Event Report - RoboWars Meeting - 20/06/2003
Glen Waverley. - By Brett Paulin

People in Attendance : Brett Paulin, Melissa Whitworth, Annie Manson, Gary Stott, Rob Stott, Matt Stott, Jason Cowley, Timothy Forde, Neweyn Millen & Friend, Sam & Friend and Father, David Mitchell, Lara & Father, Alan Watts & son

Robots : The Acid Test, Scoopy-Doo, Mini-Mower, Ball Peen, Lawnmower, Simplicity, Batty-Bot, RoboDog, Lego Bots, Cybot

Teams : TechnoMagic, Rotwang Robotics, Team LeSheen, SirKillRock, Jaybotics, Porcupine, Straight-from-Hell Robots

(please excuse some of the lo-res photos in this report, they were captured from the video clips after they had been encoded, and had lots of background sun interfering)

Saturday dawned bright and clear after a few days of howling winds and rain in Melbourne, so that was a relief as a I climbed out from under the covers at the unreasonable hour of 8am (after staying up till 2am finishing Scoopy Doo's wiring.

Batteries Charged, Video Loaded, Cameras primed, Pit Tables setup, Power Cords, Powerboards, Munchies and Drinks, TV with BattleBots tapes, Target Practice Old PC, Lights, Makeup, Action !!!

Neweyn and his friend were the first to arrive and we just chatted and did the intro thing for a bit, doing some demo drives of Scoopy Doo.

Tim Forde arrived shortly afterwards with his bot which he had been up early adding a wood covered steel wedge extension to, and fitting hi-grip rubber treads to the wheels of Simplicity

Jason Cowley then arrived with "Batty-Bot" looking very menacing with its big steel rotor, after some more hurried last-minute wiring, the bots mechanicals having only been completed on Thursday night after a late-night visit to the Rotwang Workshops in Geelong.

The rumble of Garys V8 Chrysler-by-Chrysler rolls up, and Team Rotwang unload. Gary Stott, complete with drivers Matt & Rob Stott. and "Mini-Mower" is unveiled, .

along with the fearsomely upgraded "Lawn-Mower"

nd the new 12Kg Hammer bot in progress "Ball Peen"

A whole swag of support machinery, tools, battery chargers, "PipeBomb" Nicad packs and everything else appears, and the house starts to look like like Pit-Lane at a Drag-race meeting.

The Acid Test lurks in the corner, sporting its new flurorescent Acidic Paint Job, but doesnt actually get a run today, since we were so busy with the 12kg bots. Besides it doesnt have its flywheel teeth yet, and if it did, it would probably be too dangerous to run anyway, so its gets to be the show-bot for today.

Sam and his friend (missed his name) and his dad arrive from Geelong, bearing various ant-weight style bots, so Annie gets out "Cybot" and starts prepping it for battle with the baby bots as well.

After all the introductions and stuff were out of the way, a sacrificial PC Case was thrown into the ring (Bretts Carport), and MiniMower and Scoopy Doo start chewing away at it. The Scooter drives on Minimower appear incredibly smooth and responsive, giving it a very liquid feel to drive, and enabling it to spin at high rates, as well as having plenty of pushing power.

It takes a little practice to steer accurately though, since the low-friction belt reduction drives dont offer much braking force and its easy to over shoot on the steering. Matt finds this out the hard way and accidentally drives into his foot at full speed, prompting him to move to the raised area of the carport with the rest of the sensible people.

The Drum spins up instantly, although not to a very high speed at the moment
(for viewing safety with no Arenas yet),

but with massive amounts of torque from the drill-friction drive, and it proceeds to toss the computer case around with ease,

chewing bits of it off, and easily lifting it up and grinding away at its underside,

An R/C car ventures into the arena, only to be contemptuously tossed aside by MiniMowers Drum as it scatters the (now in pieces) PC case to the corners of the carport.

It seems the Nicad "PipeBomb" packs with the maligned drill-batteries are doing a pretty good job of powering it for Ages, although this is probably due to the fact that the low-current scooter motors are a lot more efficient than the relatively powerful-but-crude high-current drill motors.

"Crude" Drill Motors or not, Scoopy Doo is charging around the arena with an incredible turn of speed and maneuverability - (and although I might be biased) - I think it has a slight edge over Minimower in speed and power, although certainly at the cost of higher power consumption from the drill motors than the scooters. Its using a 7Ahr SLA temporarily cable tied into the scoop-tray, since I didnt have the time or money to build the AA Nicad packs for it before the event.

