In our second season competing at BattleBots, we made the playoffs. This was super exciting for us, as we just missed out in 2019. You can't win the nut without making the tournament, so this is a great first step for us toward our ultimate goal of becoming the first ever hammer-bot to win the nut. For our first ever fight in the BattleBots tournament we were matched up against Donald Hutson and Lock-Jaw. For those unfamiliar, Donald Hutson has more Giant Nuts than anyone else on the planet, no pressure. Hit the jump to see how we did! Spoilers ahead!
It gets said a lot (because it's true) but Donald Hutson is a BattleBots legend. He has 3 championships (2x SHW and 1X HW), has won the Best Driver award, has more giant nuts than anyone else, and is actually one of very few people to ever drive an omni-directional robot in BattleBots (Root Canal - MW). Quite the matchup for our first ever single-elimination match!
Check out below for a quick pre-fight video:
For those wondering if Lock-Jaw was working well, you can check out their testbox footage in the above video. It had a scary death hum and was looking good to us! Their main configuration changes seem to be adding a shock-mounted top panel of 1/2" thick polycarbonate, and also using some poly-carb to protect their belt after Jackpot was able to sever it in their last match. They also mentioned doubling up their standard titanium armor plates on the top to 1/4".
On our side, we finally got to put on our anti-vert configuration. Exciting! One of our major changes this season was to make the robot much more modular, with particular improvements to our anti-vert configuration. We've got nice long fangs - designed to get under opponents while also preventing them from riding up into the hammer pivot. Of course, we're fighting one of the few robots with prongs longer than ours... which had us a bit worried. We kept the long-arm and heavy Ol' Rusty hammer due to Lock-Jaw's fairly large size and abundance of top armor. In order to have weight for the large fangs, this configuration sacrifices the titanium armor plates that normally sit behind the anti-horizontal UHMW on the front corners. So the fangs and corner UHMW bolt straight to the billet in this new config.
Another tweak was that we replaced the friction discs in our torque limiting slip clutches. After the Shred fight we thought the hammer looked a little slow. Replacing these should get the hammer back up to 100%.
You'll also note for this fight we came out with our shiny triangles but without our aesthetic 'tops.' After our previous fight we were satisfied everyone involved realized the shiny triangles were decorative - but the tops still put us over the weight limit. BattleBots has a 10 lbs decorative weight bonus, but in order to use it you need to get permission from your opponent. This is the playoffs, everything is a lot more serious, and unlike the regular season where our opponents were happy to let us run a little extra weight - that was not the case here and Mutant Robotics said no. Makes sense, and we didn't really expect them to say yes. Good thing the robot still looks cool with the flat top - and you can see the wheels this way so that's cool too.
One last change was we upped the magnetic downforce for this fight. We're basically running double the downforce of our previous fight. YOLO time! We really didn't want those forks on Lock Jaw to get under us, because one solid hit from that spinner is all it takes to turn a fight.
As for strategy, this was a tough one. Donald Hutson is a legendary driver - and one who knows the ins and outs of omni directional drive as he's actually driven this style of robot before. However our strategy still relied on trying to out-drive Donald a bit. Vertical spinners are tricky, and they tend to gyro a bit, sometimes coming up on one side or even flipping over. If we could strafe at just the right time, we might be able to get Donald to flip - and then we could hit that sweet sweet under-armored belly.
Let's see how it plays out...
We promptly got stuck on an arena seam which allowed Lock Jaw to get a big run at us. Luckily the magnets, prongs, and UHMW prevented Lock Jaw from getting a good bite, even with such a long run up.
After a few whifs, we were able to get our first hit in, which promptly shattered (ha) the top polycarbonate panel, despite all the shock mounting. Looks like those new friction discs are working! However, that panel did successfully deflect the blow a bit - so we swung through into the wheel well instead of the chassis.
Blink and you would have missed this above shot. This would have been a direct hit on their weapon belt if not for that bit of polycarb they added to protect it. The panel kept the hammer from sliding down and taking out the belt - and instead we bounced off. The physics of our hop here is also quite funny looking - possibly a result of the magnets 'popping' off the floor.
So close! Nice aim by Paul on the hammer, and nice thinking by Donald on the belt guard.
Donald was able to get some great positioning around our side, and started pushing us toward the wall. A really cool thing about this is that even though Lock Jaw's prongs were able to get under us, they were unable to lift us off the ground due to our high magnetic downforce. Instead of us riding up their prongs and being yeeted by their weapon, we were simply sliding across the ground. This really eased our fears a bit since if they can't get any lift on us, their weapon can't hit us.
In addition, this sequence led to one of the best driving maneuvers in my robot driving career. When Donald hit the killsaw slots we were able to quickly turn to get our front facing him. An underappreciated trait of mecanum wheels is how fast they can turn in place. We are able to get around just in time to lock jaws with Lock Jaw (ha) and then are able to actually drive sideways to rotate Lock Jaw for better positioning. I was actually stunned I was able to do this.
Once in position we can swing away and are able to use the new magnetic downforce to get a good bit of pushing in here and drive Lock Jaw back into the wall. Sparks are flying, polycarb is flying, the hammer is getting jammed up into open areas around Lock Jaw's weapon, and Mary's even getting some action with the Pulverizer. This is a huge turning point in the fight. For one, we are able to get a lot of hits in and bury the hammer deep around the weapon - who knows how much that is doing - but it's also getting into Donald's head a bit which leads to a critical mistake.
