Nelly in Deep Sh-

Picture the scene if you will; we’ve repaired Nelly after being tasted in the face by Pride Carbide, and we’ve finally sat down on the couch in the builders lounge for a well earned cup of tea. The absolutely lovely folks on the P1 team brought teabags aplenty with them to BattleBots, and my British derriere regards these people as heroes.

“I wonder who we’ll fight next?” Niels asks, chugging on his black coffee and laughing at the pathetic levels of caffeine in my own beverage.

“Deep Six would be fun.” Charlie says. At this point, I am unsure whether he’s still with us or not, owing to his consumption of five-hour energy drinks. His expression leads me to believe that he’s fast approaching the comedown stage and the tea isn’t cutting it. “If they hit our wedge in the right spot they’ll just Yeet themselves.”

At this point, the rest of the team isn’t looking at Charlie like he’s guilty of creating a Dutch Oven, so my own brain cogs start turning while I contemplate the idea.

I mean, it’s mad. It’s not just mad; it’s bat shit. Their spinner weighs a hundred pounds and their whole robot is taller than me. On the other hand, I kinda wanted to fight Tombstone, but this is unlikely until I git gudder. So what’s a little Deep Six between friends.

Oh look, Dustin’s sat over there, I notice.

“Hey Dustin, wanna bonk?” I ask him with a totally serious face.

“I’ll fight you.” He replies. Challenge accepted.

So we told production that we were ready to fight again, that we’d challenged Deep Six, and that they’d accepted. I figured they probably had plans for us… Maybe we’d get a non-spinner after being royally twatted by Rainbow. Then later in the day, the man with your fate in his hands comes out to announce the fights and..

“Nelly the Ellybot vs Deep Six. “

Cue the pits giggling, me smirking, and the arena cleaners grumbling that they don’t get paid enough for this bollocks.

TO BATTLE!!

Surely you joust…
Photo Credit: Tony Woodward

Nelly had two wedges. For ease sakes, we’ll call them “Tusks Wedge” and “Wedge Wedge.” Tusks Wedge, naturally, is the one with the holes at the front for the tusks. Wedge Wedge is a solid…..wedge. But it was damaged after Rainbow, and the welding repairs warped it so it didn’t reattach to Nelly properly. Against Deep Six, this would have been the preferable wedge to run, but as it didn’t mount properly onto the right wub-rail any more, we elected to run Tusk Wedge minus the tusks. I feel it goes without saying that the absence of the tusks was due to the state of the floor… which was probably about to get worse. (Famous last words…)

A N G E R Y Nelly is ready to Bonk!
Photo Credit: Tony Woodward

In a bold feat of technological wizardry, we added a lance to Nelly. All right I’m lying, it’s a pokey stick. But Lance sounds cooler okay!

This astonishingly cunning mechanical mastery was mounted onto Nelly’s Tusk Wedge with highly sophisticated gaffa tape. I mean, if Deep Six hit the Stick of Poke, it was coming off no matter how well we attached it. So who needs finesse.

Uh Oh
Photo Credit: Tony Woodward

Getting stuck on the floor got the battle off to a fantastic start for us. The hammer wasn’t working due to the receiver battery being flat after waiting in pre-battle purgatory for so long. So we couldn’t use Bonk Force to unstick ourselves. Oh, what to do.

“Dustin? Could you give us a wee nudge?”

Photo Credit: Tony Woodward

NOT THAT HARD YOU PACHYDERM PULVERIZING PILLOCK!!!!!!

Well, she’s still moving at least…. RETREEEEAT!

Turn around, rethink the plan. Don’t get stuck on the floor again. Keep moving.

OH SH*T THAT THING MOVES FASTER THAN WE THOUGHT

Photo Credit: Tony Woodward

This is going well.

Photo Credit: Tony Woodward

Was it the bulkhead, or the chunk out of the hammer arm which took out the light?” I ponder to myself whilst stifling my chortles out of sympathy for the team.

“Kiss me Kenny ❤ “
Photo Credit: Tony Woodward

It’s fairly obvious that repairs won’t be easy at this point, and I’ve still got to keep moving because getting stuck again would be a little inconvenient. There’s a chance we can topple this colossal unit over with a good shove, so kamikaze time it is!!

TALLY HO!

Photo Credit: Tony Woodward

Well it worked!!! …………Sort of.

Deep Six has definitely been Yeeted. And uh…

We ain’t got no movement.

Balls.

