite the near-constant rain through Arkansas and Tennessee we made good time to the hotel the first night and the Competition Hotel Thursday night. A gin and tonic or two the night before, and we were up and ready for Robot fights this morning. Hit Back after viewing an image.
Our hotel room this time has a stand-alone hearth, which is actually pretty neat, but still: we mustn't dwell - this is the first day of competition and we have 'bots to fight!
We made it to the arena about 8am after a quick diversion for coffee, and took a pair of tables near the main arena area after hopping a ride in with a quad-ride which was much easier this year due to the investment in the additional container for all our small parts. At arena-side there wasn't much happening yet, as the small arena was still being constructed, so we went back to work on our Sportsman.
We were pitted next to Mike and Julie of Near Chaos Robotics, and Mike was good enough to lend us an extension cable for the drill press - Thanks Mike! It's quite a nice feeling to roll into the pits and not be franticly wiring something at the last minute. We had eight 'bots ready to fight, and the Sportsman was really a distraction - we were going to put some effort into getting it ready, but not worry too much if it doesn't get done in time.
For the first couple of hours it was just Sportsman-building and battery-charging, but the small arena had been assembled, and safety inspections for the fairies and ants started. Transcendental Terror 1.0, Poor Punctuation 2.0, and Malicious Mule all passed without a hitch, so all that was left to do was to wait for the brackets to be generated, and the fights to start!
As it turned out, Lauren was going to be thrown into the pool at the deep end - not only as one of the very first matches, but against a nasty-looking beater called OverClock. Here we go, then, the first match for a first-time participant:
YAY! A win! It should be confessed that Toni was more than a little jealous, having had to go through about five competitions before ever winning a match, but we suppose the experience helped, and Malicious Mule collected a winner's pog! Hurrah! Lauren did a pretty good job driving, and after the match we checked out the 'bot, but there didn't seem to be any damage at all, so the battery was put on the charger (not that it really needed it) and we lined up for our next match: Poor Punctuation 2.0 versus Mateo:
Well, darn it - the judges gave the win to Mateo, and we were left scratching our heads as to why the weapon hadn't spun up - it had worked just fine back at the Build Space, so something must have gotten out of alignment, so we headed back to the pits to take the top off and take a look. There didn't seem to be anything specific - the weapon motor gears and the idlers all looked to be engaged with the weapon ring gear ... hopefully we'll see signs of life from the weapon in Poor Punctuation 2.0's next match, but right now we're headed back to the arena for Malicious Mule's next fight, against Ferocious:
It looked from the outset that Ferocious had one side of the drive train out, and once again Lauren did a good job driving Malicious Mule, but the judges gave this match to Ferocious, presumably because it appeared to be engaging us more than the other way around. Again, though, no damage so the 'bot went back on the charger, and we had a little time to take a breather. Lauren's cousin and her husband had come out to visit, and they enjoyed themselves watching the matches, and generally catching up.
Next it was the turn of our smallest 'bot, Transcendental Terror 1.0 to head into the ring, up against a hacked R/C car called Rosie the Littler:
Unfortunately the blade on our fairyweight kept getting stuck in the thin aluminium on the front of the opponent, rather than really doing any major damage, so we spent a fair bit of time locked together during this match, but the Pololu motors on Transcendental Terror 1.0 were more than up to the job of running both locked 'bots around the arena, until eventually Rosie the Littler tapped out. A debut win for the fairyweight - yay! The next match rolled around quickly: Malicious Mule versus the spinning bar of Odahviing:
As with the match against OverClock, Lauren was able to drive Malicious Mule straight into the weapon of Odahviing, disabling it! From there it became a game of "Chase Me" as Odahviing kept running for space to be able to try and spin it's blade up again, while Malicious Mule kept after its opponent. Lauren had more pushing power, and with the weapon out of action, by the time the match went to the judges, it was fairly clear that Malicious Mule had prevailed! Yay! Again, the 'bot was put on the charger, and we lined up the next match, which was Poor Punctuation 2.0 versus Gyroscopic:
Grr! Again, the weapon wouldn't spin up, and without it we were ravaged by Gyroscopic, who put some good hits on Poor Punctuation 2.0, although in re-watching the video, we also caused Gyroscopic to take a few flips too! All in all, a fun match, but the last hit from our opponent split our antweight open, and we tapped out, as we didn't want to lose any of the internal components to another hit. We didn't have much time to mourn the antweight crashing out of the competition zero and two, because the fairyweight was up next!