After escaping the corner and beginning a bit of a retreat to regain position, the gyro effects of Lock Jaw's weapon take over and the robot flips. As we mentioned earlier we really wanted to get them flipped, so this was a huge win for us right off the bat. On the way over though, Lock Jaw hits the ground with their weapon at full speed and then is soon smoking. Even better!
But the thing about Lock Jaw is that it is known for smoking and still running - for a while. Smoke does not mean Donald Hutson is out.
However in this case, Lock Jaw soon stops moving. With Lock Jaw stopped and sitting there in a pile of smoke, we had a flashback to our first ever BattleBots fight, in 2019 vs Witch Doctor. In that fight, there was also a moment with WD sitting there, on fire, and unable to move. There was a long wait for the countdown to start, and unlike what was shown on the TV edit - there was actually a countdown. Witch Doctor was counted down to 9 seconds, and moved with 1 second left on the count. We of course didn't have a functional weapon at that point in the fight, and we lost the judges decision. However in this Lock Jaw fight, we do have a weapon.
So, we position ourselves for a hit, and wait a bit, but there is no countdown. The ref actually asked us if we could move... so we repositioned a bit to show yes, we could. At this point we actually asked Donald if he wanted us to hit him again - but he didn't verbally answer. What he did do was keep trying to move Lock Jaw with his transmitter. In our first fight of 2020 vs Ghost Raptor, when they were similarly sitting still in a pile of smoke and the count out was yet to start, we asked them if they wanted us to hit them again. They verbally said no, and put down the transmitter.
In the world of robot combat I have one rule - if you don't want us to hit you, put the transmitter down. This is a pretty universal rule. If you're still holding the transmitter it means you want the fight to keep going. Lock Jaw wasn't stuck up on a wall here either - it had all 4 of it's wheels on the ground and for all I knew the drive ESCs were just overheated and about to reset.
We didn't want to take any chances and I decided to go for another hit.
After spinning Lock Jaw around for a bit on the end of the hammer (the reason we did this was to unstick the hammer so that we could remove it - it was pretty jammed in there and had to be wiggled lose) we released and the countdown started.
I love this hit though, the sparks flying out the bottom of Lock Jaw are just brutal. Whenever someone says 'hammers don't cause damage' you can feel free to send them to above gif. Actually, send them this one:
I was a little disappointed though, my aim wasn't too good and we almost overshot the chassis...
So overall, both our configurations worked well. Donald's polycarbonate top armor couldn't take many hits, but it did deflect some of our shots which weren't dead center. The belt guard even deflected a shot going straight for the belt. On our end, the magnets performed amazingly, and without Lock Jaw able to lift us their wasn't much they could do and it turned into a real drivers battle. After some back and forth driving we were able to get them flipped and that was the fight.
Thank you Donald Hutson and team Mutant Robotics for an amazing fight! If you want to see more of Lock Jaw, don't fret, you can catch them on Discovery+'s BattleBots Bounty Hunters, in the Beta bounty.
With the fight analysis out of the way, let's move on to the damage!
I'm not exactly sure what stopped Lock Jaw - something electrical obviously. After talking with Donald he thinks it was something that happened when the weapon impacted the floor.
For mechanical damage though, you can see the top armor panel is completely shattered. That's 1/2" thick polycarbonate for reference... wait isn't that what the old Robogames arena used? hmm...
On the bottom, you can see the direct hit went clean through the 1/8" titanium and bent some other panels of unknown material, looks like it may have sliced some wires as well.
As a winner's trophy, Donald gave us this burnt up ESC from the match, which now sits proudly on our trophy shelf.
On our end, the chassis was in good shape. The UHMW was almost completely unscathed, we only lost a few shiny triangles, and the billet was unharmed (yay Prismier!). The fangs were a bit bent - but we expect them to bend as they are only 1/2" thick AR500 so we have a bunch of spares. These will go into the spare pile and be replaced with fresh ones if needed.
The arm and hammer on the other hand, were actually not in the best shape. Before this match we actually replaced the hammer bolts. Originally we used these from McMaster which had a tensile strength of 120,000 PSI. We replaced them with these, also from McMaster (they had same day shipping at the event, amazing) which have a tensile strength of 150,000 PSI - an increase of 25%. You can see in the above images we actually lose one of our titanium fingers and 2 of the 3 bolts holding the hammer head on. The hammer head, which is 1" thick solid AR500, was also bent. Wow! In one of the exchanges we took a blow to the hammer tip from Lock Jaw's weapon, and without the change in bolts I'm 100% sure we would have lost the hammer head like we did in the Malice fight. Phew. Good thing we changed those bolts! It's little things like this that can make the difference between a win and a loss - and you'll never see it on the show. By all accounts this was a fairly flashy win - saved by one bolt!
After finding how bent the hammer was I went back and looked at that last hit again, and I noticed that actually, I had pretty good aim. I just didn't account for the bent hammer...
We have spare arms (yay TMS Titanium!), though we don't have a spare Ol' Rusty. We may have to retire Ol' Rusty after this one...
After winning our first fight of the tournament, we were ecstatic, but we couldn't get ahead of ourselves. We had to get the robot back together and ready to fight a really weird opponent in Mammoth. How the heck do you fight such a large robot? Well, we've fought them once before, but we both have stronger robots this time and the arena is much larger. This will surely be an odd fight.
So tune in this week on Discovery channel for every top 16 match, including our matchup against Mammoth!
Don't forget to check out more pre-fight, post-fight, and pit content on our new youtube channel:
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