Photo Credit: Tony Woodward

The referee announced that this was a double KO situation and as such, it goes to the judges. At which point I was a thousand percent certain that Deep Six would take the win on damage. I mean, look at her…

Sorry about your floor.. And the light…and Nelly..
Photo Credit: Tony Woodward

Of course, Deep Six took the win. Bravo, Team Overboard, bravo. The state of my Ellybot and the weapon failure aside, that is trunks-down one of the most fun battles I’ve had in my life. The Internet seems to agree…

Jolly good show old bean!
Photo Credit: Dan Longmire

Damage report? Okay, get comfy….

One wrecked wedge
Deep Six said this bit tasted nice
One written-off hammer arm
Bent and bitten HARD
The guilty bulkhead which took out the arena light

We also lost an eye, but the picture is too gruesome and I simply can’t post it. Instead, I leave you with the news that our drive died because of a severed battery cable. We’re gonna work on that… Again.

At this point it’s fairly obvious that we’re not Top 16 material and hope to get back into the ring for exhibition fights. Most of the face which got torn off was actually salvageable, and there are few things you can’t achieve without gaffa tape and some insufferable optimism.

The LEM was damaged, though not beyond repair. For the sake of getting back in the ring quickly, we swapped it out for our spare. The hammer arm was a write-off so we switched to our spare for that too. Fixed the battery cable, charged the receiver battery, spent a good two hours putting tyres on our worn-down wheels.. She drove like a dream in the test box afterwards, though. Thanks to HUGE for the donation!

A full day’s worth of graft later and Nelly was driving and bonking again. All we needed was a new eye….

At time of writing, I don’t know if we’ll be on again, so I can’t share any pictures of Nelly’s next incarnation… But I leave you with the knowledge that the Pet Cemetery took good care of her, and we made some small changes to her butt:

As ever, a big thank you to our sponsors 3D Print Direct UK and ASG Group LTD.

A big shout out to the AMAZING photography skills of Tony Woodward.

It was worth it for the Lols.

Conclusion: We only lost 50% of her face this time, so that’s a solid improvement!

Eh, it was a giggle!
Photo Credit: Tony Woodward

Advertisements

Tasted in the Face by a Rainbow

Team Pun-Chant and Nelly the Ellybot enter the Battle Box to fight Rainbow – Credit JCRB Photography

To L.A.. A bot-fighting quintet came…
They brought a mechanical elephant, and Nelly was her name…

Aaaaaaaaaaaand got twatted in the face by a multicoloured spinner.

I mean, if you’re gonna go down.. You’ve gotta go down in style, right? And what a marvelous way to blow up. The audience were either out of their seats or covering their eyes in horror. The fan group I help run has been flooded with memes about exploding faces, surpassing even #floorgate. The eye jokes are getting cornea by the day…

……I’ll get my coat.

Bonk

So! She kinda blew up didn’t she! That wedge fed Rainbow’s bar right up into the sacrificial plastic and her face was splatted all over the arena. It looked so bad that Chris Rose was desperately asking her to show him some kind of sign that she was okay. “CAN YOU SEE ME NELLY??” He shouts, arms flapping wildly as his concern for her grows. It’s somewhat clear at this stage that my blind – nay, ‘decapitated’ elephant, is incapable of responding to him. But his optimism is nonetheless appreciated. Not so happy about the cup of tea I snorted when he did it though.

You owe me a new keyboard Chris!

The sacrificial plastic was an excellent plan until Rainbow’s bar sliced through a battery lead and we lost drive. BOO! Our weapon was still working, and that last hit thoroughly borked Rainbow’s weapon system. Alas, our drive was borked, and we could not show the ref any movement.

So we got outside after the fight… At this stage, we had no idea that it was just a battery lead that caused us to stop. The damage looked SO BAD, so we assumed the worst.

So Tom Brewster and Rory Mangles from Monsoon casually walk over. We’re scratching our heads – fighting with the sudden adrenaline comedown – convinced it’s terminal. Post-fight shock if you will.
“Be fine!” Tom says cheerfully, and told us that as bad as it looked, it didn’t look as bad as what Son of Whyachi did to Monsoon, and they came back from that. So we start to calm down a bit, and start bouncing ideas off with Rory. It’s good to remind oneself that creative repairs are half the fun of this sport. (They are, I swear.)

“I thought that went really well……”

Suffice to say, none of the plastic on Nelly’s head survived the fight. The 3D printed googly eyes were pretty much obliterated, and we kissed goodbye to one of the aluminium bulkheads.

F

One of the weapon bulkheads was damaged, but fixable. (Thanks Lincoln!) We also had to have a chain path cut into it because we couldn’t get one of the bends out and it was rubbing on the chain. (Thanks Tormach!) The hammer arm was bent, but still usable. The mace was undamaged. The wedge was cracked on one of the bends, and had a nice gouge in the front. Lincoln welded up that crack.

