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A 'Spark-thrower'?

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Joined: 06 Jul 2015
Posts: 142
Location: Newcastle

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A 'Spark-thrower'?

I've had a weapon idea playing around in my head that would consist of a grinding disc with a ferrocerium rod feeding into it. Have this in some sort of dragon or unicorn head so that it vomits firey sparks.

It would be similar to a flamethrower, which I know aren't allowed (or effective, this would be for a sportsman bot) for good reason. Comparing my sparkthrower to a flamethrower I see these pros and cons:

- No flammable gas or liquids, this is the biggest factor and makes the sparkthrower safe in the pits and arena.
- Would look awesome, which is the reason I want to do it.
- Novel, I don't think it's been done.
- Less damaging than an actual flamethrower, I don't see it really doing any damage unless there is flammable stuff on the other bot (like a plush toy). Although maybe this is a con?
- Very cheap and simple, no separate ignition source or valves. I would just get a 18V angle grinder on a brushed controller then spring load the ferrocerium onto the grinding disc.

- Fire hazard, there is a chance of igniting the wooden floor, probably small. The real fire hazard is sparks getting inside the other bot and igniting the battery. If batteries are protected this shouldn't happen, but everything that shouldn't happen happens in combat robotics Smile
- Throwing sparks onto the polycarb, I see this as the biggest issue. Imagine pointing angle grinder sparks on steroids at the plastic arena walls, they'll do damage. Bigger bits will embed in the polycarb, smaller crud will leave a smokey grime. I can mitigate this by putting the sparkthrower up high and pointing it down, imagine a unicorn head vomiting sparks down onto another bot. This would require some discipline on the driver to turn the weapon off if the weapon is pointing at the walls.
- A lot of heat on my own bot, the friction and sparks will create a lot of heat. Everything on the sparkthrowing end of bot will need to be heatproof and taking it out of the arena will require care and maybe welding gloves. Probably just care.

From my (biased) point of view, it should be fine provided the sparks aren't thrown against the arena walls for any long (seconds) amount of time. But this is a call for the event organizer (Marto), if it's not allowed at least I've got the idea out of my head. If allowed it would be a replacement for the Bubbler...so Spitfire?

I've ordered some cheap ferrocerium rods to play with, and am willing to make a video testing them to see just how big the sparks would be. I could also use plain old steel rods for less sparks, or titanium rods for brilliant white sparks. Or both. I also want to test if I can get green sparks off copper, even if I have to electroplate it onto the steel or Ti.

Post Sun Jun 03, 2018 3:34 pm 
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