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.

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