An early hit on lolcat appeared to have knocked out one side of its drive, but we weren't in a position to capitalize on that fact, as we were upside down, and unable to right ourselves. Unfortunately the wheels on Trancendental Terror 1.0 weren't quite big enough for the 'bot to be able to drive inverted - oops! So although we were able to get a little motion, we had to hope a hit from lolcat would right us, but with one side of its drive out, lolcat had issues getting to us for that hit, until eventually we burned out the speed controller for the weapon motor, which was also powering our receiver, and the 'bot was dead.
Back at the pit table we had some time before the next match, so we pulled a speed controller from Poor Punctuation 2.0, scrounged some solder from Mike (thanks again Mike!), and replaced the controller in Transcendental Terror 1.0, getting it working again - phew! After that repair, we had a few more minutes free, then it was time to line up for another match with the star rookie: Malicious Mule versus KnightLight.
A tough match for Malicious Mule - a faster opponent with a veteran driver, but early on it appeared that one side of KnightLight's drive gave out, and Lauren was able to pin KnightLight repeatedly, winning the judges' vote at the end of the match! Three wins! Hurrah! There was a bit of breathing room, so the 'bot went back on the charger, and we waited for the next match to come up on screen. As it turned out it was Malicious Mule again, and against another fast, experienced wedge again, although this time it was our pit neighbour Mike, with Kobalos:
Phew! A very tough opponent and with its years-old Copal motors Malicious Mule was outclassed by Kobalos, leaving us with a second loss, and Malicious Mule was done for the day, but with a very respectable 3-2 record! Well done Lauren! We still have one 'bot running, and it's time for another match: Transcendental Terror 1.0 against Kongol:
Something was up with our 'bot - one side of the drive wasn't running, but the first hit was a good one, flipping both us and Kongol, although only one of us was able to self-right, and it wasn't us! With the next hit we took the saw blade off Kongol and cut his weapon motor wires, but unfortunately we were stuck on our back unable to show any movement, so Transcendental Terror 1.0 was counted out for lack of movement, a Technical Knock Out for Kongol.
For the rest of the afternoon we watched some matches, tinkered with the Sportsman, and chatted with Lauren's cousin and husband. At the end of the day, we packed away the 'bots, and headed back to the hotel for some pizza, a shower, and a good night's sleep!
Tags: motorama, competition, fairyweight, antweight, mm, pp2, tt1
We'll come back to today's build report - honest - but right now we have to clean up, pack some clothes, and get on the road in the next hour and a half, so we'll keep this short and sweet: We're ready for Motorama 2012! Hit Back after viewing an image.
Here's the fleet as it stands right now (counter-clockwise-ish from top-left: Nihilistic Naysayer 2.0 - 12lb Hobbyweight, Steel Stiletto - 12lb Hobbyweight, Didactic Duelist 1.5 - 3lb Beetleweight, Poor Punctuation 2.0 - 1lb Antweight, Malicious Mule - 1lb Antweight, Trancendental Terror 1.0 - 150g Fairyweight, Formidable Fustigator 2.0 - 30lb Featherweight, and Unlettered Understrapper 2.5 - 3lb Beetleweight. [Hi-Res Version available here - Ed]
The Botmobile is all loaded with roboty goodness (and the drill-press and arbor press) so all that's left to do this warm and rainy Texas February morning is to find some clean clothes to stuff in a suitcase, and hit the road!
There hasn't been much in the way of updates lately because there's been a whole lot of fun stuff going on at work, and by the time the weekends roll around it's time to catch up on useful things like sleep! But with the Christmas Holiday coming up, we've been laying the groundwork for parts and pieces to keep us occupied during the break we have from December 23rd through January 1st. This time in two months we'll be packing the car ready for the road trip to Motorama 2012! Which means we'd better get busy: we've registered our bots:
We've drawn up a calendar, to identify when we have built time available, and feel quite secure that all the 'bots will be done before it's time to pack the car. We've already ordered parts from HobbyKing, and sent materials to the Whyachi folks for waterjetting, so expect a tremendous amount of work to be done between Christmas and New Year - stay tuned!
