Motorama 2009 Event Report

Tripolar's Fights

Fight #1 vs Gnome Portal

This time I drew Brian's other bot "Gnome Portal". This is a vastly upgraded version of the bot that beat me soundly at Pound of Pain in New Hampshire before I knew Brian well. You can see in the video that we added a pretty crazy paint job to Tripolar for this competition as the only upgrade. Gnome portal was well suited to fight a horizontal spinner and he pretty much had his way with me. My batteries were really struggling so I couldn't get reliable spins going on the bent shell. I don't remember what cause the shell to die around a minute in, but it ended up being a pretty boring fight after that because I was a little too wide for GP to flip me over.

About two minutes in Brian started doing the patented "Tumble Attack". Surprisingly, that was the only actual damage that he inflicted - the little hammer on the back poked a dent in the plastic dust cover on top of the shell. It didn't actually break anything, but I was surprised that it poked through.

Fight #2 vs Sloth

Dalton has been bringing Sloth to motorama since the first competition. He and I have talked through designs for a few years and had never faced each other with two working bots in the arena before. This was his first attempt at a great vertical spinner and he did a fantastic job. I was able to get the shell spun up and when Dalton came for me there was a massive hit.

The hit put the bottom tooth of my shell through the hogged-out front bulkhead on Sloth and managed to get the victor speed controller. It was a lucky hit that disabled him. Luckier still, after I bounced off the far wall of the arena and careened around on my side for what felt like forever, Tripolar landed on its wheels. This was especially surprising because the bottom of the shell is thicker than the top, so it actually tilts over onto its back. The rolling around managed to get one of the teeth down at just the right time to flop back over. I went after the back of Sloth because I was afraid the bot wasn't dead, and Dalton tapped out.

Fight #3 vs Pinball

Pinball is a very fast four horsepower wedge bot with a shock mounted bumper. This makes it well suited to fighting horizontal spinners, especially shell spinners. Thomas spent most of the match knocking me all over the arena and even though I spun pretty well considering the shape of the shell and batteries, he got the judge's decision for the superior control. I did get a chunk of a make-shift corner brace that I broke off and threw at the camera as a trophy though, so that was worth it.

That made it a 1-2 record, and a clear message that the batteries were exhausted. This was the last competition for Tripolar because the shell was pretty bashed, the batteries were tired, the drive motors were a bit broken, and the drive speed controller was old. I set out to apply all the things I had learned with this bot to a new version, with new technology. Check out the first build of Steel Shadow.

Scurrie's Fights

Scurrie had a great run at Franklin 08 - dropping to the loser's bracket in the first round and fighting all the way back to the top to get first place by beating Surgical Strike twice in a row. I was pretty psyched about that win and feeling pretty good about my upgrades to Scurrie. I was hopeful that I could do better than last year and end up with a better-than-even record this year.

Fight #1 vs Foobar

Let me start by saying this is one of my favorite fights that I have been in. There is a lot of back-and-forth action and some really hard hits. More than once during the fight I'm not sure if either bot will recover and come back. The fight exercised the main features of Scurrie very well. I spent some time fighting inverted, delivered multiple blows in a row without breaking, got some air and kept on driving, and used the wheel guards effectively to protect the breakable gearboxes. Unfortunately, I also used a set-screw collar to hold the blade in and it wasn't designed to take the hits axially while inverted. Toward the end of the fight the blade was losing contact with the friction wheel and foobar still wasn't dead. I was very impressed by the way Foobar held up to hard blows directly across the blade mount. Usually the leverage there provides enough advantage for a solid horizontal hit to bend or break something. I had to tap out when I high-centered on my own blade at the end.

Fight #2 vs SPUN

SPUN was a bot from a school in the Pittsburgh area. It had only been finished the night before the competition I think, and it was the first time the school had competed at Motorama. Scurrie was well suited to get under the drum and chop at the wheels, and the driver of SPUN ended up tapping out.

Fight #3 vs Obelus

Obelus was a combination overhead bar / shell spinner from the Canadians. It had big flails hanging off of the overhead weapon. Scurrie was able to get past the flails and break the weapon for the win. You can hear Team Canada in the background cheering Obelus on - gotta love the team spirit!

Fight #4 vs Torrent

At this point I was feeling pretty good about how things were going. Scurrie was working pretty well and I was 2-1 going into Sunday. I was guaranteed to do as well as I had the previous year. Sunday morning I had to fight Torrent, who I should have beaten the previous year but got a bad bounce and hung myself on the wall. Scurrie was heavily upgraded and I was going to be more careful.

Unfortunately I didn't get any video of this fight. If I remember correctly it started off like normal but about 20 seconds in my weapon stopped working. I could see the motor spinning but the blade was not. It turned out that the set screw on the weapon roller had come loose, and so no matter how I tried it would not move the blade at more than about 5 RPM. This was not enough to beat Torrent, and I got knocked around for the rest of the fight. I was angry and frustrated that I hadn't checked that when the bot was working the night before.

The Hobbyweight Rumble

Well, Scurrie was out but that meant I could play a little. I decided to let my brother Jon drive Scurrie in the hobbyweight rumble. You can see that without practice it was a very hard bot to drive because the blade was dragging it all over the place. In the rumble pay special attention to "Sonic the Hedgehog" the shell spinner built by Dalton. This bot was the most terrifying in the rumble by far because the ~5.5 pound shell was spinning at around 4000 RPM's. My instructions to Jon were basically to keep away from Sonic. I still have the wedge plate from the back of Naut a VD that we knocked off around the 3:00 mark. One other interesting note is that I didn't know if the motor and batteries in Scurrie could last 5 minutes so we spent some time hanging out to not tax them. I have since found out that they can last five full minutes with constant hits and rubbing. Ah well. I signed the wheel guard that Sonic smashed in and gave it to him as a trophy. This was a really fun fight.

Scurrie vs Surgical Strike Frame

Because they needed more filler, I decided to let my other brother David do a demo round against the frame of Surgical Strike that I got as a trophy from Pete for beating him at Franklin. This was just audience filler and an excuse to let david drive the bot full out because we had an arena. It was fun and I got to see how well he could drive the bot on his first time out. The frame took some serious damage.

Well, I still considered the event a success, and had a lot of fun along the way. Scurrie needed some minor tweaks, but was overall a pretty decent design. Tripolar needed to be retired and I had all kinds of ideas for a new bot. Dalton's "Sonic the Hedgehog" with its sloped shell made me want to try that. I talked to him at length about it and decided to start on a new design. See how it went in the first build of Steel Shadow.