Monday, February 13, 2017

Franklin Institute 2016 Report

I keep posting these things months after the event. I gotta stop doing that.

This was my first time going to NERC's smaller fall event, which is held at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. I had originally planned to re-build FireArrow and build a new beetleweight for this event, but due to a lack of time ended up only bringing FireArrow v2 again. The antweights were kind of put on the backburner due to how many big bots there were (this was the largest FI ever) so I got to hang out most of the day without fighting, which was cool.

Also there was the BattleBot SubZero, which had been set up on display for the day. This was my first time seeing one of the television robots "in the flesh", and it was definitely a highlight of the day.

For this event FireArrow v2 received some minor last-second changes. The problem with the motor mounts I had mentioned in my last report had been fixed, and I decided to replace the UHMW wheelguards with some titanium horns to keep robots from driving up and over my wedge. I also stuck two spare screws out of the back end to keep FireArrow from being high-centered.

Match 1: FireArrow vs. Physique Black
Physique Black was a tough little drumbot built by Ian McMahon, who flew up from Texas to compete at Franklin. His bots are always super hard to fight so I knew this would be a tough one. I went in head on at first and drove him around for a bit, but eventually he got to my wheels and tore them off. Knockout loss for the wedge. Physique ended up winning the entire tournament so I wasn't too upset about this loss.

At this point was where they decided to sideline the ant bracket until after the museum closed, so I didn't have another fight for about 7 hours. There were some truly amazing fights in the bigger classes, and it made me wish I had finished my beetle in time.

Match 2: FireArrow vs. Justice
Justice was another Revelation Robotics bot, a solid overhead spinner which had already won a fight or two before this match, but the brackets were weird so it was my first loser's bracket match. This match was super close, with both bots trading hits. There was one point where Justice got under me and tore into FireArrow's bottom armor, actually separating some layers of the garolite. It didn't crack anything, it just peeled the layers apart. Really strange. Anyway, the two minutes ran out and the judges gave FireArrow the win on a close decision.

Match 3: FireArrow vs. Ferocious
This would be my second time fighting Brandon in a one-on-one fight, and also my second time meeting Ferocious in the arena (it was also in the rumble at Motorama). It had a pretty solid lifter, so I knew i'd need to aim for the bent pieces of his wedge and keep him from flipping me. This worked for a while, but eventually Ferocious got underneath and drove me over to the wall, where I realized I couldn't move! I got counted out on the wall, and inspected what happened: I had managed to get high-centered between my wedge and the screws I added to keep from getting stuck! It was such dumb bad luck that I had to laugh at it.

All in all FireArrow v2, the flawed design it is, ended up doing well enough that I wasn't upset at all by only going 1-2. It was still a fantastic event. Any chance I get to meet up with other bot builders and have a good time is a day well spent in my book.

See you all at Motorama again this weekend!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Super Belated Motorama 2016 Event Report

Hi there, it's certainly been a while. In fact, over a year has passed since I last wrote in this blog. But I've decided to finally come back to this thing and write about this year's Motorama which went well despite basically nothing going right for my robots. I was still happy to go out and compete despite everything.

As usual, the antweights happened on Friday, the day before the main competition, so FireArrow was up first.

Fight 1: FireArrow vs. Scooper

My first battle of the weekend was vs. Scooper, a Canadian Viper kit owned by a newcomer to the sport (as a matter of fact, Moto was his first ever event). Due to how uncontrollable the 11.1:1 sparks in the previous version were, I decided to swap them out for the slower 22.2:1 sparks in order to improve control for Motorama. However, what I didn't know is that these made FireArrow too slow. In fact, it was so slow that I couldn't take control of the fight, get under Scooper's flipper, or really do anything. To make things worse, something was wrong with the screws in one of the bearing blocks and it came loose after about a minute of flipping, reducing FireArrow to 1-wheel drive. I held on to the judge decision but unsurprisingly was given the loss. All in all this was probably my most embarrassing loss ever, and it put me in a poor mood for most of the rest of the day.

Fight 2: FireArrow vs. Cornerstone

Into the loser's bracket I went, where I ended up against Adam's very solid wedgebot Cornerstone. It was solidly built and solidly driven, but it had taken some serious damage from an undercutter in its first match (I think against Vile Ant?) and as such had a few spots where its wedge didn't lie flush with the ground. I knew in order to win, I would need to target these spots and get under him as much as possible. In preparation for this fight I replaced the FingerTech sumo wheels with the 2-inch Lite Flites from the old FireArrow, which I had repurposed as my "anti-wedge" wheels after Bot Blast. FireArrow v2 had sort of intermittent drive when running inverted, and I figured that the improved angle provided by the larger tires plus the assistence when running inverted would help out immensely. This proved to be correct, as I was able to get under Cornerstone fairly consistently, and with the help of the re-replaced 11.1:1 sparks was able to deck Cornerstone into the wall with a lot of speed quite a few times. That isn't to say it wasn't a close battle though, as there were times when Cornerstone got under FireArrow as well and took it to his advantage. However, the judges rules the victory to me, and I couldn't help but feel relieved after that one. It's always good to win a match after something goes embarrassingly wrong.

Fight 3: FireArrow vs. Klazo

Up next in the loser's bracket was my first battle against a Near Chaos Robotics bot, this being Klazo the (heavily modified) Saifu kit. I decided to keep the larger wheels on for this match because it would help me get under Klazo's anti-wedge forks. I put up a pretty good fight in this match despite taking some pretty hard hits, but that screwed up motor mount struck again early into the match leaving me with 1WD once again. However with about 15 seconds left, FireArrow's other wheel came off after a big hit and I was counted out with seconds on the clock. It was disappointing, but at this point I had realized the flaws with this version of FireArrow and was ready to re-design it again for its next competition.