Tags: gearingup, motorama
It's been a while since we turned our attention to the 'bot stuff ... in fact we haven't even unpacked from Motorama, eight months ago! But now that the temperatures are finally out of the triple digits, it's time to plan on the garage's Build Space's productions over the next four months.
Lauren wants to go this time around, so we'll have at least two official team members, and I almost talked Eric "Mutt" Posey into coming along, plus Scott's planning on being there with his family, and maybe even a home-grown 'bot of his own, so we ought to have plenty of help.
Guess this weekend will be unpacking and organizing the Build Space ...
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
Tony's Competition Diary - February 18th, 2011
The alarm clock went off, immediately followed by the wake-up call, but neither of those were responsible for bounding out of bed this morning: the credit goes to the fact I'm here! In Harrisburg, PA! For Motorama! With 'bots!
Last night I'd looked up the local Dunkin' Donuts, and after a quick shower and some hotel breakfast I took the circuitous route to DD for coffee before jumping onto I-83 and zooming round to the Harrisburg exit. Getting into the parking lot was easy, but apparently getting to the North Hall to unload is now verboten, so I had to park and wait for a quad with a trailer to haul my stuff to the small arena. Wish I'd gone ahead and bought a couple rolling tool chests, as these forty-seven small mailing boxes I have all my stuff in are a hassle to wrangle. Ah well - note for next year. Click Back after viewing an image.
After wiping the road spray off my stuff and hauling it into the hall the first thing I noticed was that the Farm Show people had re-done the floor since last year - it looked very nice. Wonder how it'll look when we're done Sunday night!
I wasn't alone in the hall - Ed, Beth, Rob, Gina, and a few others were already in and setting up, so after the meet'n'greets I swiped a table and started organizing my stuff.
Yes, I'd brought the drill press - had to do something to fill up the Botmobile! It didn't take too long to unpack and organize, but I had a bit of work to do before I'd be ready for todays Fairy- and Ant-weight competition - namely fixing the weapon motor pulley on the antweight.
Here I'm right in the middle of pulling the old motor out and installing the new one. We'd had major problems trying to get the pulley fastened to the motor, and with the old shaft cut so short the motor was now useless. After installing the new motor I decided that the new $10 motor and $2 pulley were expendable, and super-glued the one to the other. After letting it dry I reassembled the 'bot, and tested the weapon motor, gratified to see the pulley stayed on tight.
Just as I wrapped up the antweight repairs, the Benson Family (custodians of the Big Arena) showed up, and the unloading process began. There were quite a few people who volunteered to help, and it didn't take long at all before the parts were off the trailer.
Heck, assembly of the arena begain before the small 'bot competition! It's unusual for the main arena build to move that fast, but people were really fired up this morning - probably because it was about thirty degrees warmer than it usually is at Motorama, and people have energy to expend on things other than fending off hypothermia!
"All right Mr. De Mille, I'm ready for my close-up."
With the antweight ready to roll, the small arena assembled, and most of the competitors for the day starting to look ready, it was time for the first day of the competition to begin! There was a brief safety/drivers meeting, and then the brackets were generated.
There were six of the 150 gram Fairyweights, and twenty-seven 1lb antweights in the competition. A whole bunch of the competitors were new, which was great to see, although they did need some extra assistance getting through safety and making weight, but ultimately every 'bot that showed up made it into the arena!
Time for our first match of the day: Poor Punctuation 1.0 versus Knightblade.
Yes ... well ... firstly, sorry about the video quality - there's quite a bit of glare on the polycarbonate walls. Basically what happened there was on the first hit on Knightblade by the shell of Poor Punctuation 1.0 it popped right off, because the 1/16" roll pin that secures the shell to the shaft hadn't been pressed in all the way. Although we could continue to run around, a nakid shell spinner against a wedge isn't much of a match, and the judges awarded the win to Knightblade.