…phrasing, Sarah.

Byebye

Inspection of her internal organs showed that nothing was damaged except for the battery wire which killed our drive. This was nice, as the organs are the more expensive parts. All in all this fight cost us $90 in new plastic. We *could* have made a new bulkhead out of aluminium, but given that our next fight was [spoilers], and still on a tight budget, plastic was the way to go..

New bulkhead
New heads!

So all in all, about a day’s hard grafting and a frustrating amount of time waiting for the new plastic to arrive. We noticed in the fight that the clutch on the weapon was slipping, and so we tightened that up in preparation for the next fight. Chewie from the Skorpios team had a pair of giant googly eyes, and kindly donated them to us. We had some issues getting the wedge back on in time for the next fight, and so hastily put the forks-wedge on instead. (Minus the forks. Cos #Floorgate.)

We ran with the story that Nelly had visited the pet cemetary and was back from the dead. I can’t reveal the full extent of her repair job just yet, but here is a sneak preview of one of the new googly eyes..

….bonk?

At the time of writing, I cannot reveal who our next opponent is. But I will leave you with the clue that it is a fight we jokingly suggested to production, and earned me the nickname of “glutton for punishment” by most of the crew.

Nelly the Ellybot Build Diary

By Sarah Malyan

“Hammers are stupid and no one should build them.” – Al Kindle, repeatedly.

Truer words were never spoken!! It is by no means the hardest weapon type to get to grips with, even for Noobs. But I’d be lying if I said this build process hadn’t come with a healthy amount of sailor language and several existential crises.

It’s not exactly like I chose an easy design aesthetic either!
An elephant. A bloody bonking elephant.  
As a noob to Battlebots I could have made it easier on myself and designed something a little less silly… But then again, we probably wouldn’t have been accepted, and I’m not one to let a little existential crisis or two get in the way of artistic robotic glory!

So… How to design a bonking elephant heavyweight for Battlebots. I’d like to take this opportunity to point out that heavyweights are also stupid. Our total build cost – including purchases and expenses made at filming – came in at just over £4k. This is poor-man’s money in terms of Battlebots, but a huge amount of money to a newbie team on a very tight budget. Experienced builders will inevitably read this diary and question many of our decisions. The most likely answer to most of these is that we didn’t have the budget for better and had to get creative!

I have laughable CAD’ing skills and have never used it for any of my previous bots, with the exception of a small wedge. Gus is pretty good at CAD though, so this job – with a lot of frustrating input from me – fell to him. He deserves sympathy for this because I am not an easy boss, and artistic robotic glory requires..umm…dedication? (Madness)

Gus describes the CAD’ing process as “Hardox box that we attached things to.” Due to the size of the weapon, the ‘box’ had to be designed around that, which was an additional challenge. We had already purchased the LEM motor for the hammer prior to CAD’ing – owing to finding an absolute bargain on eBay – and said LEM was rather large…

Mounting the wedge took a significant amount of thought because we wanted to have it shock-mounted all over. We settled on hinged rails of wubs attached to thick hard-points that go through the front plate of the bot and attach to the base plate, hoping to provide the strength we wanted. On the sides we used bent pieces of Hardox to mount the wubs.

Finished Nelly the Ellybot CAD

After more all-nighters than we would like to admit to, Gus and I had an elephant looking bonk-machine and all the innards fit. We hoped. Time to start ordering parts and building the thing…

We hit a very frustrating hurdle at this point because two of the team were made redundant and a third followed soon after. We started a Go Fund Me campaign and this helped out loads and got things going again, but it looked pretty bleak at one point. Once the Go Fund Me money came in, we ordered SO many parts at lightning speed – all of the Hardox for the base and the hammer head, all the aluminium for the weapon and bulkheads, all the plastic for the heads, all of the electronics, all the- OH MY GOD THE BILL. So much stuff!! It all turned up on time, thankfully. But we were definitely clenched for a while.

Once the abundance of ‘stuff’ had arrived, we started off laser cutting the Hardox via our sponsor ASG, who also welded the base and the wedges for us. It took three days to get it all finished. While we were waiting for the aluminium in the weapon to be cut, we made a start on the drive system, and painting the parts we could.

Nelly is driven by two Ampflow E30-400G motors on Colson wheels. To control the drive we used Ragebridge 2s, and FRSKY receivers to go with our FRKY transmitters. The drive system mercifully presented no hurdles and was up and running in no time. With less than two weeks to go, this was something of a relief..