Fight 4: Antweight Rumble

To send off Friday's fighting and FireArrow v2 I participated in the rumble at the end of the day's fighting. In the rumble alongside FireArrow were Klazo, Cornerstone, Ferocious and The Ophidian (which was without its spinner weapon due to damage from an earlier fight). I rammed people around for a while until getting flipped over by Ferocious, at which point I was forced to resort to driving into people in the hopes that I would get tipped back over. This happened about a minute later when Klazo knocked me right-side up, though the wedge had gotten tweaked a bit. Everything went smoothly from there up until I drove under a seam at the edge of the arena and couldn't drive out due to the lack of traction on the steel floor. Klazo freed me again, and then knocked one of my wheelguards loose, stranding me off of my wheels. To add insult to inury, I was then propped up on the arena wall with my wedge stuck in the seam, unable to move and held perfectly perpendicular to the floor. This is where I stayed for the last 30 seconds of the rumble.

All in all, FireArrow had a subpar showing at Motorama, but it was fun and I know where I went wrong with version 2. It's been re-designed since.

Nocturne's run of the weekend got off on the wrong foot. Nocturne passed safety, but I noticed its drive was super twitchy. I traced this back to the Fingertech Tinymixer, which was reacting to the Kitbots motors poorly. After discovering this, I removed the mixer, but in the process accidentally smoked one of my drive motors. Unfortunately, I was without spares, and had to borrow one from Nate (thanks again!) in order to get Nocturne running for the competition.

Fight 1: Nocturne vs. Trilobite

Oh geez. All that work and I get put up against the premier brick in the beetleweight class. Due to the new weapon setup, the spinner worked perfectly, but since the robot was driving sans mixer I was still getting used to the dual stick plus weapon setup. I got a couple of decent hits off before Nocturne's weapon belt threw itself. Since I had zero chance without a weapon and didn't want to subject the audience to 2 minutes of ramming, I decided to tap out there. Nocturne got a belt replacement and was ready to go for its losers bracket match.

Fight 2: Nocturne vs. MowBot

MowBot was a neat overhead spinner from Georgia who was battling spinup issues all weekend. Nocturne's spinner gremlins returned in full force from here on out, with the belt not throwing itself, but somehow sucking itself into the gap between the brushless motor can and the top panel of the robot. This happened after the first hit of the match, and it became pushing for the next minute or two before MowBot's weapon finally spun up. I decided to simply turn around and use Nocturne's back end to absorb the blows, which it did fairly well. This was a pretty lame fight in all honesty. Fortunately the judges ruled the match in Nocturne's favor and I was able to fight again.

Fight 3: Nocturne vs. Scrambles the Death Dealer

Scrambles is Tim's horizontal bar spinner which has had luck almost as bad as Nocturne. However, Tim really got Scrambles dialed in this time around and it showed throughout the weekend. I was pretty sure I wasn't going to win this match and so went into it with a "F it" mentality, basically whatever happened happened and I wouldn't be upset about it. The belt thing happened again and I basically rammed into Scrambles until either time ran out or I got knocked out, I don't remember which one happened first. I lost either way.

Well that's it for Motorama this year. It was fun to attend, even though just like last year the robots didn't turn out with the results I wanted them to.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Bot Blast 2015 Event Report

Bot Blast this year was insane. So many robots, so many awesome fights, and so many great moments. I think this was one of my favorite events I've been to so far.

After arrival, one of the first things I noticed this year was the pits, which were about twice the size as last year. Next on the list were the awesome team namecards made by Jeremy and family, which listed all the robots on the team as well as the builders, which I thought was an excellent touch. There wasn't much space left in the pit area by the time I got there, but I found a space in between Ian (aka ResettisReplicas) who was there with his modified RC car Petit Gateau, and Russ Barrow, the builder of the legendary Dark Pounder. After getting through safety with Nocturne and FireArrow (which impressed everyone with its new, sleeker design), and barely getting Landshark within weight (it was about 3 ounces over! D'oh!) it was time to fight.

Fight 1: FireArrow vs The Ophidian

In the first round this time around, I met up against Revelation Robotics again. This time it was younger brother Joe and his Viper spinner kit Ophidian. I had high hopes for FireArrow's new titanium wedge, and this would be a great battle to test it out on.

After charging into his blade a few times, he got a lucky shot on one of my wheels which took out drive on that side. However, I was able to maneuver well enough to get under him again. This destabilized Ophidian and caused it to gyro-dance, where its blade flew off, knocked one of its wheels loose, and turned the fight into a battle of one-wheeled wonders.Time ran out shortly after this, and the judges (after minutes of deliberation) awarded me the win. Score one for FireArrow!

Fight 2: Nocturne vs Gemini

Gemini was a 3D-printed wedge created by Team Astrobot which has some nasty spring steel armor surrounding it, so it had very little exposed plastic. This made me nervous going in, but I figured I'd try my best and see what happened.

The very first hit Nocturne got on Gemini sent one half of its side armor flying and made me proud. Gemini quickly recovered and slammed me into the wall. The match continued in a similar fashion with Nocturne's spinup gremlins continuing to plague it throughout. I still got some good bites on the exposed ABS and knocked Gemini around a bit. However, I couldn't get the crucial knockout before time ran out, and ended up losing the judge decision. After the fight, I noticed that one of the motors Nocturne was using for drive had fallen apart, which was probably why I couldn't maneuver as well as I wanted to. Turns out one of the screws in the motor had stripped out during the match,

Fight 3: Landshark vs CATAPULT

Catapult was Brandon's mantis FBS which he has been working on for about 3 years now. I was pretty certain Landshark could hold it off.

