Monday, October 27, 2014

Franklin Cup 2014 Recap

I feel like this should've been posted sooner, but oh well.

The night before the event I couldn't sleep at all. I was so excited about the next day. What would happen? How would I do? As the hours ticked by, I was even more nervous!

I arrived at the event around 7 am, and set up my pit table next to Ian McMahon, who brought two ants and a beetle. Ian's a SWARC (Southwestern Alliance of Robot Combat) veteran, and I had some cool conversations with him about his experiences. My table was on the border between the pit area and the audience area, something I've been doing for the past two Franklin events.

Slim Pickens got through safety easily, but I had a problem. Viciously Circular was overweight by .7 oz. I was running out of time, and I wouldn't have enough time to bring the weight down. So for this event, Viciously Circular was out.

The fight brackets were posted, and I had to wait anxiously for my first match.
The pits. Lots of activity, as always.
Crawled Crawler, a cool looking sportsman from Canada. It managed to get 3rd in its weight class.

 Ian's bots. The bot on the far left, Speed Wedge 3, got first in the beetles.

Beetleweight Weta kit Mondo Bizarro. It didn't do so well this time.
Togr, an angled horizontal spinner built by Kyle Singer. It got second place in the beetles and did a lot of damage
Triggo, a destructive shell spinner built by Zac O'Donnell. It got first place in the featherweights.
The arena after a day of fighting.

Match 1: Slim Pickens vs Physique Black

 Physique Black was one of the scariest bots there. I wasn't sure I'd make it out alive. However, I was able to dodge the drum (which at one point started smoking), and win the judges' decision.

Match 2: Slim Pickens vs Puppy

For this match, I decided to not use the horns for Slim Pickens. After what happened at Bot Blast, I didn't want to take any chances with them slamming me on my back. We traded blows, and it was probably one of the closes fights I'd ever had. Luckily, I won the decision.

Match 3: Slim Pickens vs Brisingr

The actual Brisingr

For the record, Brisingr looked nothing like what it did in its BuildersDB page, so I don't know if Kyle was lazy or messing with us. It had a nasty spinning disc that had done some damage in its previous fights. I was really nervous. Luckily for me, they had weapon motor issues which allowed me to push them around with little to no scratches.

Antweight Final: Slim Pickens vs Puppy (again)

This was it. The ant final. I knew that if I lost this, I would still have another chance (you have to beat the undefeated bot twice in order to win in this event). This fight wasn't as close as the other one was. For the first time, I got first place at an event. Interestingly, this was the fight where Slim Pickens took the most damage. One of the washers for my Snap Hubs fell off and I didn't realize it until after the match. I had to go back into the arena to get it since I can't buy replacements from Kurtis.

Slim Pickens with its first place trophy.

This event was without a doubt a success. Slim Pickens performed flawlessly and left with barely any damage. I got to see some great matches, see cool bots, and hang out with friends. There will also be an article in Servo magazine in the next month or so that will be written by Hugh Savoldelli, so stay tuned for that as well. My next event is Motorama 2014, which leaves me with a lot of things to get done:

  • Order extra snap rings for Slim Pickens
  • Order extra parts for Thunder Child
  • Get Viciously Circular in weight for Motorama
  • Start working on my new beetle

The full results of the event.

A friend of mine, who goes by the alias "The Media Wiz", came to the event and made a little video about it. I think it would do the video justice if I embedded it here:

Friday, October 10, 2014

Franklin Institute Robot Conflict 2014 Predictions (Antweights)

It's that time again! Franklin Institute Robot Conflict is coming up, and it's time for predictions. I am going to devote this post to only antweights, since I will be competing with Viciously Circular and Slim Pickens. That way, I will be able to talk about each bot I could be facing.

You can view the BuildersDatabase page for the event here.


Brisignr is built by Kyle Singer, who has created bots such as Ripto and Fangus. The sawblade doesn't concern me as much as it would with a spinning bar or disc. One thing to note is that Brisingr was (I believe) the basis for Swamp Woman 2, a bot that I fought at my first event and beat. I shouldn't have a problem, but I just need to make sure he doesn't chew up my wheels.

Kate the Rat

This was the first bot I ever beat. I should be able to do it again, but it depends on who is driving it. The team (a family of six), has had alternating drivers on several of their bots. I'll just have to see who's driving this time.

Physique Black/Red

These bots scare me. They both have vicious looking drums, and are probably my greatest threat at this event. At Motorama I beat a bot similar to them thanks to a close judges' decision, but I think it will come down to how well they can drive them.

