Motorama 2006 Event Report

Hey - looks like we forgot the camera again!

Ok, so I stink at this whole picture thing. I promise to put more up in later reports. Until then you'll just have to deal with my rambling... Before I get to the fights though I should say that this was kind of an epic event because it was the first one that The F-Bomb competed at. The reason this is such a big deal is it is probably the most destructive 30 pounder ever created, and it went undefeated at its debut event to get first place. In fact, the bot only competed under that name for two competitions through which it went 8-0 and never took any real damage. The builder decided there was nothing left to do with it and sold it to another builder. The sheer destruction was awesome to behold, but probably prompted the creation of the Sportsman class.


When I was testing the bot at home I was having some radio troubles. The drive motors I had were a little noisier than the fancier ones I used to have, and I think the capacitors on the weapon motors had slowly been breaking off. This combined with the steel shell to severely limit the radio reception. During testing this led to the bot running away for a few feet before the failsafe kicked in and I actually removed a leg from a picnic table in the pavilion where I was testing. While it was a pretty cool thing for the bot to do, I felt bad that I had broken the big chunk out of the leg. Fortunately I was testing at the firehall, to which I belong as a member, and I just fixed it at the next work party.

So... the signal wasn't great, but it was good enough to take the bot to the competition. The reception was helped somewhat by putting the radio antenna through the baseplate and under the bot instead of wrapped in the steel shell. Unfortunately when I put itin the little arena for my safety inspection I wasn't able to get enough signal through to the bot because the little arena has a steel floor. This was the only safety inspection I've ever failed. We took the bot back to the pit and I noticed that one of the drive motors had jammed up and was arcing a lot. I replaced it and the radio problems were greatly reduced. Nar passed the bot on safety the second time and I was ready to go.

The Fights

Fight #1 vs Shiny Metal Box 2000

This fight looked like it was going to be a lot of fun. I had tested the bot more than normal before the competition and was really looking forward to bashing some stuff. I was excited because this fight wasn't against some massive spinner that would demolish me for the rest of the competition. Instead, SMB was just a brick with a 2x4 and some metal bolted on the front. It was at a good height for me to grab it and despite the big drive motors, I was hopeful we could do some damage to the outboard wheels.

The match started like they usually do, with SMB box rushing me as I spun up. I think he hit the wall next to me before turning and trying to plow me with the big channel on the front. I managed to get a good bite through the ablative metal armor in front of the wood and broke it and the bolts holding it. I smacked SMB around for around a minute and a half and it eventually stopped moving. It lasted longer than I expected though.

Fight #2 vs Xhilarating impaX

I had fought this bot before - it was my only fight after driving all the way to Alabama. XX is a tough brick that had dealt with many tough spinners. I was hoping that by spinning backwards I could fight him long enough to get a judges' decision. Before the match I tested the bot in the test box and noticed that it wasn't spinning up all the way. I blamed the problem on radio interference again and figured once it got really going the reception deteriorated and the choppiness I was seeing was caused by intermittent failsafing.

The match started with a box rush as usual, and XX made contact with the not quite spun up shell. I drove away and tried to spin up but only got up to half speed before he hit me again. This time the shell didn't come back on. I spent the next 2 minutes trying to show driving control with a bot that has no front against a bot that is made to drive and survive. The judges naturally gave it to him and I took the bot back to the pit to find out what happened. It turned out to be a broken wire that connected the rx switch to the weapon switch. Without it, the weapon couldn't be turned on. While I was bummed that I hadn't checked it out thoroghly before the match, at least the weapon motors were ok.

Fight #3 vs Sloth

Sloth is built by my good friend Dalton. He was one of the first people I ever talked with about robot combat from the perspective of a competitor. He helped me get to my first competition and we had been friends ever since. This was the first time I ever got to fight him during a competition and I was excited. I got the wiring problem fixed and decided I would spin forward against him to hopefully disable him before he could get a good hit on me. This was a first-time build for Dalton with the vertical version of Sloth. It had been a horizontal bar overhead spinner before.

This time when I got to the box I noticed that Dalton had put a big rubber and lexan hoop on the back of Sloth to hopefully slow my bot down before trying to attack. It was a good plan and would have worked really well if I was spinning backwards like I had been in the other fights. After a little excitement when trying to power the bot up (namely it spun up with me in the box by accident...) both bots were ready and the door was locked. The match started and I tried to spin up. Dalton turned around and came after me with the back end. We bumped into each other a couple of times and my shell spun down with a little bit of smoke from one of the motors. Dalton turned around, powered up that monster blade, and blasted me into the air. The match ended with a big dent in my shell and the shell slid up the shaft some from the impact. I was now 2-1

I think now the reason the motor smoked was that it was timed improperly and didn't match the other motor so it was doing more work with lower torque and couldn't keep up. Fortunately I had wired the bot in such a way that the replacement weapon motor was easy to install. The clamp mounts were a bit harder to work with than the wrapping mounts had been but not to terrible. I swapped in the new motor and a charged battery and it was back to the arena for my next fight.

Fight #4 vs Helios

This was the first time I'd ever been guaranteed a 500 record since I started competing. I'd never won zero fights, but I had also never won two fights. Unfortunately for me, Helios was the #1 30 pounder in the world at this point and nobody wanted to fight the thing. It wasn't so vicious that you'd be sent home in a box of parts, but it was super-effective and won an awful lot of fights. That's not to say it wasn't dangerous - many of its wins were knockouts or inversions, both of which I was susceptible to. The Cosmos guys are really cool so even if I lost at least I liked my opponent.

The match started and this time my bot spun up like it was supposed to. We hit eachother hard and bounced all around the arena. I remember hearing the blades on the ends of the Helios drum shattering and hitting the lexan and I managed to knock him around pretty good. It didn't get to be #1 without being able to take abuse though, and eventually he got my shell slowed down enough to get a good bite and Tripolar was flipped on its back. Surprisingly the bot was still working, so I spun the weapon motors up and the base rolled around on the ground upside down. After about 10 or so seconds I heard a crunching sound and the base came to a screeching halt. The judges counted me out and I was done for the competition.

Not surprisingly, the sound was the magnets in the other weapon motor giving way and getting crunched up by the armature. This caused the motor to bind and the friction wheel to be come a friction brake. The screeching was the rubber of that wheel on the shell. That wheel ended up with a nice big flat spot and left a burnout layer of rubber on the inside of the shell. Ah well, another motor down but I was even at 2-2. Check out the PoP 2006 build report to see what I did to fix the issues.