I rushed it at the beginning and slammed it around a bit before it could spin up. It then spun to full speed and got a good hit on my wheel, but then was slammed into the wall where its shell popped off! The rest of the fight was me pushing Catapult around the arena, and I got the judge's nod at the end. However, near the end of the fight, smoke came out of the underside of Landshark, and I had some drive issues with it. Returning to the pits, I noticed how hot the motors had gotten, and presumed an ESC blew. I'm not sure if that was actually the case. However, the shot Catapult got on my wheels shattered an important gear in one of the gearboxes, and we didn't have spares due to the ebay seller not having enough for me to order them. However unlike two years ago where I was able to borrow a spare motor from someone, no one had an extra gearbox for me to take apart (Kyle still had the ones he ordered, but forgot to bring them). This meant Landshark had to forfeit out of the rest of the competition. Real shame, but it happens I guess. I'll have to figure out the issues with it and sort them out for next year.

Fight 4: FireArrow vs Dark Blade

Onto round 2! Dark Blade was the first of Russ's machines I got matched up against, and it had a very wide, very scary undercutting blade for me to deal with.

I moved in carefully to start, trying to get under from the side so as to avoid the brunt of the weapon. Eventually, though, he got a very nasty hit on my wedge which left a gash in the titanium, tore one of the screws out and nearly exposed my battery! if it had hit any harder, I think I would have lost by default. Luckily for me nothing combustible was exposed, and his blade flew off on the same hit! For the rest of the time I pushed him around and into the walls, and this ended up getting me another win by judge's decision.

Fight 5: FireArrow vs Satan's Segway

After a few hours of waiting, here I was in the antweight winners bracket semi-finals. Fred had made some excellent changes to the Segway to get it this far, including an incredibly low spring steel wedge mounted to the front of the thwack arm. I felt confident going in, especially considering I had beaten it before. This overconfidence, however, proved to be my undoing.

On the initial charge, his wedge got under mine and I sped up, over and onto my back! This meant I no longer had the wedge to control him. We pushed each other around for most of the time limit, but I couldn't catch up in points after the flip and lost the judge's decision.

Fight 6: Nocturne vs Colsonbot

Now what the heck happened to Nocturne? Its first match was back before lunch, and here I just said I had to wait a few hours between my matches between Dark Blade and Segway. Certainly the first round of the beetle loser's bracket didn't take that long to start?

The deal is, after losing, I was drawn against the winner of Richard Kelley's machine Low Blow, and Jamo's Silent Spring. Low Blow won, but then Kelley left early, meaning I got a forfeit. After that I had to face the loser of Dark Daggers, another machine from Russ, and Circuit Breaker, a nasty horizontal spinner from Joe Doerfler. Daggers lost the fight but was in pieces, and so Russ forfeited. All of a sudden Nocturne was in the fourth round of the loser's bracket and against the winner of Colsonbot vs Sparty Mini. Amazingly, Colsonbot won (again!) which meant I got to fight this spinning tire thing.

Nocturne got some nice hits on the Colson, but the rubber worked incredibly well at deflecting my hits and it was able to get some good hits in as well. Once again the judges turned in favor of my opponent, knocking Nocturne out of the competition.

Fight 7: FireArrow vs Dark Pounder.

OH BOY, HERE WE GO. I get to fight Dark Pounder, the antweight with, according to Botrank, the most wins of all time. This would be a treat.

After some maneuvering, Dark Pounder flipped me over and then went wedge mode, with me trying my best to stay in the match and be aggressive. Right at the end he spun up again and I decided I had nothing to lose, so I rammed into his spinner a few more times. The match ended shortly after, and I knew I had lost. Out of each match I fought that day, Pounder definitely did the most damage to me, leaving several cuts in the titanium and a large gouge in the back of the chassis. This loss landed me in joint-fifth alongside Adam's robot Justice. Not bad for a redesign, especially since I matched up against Dark Pounder to end the day.

Fight 8: Antweight Rumble

In we go for the antweight rumble! From what I remember, it was FireArrow, Sisu, Blutsauger, Petit Gateau, Dark Micro 44, Zip Reborn, Don't Ask, andtwo RC cars from Radioshack (which was still open here!) all in the box. However, due to time constraints (we only had until the mall closed, which was about an hour from then) it was constrained to two minutes. I tried my best, ramming into Blutsauger and pushing around some other bots, but one of my motors finally gave up the ghost near the end, and I was stuck upside-down after charging Blutsauger. Eventually I got hung up on top of a discarded drive motor from Micro 44, and then the rumble ended. I had a great time, but didn't win. That honor went to the spinner of Dark Micro 44.

Fight 9: Beetleweight Rumble

For the last match of the day, I tossed Nocturne into the rumble, which I figured would be a good way to retire the design after a year of all sorts of problems. In the rumble to my knowledge were me, Arcbeetle, the remains of Circuit Breaker, Colsonbot, Rmr, Robo-Rooter (minus weapon, plus spork), the aforementioned RC cars, Scrambles, Play'n Krazy, and Gemini (not sure about this one). Nocturne put up a valiant effort but once again was reduced to 1WD, and near the very end I think its battery died as well. It took some nice battle scars from Scrambles, PK and Arcbeetle, who ended up winning the rumble.

So for the first time in a Bot Blast event I didn't take home a trophy, but I still had a great time. It was great to meet everyone again and fight some robots. Bring on the next event!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Bot Blast 2015: Thoughts on the Opposition

Bot Blast 2015 - Thoughts

It's that time of year again, and I've once again decided to write up my thoughts on the competition at Bot Blast this year. Since I'm bringing three robots this year (one in each weight class) I'll be talking about all of them.


Ryan Beaver - Team Beaverbotics
Weapon: Vertical Drum
Notes: Team's first drumbot

A new robot from a team I've never met before. Blutsauger should do well but I think FireArrow's titanium wedge should be able to hold up and give me the win.

Fear Rating: 3/5

Jake Woodruff - Team Empire
Weapon: Wedge and Spinner
Notes: Competed last year with Empire

Jake has quickly progressed with his building skills, which impresses me. If he's able to build a robot with a working spinner this year, it could perform well. Again, though, I should be able to out-drive it and win the match.

