This past weekend Team Conn Bots made a trek up to the cold, white north of Harrisburg PA for the largest robotic combat event this side of the Mississippi, Motorama. There were over 120 individual robots that were registered for the event and even more than that showed up.
We arrived early on Friday to grab a good table and compete in the Ant-weight class. Unfortunately the arena's were late on arriving due to a snow storm that had been moving through the area. After the truck finally arrived, many hands made quick work of putting up the arenas and getting the 30+ Ant and Fairy weights weighed and through safety.
In the first round Hercules drew the speedy wedge known as Slim Pickens. It was a close fought match, a real drivers battle. Hercules could always get under Slim Pickens but good driving made it hard to hold on and actually do anything with him. The match came down to a judges decision leaving Hercules the victor.
In the second round Hercules came up against the powerhouse of Algos from Near Chaos Robotics. I attempted to get around the extremely low front wedge but Algos proved to be too low. It was a close fight until one big hit stripped one of the gears in the Gold Spark motors of Hercules. It was all downhill from there. Algos finished the fight with one final pop that landed Hercules in the gap between the arena floor and the wall that has developed after years of abuse. With that Hercules dropped to the losers bracket.
After the fight with Algos I had to replace the wheels and servo arm and put in back up motors into Hercules. Next I was up against the Fingertech kitbot called The Ophidian. After the first hit I lost one of my wheels and was left limping for the rest of the fight. Luckily I was able to get under The Ophidian and knock off his blade (which is a huge blade to run direct-drive off of a brushless motor with an 1/8" shaft). I was able to get under The Ophidian a couple of times but without half of a drivetrain there wasn't much I could do. The match went to a judges decision and it went for The Ophidian for the damage inflicted, knocking Hercules out of the tournament.
Hercules ended up (1-2) at Motorama, mildly disappointing but that's how it goes. Looking forward I think there are some improvements I could make: Making the front plate out of titanium to save weight, changing the servo arm to aluminum instead of plastic for stability, and using the extra weight to better protect the wheels from big hits and maybe even machining the body out of a single piece of UHMW.
Barrel Roll made its combat debut at Motorama 2015. The bot itself was somewhat thrown together last minute and I didn't have enough time to properly test it because all of my robots are at my home in Cincinnati and I go to college at Case Western up in Cleveland making it difficult to work on the robot. Despite all of that it came together and looked good in preparation of its debut.
Barrel Roll's first ever fight was against the original Kitbot wedge, Trilobite. At the beginning of the fight the lack of time spent with the bot immediately showed. The weapon belt was loose thus causing troubles with spin up of the drum. Trilobite's extremely low spatula style wedge was easily able to get under Barrel Roll causing issues. I finally got the drum spinning but it wasn't for long. After a short time of spinning the loose belt came back again this time completely preventing the drum from spinning. From there it was a pushing match in which Barrel Roll was no match for Trilobite. Barrel Roll loses on a judges decision.
After the fight with Trilobite, I had a few things to fix, mainly the belt tension. With a donation from Kyle Singer of Twisted Sick Robotics I added an idler belt to the weapon drive and the drum was looking good. Next, Barrel Roll was to fight Terrarpin, a modified Kitbot. When the match started it looked good, the drum was up to speed and I was getting in some decent hits. Then all of a sudden Barrel Roll lost all radio control and shut down to get counted out for its second and final fight of Motorama.
I was pretty disappointed with Barrel Roll's performance in its debut. But they were relatively small problems that brought it down. For the future I need to fix the radio problems and the belt tension. I also need to make it easier to take apart, after have to basically take it entirely apart two separate times to fix the belt this is a must.
My name is Michael Connerton. I recently graduated from Case Western Reserve University with a master's in mechanical engineering with a focus in robotics. This blog serves as a record of my exploits into the world of robotics and especially combat robotics.