Pound of Pain 2006 Event Report

Well this event was destined to be better than last time from the get-go. I now knew a little bit more about the town and events in general, and I knew some of the other builders that would be there including the guy who was running the show. On our way up we learned that the event location had been moved at the last minute because we couldn't get an occupancy permit for the building we we had it in before. Instead of cancelling the event, the EO decided to try to hold it in his driveway. I thought it was a great thing for him to do - try to keep it going despite problems at the last minute.

I went to this event with my girlfriend's family so when we got in around 6 on Friday night I asked her mother to drop us off at the new venue so we could unload our tools and help set up. It was a good thing we did. The arena sub structure was in place but it had a long way to go and there were only a couple of people there working on it. We unloaded the tools and offered to help. Sarah went inside to help Dawn make signs so that other people could find the place and they ended up going on a little road trip for supplies and then to set the signs up.

I took out some of my tools and started working on assembling the arena. I didn't really know what I was doing so I was mostly just a grunt but they needed that too. I met somebody who I've become pretty good friends with over the years named Brian Benson. He had been building bots for a while before I started even though he's only around a year older than I am. He happens to be an awesome photographer and an all-around great guy. We worked together with the EO until after it was dark to get everything set up.

The next day was the competition. The field of bots was a little small but surprisingly every single bot showed up. A typical drop-out rate for an event is at least 25% and it is unusual for all 100% of the bots to make it even in a given class. I think it's only ever happened to me one other time in 6+ years of competing. Sarah ended up on bracket duty and the fights got underway.

The Fights

Fight #1 vs Pint Sized Chaos

Pint Sized Chaos was a vertical spinner built by somebody who had only built a 220 pound bot before. This meant that some parts of the design were WAY overdesigned and other parts were WAY underdesigned. This is common with a rookie bot, and a newcomer to the class often has extra trouble with it. PSC had a .25" thick aluminum baseplate and was way oversized width-wise. This caused the sloped front and back to be a little thin, and the weapon to be drastically underpowered.

I wasn't sure how my bot was going to perform but was hopeful. At this point it had killed itself so many times that I didn't have very high expectations. I decided to spin backwards in this match and just show aggression. The strategy worked out ok and after three minutes my shell was still spinning and I had banged up his armor and knocked him around pretty good. The judges gave it to me and I was on to the next round.

Fight #2 vs DE Ripper

This was a drastically upgraded version of DE Ripper than the one I fought the year before at PoP. This one had a thick UHMW frame with bolts going all the way through it and steel corner plates. It also had a wide drum on the front and wedge plate on the back, making it more balanced than the thin vertical milling disk it had the year before. I decided to spin forward and see if I could take the wedge off of him. I was pretty impressed with how well my bot held up the first fight and wondered if the new weapon motor mounting strategy was making the difference required.

As soon as the match started I was surprised by how fast DE Ripper was. He came flying across the arena and knocked me into the wall. I bounced out to the middle and spun up to pretty high speed. DE Ripper turned around and tried to get me with the wedge. He was able to nudge me across the arena toward the wall for maybe 5 or 6 feet with very careful driving to keep the corners of the wedge away from the shell. One of my teeth hit a seam in the floor and the bot slid sideways enough to hit the corner of DE Ripper's wedge. I got a good bite and both bots slammed into opposite walls. The wedge on DE Ripper was bent horribly but... Tripolar stopped responding! CRAP! The fight went to DE Ripper and I took the bot apart to see what made it die so suddenly . It turns out the rx battery power switch had been clicked off by the terrific hit. It was a crappy, rookie way to lose, but at least all of the other systems were functioning after the fight so I would get another one.

I was pretty impressed with how sturdy DE Ripper's frame was despite being made of plastic and assembled in such a simple way with bolts going all the way through the sides with nuts on top. It took almost no damage from the hit that I delivered to send both bots flying across the arena. That frame style inspired the second frame version of my Scurrie. I am still impressed with that style and will be doing it for more bots in the future.

Fight #3 vs Oni Goroshi

Well, I had just had my second fight, so that meant that even after the Bye in the first round OG had one fight under his belt too. He fought Pint Sized Chaos in the second round and actually bent the blade! I had only fought one horizontal spinner before (King of Clubs at Motorama 2005) and it was not pretty. I was really nervous but at least this time he would hit the shell and not go right under it to hit the baseplate. Of course, I didn't know if he would break the shell because it hadn't been tested in that way before.

We loaded up both bots and the match started. I immediately spun up (forward this time, hoping to get an early knockout). OG moved forward in his square a little and then I heard the driver yelling from the other side of the box. It turned out he had forgotten to turn on the weapon switch and only had the drive enabled. He asked if we could stop the match and restart with the weapons working. He offered to lose the match and just make it a grudge match if I'd let him do it. I told him I had come there to fight robots, not break RC cars, and that we would just restart the fight if he could get it working. I had been extended at least that much courtesy from the other builders over the last couple of years so I felt it was the least I could do. It was also true - I didn't drive 9 hours just to win a trophy by opponent forfeiture.

He had the thing working in about 3 minutes so we put the bots back in the box and started the match over. This time OG spun up as fast as I did. He came across the arena and hammered the side of my shell. There was a huge gash that I could fit three fingers through in the side and the folded-over part jammed the weapon. I tapped out as soon as I saw that and the match was over. I was sad that the bot had been so thoroughly beaten but I was glad that the extra spinup for the false start didn't end up being a problem from a heat or battery capacity perspective. OG had beaten me very clearly in about 10 seconds. I was out, so I got to just enjoy the rest of the competition. OG went on to take 1st, with only one loss to DE Ripper.

I had a blast at this competition. This was the first time I had a working weapon at the competition and didn't have to replace a weapon motor. I thought I may have found a solution to my weapon motor problem after all. I fixed the shell up but didn't really change anything else for the next competition Motorama 2007