Scoopys Arm is working perfectly, and the dual-saws are grinding away and throwing nice sparks from the computer case, although it could probably do with 24v rather than 12v, since it requires careful gradual downward movement of the arm as its applied to the target, or the saws stall. We will have it running on 24v next time, so watch out. But for now, after a little practice, I get better at smoothly applying the saw and cut some nice grooves through the case. The RC car suffers some cosmetic surgery as well, although the plastic melting around the saw stalls it fairly easily. The answer to this is obvious.. "More Power" !

Jason fired up his new 12kg Spinner "Batty-Bot" and the last-minute wiring and antenna starts causing problems straight away, with very poor radio control, and very little power to drive motors causing it to jolt uncerainly about. It really needed supression capacitors on the motors and a decent antenna. It too could probably use 24v on its spinner motor, but even at 12v it eventually winds up to a scary speed and belts the hell out of some bits around the garage. This thing is going to be *dangerous* when he gets it all tuned up and sorted out. It didnt really make a great showing today, but I expect it wont take him long to iron the bugs out

Tim gets his Bot "Simplicity" running on a loaned IBC, and it moves quite briskly about the carport, with the wooden wedge scraping the ground very effectively, although he is also having some radio trouble from having his antenna all coiled up underneath his wedge. Looks like we all need to learn some more about these radio things. Standing closeby fixes it though and he motorvates about the arena,

Minimower and Scoopy Doo stop to change batteries, fiddle with Antenna's and general Maintenaince just as David Mitchell arrives bearing "RoboDog", a Sony Aibo look alike which gets plugged in and starts soaking up some charge for its batteries too. Lunchtime for the Bots and the people as Mel (Team Le-Sheen) after having a practice drive of Scoopy-Doo appears with the Sausage Rolls, Party-Pies, biccies and dip. BattleBots and RoboJoust tapes are playing on the TV, and everyone starts having
a good old technical chat.

Another new potential bot builder arrives along with her dad, a young lady by the name of Lara, (females are a rare species in the Robot Combat world), who is studying computer science, and finds the builders are a friendly bunch and joins in the tech-talk with interest. She is pleased to find that its not going to cost thousands to join in the sport (most of the bots have been built for under $200 so far - not including the radio and ESC).

Sam and friend along with Annie (another Girl-power driver from Team LeSheen) head for the presently empty arena with the baby Lego-bots and proceed to get some battle practice in, no doubt imagining driving their Future super-heavyweight Robots in their minds. Cybot suffers a castor nose-wheel failure from the vicous ramming administered it by the Lego-Bots from Geelong (no doubt those of you with Cybots know about this weak link), but otherwise puts up a good fight.

Back Inside, RoboDog is going through his paces, performing an amazing array of articulated artistic animations, although he seems a bit deaf to his audio clap commands on occasion.. no doubt due to the general hubbub of the builders chatting. Psi-Bur (our Cat) is not at all impressed or afraid of the mechanical mutt though and disdainfully saunters off outside away from all the noise.

After lunch, MiniMower and Scoopy Doo decide to have a bit of a scrap (without weapons running, since we didnt want to destroy them too much just yet) and shove each other around the arena. Scoopy-Doo's scoop is working a treat, once Minimower is in the tray, theres no escaping, and Scoopy is able to shove it around with ease (well, easier if it wasnt for the joint-gaps in the concrete). Scoopy manages to shove Minimower "out of the ring" and into the garden a couple of times, although it would be a lot more even if Minimower's drum was switched on. MiniMowers rear wedge gets under Scoopy a couple of times though and all in all, they appear pretty evenly matched.

Suddenly Scoopy loses its drive to one wheel and can only go in circles and about the same time MiniMowers Drum stops, so we call a halt for a bit and return to the pits to investigate. It seems Scoopys right side gearbox is locked solid, while all that is wrong with Minimower is a loose wire on the drum earth connection. Disassembly of scoopys gearbox reveals that 2 of the 3 metal pins on the output flange (that engage the center of the steel planet gears) have sheared off and managed to jam themselves in the gears teeth, removing a couple of the teeth from some gears in the process.

Fortunately Team TechnoMagic is well versed with the intricacies of Drill Gears and a spare gearbox is soon in place (with a few assembly tips from Rotwang (Gary). This is the first time we have seen this fault, and suspect its probably just due to the low quality control of the metal used to make the chinese drills, since we have drills working much harder than that in The Acid Test and other bots, and none of them have broken in that way yet. anyway.. something to keep an eye on.. Scoopy is soon back up and running with vengeance in her eye..