Magzant is back, and it has a new name. Like Kate the Rat, it depends on who is driving it. It can get under me, so I just need to stay to the sides and shove them around. I'll probably ditch the horns this time.

Sky Rocket

I faced this bot at Bot Blast, and he could have beaten me had I not hit him in the bottom after getting under his wedge. I need to be careful facing him, since Sky Rocket had a pretty good driver, and it will probably be a close match.


One of my best friends, Brandon Nichols, has a new antweight. It looks deadly, especially since it came off a 2nd place win at the MIT Maker Faire. Like Brisingr, I'll make sure he doesn't chop my wheels off.

The Red Shpee

Apparently it has a wedge, but it has no picture or any combat record. I'll just have to wait until the event.

So here are the top 3 most worrying antweights:

1. Spinzilla

2. Brisingr

3. Sky Rocket

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Bot Blast 2014 Report


So here's how my matches went:

Slim Pickens vs Nuff Said

Nuff Said was a box with two wedgelets on the front. At the start, I got under him, he got under me, and then he started to lose control. I shoved him into the wall and stuck him underneath. Then I whipped out my phone and took a picture, which gave everyone a laugh.

Viciously Circular vs Velociraptor

Interestingly, this would be a rematch from Robogames 2013, in which Endgame (the original bot), beat Velociraptor when it drove out of a pushout by accident. In Bot Blast, it wasn't going to happen  Both bots exchanged hits until Viciously Circular lost its pulley and was flipped over.

Slim Pickens vs Empire

Empire was a wedge with a spinning drum that I don't think ended up working. It was built by a team that had competed only once before. I pushed it into the wall several times and the link came off. Another KO for Slim Pickens.

Viciously Circular vs Sky Rocket
Sky Rocket was made from a new team for their first event. It was a scaled up version of Zach Lytle's "Micro Drive" that was made into an antweight kit by Fingertech Robotics. Going into this match, I was afraid that it would be able to get under me, and it did so for the first 15 seconds in the match. Not only that, but I didn't want to completely destroy their bot in their first event.  I was able to get around to the sides and hit them, and drive it to the wall to deliver some its to the underbelly. The driver tapped out, and I backed off.

Slim Pickens vs Velociraptor

After losing to this bot with Viciously Circular, I was a bit nervous going into this match. For safe measure, I removed the horns on my bot so I wouldn’t get flipped over. I got under him most of the match and he chewed up my wheels and put a few dents in the front. After the full three minutes, the judges gave me the nod to go through.

Viciously Circular vs Hercules


Hercules was a servo powered lifter bot that I didn’t seem afraid of. I thought I could simply get under him and pound his underbelly. After one hit, my front panel fell off and I tapped out since it exposed my battery. The reason was because I didn’t put in all the screws and it simply fell out due to the shockwaves from the hit.

Slim Pickens vs Antelope

If you recall my predictions blog post, you’d remember that I was worried about Antelope. From its previous matches, it looked very effective and very wedgy. For this match, the builder used several aluminum(?) wedglets as opposed to its normal flat wedge. I pushed him around the entire match, and was able to get the judges’ nod to go to the finals.

Slim Pickens vs Fire Arrow

Fire Arrow was definitely on the top of my list of “bots that I am worried about facing”. What would make this match important is that it was for all the marbles. There would be no second match if I lost since it was a modified double elimination. The match started and we got under each other multiple times. My drive system had some issues and it seemed that I kept turning when I wanted to go straight. He got under me and shoved me to the wall, which ended up flipping me onto my horns. This left me with second place in the ants.

All in all, Bot Blast 2014 was a success for me. I got second in the ants, used a bot with an active weapon for the first time, and saw some awesome matches. I also learned how well of a driver I was, as several people told me how well I was doing. One other highlight was the crowd. They really enjoyed the event, and a lot of kids got really excited seeing robot combat for possibly the first time.

The next event I will be going to is Franklin 2014. I already know what must be done for the event. They are as follows:

-Resolder Slim Pickens' drive motor leads
-Get extra snap rings for my Snap Hubs
-Loctite the screws on Viciously Circular's weapon pulley, and grind a flat edge on the motor shaft
-Replace Viciously Circular's weapon motor and ESC

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Bot Blast 2014 Predictions

Another event is on the horizon, and it is time for me to make predictions!

Bot Blast 2014 is an annual event held in Bloomsburg, PA. It features antweight, beetleweight, and mantisweight robots (and formerly fairyweights). I will be competing with two ants this time, Slim Pickens, and my new ant, Viciously Circular (formerly called "Endgame").

Let's get Started!

