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!
What we accomplished:
- Eliminated the gremlins from the featherweight and saw the weapon spin - briefly - in the arena.
- Got to spend some more time hanging out with Scott - great to have him come up for the event!
- Played in the Beetleweight Rumble.
- Identified some 'design flaws' in our 'bots ...
- Finished the event with a 4-8 record.
- Had a blast!
Thanks Go To:
- Al Kindle, for buying some EV Warrior motors giving me cash for parts.
- Pete Smith, for having plenty of parts I could pay cash for :-)
- Ed and Beth for letting me raid their stock of bottled water frequently.
- Scott, Liz, and Kyle for making the trek up from North Carolina - great seeing you guys!
- Team Canada (Dalton, Jason, and Logan), for help and hospitality.
- The NERC Officers for putting on another fantastic show!
- Lauren, for taking care of Mo and Annie.
- Mike, for his support during the build process.
- All the competitors, who came, saw, fought, and had fun too - thanks all!
Where we go from here:
- Redesigning the antweight to either not flip over, or work inverted.
- Rebuilding the beetleweight with some tougher materials.
- Fixing up the hobbyweight to be a stand-by competitor again - maybe even learning to drive it!
- Redesigning the featherweight so it doesn't feed its wheels to the opponent.
- Finishing the couple of 'bots that weren't done in time for this competition.
- Working on a 30lb Sportsman for next year!