Fear Rating: 2/5

Adam Cunard - Revelation Robotics
Weapon: Wedge
Notes: Moto 15 rumble winner, Pennbots 15 third place

The fleet of robots from this team looks a lot more impressive this year than last, and Cornerstone is no exception. With a speedy wedge and a good driver, Cornerstone should be one to watch out for. This match will come down to who can get under who more.

Fear Rating: 3/5

Sean McKeown - Team Gyroscopic
Weapon: Horizontal Blade
Notes: Same as Spinzilla

I lost to Spinzilla at Moto because he was able to take off my wheels. With my new wheelguards in place, I should be able to beat it (and the original version of it, Cyclone) with relative ease. Still, it has a high-speed weapon that I should definitely watch out for.

Fear Rating: 4/5

Dark Blade
Russ Barrow - Dark Forces
Weapon: Undercutting Bar
Notes: Recently came out of retirement.

This thing is scary. However, from what I've seen, Russ hasn't had the best of luck in getting it to run at top performance. My wedge should be able to hold up to it, the only problem is that if it gets to my wheels, I could be done for.

Fear Rating: 4/5

Dark Pounder
Russ Barrow - Dark Forces
Weapon: Vertical Disc, Wedge
Notes: #1 ranked antweight of all time

Oh god. Despite being 7 years out of date, it came second at its first competition out of retirement last month. It also has two forks in front to block wedges. I am scared out of my mind to face this thing, but I know it'll be a match for the ages.

Fear Rating: 5/5

DDT (Ranked 7)
Jamison Go - G3 Robotics
Weapon: Undercutting Disc
Notes: 2013 Champion

DDT scared me 2 years ago, and now it's back to reclaim its title with an even scarier one-toothed disc. I have serious doubts about my ability to beat this thing.

Fear Rating: 5/5

Don't Ask: Panicked Assembly Required (Ranked 18)
Tim Thompson - Asylum Robotics
Weapon: Undercutting saw
Notes: 1WD

This gyroscopic wonder made its debut last year at Bot Blast, where it beat me before losing twice. This new version is even more ridiculous than last year's featuring a larger saw and one wheel drive. I predict a lot of sparks will fly, but my better-protected wheels should do wonders in this match.

Fear Rating: 3/5

Gyroscopic (Ranked 13)
Sean McKeown - Team Gyroscopic
Weapon: Vertical Beater
Notes: Bot Blast 2012 2nd place

I finally got to see Gyroscopic fight at Motorama, and it's got a nasty bite. However, in its current form it seems to have some reliability issues. If I can keep eating hits until it breaks, I could win.

Fear Rating: 4/5

Ice Shard
Don Doerfler - Doerfler Bots
Weapon: Wedge
Notes: Replaces Nuff Said

From the name alone, it almost sounds like they're making a clone of FireArrow. Which flatters me. I fought Nuff Said at last year's Bot Blast, where we were both having drive issues. Don's other robot Blackout came second in the mantis division, and so I know he's a good driver. This match will be tough.

Fear Rating: 3/5

Adam Cunard - Revelation Robotics
Weapon: Wedge and Overhead Bar
Notes: New robot from the team

Justice is Adam's newest robot, and definitely his most fearsome. It gives off a Hazard vibe which is always a good thing. If we fight it will come down to who has the better wedge and if I can withstand the spinner.

Fear Rating: 4/5

Josh Noel - Team Blood Gulch
Weapon: Wedge
Notes: Viper kit

I'm helping Josh put this robot together, and hopefully it will turn out well. Still, it's a Viper kit which I think I can outdrive.

Fear Rating: 2/5

Petit Gateau
Ian Miller - ResettisReplicas
Weapon: Plow Scoop
Notes: Modified RC Car

Ian's first foray into self-built combat robots is certainly interesting. Resembles Onslaught. Unfortunately, it isn't a good robot. I should take an easy win.

Fear Rating: 1/5

Satan's Segway
Frederick Moore - D6 Robotics
Weapon: Thwacking Arm
Notes: I beat it at Motorama

This cool steel-pipe thwackbot is currently 0-4 in battle. If it actually thwacks I might have a tough time against its heavy thwack arm.

Adrian Kelly - Last Minute Robotics
Weapon: Wedge
Notes: Didn't fight him at MIT

From what I remember, Sisu was a speedy wedge. However, I think I should be able to win by outmaneuvering him.

Fear Rating: 2/5

Slim Pickens (Ranked 14)
Nate Franklin - Mutually Assured Destruction
Weapon: Wedge
Notes: Bot Blast 2014 finalist, I beat it there

Nate's wedge is a tough competitor. I nearly lost to it last year at Bot Blast, and this year I'm sure it will be just as tough. This match will come down to who is the better driver.

Fear Rating: 3/5

Sparty Micro
Jim Rowland - Rowdon
Weapon: Wedge
Notes: Bringing six robots to Bot Blast

I don't know if six bots for a one-day event is a good idea. Regardless, it's simply another wedge.

Fear Rating: 2/5

Brandon Nichols - Team Headbangers
Weapon: Spinning Chipper Blade
Notes: Lost to it at Moto

It's Cyclone with a different driver! The new FireArrow now has enclosed wheels, so I should be able to win.

Fear Rating: 3/5

The Ophidian
Joe Cunard - Revelation Robotics
Weapon: Undercutting Blade
Notes: Viper Kit

Joe's Viper kit did well at Moto, despite its blade falling off every match. If they can fix that issue, The Ophidian could be one to watch out for.

Fear Rating: 3/5

The Red Shpee
Ryan Beaver - Team Beaverbotics
Weapon: Wedge
Notes: Went 0-2 at Franklin last year

It's a basic wedge. There really isn't much to say. If I out-drive it, I win.