Here's how the ants look:

Edit: as of July 4th, Cannon will not be competing

Probably my biggest concerns include Gyroscopic, an eggbeater that beat me at FI 2012, Cannon,
another beater that got second at Motorama 2013, FireArrow, a very good wedge that got 3rd last year, and Antelope (it's being redesigned to be 4wd instead of just 2wd), another good wedge. Another bot, Velociraptor, could possibly be a threat. It's done very well in the past, but my wedge should hold up against the sawblade. If we do fight, I do hope to see a lot of sparks!

Now we're onto the beetles!

Probably the one to watch out for is Raptor 2.2, the two-time Robogames champion. It's fast, very well driven, and can take a beating but keep on going. From the same team is Allosaurus, a drum bot which is one of the few bots that has ever beaten Raptor 2.2. Ripto 3.0 is a returning champion(?) which has done really well and can hit hard. Reigning champions Mondo Bizarro return as well. It's a good bot, but I think it might get outclassed by some of the other bots. One Fierce Javelin is competing, and seemed promising when it got a few wins at the 2014 USATL STEM Tech Olympiad, and is pretty fast, too.

Finally, the mantisweights.

Reigning champion Threecoil returns to fight against some more dangerous bots. It's got a flywheel powered flipper that gave it two first place finishes in a row. Returning after a years' hiatus, One Fierce Bush Wacker is a nasty spinner that won a few years ago. It's another hard hitter. Chibi Blackout is a nasty looking drumbot that resembles that of a 15lber. CATAPULT is a shell spinner that has been under construction for a while. If it doesn't have any technical problems, it could do a lot of damage.

That's it for today!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Motorama 2014: Days 2 and 3

I'm back!

Day 1:

So my adventures in Motorama scaled up by three pounds. Thunder Child had some ESC issues, but they ended up getting fixed thanks to the folks from the Grande Tambor team.

It works!

Battle 1: Thunder Child vs Trilobite

Your standard (boring) wedge match. I was facing the Kitbots man himself, Peter Smith, with the exact same bot. My electronics were screwed up for some reason, so I ended up stopping and slowing down at some points. I'm not exactly sure what happened, but my guess would be that it had something to do with the BEC. Trilobite won on a judges' decision.

Day 2:

Battle 2: Thunder Child vs Mulcher

Mulcher is another bot from the team that brought Magzant, Kate the Rat, and Heartbreaker. It's a horizontal spinner that's shaped like the starship Enterprise. Pete Smith gave me an attachment to keep the spinner at bay. I went into this match really worried that my bot would get torn apart. However, I remembered the words of Matt Maxham, the driver of Sewer Snake, "Break his fist with my face". Mulcher spun up early before the green light, but I started driving early so the judge's ignored it. He got some good hits on me, and I kept ramming him. I ended up losing a wheel and was basically limping like every Sewer Snake v Last Rites match. After another hit, the belts for his drive motors came out and he stopped moving. He ended up tapping out.

Thunder Child after facing Mulcher

Battle 3: Thunder Child vs Maniac Kathy

Maniac Cathy is another Kitbot, which is an undercutter with a self righting hoop. I wasn't sure what I'd do to KO him, so I figured it would be best to just push him around for the full 3 minutes. We traded blows, and then he flipped me over. Two of my drive motors stopped working, and I ended up high centered. It was a tap out for me.

So I was done for the day when it came to competing. That was okay, because there were lots of awesome fights to watch, and more places to explore in the event.

At the end of the event, I got a trophy, prizes, and a picture with Ms. Motorama.

(Insert joke about how this is the closest I will be to a girl here)

I also learned a few things:

-Make sure to check your connections with a 9 volt before using a lipo battery.
-Bring a lot more spare motors, since the spinners will kill them.
- Make more attachments for different bots.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Motorama 2014: Day 1

My dad and I went to Motorma 2014 last February, and this is our story

Day 1:

I was planning on fighting with two bots: the new and improved Slim Pickens, and 4 Minute Warning, which I bought off ebay from Team Asian Invasion. The latter of the two was unable to compete due to the lack of a lipo battery. No problem, I'd get it ready for Bot Blast. Slim Pickens had burned out its escs a week before the event, and a team graciously gave us some replacements. See, we aren't all bitter rivals!

I got to see many of my friends that day, and meet some new friends. One guy I got to talk to was Ray Billings. You might not know who that guy is, but to me, he's a celebrity. He built Last Rites, one of the most destructive spinners of all time.

