Saturday, November 12, 2016

Franklin Institute 2016

Hello people of the world and beyond! It's been such a loooong time since the last post! Admittedly, most of this is due to college work and very little true free time to move around and invest the time to create a proper post on combat robot things. First things first since I can't possibly hope to contain myself on the subject:


This victory was definitely one I was highly excited about and was glad that occurred. Before Franklin Institute, Ferocious Mark IV was left almost completely unchanged. The only change I did to Ferocious was to change the plugs from Deans Ultra to JST plugs. The only reason which I used Deans in the first place was because I previously inadvertently smoked two Lipos by accidentally plugging them in backwards into the JST and became paranoid of them ever since. When I was replacing the lifting servo in Ferocious from the HXT12K to a monstrous Savox 1270SG  (a servo that could still easily deadlift a 3lber) this issue was once again brought to the forefront and I made the call to switch to JST so make the extra weight. Note: the HXT12K had to be replaced as a result of Klazo punching the lifter system hard during the antweight rumble  which subsequently sent enough shock back to the servo to crack the plastic casing and making the gears seize up. As part of my background in r/c cars I had a Savox on hand and decided to put it into Ferocious. As a result, it had plenty of lifting power and the servo had no problems operating. 

For Wedge of Destruction v3, I did a few more modifications to it in order make sure that it has a better chance of surviving against all those nasty spinners such as Weta, Silent Spring, Void, and Mondo Bizarro. These spinners always pose trouble for brick bots and since I didn't have a proper protection method for the wheels I was guaranteed to face trouble.  

So, I ordered some .08" Grade 5 Titanium from TMS Titanium and began the fun on the weekend before Franklin. 

Above we see the sharpie outlines of what would become the outer guard rails of WoD as well as the splattered remains of the cutting disk used to make the first few incisions. 

As the first guard rail is freed, we see the very much annihilated cutting disk dust in its wake. While cutting the guard rails out, a combination of generic cutting disk and highly reinforced cutting disks were used. At this time there were about 5 reinforced disks and 25 regular disks so in an effort to  prolong the amount reinforced disks I alternated so that one reinforced is used and then two regular disks are used after. 

The fruits of the labor: one guard rail down! After using a table grinder to clean up the edges a bit it looks all clean.

"Another One" -  DJ Khaled

The guards are attached to the front UHMW blocks which serve as primarily ablative armor. Unfortunately, there are two main fears:
  1. I don't have the time nor much additional space to make an additional standoff to double support the guard due to so little real estate between the wheels. Ideally, the stiffness of the guards and the thickness of the UHMW to keep it in place
  2. The UHMW guards maybe ripped off as result of repeated impacts from the front. Unlike Ferocious where the front is one giant piece, these blocks are independent are only held in place by 3 #6-32 screws. Essentially, the only thing holding it together in the face of a horizontal attack is the sheer strength of the screws.
Only time will tell, but even if they are ripped off the 5/16" Al frame rails are plenty strong so the electronic goodies may not die. 

Side View

Are you noticing a pattern? 

So now we reach what we have all been waiting for....

NERC Battle on the Parkway at Franklin Institute 2016 

When we arrived at the venue at about 8 in the morning people were already pouring in and NERC officials were frantically getting people into safety. We ended up in the far back corner near the back exit so it was pretty to survey the surroundings.

Here is the pit table! Admittedly, very little tools even needed to be out due to all the prep done on the robots. They were already charged, tested several times, and spares were all contained in the white case near the back. I think with all this prep we're starting to get out of that whole newbie phase :)
In the foreground we have the Tombstone and Witch Doctor toys from Battlebots which people greatly appreciated seeing and encouraged a few to go buy their own later. 

The small green object in the center is FanBot which is the first object created in the Bone Dead Robotics group using 3D printing. FanBot's original purpose was to be a mobile cooling machine during the intense heat of Maryland summer in the dorms at college. When I designed it, I largely based it off a combat robot chassis since that is what I am attuned to designing as well as keeping it around some that someday if it were made with a tougher material like Nylon it could be directly reborn into the antweight divison. Essentially, if this robot was made of stronger material and had a titanium blade instead of a plastic green quadcopter propeller. In fact, all the electronics in FanBot are all spare electronics from previous iterations of Ferocious. 

This robot right here in its super-shnazzy paint work is Kyle Singer's Big Ripto. This robot right here was the single most destructive robot at the tournament. It was soooo destructive that it only had 2 actual fights all day. One where he tosses another robot out of the arena and another where the face is ripped off. As a result of this ungodly power being leveled at the competition and no one like Triggo to oppose it there was essentially a slaughter. So much a danger did this robot pose for its finals against Not Overhaul/Uberclocker4 that it was not fought in the box and the victory was given to Ripto. 

