Short summary. I didn’t finish the original bot. Was going to show up with no active weapon but my Jolt! kit arrived early. I used that instead. I went 1 and 2. My bot is bouncy. Driving is hard. The belt likes to fly off. Completely ripping off the weapon in my first fight probably didn’t help, but I’m getting ahead of myself. I have been scoping out the event for a while online, so I was familiar with who a few of the builders would be. As it turns out, a whole contingent of bots that have been to Norwalk showed up for this event. Uh oh.
My primary goal for the event was to get in two fights. As it was a double elimination event, this means I just had to show up with a working bot. This brings me to the second goal… I don’t want to have anyone waiting on me. Finally, I wanted to have entertaining fights more than I wanted effective fights.
Some time around 2:30 they started check in and let anyone who wanted to do a spin up test get a few moments in the arena. I met weight. Next I lined up to test the bot as I had yet to actually fully test the thing. Big spinners are scary. But first, let me tell you about the smell of the arena. First, the event itself was perfectly fine. Despite the Alabama summer and lack of air conditioning in the space, there were no objectionable aromas. There was a bit of smoke from the wood-fired oven in the taproom. Basically, there was no smell. And then I opened the arena. It smelled exactly as expected: metal grinding and burnt electronics. Spin up went fine, but the quirk with the drive ESCs became apparent. I think I read somewhere that these ESCs need to come to a dead stop before they reverse, and that certainly seems to be the case.
While this was my first event, I actually wasn’t nervous at all. Sure, it was a lot to take in, and I needed to get the swing of things, but nervous? No. I knew my bot worked, I had met the other competitors. I wasn’t rushed. I was waiting.
So, on to the first match. Went up against Hound. It’s a double disk vert, which is all the rage these days. As Noah had recently lost against a horizontal, he came prepared with a nice anti-horizontal wedge on the front. Match started, I spun up, and started bouncing around. I don’t think I made contact with anything other than the floor. I know Hound hit me a few times, but only on the UHMW skirt. Then I bounced and hit the floor right in front of the door at my square right as Hound was there. He clipped me on the disk. Nuts and screws fly everywhere and my spinner goes flying. But I didn’t hear no bell. Kept going. There is no need for me to tap out. If anything, I want to see the bot in pieces. This is fun. However, the fun did not last long. Hound knocked me onto the edge of the pit and I was unable to escape. The count started. Ten seconds later, the match is done.
Despite the fact the weapon flew off, the bot was in good shape. I’m not sure if it was from impact with Hound or my own weapon, but both pulleys definitely received damage. As mentioned before, there was a bit of scuffing on the wheel guard. One of the screws backed out of the weapon motor pulley. As for the flying disk… I think it was my fault. I don’t think I used any Loctite and maybe didn’t get the screws in all the way.
Repair was straight forward. Swap out the battery for a fresh one. Knock out any loose debris. Reattach weapon and get the belt back on. Fortunately, over a year before I bought the bot, I happened to purchase the correct size nuts and screws for this thing. Within five or ten minutes I was ready for the next fight, which would be the loser of a fight between DropSaw and Junior. DropSaw is essentially Baby Sawblaze, which seems to be all the rage these days. Junior, a horizontal.
I shared a pit table with Junior’s builder. He let me use his good Loctite, versus my okay Loctite when I reattached the weapon. He needed a way to mount some top armor on Junior because DropSaw is a serious heavy hitter, and Junior has relatively thin metal on top. He had a handful of options to strap on top but it was a delicate balance to meet weight. He used my Gorilla Tape to strap on whatever he had, and hoped for the best. His bot barely survived.
Junior’s repair took a while. Over an hour. Fortunately, the event is pretty lax on that front. He was on the fence about forfeiting. He lost an antenna. He hammered. He cut metal. He cut his hand. But the fight went on. I bounced around the box, lost a belt, he struggled to control direction and eventually tapped out. I got a win.
I didn’t really need to repair the bot. I swapped batteries. While I probably should have replaced the belt, I used the same one. I figured it was probably for the best with the damaged pulleys.
My opponent for the next match would be either T3 or Bulldawg1. The original bracket had me going up against T3 as my first fight, but it was reshuffled as dropouts were finalized. However, the bushing between the shaft and weapon on T3 is larger than the weapon on some bots. Not something to look forward to. Needless to say, Bulldawg1 was my opponent. Except when the fight came up, it was not obvious that Bulldawg1 was going to make it. The event organizers thought that maybe they had already forfeited, but a few minutes later they were ready.
Bulldawg1 is a beefy horizontal, they seem to be all the rage these days. It looks sort of like one of the bots from Gemini. T3 ripped out their weapon and they showed up to the match with no belt. I did my usual bouncy thing and then lost the belt. Again. Even worse, at some point I lost my left side drive. Ultimately, this would be the cause for my loss. Can’t drive? That’s damage. Can’t drive? Can’t control the fight. Can’t drive? Now way to show aggression. Bulldawg1 wins. The judge took a minute, actually asking my bot to be moved to the center of the box and have me drive back to my square. No. Left side was dead. I lost. My night was done.
As is typical, I skipped breakfast. I also skipped lunch. By now it was close to 7pm. I was hungry. Thankfully, the event was held at InnerSpace Brewing. They have a wood-fired pizza oven. They make great pizza. I went with the Millennial Falcon, which is bacon, cheese of some sort, a normal sauce, avocado, and a swirl of sriracha. The beer… I don’t recall what it was, but it was also quite solid. I stayed around to watch the rest of the fights and chat with everyone.
Just like that, I’m now hooked on robot combat. I learned a lot with the Jolt! kit, and have ideas on how to make it work better for me. First things first, replace the pulleys. The belts aren’t staying on and I suspect that is due to the damage. I will replace the drive ESCs with a Scorpion mini, assuming I can make it fit. Speaking of increasing the amount of available space, I bought a smaller receiver. I am definitely sticking with JST connectors to make motor swaps a little easier. I will also need to buy a few more spares.
I don’t know what my next event will be. The next Battle In The Backwoods is a little too soon.
Update: confirmed that the left side ESC is dead. Nothing seems wrong, but it is most certainly dead.
Also… I really should have recalibrated the sticks. It wasn’t a curves issue. It’s that the distance between 0 and 100 was like two tick marks rather than full travel. Could have noticed this had I looked at the monitor screen on the transmitter.