Battle 1: Slim Pickens v No Such Robot

This was the guy who beat me in the FI 2014 rumble. Its builder had given it a bigger blade, and added a self righting mechanism. I simply pushed it around and won the judges' decision, while NSR only got a few shots in at my backside.

After that mach, my lipo burned out. I have no idea why. Luckily, some other builder gave me another lipo to use for the remainer of the event.

Battle 2: Slim Pickens v Algos

Algos was built by one of my best friends, Mike Jefferies of Near Chaos Robotics. He's given me lots of advice over two years, so now it was mentor v student! One shot, and I'm stuck on my horns.

Battle 3: Slim Pickens v Klazo

Klazo was the prototype Kitbots Saifu kit, which was also a part of Near Chaos Robotics (the driver was going to marry the driver of Algos).  I honestly was surprised that I was drawn up against this bot. In its previous fight, it faced Vile Ant, a terrifying bar spinner, and somehow won. I felt a bit less nervous going into this match, as Klazo was still a threat, but less than the Moto 2012 antweight champion. She got some good shots on me, but I stayed strong and pushed her around and even had her on her dancing on her front for a moment. The judges gave me the nod to go through!

Battle 4: Slim Pickens v Magzant

I've faced nearly all of this team's bots before, and I've beaten all of them. Magzant is unique because it uses brushless motors for its drive (brushless motors are used for spinning weapons). I scooped the other wedge up and got a good hold of it with my little horns. Whilst carrying the other bot, I shoved it into each wall and stuck her in the small space between the wall and floor.

Battle 5: Slim Pickens v Algos (again)
At this point in time, I knew that no matter what, I'd be in the top 3, get a trophy, and go down in Motorama history (okay, the final part might not really happen). This time I removed the horns, so I wouldn't get stuck on my back. Algos knocked me over a few times, and I got under him and pushed him around. Then he got a good shot and tore my wedge off, exposing my battery. I tapped out after that hit.

I got third in the antweights. Yay!

Luckily, the wedge damage wasn't that bad. I just had to reattach it with two screws. I lost both of my drive motors, and was done for the day.

The best match of the day IMO was the antweight rumble. Take a look!

The bots in the rumble are: PMD (Penis Measuring Device), Klazo, Magzant, Kate the Rat, Poco Tambor, No Such Robot, and Vile Ant

Next post: Days 2 and 3!

A Very Very Belated Franklin 2013 Report


So I went to Franklin 2013, and this is my story.

I got there around 7:30 and bring all of my crap in. The arena is where it has been for the past couple of years, in an area that is rarely used outside of robot stuff. The table I picked was near the boundary line where non-competitors could go, and sandwiched between Hugh Savoldelli and his dad, and Zac O'Donell's two bots. Team Cooking with Gas took up the other side of my table, and I made sure to give him as much room as possible, since he had two 30lbers.

Battle 1: Slim Pickens v Hangar 11

So it's me vs Hugh. I get a couple of good rams at him (Also, you can see how zippy my robot is. It's running 22.2:1 Silver Sparks), but he flips me onto the wall and I can't get off. Oh well.

Battle 2: Thunder Child v Mr, Croup
I got an unlucky draw against this vertical spinner. I got hit several times until I was on my back. Luckily, it actually worked!

Battle 3: Slim Pickens v Ubersaw

Ubersaw's blade wasn't working, so the match was much easier for me. I simply pushed him around like it was nobody's business. Unfortunately, I got stuck underneath the gutter (seriously, why add that?), but the other robot got stuck as well. We got unstuck, and then I won on a judges' decision.

Battle 4: Thunder Child v Void
Void never got its weapon to work. Thunder Child on the other hand, wasn't fully charged, so I was basically pushing him around really slowly. I ended up winning on a judges' decison.

Battle 5: Thunder Child v Play n' Crazy

Thunder child blew 2 of its motors, and was reduced to limping. PnC dealt some good blows against me, and I had to tap out.

Battle 6: Slim Pickens v Dust Pandemonium

DP was a wide bot with a little blender blade behind a "dust pan". I pushed him around for a bit, and then he flipped me over after my flappy wedge flapped backwards. He got the judges' win.

Battle 7: Antweight rumble

It was me vs Ubersaw, No Such Robot (a wedge with a saw), and See You Next Wednesday (a 1lb Sherderator). I started off pushing the other bots around, but NSR got from behind and cut out the back side of my bot. The lipo came out and was dragged behind Slim Pickens. I ended up tripping over it and it disconnected. I believe No Such Robot won the rumble.

Despite both bots going 1-2, I had a great time! Many of my friends were there, and I saw some awesome fights! Next time, I'll talk about Motorama '14!