Wedge Industries' Mini Yeti named "True Grit" is a exceptionally cool example of how the larger Battlebots machines are having direct connections to the more local levels. Quick trivia: Builder Alex Horne was also a competitor at Battlebots with the 'Subzero' robot!

Look everyone its a REAL BATTLEBOT. THAT'S RIGHT. STRAIGHT OUTTA THE BATTLEBOX. This particular robot is Sub-Zero and builder Jerry Clarkin brought it to the Franklin Institute to capitalize off of that Battlebots hype mentality. My brother Justin and I actually talked to Mr. Clarkin about his machine and were extremely impressed by the sheer level of force being thrown around in Battlebots. #WeWantSeason3

In one memorable moment of Ferocious Mk. IV's run there was an all-3D printed wedge named Toxic Envy that it faced. In the match Ferocious used its lifter to flip Toxic Envy over then shoved it towards the wall. By sheer luck, the force and angle of entry allowed Toxic Envy to actually be stuck in the wall by its wedge where all four wheels were off the ground! Video and complete playlist can be found here.

Now we get to the grit of the competition! By about 8:30 this was the scene at the event. Nearly everyone had left except for the NERC crew, a few other builders, and anyone who still robots left in the Beetle/ Ant brackets. 

This is a clean picture of Ferocious Mk. IV before it started taking heavy damage. The first three fights Ferocious had were all against plain wedges so it had an innate advantage by having an active weapon. However, it got really difficult after it faced Revy and DDT...

Yea definitely a not as clean though not impossibly damaged. 

In its fight against Revy, there wasn't much extensive damage taken except for it being punted around the box. Due to the front guard on Ferocious being made of 1/2" UHMW, the sharp teeth on Revy's drum was very easily able to dig in and throw Ferocious around on impacts. Inversely, the use of that UHMW as ablative armor (meaning that it absorbs most of the energy and deforms as it does so) also meant that very little shock was transferred back into the robot aiding in its survival. The fight went the distance and ultimately was given to Revy sending Ferocious to the Loser's Bracket. 

Ironically, Revy later lost and was set to fight Ferocious as a rematch. Winner moves on Loser goes home. In this re-match however, there was a bit of a shift as Ferocious was able to avoid a few more attacks and got a few more lifts which displayed good aggression. This fight also went to the judges but was very slightly given to Ferocious! Moving on to face......oh lord.....DDT. I actually wanted to fight DDT at Motorama 2016 with Ferocious because I considered the best horizontal spinner in its class. However,  I faced Vile Ant in his place and I would NEVER suggest undervaluing that robot since it has won multiple ant titles. 

Anyways, I had a mixture of terror and relief when I heard about fighting DDT. At this point, I was guaranteed 3rd place so I was going to home with a trophy, but I was fearful because I also knew that DDT had the potential to inflict a tremendous amount of damage and crippled it. Only one way to find out if it works! 

When the fight first began Ferocious charged in head first and started taking shots from DDT but it kept on rolling. In one impact DDT ripped off one of the side guards and in another impact it bent the tooth that supported the robot during flips. As a result, flipping was almost an impossibility. Despite both of these points of damage, in one miraculous shot Ferocious was able to flip DDT on its head. Due to it being hug up on a portion of its chassis and the blade on it stopped spinning, DDT was stuck in place and couldn't move leading to a count out for Ferocious! Now to the finals against Physique Black who was also a Saifu kit from like Revy. Unlike Revy though, far worse a fate awaited Ferocious....


Also Ouch

Very Ouch

Much Ouch

Such Ouch

Quite Ouch

Excessive Ouch

So at this point in the competition, Ferocious was definitely showing some wear from all the beatings; the front lip of the lifter was being knurled away, the side armor was getting bent and the UHMW that held them in place was getting stripped as a result of the screws getting ripped out. All of these compacted against Ferocious as Physique Black attacked. In the first few impacts, Ferocious was doing well and at one point ALMOST gets Physique Black stuck on its back, If it got stuck there, then Ferocious may have won without much damage....but life isn't perfect ;_;. Physique Black didn't get stuck and Ferocious got wrekt. Everything imaginable got ripped and bent but it never stopped working! It fought boldly and proudly  just like Blacksmith against Minotaur

This very proud display netted Ferocious Mk. IV 2nd place in the antweight division! This is the best showing I have had at a competition yet. Additionally, Ferocious marks a new phase in Bone Dead Robotics' development as the last robot that competed for the team to be very successful was Play'n Krazy who was based off the "Weta- God of Ugly Things" design so it never felt completely genuine. Inversely, Ferocious' design was completely genuine and had even greater success. 