Fear Rating: 1/5

Kevin Shaw - Team TRG
Weapon: Flipper
Notes: New robot from new team

I know literally nothing about this robot. I suspect it will be a challenge of driving skill.

Fear Rating: 2/5

Zip Reborn (ranked 26)
John Rowland - Rowdon
Weapon: Wedge
Notes: 2-2 record

The only robot from this team with a pre-existing record (they had a hobbyweight as well, but that no longer runs at Bot Blast). If I can outmaneuver it, I can win.

Fear Rating: 2/5


#1 Low Blow
Richard Kelley - Kelley PA
Weapon: Ramming Bar
Notes: Snazzy green tires

This team's robots have held up spectacularly well for low-budget machines and always seem to do well at Bot Blast. However, this one has some nice corners to nom on. This should be a fun match.

47% Steel
Alex Horne - Wedge Industries
Weapon: Wedge
Notes: Uses leftover parts

Tough steel front wedge, speedy drive and a decent driver. I don't know if Nocturne will be able to bite the wedge, but I do know if I can get to the sides, I can tear into those wheels.

Fear Rating: 3/5

Arcbeetle (Ranked 8)
Kyle Singer - Twisted Sick Robotics
Weapon: Vertical Drum
Notes: Runner-up at Bot Blast 2011

Arcbeetle is one of the beetles that genuinely scares me. I'm not sure what I'll be able to do to it. If we meet, I suspect he'll throw me to the ceiling before I can hit him.

Fear Rating: 5/5

Boll Weevil
John Rowland - Rowdon
Weapon: Unknown
Notes: new robot from out-of-retirement team

I have no clue what its weapon is, but it should be easy to defeat. From their previous bots I think it should have lots of tasty right angles to tear into.

Fear Rating: 1/5

Catastrophic (Ranked 44)
Sean McKeown - Team Gyroscopic
Weapon: Vertical Beater

It's a beetleweight Gyroscopic, so completely different to the last time it competed. I'll have a tough time getting around the beater, so it'll be a difficult fight to win

Fear Rating: 4/5

Chibi Knockout
Joe Doerfler - Doerfler Bots
Weapon: Vertical Eggbeater
Notes: another new bot

Based on their latest 15lber, Chibi Knockout looks like a vertical spinner with lots of resistance to other spinners. This one will be a tough nut to crack.

Fear Rating: 5/5

Circuit Breaker
Don Doerfler - Doerfler Bots
Weapon: Horizontal Bar
Notes: Uses the same weapon motor as a 12lber

This robot is essentially a better version of Nocturne due to the larger weapon motor and lower profile. However, it's 3-D printed, at least some of it, which means it'll take stress less well. Does this mean I can win? maybe...

Fear Rating: 4/5

Colsonbot (Ranked 27)
Charles Guan - Team Testbot
Weapon: Spinning Tire
Notes: Can he spin? Can he win? No he can't! He's a wheel!

All I can say is I'm excited to see this thing fight again. It's been too long.

Fear Rating: 1/5

Dark Daggers
Russ Barrow - Dark Forces
Weapon: Vertical Disc
Notes: Very long frontal wedge

Oh jeez. Can Nocturne even hit Daggers' wedge? We'll find out...

Fear Rating: 5/5

Dominant Mode
Jamison Go - G3 Robotics
Weapon: Vertical Drum
Notes: Successor to Cake, 2011 runner-up

A wide, vicious drum with lots of power behind it. I'm not sure if I'll be able to survive this one.

Fear Rating: 5/5

El Destructo (Ranked 17)
Brandon Young - Bone Dead Robotics
Weapon: Vertical Beater

Brandon's bots are always at least decent, and this one is no exception. It has a nice, wide drum which gives me little to bite on the front end. However, I think I should be able to bite the sides of his robot and get some good damage in.

Fear Rating: 3/5

Gemini (Ranked 19)
Bryant Wersinger - Team AstroBot
Weapon: Wedges
Notes: Frame is entirely 3D printed

The past few competitions have shown me that when unprotected ABS is hit, it doesn't enjoy it very well. I should be able to get in a lot of damage on this one, though I'm not sure if I can out-drive it.

Fear Rating: 2/5

Mondo Bizarro (Ranked 2)
Brandon Nichols - Team Headbangers
Weapon: Vertical Beater
Notes: 2x Bot Blast Champion

Very scared about this weta. Brandon is an excellent driver, and while I think I have a chance to avoid the front end, I think I'll leave this match with a lot of battle scars no matter who wins.

Fear Rating: 5/5

Frederick Moore - D6 Robotics
Weapon: Overhead Spinner
Notes: runs on tracks, has a 0-4 record

Not too nervous about this one. It seems to have a tendency to flip itself (a lot of overhead spinners like to do that in the insect classes) and the tracks make it kind of slow. I should be able to take it.

Fear Rating: 2/5

Robo-Rooter (Ranked 38)
Alex Horne - Wedge Industries
Weapon: Hubmotor Disc
Notes: Beat me at MIT

Robo-Rooter scares me, but now that my weapon works and I have a stronger weapon shaft, I should be able to hold up to it for longer. Still, it'll be tough to win.

Fear Rating: 4/5

Bryant Wersinger - Team AstroBot
Weapon: Undercutting Edger Blade
Notes: Frame is entirely 3D printed

Just like with Gemini, Scorpius is entirely 3D printed. However, this one's already lost to a horizontal spinner at Motorama. I think I can win against it pretty handily.

Fear Rating: 2/5

Scrambles the Death Dealer (Ranked 47)
Tim Thompson - Asylum Robotics
Weapon: Horizontal Bar
Notes: 0-4 at Bot Blast

Scrambles keeps getting deadlier, yet its only victory at Bot Blast has been a rumble. Still, I think it has more kinetic energy in its weapon bar, so I may be screwed here.

