Robot Battles 2010
This year Robot Battles was held in the Hyatt Regency Hotel Ballroom chosen for it's large seating capacity. As usual Kelly Lockhart was emcee, referee and comedian . My team consisted of camera operator Keith Rowell, Len Burleson and my wife Ann. I took both Overthruster and Omegaforce to enter the 12 and 30 pound classes. Both bots had been serviced and were battle ready, or so I thought.
This year, due to the unfortunate and unavoidable absence of Stephen Chapman, the combat surface did not have any 1/4 inch high steel speed bumps. Kelly didn't being any stuffed animals or rubber snakes either. Only the uneven seams between the four stage risers provided any wedge traps. Smart wedges proved to be of little advantage on this surface. While they work fine on 1/4 steel strips, they tended to get stuck under the sheet metal that holds the carpet edges. Later, tests at home showed that sheet metal laid down that way will bend and fold upward when hit with a smart wedge. That gives me a new problem to solve for next year. The stage was lit with an array of bright spot lights at the back of the audience. Those guys weren't wearing shades just to look cool!
There were eleven bots entered in both the 30 and 12 pound classes. The overall quality of the bots was very good this year. We had wedge pushy bots, bulldozer bots, lifters, flippers, armor piercers and bots that were combinations. This is what happens with you let engineers minds run free and unsupervised. Scary. As usual this event was double elimination and best of 2 out of 3 sumo style combat.
First to face Omegaforce was skinny Nicole Richie. This bot is pretty light for a "12# bot". 7 or 8 pounds I think. Anyway, I enjoyed tossing her off the stage and nearly hitting Charles Guan once. Fortunately he has ninja fast reflexes.
Next up was tiny little Sporkinok, a one pound creation of Seth Specht consisting of a metal spork attached to a pair of wheels fighting way outside its weight class. There was some concern about safety - no one knew how far Omegaforce would throw a one pound object. Kelly held out a hat and suggested I aim for it. Yeah, right. But hey, this is Robot Battles™ and everyone really wanted to see just how far that little bot would fly. 1,2,3 Fight!! Much to everyones surprise Sporkinok was pretty hard to defeat. It was like trying to swat an annoying fly buzzing around my head. I even ran Omegaforce off the stage once delighting the tiny bots driver and fans. After chasing the little thing for a while the rotary flipper eventually found its mark and flung it off the stage. Round 3 was similar but when the flipper connected it hurled Sporkinok about 4 feet up and 15 feet sideways nearly hitting Charles again. Did I mention his ninja self preservation reflexes? They worked well, preventing awkward explanations to EMTs of how a spork on wheels came to be embedded in his head.
The third fight was with Lobster Roll by Rick Purcell. It was sort of a lobster like bot painted red. I drove Omegaforce off in the first round. Oops. The second round ended with a spectacular multi-flip sequence that tossed Lobster Roll off the stage prompting loud cheering from the audience. The third was similar for the win.
Then along came Served Cold by Team Found Objects. This team has a history of making bots from the contents of dumpsters. They usually bring amusing but ineffective "clown" bots but this time it was different. It was a no nonsense two wheel dustpan wedge. No paint, no silliness. Omegaforce does not do well against this type bot. The missing 1/4 inch speed bumps took away my only advantage. It did not go well. We lost and entered the losers brackets. Nice work Rob.
Next it was Soda, another bot by Team Found Objects. This is a plastic soda packing crate with 4 wheels and has plenty of area easily hit with the flipper. Round one ended with a solid crowd pleasing hit that tossed Soda spinning through the air and off the stage. Next Soda was flipped over and drove off. Win!
The final and fatal round was with Tetanus Shot by Team Evil Robots. Its weapon is a sharp steel spike. Round one went pretty well until Omegaforce was pushed off the stage. The next round was the beginning of the end. Both bots rushed and collided in the center of the stage. The spike on Tetanus Shot derailed the flipper chain and the impact turned the bot over. Oh no! The weapon is down. A few seconds later Tetanus Shot drove the spike into the side creating a large hole. Holy crap! I hope that wasn't a lethal injection. Now we have a pair of pushy bots fighting. Both fell off the stage for a draw. This is not looking good. I could have tried to get the chain back on but I knew there were issues that would take a lot of time so I decided just to fight without a weapon. Next round was typical pushy bot stuff with long periods of both bots face to face pushing at full power yet going nowhere. This overheated the power MOSFET transistors in the controller eventually leading to the release of magic smoke and the death of Omegaforce. Congratulations Jason!
Omegaforce will return next year after I make a few changes involving thermal management. Also the chain will be fixable quickly. Maybe it will even have guards.
Tetanus Shot went on to win the 12# championship, beating Served Cold in the final.
Our first fight was with Poulon Rouge, yet another bot from the warped minds of Team Found Objects. It's a modified lawn mower chassis painted red with "go faster" flames. I was not intimidated. 1 2 3 fight! At some point early in this battle the weapon flywheel in Overthruster came off the shaft rendering the flipper rather feeble. I was not aware of this. But it didn't matter, I pushed Poulon Rouge off twice for the win. But Kelly wanted a third round. I guess he was hoping for a massive hit from the flipper just for the lulz. Sorry to disappoint.
Unfortunately I still did not realize the flywheel was off before the round with Fusion MKII. Without full flipper power these two bots are a pretty even match. It all came down to luck and driving skill. Overthruster lost and entered the losers brackets.
The fight with Fusion caused a spring bumper behind the flipper to get pushed way out of adjustment. To fix it I had to open the lid. OMFG!! Why is the flywheel rolling around loose in here? No wonder I lost. Was the flywheel set screw checked during the pre-event service? Nope.
The next bot was iRobob by Joe Torre and he was about to face Omegaforce with a fully operational flipper. The first round ended with iRobob being flipped once then getting pushed off the stage. I feel kind of bad about the next round. I flipped iRobob on his back, then quickly flipped him back right side up. Then I rammed the side and tossed him off the stage. Later I found out Joe had called for a "tap out" when his bot went bottoms up. With the loud music, crowd yelling and bot noise I did not hear him. Sorry about that Joe, I hope iRobob is ok.
Next up was Fusion MKII again but this time I had a fully operational flywheel powered flipper. The balance of power has shifted. The first round went to Fusion. Next Overthruster inverted Fusion and he drove himself off. The final round also went to Overthruster after some intense dueling and crowd pleasing flips. Win!
At this point we had worked our way though the loser brackets up to the 30# final. It was with Pinball by Thomas Kenney, a combo wedge and pushy bot built for arena fighting. This thing is wicked fast and the driver it has quick reflexes. He'd drive out with the wedge trailing behind to keep from getting stuck on the seams then spin around 180 degrees to present the wedge to the oncoming opponent. Pretty cool. The first two fights were draws with both bots falling off. The third went to Overthruster due to Pinball driving off. The last was more intense with Overthruster popping Pinball up then getting under him and pushing him off the edge for the 30# championship win.
Omegaforce had no chance to win the 12# rumble due to being killed dead by Tetanus Shot but I put it on the stage anyway as a scarecrow/obstacle. Against all odds 1# Sporkinok won the 12# Rumble. Kelly explained it by saying that 1 in a million events happen 9 times out of 10. In the strange alternate universe of Robot Battles that often seems to be true.
Cold Arbor by Charles Guan won the 30# Rumble.
12 & 30 pound Rumbles
|Robot Battles 2010|
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