Now, Ferocious Mk. IV wasn't the only robot brought to compete, Wedge of Destruction v3 was there too! Unfortunately, it was unable to work the whole day. Even with the help of Kyle Singer it was unable to function and had to forfeit two fights. It won its first fight fortunately, but it was only a consolation in the end. Upon further inspection, it turned out that the trouble was that the lifting servo drew more power than the drive ESCs could produce which would brown out the receiver and make it reset. Ironically, when I converted WoD to brushless I removed the BEC while wiring and forgot to put it back in before finishing wiring. 

So WoD works now and is ready to go, but unfortunately Motorama will not be the next event for it...because Motarama was over 150 robots within the first DAY of registration time....Tune in next time to see the preparations of Bone Dead Robotics and a new venture into the 12lb division!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Some Robot Things

Hello People! We have not fallen off the face of the Earth.

It's been a while since we had a good old fashioned post and I feel that it is unfair to all of you to keep you in the dark. In this post I hope to cover a few points that concern our future as well as the robot activities that have been going on.

1. Brandon is going to College

Yay Brandon (that's me)! Moving up in the world and becoming my own man! Unfortunately, that means boo for the robots. Because I will be spending all my time at the University of Maryland, College Park, I will have next to no time to come home and do the robot building. Add in the factor of also trying to hold down a job/submit scholarships to pay for said college and that equals little to no resources being poured into the robots for long periods of time. As a result of this, the hallowed Columbia Mall where Bot Blast is being held this year will not include us ;_; Additionally, even the Franklin Institute event annually hosted by NERC is in possible jeopardy depending on the school schedule. However, there is a trade-off to this potential hiatus: knowledge and greater resources. not only will I be learning about all the technical stuff that Charles and Jamison and Pete and a whole bunch of more senior builders know. Additionally, I will gain access to cool machines such as a lathe or mill which allows the creation of uber-devious machines in the future.

2. Robots are still going to be a thing

Despite the above messages of gloom and doom, building combat robots is a passion of mine and will continue to be a thing. Even now, there are a few designs that I am working on that I haven't even explicitly expressed ;) While there may be periods of time where myself (or the team) may be busy and unable to attend events there will always be a commitment to continue the sport. In a more practical way, I already decided that the best way to deal with this is to build up the robot fleet while I have freetime, i.e. the summer! So now almost everyday I journey out to the machines and work on them. And now onto the fun 3rd point!

3. Robot Stuffs!

Alright so now with all the more serious matter covered, onto the more fun stuff!

El Destructo

This is the beginning stages of the current rebuild of El Destructo. As seen, the baseplate is polycarbonate/lexan which can be purchased from any Lowes in the area (reminder that we work on a budget) and attached it to the same old pieces of El Destructo that were with it back in 2010. In many ways, there isn't much changed beyond merely re-assembling it. 
In this picture you can see the basic points of the design i.e. the motors in place. From this point on assembly went by breezingly. So breezingly that I actually forgot to picture so soorryy. But essentially, this goes along as most robot builds go with the electronic wiring, cutting of material etc.
This is about where it ended up at. The electronics are all wired up and its working fine. Only trouble here is that the frame rails were a little uneven meaning that the traction is a little difficult. After trimming the bottom of it for awhile I got it to a good balance. Before it competes again I hope to get a thin layer of rubber of it on to get muuuuxxiimmummmm trraaccttiioonn. But for now it is just sitting because of the focus on the main competitor....
Yes! I mean wait not this but also this exactly! You see Russ Barrow, long-time veteran/ contributor on the Combat Robotics Facebook page (place where all the cool kids chill at)/ Admiral of the Dark Forces, created a handy dandy solution where the 1000RPM gearboxes sold through Kitbots and on eBay is paired with a brushless motor creating a amaaaazzingly powerful drive system at only a fraction of the weight of having to use 4 drive motors for comparable output. According to the specs, each of these motors can produce up to 89W of power 

Here are the beauties installed into the chassis of WoD v3. One of the troubles that plagued WoD v3 at Motorama was that the drive train wasn't nearly strong enough to push both itself and another robot (at least not quickly) which resulted in rather lack luster performance. Comparatively, that creates the equivalent of jet engines on a Fiat 500.

WoD v3 as it sat before testing. At this point, the idea of having hard-mounted front wedges was abandoned and instead another cross member was added. This essentially turned WoD into a brick with only hinge wedges on the front. That piece of aluminum on the top is connected to the lifting servo which got re-oriented to flip better. In the first setup of WoD v3 the servo was connected by linkages to a floating lifting arm much like the original WoD: Wedge of Doom (not Destruction). Instead, the servo is directly mounted to a right angle bit of aluminum similar to that of Revenge of Dr. Super Brain 

So here's the video of it testing

And my reaction about it immediately after finishing it

After confirming that the drivetrain works well, I proceeded to work more on that lifter I mentioned before. That piece above is Grade 5 .063" Titanium. I used a propane torch from Lowes to slow heat it.
 The recipe to bend titanium is pretty simple: just heat up the Titanium until it is about cherry red and then bend to appropriate position then quench in water.