Nottingham University kindly allowed us the use of their waterjet, and we had the aluminium for the weapon arm and bulkheads cut there. When it arrived we began building the weapon. First we spent a fantastic amount of time swearing as we grinded out all the tapers. Assembling it wasn’t too difficult but we did have a massive six hour argument with her chain, and several smaller arguments with bushings. We won……… Eventually.

The Great Chain Argument:

The trouble with having a massive chain, is needing a massive chain-breaker to break it with! We tried several different shops and couldn’t find one big enough, and didn’t have time to order one in, so we had to improvise. This came in the form of using our hydraulic wire crimper to pop out the links…Except it wasn’t big enough to pop the link out in one go, so we had to use the crimper to push a few millimetres out, then grind of the protruding link with a dremel.  Repeat over and over until eventually the links were out. This was infuriating to do once. I feel there is little need for me to describe the vocabulary used when we discovered we’d popped out the wrong link and had to do it again on another one. Huff. Due to bad designing we also had to put a half-link in, so we ended up doing this process three times.
Time cost: Six hours
Emotional state: ANGERY!

Once eventually assembled, we wired it up. The system was pretty simple and our handy hydraulic crimper made this a fairly easy job. Regardless, firing it for the first time is always a somewhat nerve-wracking experience. The hammer is powered by a LEM 200, controlled by an ALBRIGHT SW202 contactor. We chose a contactor because it was easier and cheaper than an ESC. But it does increase the demand of the discharge on the batteries, so that was something to watch out for. The controller for the Contactor was a custom piece by Rory Mangles. The battery bank operating it was 8.8Ah total capacity at 12S, comprised of 4.4Ah 4S Nanotech batteries. From the motor to the output we had an overall ratio of 8:1 which was achieved with two chain-stages and one gear stage. The gears were waterjet cut from 20mm Hardox. Clutch was a Comintech DF1.70. We have regrets over this clutch, but more on that later!

Prior to installing the weapon system

So what happened when we fired it for the first time? IT WORKED! WOOHOO! Our early tests were halted by some good old British rain, and with only a couple of days until shipping, this was a big source of anxiety. But it eventually let up and we had a couple of successful weapon tests. This was one of the biggest moments of relief for us now that both the drive and weapon were working. We had a few bits left to do, but the hardest part was done. Finally, we painted her up – which was no easy job either – and then packed her up in the crate for her trip to the US! It was looking like she was well within weight too – Phew!

BONK!
FEET
Shove it all in for a pre-head weight-check

Due to the delays in weapon testing, we didn’t have time to make the heads before we left. On arrival in the US, we cut out the plastic for the heads and used two heat guns to bend the HDPE panels into their rounded shapes. (Too large for an oven..) Once the heads were made, we painted them and fitted our humongous 3D printed googly eyes into them.

Eye see you!

The eyes came from our other sponsor 3D Print Direct UK and were made from SLS Carbon Fibre Nylon. At 180mm diameter, they’re definitely the biggest googly eyes that Battlebots has ever seen. If anyone subsequently breaks this record, know that I will make every effort to claim it back!

With the heads and eyes fitted, Nelly was ready to rock (bonk?) and we come onto the biggest source of anxiety of the whole thing; tech check. I expected it to be a somewhat overwhelming experience for a team of noobs anyway, but when you’re in the presence of so many other fantastic robots and builders, it’s absolutely terrifying. We were pitted close to the likes of Bite Force and Tombstone along with many other experienced builders. Literally everyone, to us, looked like they had their shit together a lot more than we did. By no means did anyone intentionally make us feel small, but I felt shorter than usual with my derpy purple bonker next to such awesome machines.

My anxiety over tech-check was neither the fault of the tech-check crew either. They knew we were new and were patient and explanatory. Our nerves were probably a little frustrating to them, but they never showed it. With all the fantastic machines around me, I was just praying that our little (large) elephant did the thing. It didn’t help that our drive and weapon check drew a crowd, either. For all my bravado, I’ll happily admit I was punched in the face by nerves (as well as jetlag) at tech-check. Kudos to my team for keeping me grounded!

Photo Credit: JCRB Photography

And after all that anxiety…. She passed!! I drove her around the little test arena and Gus bonked the test-tyre with the hammer several times.

Mid-Bonk. Photo credit: JCRB Photography
Photo Credit: JCRB Photography

I noticed a few impressed raised eyebrows in the crowd and felt a burst of pride for our bot and the team. I can’t begin to describe the relief of passing tech-check. Honestly after this point, I didn’t care if we won or lost, as long as the bot worked and we put on a good show doing it. The bot worked at least, and to find out if we put on a good show or not, you’ll have to watch Battlebots on Discovery!!