Fear Rating: 4/5

Short Circuit
Grant Long - Circuit Overload
Weapon: Vertical Beater
Notes: New bot by new team

Similar design to El Destructo. However, since it's a new robot, I don't know how well it'll hold up. I think I'll be able to win if I keep the weapon going.

Fear Rating: 3/5

Jamison Go - G3 Robotics
Weapon: Undercutting Disc
Notes: Beetleweight DDT

More reach and a powerful undercutter. I don't think Nocturne will enjoy this much.

Fear Rating: 5/5

Sir Squirt
Tim Thompson - Asylum Robotics
Weapon: Undercutting Sawblade
Notes: BW Don't Ask


One wheel and a sawblade, and my spinner should be strong enough to hold out. I think I can take this one.

Fear Rating: 2/5

Sparty Mini
John Rowland - Rowdon
Weapon: Wedge
Notes: Team last competed in 2010

It's a wedge from a team that last competed half a decade ago. I don't think I'll have many issues with this.

Fear Rating: 2/5

Super Killy Deathbot 3000
Mike Zalatan - Wedge Industries
Weapon: ?????????
Notes: Built Pizza Party

If Mike builds another joke robot (like Pizza Party, Spongetron and VLC all were) then I shouldn't have an issue unless something breaks down.

Fear Rating: 1/5

The Yinzer
Thorin Tobiassen - Team PLUNDER
Weapon: Vertical Drum
Notes: Last competed in 2013
A narrow spinner that seems similar to Weta. It doesn't look too fierce, so I should be okay.

Fear Rating: 3/5

Thunder Child
Nate Franklin - Mutually Assured Destruction
Weapon: Wedge
Notes: Trilobite kit

Nate managed to beat quite a few spinners at Motorama with Thunder Child. As the only Trilobite in the competition, it should do fairly well. I'll have a lot of trouble with this one.

Fear Rating: 4/5

Whirl and Hurl
Adrian Kelly - Last-Minute Robotics
Weapon: Melty-Brain Spinner
Notes: The other melty-brain

Adrian's melty-brain doesn't scare me as much as Gene's, but that's just due to experience. It'll still be tough to beat if it works as well as I presume Gene's does.

(Note: Gene's melty-brain beetle, One Fierce Fourty Five, pulled out of the competition after I wrote this.)

Fear Rating: 4/5

Yardmaster, Master of Yards
Frederick Moore - D6 Robotics
Weapon: Undercutting Bar
Notes: totally not SIMO

Fred seems to have taken SIMO's design and added a bar to it. If it works as well as SIMO does, it could be a threat. If its bar is low enough, it could tweak my weapon shaft as well, and that usually isn't good.

Fear Rating: 3/5


CATAPULT (Ranked 14)
Brandon Young - Bone Dead Robotics
Weapon: Full-Body Spinner
Notes: Went 0-2 last year

Brandon's been working on this shell spinner for about 3 years now, and I think he finally has it dialed in. With the added teeth and new baseplate, it could be a contender. However, I think my wedge is the right shape to keep it from damaging me, and I can out-maneuver it for the win.

Fear Rating: 2/5

Chibi Blackout (Ranked 4)
Don Doerfler - Doerfler Bots
Weapon: Vertical Drum
Notes: last year's runner-up

This is the mantis that scares me the most. I don't think my drive is fast enough to box-rush it, and I also don't think I'll be able to hold up to it for 3 minutes. We will see.

Fear Rating: 5/5

Chibi Floppy Wedge
Luke Yount - Magical Lipo Fire
Weapon: Wedge
Notes: First mantis by this team

Luke's robots always seem well-built despite the last-minuteness of them. If it's fast, it may be a challenge.

Fear Rating: 2/5

Zac O'Donnell - Brain Damage
Weapon: Counter-rotating vertical blades
Notes: Built Threecoil, 2013's mantis champ

Zac's been all over the USA this year with heavyweight robots, and they've inspired him to make this. With its counter-rotating blades, it seems to be much more stable than most vertical spinners. However, whether or not it'll get a good bite on Landshark is questionable...

Fear Rating: 3/5

John Rowland - Rowdon
Weapon: Wedge
Notes: Old team, new bot. Entered SIX robots this year
This'll be a classic wedge v wedge battle. It'll all depend on who's lower to the ground and who has the stronger drive.

Fear Rating: 2/5

Damaged Goods
The Cooley Family - Team RTFM
Weapon: Wedge
Notes: First robot from this team
A family team with their first robot coming along now. No clue what it looks like, so it'll be interesting to see. Another wedge/wedge battle.

Fear Rating: 2/5

Kyle Singer - Twisted Sick Robotics
Weapon: Pneumatic Flipper
Notes: Only pneumatic robot registered

So apparently Kyle isn't building this and instead is reviving Massive, his wide-ass wedge from 5 years ago. So many wedges...

Fear Rating: 2/5

One Fierce Bush Wacker (Ranked 1)
Gene Burbeck - Fierce Robots
Weapon: Undercutting Bar
Notes: 2011 mantis champion

Believe me, I'm scared to fight this beast of a robot. However, I feel that my steel wedge will have the right shape to withstand its blows. Also, my wheels are easy to protect. I could just pull this off.

Fear Rating: 4/5

Sparty Junior
John Rowland - Rowdon
Weapon: Wedge
Notes: Last competed in 2010

Another wedge! What else do I have to say at this point?

Fear Rating: 2/5

Spawn of Floppy Wedge
Luke Yount - Magical Lipo Fire
Weapon: Wedge
Notes: Another wedge???

Not sure if it's the same as Chibi or different, but either way they're both wedges.