Knightblade's builder was pretty happy after that first match! But the day was just getting started, and this is a double-elimination event, so Poor Punctuation 1.0 will get to fight again ...
... About an hour later as it happened. Our second match of the day is Poor Punctuation 1.0 versus Rudy, another wedge, this one from MH Robotics. We'd made sure to secure the roll-pin this time, and so let's see what Poor Punctuation 1.0 can do!
Again, sorry for the poor video, but this time out, while the shell did indeed stay on, the gyroscopic forces of the shell meant our antweight flipped over onto it's top, but didn't have the ability to flip itself back up again, ultimately being counted out for lack of translational movement. Ah well, back to the drawing board for that 'bot! But it was a lot of fun, and great to be back competing at Motorama - maybe tomorrow's 'bots will fair better.
Speaking of tomorrow's 'bots, we had registered two beetles, because Scott was going to meet up with me tomorrow, but Versatile Villain 0.9 hadn't been finished in time for the event. I had thrown the carcass of an old beetle in the Botmobile though, Unlettered Understrapper 2.0, a 'bot from 2004 that had never made it into the arena due to weight problems running the thresher. After talking with Pete Smith from KitBots who had some items with him for sale, we picked up a brushless motor and speed controller, and intended assembling the 'bot with these new parts in time for tomorrow's competition.
As a brief interlude to the building, an antweight rumble was called, and we threw Poor Puntuation 1.0 into the ring, figuring that with half a dozen opponents we ought to be able to hit something :-)
That was as much fun as I remembered, despite spending most of the rumble off my wheels! Back at the pit table I went back to building and I remembered I had some issues with the other beetleweight to deal with too. The drive train was extremely weak, and my plan was to swap the old beta Banebots speed controllers with brand new ones. Between chatting with people, helping folks prepare for tomorrow, and working on Unlettered Understrapper 2.0 I did't get to working on the ESC swap, and as the first day of the competition wrapped up, with Rebound taking first place in the Fairyweights and Gilbert taking the antweights, I threw both beetles in the case and headed out to the Botmobile, tired, happy, and really looking forward to the rest of the competition!
Back at the ranch hotel I ordered in a pizza, intending to dig out the beetles and get to work, but between the food, drink, travel, and adrenaline of the first day draining away, I dozed off ...
Tags: antweight, competition, motorama, pp1, build
Tony's Competition Diary - February 17th, 2011
Absolutely nothing to report ... fast, quiet drive, without incident. Early bed time ... stuff to do tomorrow!
Tags: competition, motorama
Tony's Competition Diary - February 16th, 2011
0545hrs CST: What's that? An alarm? Bah. Snooze.
0630hrs CST: Okay, okay - no more snoozing ... time to get up ... there are some chores to do and clothes to pack, then we hit the road.
0820hrs CST: All packed on the soft furnishings-front, and it's time to hit the road.
Yeah ... so there's not a whole lot of point to this report ... here's what the drive was like:
A few things that were good was learning that Botmobile 3.0 does 22-23mpg highway, I thought of six upgrades for after Motorama, and Arkansas has enough budget for a State Trooper ever fifty miles, unlike - say - Tennessee where I saw one car over the 250 miles we covered.
2130hrs CST: I've checked in to the Nashville Roach Motel and I'm ready for bed. Maybe tomorrow will be more interesting [rolls eyes - Ed]
After a whole bunch of work, some trials, tribulations, and a little last-minute luck, we're ready for NERC's Motorama 2011! We have an ant, beetle, hobbyweight, and featherweight (although it should be noted 75% of those 'bots currently have issues), and we're packing up to hit the road! Click Back after viewing an image.
The fleet is ready, barring a couple of issues we'll have to resolve on Friday. Hopefully the fixes will be fairly simple, and we can be ready to roll with just a few replacement parts, carefully installed.
We're not convinced that BotMobile 3.0 is bigger inside than the 2.0 version, so it's a little troubling to be road-tripping with the back half-empty, and the rear seats up even! We'll have to pack the drill press to make this right :-)
This site contains records of our trials and tribulations in building combat robots. So much to learn, and so little time!