And voila you bent the lifting face to shape. After I punched a few holes in the top of it I connected to that aluminum plate. Those little bits of Ti are designed to hold the robot down and not allow it to faceplant that hard. If these weren't there, the robot would roll onto its face and invert itself because the lifter acts as a fulcrum. Those prongs serve as a way to shift the fulcrum more onto WoD v3 which allows it to flip the other robot up.

And I added preettyyy liighhtsss. Besides looking hecka dope in a dark room, they are also a very clear indicators to tell if the robot is on or not. To connect this to the power, I wired it directly into a plug into the receiver. As a result, if WoD is damaged in battle or at least knocked the hipple out I can see the state of the receiver. If the receiver/ lights are not reacting at all then I can clearly see it and then mourn appropriately. 

Dope pic with the UHMW glowing and the emperor's hat. Originally, that piece was designed to be on the original WoD v3 iteration then was put away once I realized it needed to stick out waaaay more to be useful. Now its on WoD's head to be a crown technical reasons like self-righting. This extension allows the lifting arm to extend far enough to allow the wheels to touch the ground and pull it back right-side-up. Unfortunately, it also allows it to faceplant but that will never happen in combat happen anyway and will be filmed most likely by Other Brandon. But enough of that! On to the reaaaalllyyy interesting stuff.

Flywheel Flipper Thingy

Man has been vexed by a struggle for many a time of one to flip a robot using circular motion? This question has been one of immense interest in the robot combat community. People such as Team Whyachi, The Didactic Dale Heatherington, and Charles-Senpai have created solutions, but I thought to myself why not and threw my hat into the ring.

This is a really simple sketch I made for my submission into the flywheel flipper frenzy. This design is remarkably (perhaps way too) simple. Basically, think of it as one of those old carnival games that tests your strength. The whole mechanism is essentially a lever that utilizes the kinetic energy of a hammer in motion to move a piece of metal on the end and launch it upwards. A lever is a simple machine so there is very little loss in that transfer (assuming the parts don't just shatter from the energy in the impact). The springs in the front are holding the lever away from the beater drum allowing it to achieve high rpms. The only way this engages is by the robot driving head-first into the opponent at high speed. At ramming speed, the resistance of the springs will be overcome by the inertia of opposing robot pushing against the flat face of the lever. This speedy entry (heh) will force the lever (hopefully) into the beater bar quick enough to allow the beater to "bite" the same way it would against an opponent robot and therefore transfer the energy into the lever. After the object (i.e. other robot) is removed from the lever by forced flight the springs will naturally pull the lever from the beater and reset. Sounds good in theory right? 

Well, Charles-Senpai and the greater community had points about this design as seen in this quick blurb: 

Very important points put up here that I will have to address for this to work. A some of them tried to be covered here:
  1. The "bite" will be attained by the speed of the robot. I intend to use the aforementioned brushless drive motors that will give the robot a insane top speed. While I do not have the exact speed to tell you the force, I can guess that with 2" wheels on 3s 11.1V Lipo it will be very fast. 
  2. The design of the lever is with the use of socket head screws. These screws are specially treated to be able to handle harsh impacts and are made of much tougher stuff than say the Aluminum or UHMW around it. Hopefully this will result in some better stuff....

A little more flushing out of the design. In this the drum is only 2in in diameter.

In this design the lever shape has already changed and the inclusion of a Weta beater bar is used. Since it is not only a quality but is also readily available (i.e. gifted from PK) it was simple just to drop it in. 

Little more experimenting with lever solutions 

It was at this point that I then said screw it and just threw something together from scrap parts using approximations from the CAD-ing

After a little more buildup and detail it got to here. During testing,

The final activity undertaken before I left for college was to harden CATAPULT's shell. It was a very simple setup: Just focus propane torch on to spot (in this case teeth) until it turned a certain color/temperature (in this case cherry red), quench in water (don't remove until all hissing sounds have stopped), then heat up a little more then let air cool. 

In the sunlight it doesn't look very red but with the garage closed....

It’s QUITE bright. This whole process went down on all the teeth. At least now the next time CATAPULT would have to fight a robot like Chibi Blackout at least the teeth won't be destroyed :/

That's about everything for now! College should be starting in about two days after this post is published and as a freshman living in a dorm I won't be able to do robot stuff since classes are here and the tools are somewhere else. Ciao!