We made it to the finale! Yay! We're the first hammer robot of the reboot to make it to the finale episode as part of the tournament! Beta previously made the top 8, but back then the episodes were shorter so they did not make the finale - and Ragnarok was in the finale but as part of an exhibition fight. Truly an honor to make it this far. Hit the jump for a recount of the finale, warning, spoilers ahead!
I put off writing this post for a week or so because I didn't want to admit to myself that the season was over... but sadly it is, and so on we go to the final post fight report of Battlebots Season 5.
We faced off against End Game in our top 8 fight, a rematch of a featherweight battle from 2019 you can watch here:
In that battle, we were able to get a direct hit on one of their power switches, which killed 1 side of their drive and eventually caused them to get stuck and counted out.
Will history repeat itself in this fight? We shall see.
Of course, our HW robots are a bit different than our FW robots. For one, Shatter! and End Game weigh exactly the same amount. In featherweights, we have a 50% weight advantage due to our shuffler system. Because of this Knock Off White has an obscenely powerful weapon - it has 1 of the 2 motors in Shatter! powering it. While Shatter! is powerful, it's not quite as overpowered as Knock Off White is (now, if we could just get a 50% Mecanum wheel weight bonus...) and so while we really only need one hit to win a fight in featherweights, we tend to need a few more in HW.
So our strategy is a little bit different than it was in the lower weight classes.
End Game came out looking very similar to their featherweight, with extra armor bolted on the top, and one noticeable change - very large prongs.
End Game called this their "ugly" configuration. Apparently they were frantically fixing the robot after their fight vs Rotator and didn't have time to finish up the aesthetics. In fact they barely had time to finish the robot at all - the fight was delayed for hours while they finished cutting up their extra top armor...
From what they told us, End Game was actually only running at 50% power for most of the event - one of their speed controllers was busted. And this was their first fight at 100% on the weapon. Oh, joy.
Anyway I didn't think much of those prongs - I figured they were way too long and skinny and would immediately break and/or get stuck.
On our end we fielded a new configuration that was a mix of a few things we've used before.
Up front we're running the same prong setup we ran vs Lock Jaw. We figured it worked well against one 4WD vert and it should work well again hopefully. For the hammer however we changed it up a bit - this is our lowest MOI setup. It's our lightest hammer (Lil' Rusty) on our short arm. We recently ran the hammer vs Mammoth, and this is the same length of arm we ran vs Malice (although that exact arm was destroyed). The idea is to minimize hammer hop as much as possible so that End Game doesn't get under us. The last thing we want is for them to hit our underside. It's better protected than last season (when Minotaur took out our exposed weapon chain) but we still have many fragile bits underneath (like the wheels).
As for strategy, we wanted to get them gyroing and then get under them when they did. Prongs don't really matter if a robot is Gyrodancing. If we could get under them in such an instance we were hopeful we could drive them into the wall and use their own powerful weapon against them. However if we couldn't, well it would certainly be a good test of our armor setup.
So, let's see how it all played out.
I'm not sure I could have driven more poorly off the start of this fight... just about every thing that could have gone wrong did - and boy did I underestimate those prongs. So let's recap what happend.
First off I came out of the starting gate too fast. I was then unable to slow down quick enough when I tried to transition into translating, which resulted in a collision. This wasn't all that bad - but it surprised me and then I overcorrected - and that was bad.
When I over corrected Jack was able to take advantage and get under our corner. One hit from the weapon and our front right corner ablative armor was gone: all four 3/8" grade 8 bolts immediately sheared. However the armor did work in a way - that initial impact did not send us flying... though it did pin us on the wall.
End Game reversed and hit us again in the side. This time the ablative piece stayed connected and worked well - once again preventing us from going flying... but again we were pinned up against the wall. If this hit had been in the middle of the arena then we would have been tossed a few feet and been fine. But instead the wall held us in place, and it lifted us up enough for End Game to get a direct hit on our front right wheel. Ouch.
Now normally a hit to a wheel might not be that bad - but our wheels are very complex assemblies of rollers and bearings and aluminum plates. This hit basically took a huge chunk out of the wheel. Combined with the magnets, this turned that wheel into a big brake, drastically limiting our mobility for the rest of the fight.
Despite this, we were still able to get an awesome push in. Seriously, look at that. Who would have believe that would be possible with mecanum wheels coming in to this season? Magnets man, how do they work?
It felt like maybe the fight was turning. I was hoping we'd get them up on the screws, but we just missed.
We did get a nice hit, but it didn't seem to do much. I wish we had the long arm and heavy hammer on here. It turns out that although the small arm and light hammer eliminated the initial hop - as soon as the hammer impacted we popped the magnets and launched ourselves in the air... so not very useful after all. If we'd had the longer arm and heavier hammer this would have been a devastating blow. So a poor choice on our part (no short arms next season).
A small detail here is that we actually pushed them on top of the piece of UHMW ablative armor they knocked off earlier. I saw this happen but decided to keep pushing them anyway - they probably would have been able to get off it and we didn't want to win by getting them stuck on debris anyway.
Eventually, this happened.
Somehow I managed to end up face first against the wall, and for some reason when End Game backed off, instead of spinning in place to face them (like we did vs Lock Jaw) I backed into their weapon.
This happens very quickly in the gif but I assure you it was an eternity in real life. I had time to spin, but I was not being patient enough at this point due to our wheel being messed up. I wanted to break their weapon and thought - I'll just break it with my robot! Which, sure, sometimes works, but is a bad strategy here. I should have turned around to face them, or at least attempted to, because getting hit anywhere but the back is preferable for one big reason... there is barely any ablative armor on the back. Especially in the center of the back. There's an average of 2" of UHMW on all other sides, but in the center of the back it's about 1/2" (we were running out of weight when I designed that part).