I will add further updates as-and-when we can while the season airs!

In the mean time, presenting Nelly the Ellybot!!

Ready for battle! Photo Credit: JCRB Photography

Interview with Bugglebots winner Mark Leigh

The Robot Report talks to the builder behind Bugglebots winner K2 – Mark Leigh

Mark and K2

As someone reasonably new to the beetle scene, how did you find Bugglebots?

“It was slightly nerve-wracking, but I think that was more so because it was a very different event to most beetle events; there was a live audience, plus it was being filmed for YouTube. I wasn’t nervous from the robot point of view, as I’ve been working on K2 and improving it over the last year or so and I felt happy that what I was bringing was competitive. I was more worried about how I was going to come across on camera to be honest, or being subtitled badly! Although I have to admit the YouTube subtitles were very entertaining when it came to the shows’ name!”

How well did you think you would do in the competition?

“Hard to say, I guess. The playing field was so diverse at Bugglebots and there were some new bots that I had never fought before, so I couldn’t really gauge it.  I didn’t expect to win for sure, but hoped I’d reach the heat final at least, or maybe into the opening rounds of the Final. “

Interview before facing Pinwheel

What was your favourite fight?

“Oh goodness there’s so many… I don’t think I can pick one! My fight with Saw Loser was a particular highlight as it lasted the full three minutes, so from a personal perspective that was a great as I’ve never had a fight go the full three minutes before.  I’d seen what Saw Loser could do by the time I fought it so I was pretty nervous going into that fight! To win it was a bonus!

K2 hits Saw Loser with its’ beater spinner

But the one I feel the most proud of was the losers melee with Rev 2 and SCD. I took a hit really early which flexed the chassis into the weapon, which then bounded up… Fortunately it was an easy fix with a Stanley knife, but you can’t do that mid-battle, so I was weapon-less from quite early on. To be honest I did think I was done for at that point, being up against two spinners. But K2 is a good all-rounder bot. It hits hard but it’s not the most hard-hitting spinner out there, and it’s got a good drive system so it’s effective as a pusher if the weapon fails. So to win that fight whilst weapon-less, for me, was probably my proudest achievement of the series. “

K2 puts SCD in the pit

Which robot(s) were you nervous about fighting?

“Probably either Sir-Lance-a-Frog or Anxt. Sir Lance-a-Frog is very well driven by Nicholas. I’ve fought against him before and if he doesn’t pit himself, he’s not gonna mess about and is a real challenge. K2’s lid is pretty thin and has lots of holes that Anxt could get into.. One of which was above the battery! Anxt’s power is mad so I was genuinely a bit worried for my battery and was very conscious of having thin armour.  I wasn’t nervous about Saw Loser….until I saw it. “

Mark after defeating SCD and Rev 2

How do you feel about winning the inaugural season of Bugglebots?

“I didn’t expect it, but it was great! The post-match interview after beating Limpet was probably the hardest one for me as I felt like maybe I should say something inspiring or give a shout out to the community spirit, but I was blown away by winning and was more focused on not sounding silly on camera. I will say though, the community spirit at Bugglebots was fantastic! I think the people who were new to the sport or new to the weight class certainly appreciated it as your first event can be quite intimidating at the best of times, let alone when there are cameras involved. I think it felt great to win not only as a personal achievement as it’s the first event I’ve won, but I felt proud to win such a community-spirited event too. “

Awaiting the judges decision for the Grand Final against Limpet

What did your family think of you winning Bugglebots?

“I don’t think the kids were as excited as I was! I have two daughters, and they’re getting into robots a bit themselves and have been nagging me for their own. One wants a kitty robot and the other wants a unicorn, so I think they’re more concerned about that right now! When I said “C’mon Dad’s been on the telly!” they replied “Dad, you were on YouTube…” Because kids are brutally honest like that! My wife just gives me a look… You know, like “you’re a grown man!” But I’m a grown man who won, so I’ll take that. Although she hasn’t let me put the trophy next to our wedding photo, but I’m working on that..

Mark’s trophy at home.

Bugglebots 2018 winner K2!

Interview with Greg Cathalina and Sam Price from Bugglebots

Bugglebots competitors Greg Cathalina (WeeWoo) and
Sam Price (Maximum Ogredrive) talk to The Robot Report
about their time at Bugglebots.

What were your expectations of Bugglebots with this being its’ 
inaugural event?

Greg: Cosmin and I were going into the competition with something new, and it was a new event, so we were very curious as to how it would turn out. I guess we didn’t really have any expectations of the event other than what Bugglebots had said it would hopefully be like. We knew the show was focused a lot on entertainment as well as the competition, so we set out to be entertaining and have fun.