Fear Rating: 2/5

Monday, February 23, 2015

Motorama 2015 Event Report

Motorama was a blast. I got to see everyone again, met some new friends, and fought some robots. Here's how I did:

Fight 1: FireArrow vs Satan's Segway
Satan's Segway was a thwackbot made out of metal pipe. It made me a little nervous because I knew that if it could spin quickly, it'd have some good force behind it. However, it had some big issues with it (I think related to traction and weight distribution) and it couldn't thwack at all. I took home an easy judge decision.

Fight 2: FireArrow vs Vile Ant
Aw man. This was the fight I didn't want to happen. Vile Ant and its undercutting blade is one of the scariest ants out there, and fighting it this early on scared me. I was able to absorb the first few impacts fairly well, but eventually he got a wheel. The same hit, though, took out half of his drive train. I was able to drive pretty well using the remaining wheel and he was having issues, but some bad driving on my part meant he got the other wheel and I tapped out. I was pretty sure that had I kept my other wheel safe for the last thirty seconds or so, I would have won the fight.

Fight 3: FireArrow vs Ring-A-Ding-Ding
My first loser's bracket opponent was a beautifully machined ring spinner from Team Whyachi. I was excited to fight a robot from them, especially something this cool. It was still hurting from its first fight against Fangus, and couldn't spin fully. I felt fairly confident going in.

Holy crap, I could not get under that thing, and it had enough traction on the floor to shove me around. So instead of trying to win the push match I decided to show aggression, backing up when we locked and knocking him away when he tried to spin up. I was nervous I wouldn't get the decision, but the judges gave me the nod. That thing had some serious magnets stuck to it.

Fight 4: FireArrow vs SpinZilla

Grudge match time! Brandon had gotten a new version of SpinZilla from Sean, and it was pretty nasty. The FingerTech chipper blade it used was really powerful. Still, I felt fairly confident.

Fight time. I was able to get some good rams in early, but he got my damn wheel again, and then the other one. I tapped out early on into the match, pretty disappointed with myself. I decided right then that I wanted to redesign FireArrow and bring it up to date. It had been sitting in its current form for about a year now and I decided I was done with it. I'll get to the details later on.

Fight 5: Antweight rumble

I was the first to sign up for the ant rumble, and it turned out four other people wanted in: The Ophidian, a viper spinner kit, Cornerstone, a titanium wedge, Poco Tambor, a drum, and Kate the Rat, a thwackbot that used the same drive train and basic layout as Puppy, which I fought at MIT. Everything started out well, with me getting some slams on Poco and Cornerstone, but about 2 minutes in the motors gave way and FireArrow sat against the wall, dead in the water. I was kind of disappointed, but it was still fun to compete. I forget who won the rumble, I think it was Poco Tambor, but I'm not entirely certain.

Fight 6: Nocturne vs Project Darkness
Onward to Saturday! I was excited to fight with Nocturne, because I thought I had finally gotten the weapon dialed in. However, it turned out a couple of ounces over the weight limit due to the bigger teeth we gave it, and we had to buy a drill at a hardware store on the way to the complex the morning before.

My first opponent was Project Darkness, a wedged vertical spinner made by Ian McMahon, who I had been talking to for most of Friday. I hit a bit of a problem though: When I went to put it in the box, Nocturne drove around for a few seconds, then stopped moving entirely. I didn't know what happened, and decided to use my postponement to see what the heck happened. It turned out a sliver of aluminum from the weight holes we drilled had gotten into the receiver, shorting the robot. When the match actually started, I was able to get some hits in early, but there was a problem. While the weapon spun freely with the new belt, it didn't hit very hard, and it stopped upon any contact with Darkness. This meant he could have his way with me, and with about a minute left to go in the fight a big hit flipped my BEC's power switch and killed Nocturne, so I tapped out. We later taped this switch to the on position in order to keep it from happening again.

Fight 7: Nocturne vs Honey Baked Ham
Honey Baked Ham was a joke robot from Georgia Tech that featured a large steel propeller blade and a styrofoam base. It was held together with tape, and I thought I had the weapon working with the tighter belt, so I figured I'd demolish it. However, it wasn't to be. The weapon spun in prefight testing, but as soon as the light turned green, it wouldn't spin, so I decided to just ram him. Ham got some decent shots on my top, but its blade wiggled free of the tape and gouged out some of the styrofoam. Eventually, something blew in Ham's electronics and it died. While it was being counted out I finally got Nocturne to spin up and deal some damage to his wheel, but it was too late.

Fight 8: Nocturne vs Grande Tambor
My final match of Motorama was against Grande Tambor. I cursed my luck, because this was one of the few robots I didn't want to face this early. We had made a tighter round belt to spin the weapon, and I thought I had stopped the cogging gremlins which had plagued Nocturne since the beginning. Again, it spun fine before the match, but as soon as the lights went green it had problems. I was quicker than him and spent a lot of the first part of the match running away and trying to spin up. Eventually I decided "screw it" and rammed into him, which caused Nocturne to go flying. One hit flipped me over and I stopped moving, but he hit me again and I was able to move. I did get to his side for one decent shove near the end, and with about 20 seconds left the bar FINALLY spun up and delivered a single hit to Grande before the match ended. The judges didn't take long to decide I had lost. As it turned out, he had hit me so hard it had rattled most of the screws loose that held on the top, and one of them was kind of stuck at an angle. When he flipped me, I was caught on that loose screw, and it held my wheels off the ground. Other damage included a bent top plate and some new bites in the aluminum bar, but nothing serious.

Unfortunately, I had to leave before the end and couldn't stay to have any grudge matches or rumbles. However, I left with some knowledge and ideas for later designs:

I'm going to redesign FireArrow from scratch. I've decided that the current edition of FireArrow, while solid, has the wheels too exposed for my liking. The redesigned version will have UHMW wheelguards and frame, a titanium wedge, and spaces for magnets in the bottom so it doesn't get knocked around as easily in the steel Moto box.

Nocturne held up perfectly in its battles, and we just need to figure out how to spin it without having cogging problems. Hopefully, that day where we do figure it out will be soon.

