Franklin 2007 Event Report

We managed to bring the video camera to this competition as well, so you get to see the actual fights.. well, sorta. It seems that we have forgotten to film the first one. That's too bad, because the museum built a brand-new combat arena for this competition and they used a PERGO floor. That's right, laminant hardwood flooring.

Fight #1 vs Power of Metal

Power of Metal was basically a brick of a bot with a thresher on the front. The thresher is just a bunch of aluminum blocks with bolts threaded into them as teeth. The whole assembly turns at a fairly low speed and is intended to function as a wedge to pull robots up and onto the top of PoM. PoM was having terrible traction problems on the smooth flooring, and my pathetic driving wasn't noticeably affected because it's hardly noticeable in the first place. I banged into him a little and he eventually got stuck on the floor.

During the fight I was having a terrible time keeping the weapon running. I'd get it up to about half speed and it would shut off. Any time I hit the opponent or the wall it would shut off too and I'd have to cycle back to zero throttle to get it going again. I was getting very frustrated even though I managed to win the first fight on a judge's decision.

Fight #2 vs Billy Bob

The saga with Billy Bob continues. Brian was also using the AXI 5330 as a weapon motor, though it was grossly underutilized. He asked me how I liked it and I said "not very much, I can't seem to keep it running for more than 8 seconds". I ended up fighting him in the next match and mostly just got knocked around the arena and tumbled end-over-end. I wasn't really worried about taking damage because I knew the little blade on Billy Bob hadn't hurt the shell when I couldn't spin at Motorama.

Well it turns out that Brian upgraded the blade on Billy Bob by applying some weight he had in upper-rear armor to a bigger disk with more cutouts. That meant that he could smack me around pretty good and all I could do was try to keep driving. By the end of the match I was so frustrated that I just tapped out. Not very sportsmanlike, I know, but I was upset.

After the match with Brian I opened the bot up and was going to flip it around to spin forward against "The Interloper". because it was a multi bot and I figured if I could only spin up to half speed I would try to make the hits count. Upon taking the weapon controller plug apart I noticed that one of the three connectors wasn't properly seated. It had a big burn mark from electrical arcing because every time the shell spun up it would draw a lot of power and try to use the connector even though it was just barely plugged in. I had to scrape off the arc damage but I had finally found out what was causing the issues. Any time there was a big hit, or vibration got high from increased spinup, the connector would rattle and the controller would lose track of the motor. The connector had come loose when I tightened down the cover over the wires. I plugged the connectors back in for "forward-spinning" and taped the heck out of them so they couldn't come apart again.

Fight #3 vs The Interloper

We started filming a little late on this one but you get the idea. Be sure to pay close attention at the 1:00 mark... Basically we got wedged around for a little while but the spinning part was working great. Toward the end of the fight I bent the wedge on one of the bots until the wheels weren't touching and the other one box rushed me. I don't think it will ever do that again :) This was the first time Tripolar had ever sprayed parts of an opponent across the arena and it felt good! To see what was left of the brick portion of the interloper, check this video out:

So now that I had the bot working like it was designed, I decided to ask Brian if he wanted to fight me again. He had already beaten me in the competition (and at motorama too!). He had also already clinched first place and we were just filling time until the other weight classes were done. He agreed and we had what is one of my personal favorite fights of all time.

Ok, so I know the end isn't that exciting, but look at the carnage! My bot was still spinning at the end pretty much for the first time ever, and I managed to blow the wedge off the back of Billy Bob. I even slammed him into the wall hard enough to bind up a gearbox. It was very satisfying to beat him after being beaten by him twice in two competitions. Brian is a great sport and despite the $200 worth of damage he sustained in this fight he has agreed to do grudge matches with me since then as well. I think the crowd liked it.

By the end of the fight both of my drive motors were dead. One had the wires ripped out by getting stuck in the shell and the other one had been blown off of the gearbox entirely by the huge hits. I was only translating by the instability of the shell and the spinup torque of the weapon motor. It was enough for the judges to give it to me even though I couldn't attack at the end. I think part of it was that they couldn't tell that my driving had gotten worse by the end of the fight. I'm still not sure it did :)

And So it Goes...

Coming into Franklin we were hopeful that a major failure point had been removed. After a little bit of growing pain we finally got it dialed in and had a couple of the most satisfying fights of our careers. This was the best-run, most fun competition I had competed in to-date, and I was definitely coming back next year. But first, I had to get ready for Motorama in 4 months! We were so happy with how the bot worked that we kept the baseplate with only a few minor tweaks to the electronics bay. Instead we spent the next four months working on an upgrade for Scurrie.