Sam: With it being a new event and run by volunteers, I don’t think I had many expectations either and expected it to have a lot of teething problems. Maximum Ogredrive was reasonably untested too, and with the competitors being hand-picked I was expecting the caliber of the competition to be very high. But at filming itself there was a really good mix of experience levels among the teams, and that made it less daunting and more enjoyable. I don’t want to say I felt overly confident, but I wouldn’t say I was overly nervous either. It was a really fun event, and it totally exceeded expectations in terms of organisation. It’s probably one of my favourite events of 2018.

Greg: Yeah, it was really well run and we’re not the only ones who were very glad about that! There was a fair amount of waiting around due to filming interviews and stuff like that, but for us this allowed for extra repair time… which I don’t think too many roboteers would complain about! Bob was great at keeping the audience entertained between fights too, and the crew were really organised so it wasn’t hard to find out information if you needed it.

Greg and team mate Cosmin in pre-fight interview

What opponents did you want / not want to fight?

Greg:  We knew there were a few powerful spinners in the competition, and we actually built WeeWoo with them in mind and wanted to fight them! Cosmin and I would have both really liked to fight either Rev 2 or Flick. As it turns out, we didn’t fight a spinner in the main competition which we were a tiny bit sad about but I guess that’s the luck of the draw, and the fight with Maximum Ogredrive certainly made up for it!

Sam: I would have really liked to have a crack at Limpet or Doom Kid. Control fights are my favourite, as fights with spinners can be over very quickly. I have a good driving reputation, and both Limpet and Captain Doom are driven by highly esteemed drivers, so it would have been cool to see how I would have fared against them. But after fighting WeeWoo I can’t say I was deprived of a good driving fight, as that fight was just 3 minutes of being on my toes the whole time!

Sam with Maximum Ogredrive

How did you feel about the other bots in your heat?

Greg: Well there was this Ogredrive guy…

*Sam laughs*

Greg: Jokes aside, I really liked our heat as there was so much variety! Sam’s Ogredrive is a great saw bot, and I love a saw bot! Flick looked amazing, Rev 2… Well I love a good undercutter and I love a crusher like Snippers McGee too! Our heat was really diverse and I adored that. I also kinda loved that we went up against Doctor Thwackenstein as it was one of the largest bots in the competition and we were the smallest..

Sam: I sighed at first because I’ve fought Felix (Rev 2) a number of times before in live events and he’s gunning for me every time we fight! With this heat being so diverse I couldn’t really form a plan in my head as to how I thought it would turn out. Despite being an overhead saw bot, Maximum Ogredrive has thin top armour and so I didn’t fancy facing Doctor Thwackenstein or Snippers McGee.  I didn’t know much about WeeWoo as Greg and Cosmin had kept it pretty secret before filming, and Cosmin has a nasty drum spinner so I was apprehensive about this bot. Rev 2 and Flick are also pretty nasty spinners! So I don’t think I was as happy as Greg with the line-up. I knew I wasn’t going to have an easy time of it, but that’s the luck of the draw and the nature of the competition.

Sam (left), Cosmin (middle), Greg (right) ready to do battle.
WeeWoo vs Maximum Ogredrive

How do you both feel about WeeWoo vs Maximum Ogredrive being one of the best fights of the season?

*awkward silence and giggling*

Greg: I don’t know, I’m so awkward with compliments… Proud, I suppose. It was WeeWoo’s second ever fight, we’d never driven them on a steel floor before, and it was my first time driving together with Cosmin. So for it to be a fan-favourite definitely gives me a sense of accomplishment! It’s nice when people enjoy something you’ve made. We set out to show that cluster bots weren’t useless and the fight with Maximum Ogredrive definitely proved that I think. So I’m proud and humbled by that achievement. I don’t feel bad about losing to Sam, it was a great fight!

Wee fights off Maximum Ogredrive when it attacks Woo

Sam: I think when you build a robot, your creation is quite personal to you and you definitely feel proud when it does well. When I look back at that fight it makes me feel great to have been a part of it, and for it to have happened at an event which was being filmed so that others can enjoy it too. I really had to work for that fight; it was some of the most intense driving I’ve ever had to do in a competition, and it was quite emotionally draining. The fact that so many people have enjoyed it and been so vocal about their enjoyment of it is a great feeling.

Maximum Ogredrive tries to control both clusters at once

Wee and Woo gang up on Maximum Ogredrive

What were your highlights or favourite moments of the event?