Unfortunately, Tim didnt notice that gleam in her eye.. for while Scoopy was innocently sawing away on a PC trying out her new gearbox.. Tim's "Simplicity" decided to declare war and sneakily got under Scoopys skirts lifting her off the ground momoentarily. Whilst she got her bearings and raised her arm to look around in preparation for the devastation of the intruder, he attacked once again, and catching her with her arm raised high,the wedge lifted and pushed her backwards, with the saws howling in fury... straight into Bretts Car, one resounding "graunch" later and the Charger is wearing a battle scar a few inches long on its rear bumper bar). Much to the entertainment of the crowd. My fault for parking it there, although its off to get repainted on monday anyway, so I guess it doesnt matter.. some good points for Simplicity there.

Now the bots are angry though and a weapons-on free-for-all develops with MiniMower weighing into the fray and Batty-Bot doing its best to be something other than a not-very-mobile arena hazard. Scoopy chases Simplicity around the arena for a few laps and manages to get in some good grinds on that nice stainless armour, and leave a few grooves in the wooden wedge as well, even though the wood tends to stall the saw fairly easily. Nice ablative armour there Tim.

MiniMower joins the battle again (driven by Sam), and Scoopy-Doo promptly attacks, although not without cost as the Acryclic tray cracks under the impact of Minimower's wedge (note, change to Lexan for the next battle). But once again, Minimower has been Scooped, and this time, Scoopy-Doo has him by the neck. Well, Antenna anyway.. The saw spins up, and neatly amputates MiniMowers antenna, immediately making it impossible to control, whilst the fragment winds about the Saw shaft making a cool grinding noise.

Minimower retires for a quick rest and a new Antenna whilst Simplicity gets brave and decides to take on the twitchy Batty-Bot. Gingerley approaching the whirlwind of steel, Simplicity is knocked aside violently (slightly bending BattyBots Blade), but gallantly comes back for more, only to have big gouges ripped out of the wedge-wood

But Batty-Bot has got the twitches again, so Simplicity lives to talk about it, and Goes back for a bit more of a scrappy-doo with Scoopy-doo. The crack in the Tray lets go, and suddenly Scoopy Doo is scoop-less, much reducing her effectiveness.. Annoyed, she grinds the top of the helpless Batty-Bot a bit, and then decides to call it a day, Arm raised high in Victory.

MiniMower and Simplicity go in for the last battle of the day, with everything open.. the drum's teeth are eagerly shredding Tim's ablataive armount into sawdust as it rides up and down the wedge, then changing tactices, MiniMower attacks from the side, and teeth do what they are designed to.. lift Simplicity up and start grinding away underneath. By now the batteries are getting low though and the drum is losing power.. after a few seconds grinding, it gets stuck on the steel frame and stall, which blows a protection fuse and the match is over.

Well, its hard to tell who won actually (as usual). A few more practice runs and we might have some actual timed matches so the winner is clearer. But everyone has had a great time and all of the bots showed promise and (mostly) worked well, so keeping score isnt important (Yet.. B-)

After this point, everyone returned to Pit-row for some post-fight wrap-ups, bragging, repairs, and more tech-chat, plus to learn from their breakages of the day. We will definitely be doing this again soon. One event is worth months of talking and tinkering, so we are going to try and hold a get together at least once a month from now on.

People started to wander off home around now, gradually dropping back to just the Rotwang Team and myself, It was amazing how quiet it was without the chatter..

Gary and I took the opportunity to tinker with Lawnmower and its customised IBC controller (for the series wound motors). We got it all wired up and driving, and it was moving around very nicely. 12Kg bots are nice, but watching the 50Kg 4WD All-Terrain Lawnmower lunging around the garden, and up and down the side of the carport where a 12kg bot would get stuck reminds me that we all hope to move up into the bigger bots once the sport gets going. Its a pity we didnt get it running earlier while everyone was around, but we were fairly busy with the featherweights.. Watch for a Video Clip of Lawnmower driving and its weapons tests coming soon(ish).

We discussed a few things we had learnt from hosting the day.. (besides the many things we learn about the bots) Arena wise, we need to take a leaf out of jeffs book and cover the joins in the concrete, since the little 12kg bots quite easily get stuck on them. The sunlight coming in at angle made the videos contrast fairly average.. we need to work on the lighting arrangements a bit better. We forgot to take a group photo, which was annoying, and we probably need to designate a non-bot driving cameraman to run around and snap more photos and video without being distracted by working on the bots. Other than that, everything ran very smoothly.

Thanks to everyone for coming, and I look foward to seeing you all at the next one !

Video Clips !

we suggest you right-click and
save-as before trying to play these

1- Fights Alive
The Compilation of the Fights during the day.
Windows Media Video ver8 - 20 Megabytes

2 - ScoopyDoo.&.Batty-Bot
Test.Drives. wmv 8

14.4 Megabytes

Windows Media ver8 - 9.6 Megabytes