All in all, I had a great time at Motorama and I'm excited for my next competition!

I took a ton of pictures at the event and I'll be uploading them tomorrow.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

MIT Mini Maker Faire 2014 Event Report

It's been awhile, hasn't it? I haven't updated this blog in two months! Here's what went down between then and now:

-FireArrow got a new wedge so the self-righting issues were fixed
-Nocturne got finished

MIT's first annual Mini Maker Faire was this weekend, and they had a robot competition hosted by Jamison Go, who built DDT. Since it was the first year for the event (and only two weeks away from Franklin, the bigger tournament around the east coast) not many people made it out, but it was a great competition nonetheless. Here's how my two robots did:

Fight 1: FireArrow vs Puppy
Since there were only six ants, it was decided to run them round robin. My first opponent was Puppy, a 4WD wedge built by Team Metal Volcano. They had decided to come up and test their robot for Franklin, and it was a solid build. The new version of it featured pink 3D-printed parts and some thicker armor all around. I had some flashbacks to Antelope when I first saw it, and knew I'd have issues getting under it. However, despite some early flips (which were mitigated by my robot's new wedge modification) I was able to be in control most of the match. Eventually, he ramped off my wedge and flipped himself, and I was able to control him entirely from there. FireArrow wins a deserved judge's decision.

Fight 2: Nocturne vs Derp Bot
Derp Bot was a last-second build by an MIT student, and it was the ideal cannon fodder: held together by duct tape, servo drive, and a spinner that'd be more at home on an antweight. We had been struggling to get Nocturne's weapon to spin up, and those issues were prevalent again here. However, after a few tries it got going and absolutely tore into the duct tape, leaving an entire side open. I got another couple of smaller hits but nothing like that first one. Late into the match I hit the arena's kickplate, and one of Nocturne's weapon teeth cracked. Looks like they were too brittle for combat. Eventually Derp Bot is counted out and Nocturne moves on.

Fight 3: FireArrow vs Spinzilla
Spinzilla is Brandon's ant, and it featured a VDD kit blade, carbon fiber armor and a very high-up weapon assembly. His spinner wasn't really able to get a good bite on my wedge, so I was able to slam him around for a while. Eventually, his lipo managed to fall out. I thought the match would end, but apparently not, so I kept ramming him around. Then, late into the match something truly bizarre happened: I slammed him battery-first into the wall, and the battery fell into the small gap that surrounded the arena. It was tethered to the wall! It eventually freed itself, but that was about it. No surprise I won this one.

Fight 4: Nocturne vs Robo Rooter
Alex's brutal hubmotor spinner, Robo Rooter, was my next opponent. This was one of the beetles I was truly scared of. I knew I'd have issues with my weapon so I decided to go into his weapon rear-end first. This seemed to work for a while, despite the damage I was taking to the corners. Eventually I got the weapon spun up and I got one good hit on his wheelguard before it stopped and wouldn't start again. At this point I was just hitting him with all I had and trying to survive to the next match. I got caught on the seam at mid-arena and then got punted one more time by Robo Rooter, and this time I couldn't move at all. No clue why, I just couldn't move. So I tapped out. Taking the robot back to the pits, we found out that the last hit had severed the connection between the power switch and the robot, meaning it couldn't move. Other damage included a bent weapon shaft and some very deep gouges in the UHMW sides. Needless to say, Nocturne was done for the day.

Fight 5: FireArrow vs Glass Cannon
Glass Cannon was another "built at the last minute" bot from a MIT student. This one featured a deadly looking vertical blade, but in its first match it cracked in half on the first impact, and so since was held together with pink duct tape, ballpoint pens, and dreams. Since the builder was AWOL at the time, Jamo drove it. It was a fairly simple match, with me getting under, him glancing off my wedge and bouncing off two walls of the arena, and so forth. Eventually the weapon stopped, and that was it. FireArrow wins again.

Fight 6: FireArrow vs Cannon
Oh boy. Here it is. The one ant I was legitimately afraid of. Massive vertical eggbeater. However, it wasn't all bad, there were kids behind me in the seats cheering for me. And the fight was a lot of fun too. Tons of heavy hits and big slams, and he got me flipped a few times. Eventually, though, I lost a drive motor, and the last two big hits killed FireArrow entirely. These were at the very end of the match though so it still went to the judges, but they passed it to the crowd. Since I was the wedge, they of course said Cannon won. We took it back to the pits and found the drive system a mess. The axles were bent, the bearings had broken and we didn't have the tools to fix it there in the pits. This meant we had to forfeit the last round of the round robin. However, since I won the first three fights, I had a good enough record to tie for second with Spinzilla. In my opinion, I came second, because my victory over Spinzilla in the main competition would have been the tiebreaker. They wanted to do a tiebreaker match, but with neither robot in condition to do so we decided to put a Spongebob pinata on a giant coin-flipping machine (don't ask) to decide the winner. I lost the sponge toss. So officially, I came third.

Still, it was a fantastic event with a lot of great people, and I got to see some pretty neat stuff when I wasn't competing (like Chibi-Mikuvan). Now, to prepare for Moto!

I will upload the pictures I took tomorrow and edit them here.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Nocturne is near completion!

Despite being unable to make it to Bot Blast, Nocturne is closer than ever to being a finished robot. Recently, the weapon assembly was finished (just need to add the steel weapon teeth) and the drive was mounted. We're going to Velcro some of the more important internals (ESC, battery, etc) so they don't get knocked around as much.

Here's a weapon test:
Of course that was before we decided to mount the wheels internally so they don't get damaged as much. Also changed since that video was taken is the front of the robot. That front point has been milled off so it's harder to damage.

Here's a picture of how Nocturne looks at the present moment:
It will be ready for October's competitions as soon as the weapon teeth are attached and the power switch is mounted.