Greg: Firstly I think the fight with Ogredrive pretty much goes without saying! I was so focused in that fight that I was oblivious to everything around me. So when people were approaching me afterwards and saying it was one of the best fights of the day, I was pretty surprised and humbled.

Secondly, on the Sunday morning I wanted to test some things out and as I was doing it, Woo started billowing with smoke when a speed controller burnt out. This made me panic because Wee and Woo are so small, so its’ insides are all compacted together very tightly, and I was very worried that everything else inside it would set on fire too! Thankfully everything else survived but the LiPo nearly came to a sorry end. It took most of Sunday to repair it and I was getting pretty stressed out as I was flying home to The Netherlands that afternoon. Then – of all things – the fire alarm went off (though not because of us!) and the whole crew had to evacuate! Fortunately it didn’t last long and we were back inside fairly quickly, but it was an amusing irony that a fire alarm delayed our fire-damage repairs!
Then, we found out that our next opponent would require switching the scoop for the forks, increasing the workload even more! Despite the stress of it, I loved it, and felt a real sense of achievement when we got back in the arena after coming so close to throwing in the towel.

Sam: Taking out Alex Mordue in the Rumble Bee was definitely one of my personal favourite moments. Actually that fight in general was one of my favourite moments. The fight was crazy and I was really nervous about being in the arena with Saw Loser after seeing what it could do. KO’ing it the way I did made me wonder what the Hell I’d built..

Sam (centre) with fellow Rumble Bee competitors Claw 2, Drizzle, Snappy, and Saw Loser

Isn’t Alex Mordue one of your heroes, Sam? How does it feel to K.O one of your heroes?

Sam: Ahh… Heartbreaking? The thing is with “Saw” Loser…. I was expecting it to be a saw! I was in the audience pretty close to the arena during its’ fight with Zero Gravitas and after seeing what it did, was just like…Nope! Do not want to fight that! It was definitely the bot I feared most when going into the Rumble Bee. Drizzle’s weapon is nasty, but the bot was pretty unstable so I wasn’t too worried about it as long as I stayed away from the weapon. Snappy and Claws 2 I’ve fought before and neither have destructive weapons so I went in to that fight with the plan of taking out Saw Loser first if I got an opportunity or keeping well out of its’ way. I never thought I’d actually get that opportunity, and I definitely didn’t think I’d damage it that much! I kind of feel guilty, but it’s still a great feeling to K.O one of your heroes, especially when they’ve got a bot as destructive as that!

Maximum Ogredrive cuts into Saw Loser’s electronics
Image may contain: food
Damage to Saw Loser after being eliminated by Maximum Ogredrive

Were there any low points for either of you?

Sam: When I first arrived at filming I thought I’d lost my safety link, and no one had anything that would have been a suitable replacement, so that was definitely a low point. Then I found it at last, armed up the robot, and everything worked except the saw! So I didn’t get off to a great start. I’d been at work the night before and gotten up really early to drive down to Bristol for the filming. I came very close to pulling out, but lots of people rallied up to support me and weren’t going to let me give up. It turned out to be quick-fix, just needed to replace the speed controller.

Greg: When Woo started smoking, definitely! It’s that heart-sinking feeling every roboteer dreads as they see that little puff of smoke come out of the robot… The Pinwheel guys were watching and said “uh oh that looks like trouble” and I was just like NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! But hey it all worked out in the end!

Overall, did you enjoy the event?

Greg: I really hope we get a second season! The event was a lot of fun and really well organised! The application times and build windows were great, and despite being pretty competitive, the atmosphere among the builders and crew was really chilled and relatively stress free. Everybody was really supportive to each other and the roboteers didn’t feel like they were being invaded by the film crew. I definitely want to do it again!

Sam: I agree with Greg. Aside from the expected bot problems, the event was great fun and well put together. I overheard Kane Aston say that, considering it was the inaugural event for the guys running it, it was so well put together and organised and I echo that sentiment. It’s definitely one of my favourite events that I’ve been to and I’d love to do it again!

Image may contain: 6 people, people smiling, people sitting and outdoor
Cast, crew, and competitors outside during the evacuation.
(Photo credit Philip Bruland)

Behind the Live Scene

There are a lot of things to consider when creating fighting robots; how it will drive, what weapon it will have, or what armour to use. How to power it, what radio equipment is best, or what safety precautions to take are just some of the many things roboteers will be thinking about when designing and building their fighting machines.

But what about the events that provide roboteers with a place to play with their favourite creations?

After all, you can’t just take Aftershock out in the garden for a friendly spar with Concussion…

At least, not unless your garden is big enough to contain an FRA approved arena!

