So today's the big day! Our first competition in five and a half years. We have two 'bots with us, and we're about to find out exactly how much we've missed in that time off. When the 'bots were packed they were both in working order, so no "building in the hotel" this trip, which is a stark departure from how we used to do things! Click Back after viewing an image.
After a good night's sleep we stepped out onto the hotel room balcony to check the weather - cloudy with a hint of sun. Still, nice view! Lake Washington is pretty big ...
It didn't take too long to drive over the 520 bridge to the Seattle Center area. The competition is being held in Center House, which is in the shadow of the Space Needle - cool! Well ... it would be in the shadow of the Space Needle if there was any sun to cast a shadow ... not that it really matters, as we'll be indoors fighting! After a few false starts we finally found where the competition was being held (in the food court) and plunked down our stuff, to meet and greet competitors and staffers, familiar and not.
As folks began to arrive and unpack, we checked in and paid our entry fees, then hooked up some batteries to the chargers and hunted down a cup of coffee while we waited for safety inspections.
The arena had been set up yesterday, and so we were able to get right in to do checks and make sure everything ran properly. During a test-run for Nihilistic Naysayer 1.0, however, it suddenly stopped moving. There was no response at all, and we had no idea what happened! One second it was driving around just fine, the next it was dead in the water. We grabbed the 'bot and took it back to the pit to check it out. Hyperbolic Hoops 1.0 passed testing just fine, so we spent the time worrying about the drumbot.
The official competition start time drew close, and we had narrowed down the problem to either one of the drive ESCs or the PWM booster cable plugged into it - without that cable plugged in the rest of the 'bot ran fine. With it plugged in the 'bot went nuts! Unfortunately we hadn't packed a spare of either of those things, and no-one else in the pits had any spares - Victors aren't that common in 12lb'ers.
At this point we put the problem on the back-burner because it was time to fight! The competition had started, and we were up next with our beetle. We picked up the 'bot, radio, and power key, and headed over to the box for the first time in over half a decade!
Ah well, you can't win them all! :-) It was such fun to be back in the arena, and although it wasn't a win it was neat to see Hyperbolic Hoops 1.0 finally move, after all those years languishing as a Pile-o-Parts. You can see the damage Idiot Savant did - the right wheel pod has been tweaked, and we didn't notice until we put the friction wheel back on, but the gearbox in the Copal motor enbedded in the wheel pod has a very crunchy gearbox, so it's probably shot. This could be a bit of a downer - but we'll see if we can get it going after our first match with the drumbot - we're being called up to the arena. Unfortunately we weren't able to replace either the Victor or the cable, so we've unplugged it, and we're going to have to run with one side of the drive train out - hopefully we can fishtail about enough to put up a fight!
Yes ... Well ... Ah, what the heck: it was fun! :-) Deciding to go in with only half a drive-train probably wasn't the smartest move, and things are looking a bit like we may not be able to do a pit repair on this injury.
Under the lid, you can see the extent of the damage Nihilistic Naysayer 1.0 received from those hits: both motor mounts have cracked, both motors have been tweaked, and one of the gearboxes has pretty much exploded inside the 'bot, throwing gears and even the external gear ring all around the 'bot! At this point I'd reasonably expect the Victor that was working okay to be damaged, and of course we've lost one of the teeth from the drum. But still, it was a lot of fun!
As you can see, all the bolts were ripped out the back of the side rail when the rear plate was bent. The total amount of damager here means there's really no way we can repair this with the limited spare parts we brought with us, so we're going to have to forfeit the loser's bracket match - Nihilistic Naysayer 1.0 is out of the competition.
Looking on the positive side, though - the weapon motor and speed controller appear undamaged, so we just have to build a new 'bot around them for Motorama 2011 :-)
While the competition was on a break for a quick lunch, we chatted with Brett Dawson, builder of Daisy which was a stunning machine that didn't quite manage to show it's true abilities at this event. The 'bot was made in two parts, with the drive train having it's own receiver and batteries on the left, and the spinning shell being similarly equipped. The metal pieces around the drive train are magnets, and inside the shell on the top side you can see wire coils - the whole 'bot is essentially a big brushless motor!
Extremely impressive, and also got us thinking about a possible upgrade for Hyperbolic Hoops 1.0. Brett was happy to chat with us about designing and building brushless motors, and it was a real education to see some of this stuff - very clever, and leading us to all sorts of ideas!
While the competition was ramping back up we took the backplate off the drumbot and checked out the damage close-up. There were gears all over the place from that damaged gearbox! We ended up giving the mangled backplate to Dylan, the builder of Rockwelder's Revenge, as a trophy.
The competition is rolling again, so it's time to put the battery back into Hyperbolic Hoops 1.0 and button it up for the arena. Unfortunately we're putting it in with only one side of the drive train working, which didn't work out so well earlier today, but there's not a lot we can do. Hopefully we can get some hits in with the weapon before the other 'bot takes out the other side of the drive ...
Alas, the indominatable TeaBot had it's wicked way with Hyperbolic Hoops 1.0, and as that was our second loss with the beetle it was out of the competition. It was a fun match, despite only having half a drive train, and we were happy to have gotten back into the swing of things.
What we accomplished:
- Made it to a competition with two 'bots!
- Managed at least one match with each 'bot.
- Made Hyperbolic Hoops 1.0 move after seven years :-)
What we learned:
- Having only one side of the drive train working is not enough.
- The wheel pods on the beetle needed rollers under the hoops to stop them popping out.
- Flying with LiPo batteries in a carry-on bag is no big deal.
- The people involved in this hobby are still great fun to hang out with.
- Competing is still as much fun as we remember!
- After being out for five years, we're now ten years behind the curve :-(
Where we go from here:
- Redesigning and rebuilding Hyperbolic Hoops 1.0
- Redesigning and rebuilding Nihilistic Naysayer 1.0
- Building up the fleet for Motorama 2011!