From health and safety precautions to tournament management, and from finding venues to building arenas, the event organisers have a lot of work to do behind the scenes to bring us the spark-filled shows we love.

No photo description available.

One of the staples of the UK heavyweight live scene has been Robots Live, which is owned by Alan Young. Alan has been involved with the sport for many years – Robot Wars fans will recognise him from his most recent appearance on series 10 with the series 8-winning Apollo team – and has been running Robots Live since 2007. He agreed to talk to the Robot Report to give us a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes of the UK live scene!

Alan Young (Right) with brother Dave Young and Apollo at Robot Wars Series 10


As well as running events, you have competed recently on Robot Wars and at Insomnia Gaming festival; do you prefer competing or running events? And Why?

“I still love competing, although I’m not a competitive person and don’t ever go into a competition with the expectation of winning. It’s still a great buzz going into a fight, whether it be a small demonstration fight for a few hundred people or a TV competition that’s going to be seen by millions. I don’t get chance to compete at my own events as I’m too busy, so I have to go elsewhere to compete.”

What are the best and worst parts of running events?

“They are a lot of hard work, both physically and mentally. It’s non-stop from the moment you walk in the door of the venue to when you finally get home. But it’s not just the days of the event; a lot of work goes into preparation of the event from months (sometimes years) before, making sure everything has been planned and booked, upgrades/repairs to the arenas, etc. But once you see it all come together it really gives you a sense of achievement and satisfaction.”

What is the most important part of running an event to you?

“Making sure everybody enjoys themselves, as that’s why we are there, whether it be the audience who have paid to come along, the teams that have took time and money to compete, and even the crew!”

Do you have a favourite event?

“Of Robots Live, it’s probably our Burgess Hill event, even though it’s the furthest away for us. This year will be the 13th year and yet ticket sales seem to be still on the up! It was the first event we did away from home and we weren’t sure how it would go, but we sold out all 3 shows and since then haven’t looked back!

Other than ours, I love the buzz of the TV competitions. Whether it be here, USA or China, they are always great fun (even if it does involve a lot of waiting!) And it’s always exciting to see what new machines and teams will appear. Plus you get to hang out with your mates for a week or so!”

Image may contain: one or more people and basketball court
Robots Live at The Triangle Leisure Centre in Burgess Hill

Have there ever been any robots which made you wonder why you accepted them? If so, why?

“Not really no, the only machines we would normally turn away is on safety grounds. It’s great to see what people have built, it doesn’t matter if they are not competitive; as long as the team have fun or learn something from it.”

No photo description available.
Robot Wars series 8 winner Apollo (left) at Robots Live at Comic Con

Could you give us a rough idea of how much it costs to run one of your events?

“It’s hard to say as it varies so much from each venue/event, for one of our big shows your looking anything from £12k-£20k. That’s just for the event itself, not including any of the normal costs of running the business, maintenance on the arena and not including any of the equipment costs, which over the years adds up! We have always been in a position where everything is done in house; from building the arena, to supplying the sound/lighting, power distribution, even down to the table cloths for the events. If you were to outsource these, you could easily double that figure.”

Despite the workload that comes with running events, do you still enjoy it?

“I still enjoy the events, you have to enjoy what you do in order to be able to do this for a living. I’ve always said to myself, the day I don’t enjoy it, I would give up. But I think that should apply to anybody doing any job, you need to get a certain amount of enjoyment from it.”

Robots Live host shows in Burgess Hill, Grantham, and Stevenage.
You can check out their Facebook page for events here:
https://www.facebook.com/robotsliveshow/

UK Robot Combat Events

Below is a list of Event Organisers for fighting robots shows in the UK. You can also check out the event calendar on Robot Wars Shuntposting, or visit http://www.robotcombatevents.com

For those interested in building robots, check out the Fighting Robots 
Association (FRA) website here:
http://www.fightingrobots.co.uk/

Or you can join the Facebook Group “Combat Robotics” here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/RobotCombat/

Robots Live (HW) – Alan Young
https://www.facebook.com/robotsliveshow/

***

Extreme Robots (HW) – John Findlay
https://www.facebook.com/extremerobotshow/

***

Robochallenge – Grant or James Cooper
https://www.facebook.com/robochallenge/

***

Techno Events (BW) – Shane Lale
https://www.facebook.com/TechnoEventsrobotsuk/

***

Bristol Bot Builders (BBB) (AW + BW) – Joe Brown or Craig Croucher
https://www.facebook.com/groups/BristolBotBuilders/

***

Robodojo (AW, BW, FW) – Ian Botwright
https://www.facebook.com/RobodojoUK/

For Antweight World Series, see http://www.robotwars101.org/wp-main/