You can see in the image above that we get absolutely tossed. This is because End Game went clear through the ablative piece on the rear and hit the aluminum billet underneath. This caved the frame into one of the motors. The hit not only busted the motor - it also locked up that wheel. So now we have two functional wheels and two brakes. Next season - 2" of UHMW on the back too...
Now I'm having a really hard time controlling the robot and we're getting into desperation territory very quickly. With the rear motor out, we can't even push back any longer. Previously we were being a bit conservative with the hammer and trying not to get it too close to the weapon to avoid the hammer being torn off. But now we had to go for a belt shot. And wow, were we close.
Unfortunately we directly nailed the weapon instead of the belts located directly to either side- and an upward force on our hammer tip will take the hammer right off, as it did here (for an in depth explanation on why this happens, check out the Malice fight report - but don't worry, we're fixing it for next season). An inch either way and we'd at least have gotten half the belts, and hopefully still had a functional hammer, but it was not to be.
Instead, we had no hammer, and took another direct wheel shot... seriously these guys are like snipers taking out our wheels.
In 4 years of fighting variations of this type of internal wheel design, we'd only ever lost 1 wheel (ironically, in our first ever fight). We lost 3 wheels in this fight.
So now the robot is very difficult to control and we end up getting stuck on the side rail for a bit before getting counted out. I do think we hopped off the side rail and had enough movement at the end of the count to at least postpone it a bit (one more hit, one more hit! etc) but that wasn't how the ref saw it, and we ended up getting counted out with around 1 minute remaining in the fight.
I will say this - we lasted longer than the next two victims (and Duck in previous seasons), so... that's something right? And making the top 8 but losing to the champ would have us end the season as 5th place right? Let's go with that.
Anyway, on to the damage.
I didn't get a lot of photos of End Game - as they were very quick in disassembling it. I went over while they were removing batteries. You can see the prongs were pretty bent up but other than that the robot looked in one piece. Except, as I was standing there, they batteries sort of, lit on fire a bit and started smoking...
I wish I had been taking video at the time, as the photos don't quite capture the excitement of the moment - but it was pretty wild. Apparently End Game had drained their batteries down to near 0%. The wires were basically melted off and immediately shorted upon removal. If there had been any charge left, this would have been very bad.
And then I saw their top armor and noticed this...
Rewatching the tape, this wasn't actually from a direct hammer hit at all, but from a rebound from a hammer hit. That first shot we had after we pushed them into the wall early in the fight essentially missed (it was really close to their belts too... ugh) - the arm was too short to reach while our prongs were intertwined (definitely, no more short arms next season). But after we hopped, we fell down on top of them with the hammer head and that caused this gouge. We were so, SO close to landing directly inside that power switch hole. And who knows what would have happened? This switch hole is located directly behind their weapon...
So history did repeat itself, in a way. Amazing how similar these hits are - though unfortunately for us, a bit different outcomes. We like to say Shatter! is a targeted damage robot, and we ever so slightly missed the targets in this one.
Now, on to the much larger gallery of damage that we sustained.
There's a lot to take in here, good and (mostly) bad.
Essentially all the electronics were fine - and that's awesome. To make it through that much of a beating and have all our ESCs, batteries (Thanks Max Amps!), and receivers functioning 100% is what you want. If you're going to get knocked out, you want it to be because someone broke your robot mechanically and not because you messed up shock mounting or something. So first off, that's a huge win.
As bad as it looks, what did us in were all those direct hits to the wheels - and that rear hit that took out a drive motor. You can see the crushed motor in the rear and the two wheels in the front that are just completely destroyed. If I hadn't backed directly into their weapon, I think I probably could have still controlled the robot with the 2 rear wheels enough to make it to the bell.
On a similar topic, this is one of the few losses that can be attributed to the mecanum wheels - I think if for instance we'd had the "Brazil Wheels" used on Black Dragon/Malice/Whiplash they would have been able to absorb those hits without immediately exploding and leaving us with enough maneuverability to finish the fight (whether we take the win or not, who knows, but I don't think we'd have gotten KOd). I'm not going to switch from the mecanums, but for as much as people told us they were too fragile, they never cost us a match up to this point.
Overall the front/sides of the billet were holding up well, and the side ablative was working great. The bottom however... not so much...
Sadly, no longer very flat. Sorry Prismier!
So let's tally up the damage.
Let's not try to add that up because that's not going to be a pretty number, but suffice to say that was our most expensive fight by far. But even with all that damage, it was the hits to the wheels that ended it early. A real credit to the great driving of Jack on End Game.
End Game did have to toss all their weapon batteries though, and that's not cheap... but I think they still won the price war here haha.
There were some interesting things in the midst of the carnage, for instance this:
This is a shear failure of the hinge bracket that holds one of the fangs - and that's actually designed to happen! Very cool that this actually worked. The idea is that we've placed sharp concave corners around the brackets so they shear off in the event of a direct impact - instead of shearing the bolts. This makes it way easier to replace than if the bolts shear and leave threads in the billet frame. Of course, the other one didn't break so nicely...
And the billet ended up with about a dozen sheared bolts in it and was completely ruined anyway... but still. It was cool it at least sort of worked. Next season, bigger bolts.
The sides of the billet were unscathed where the UHMW sides stayed in place - and really the front only ended up damaged because the bolts holding the UHMW on the front had sheared. The sides used 1/2" bolts while the front is 3/8"... so next season we will be using 1/2" all around.
Overall, we definitely lost this fight. Congrats to Endgame on having a ridiculously powerful weapon. Seriously - the damage that dishes out is insane. And of course, congrats on the Giant Nut! I look forward to a rematch where we can settle our now 1-1 record against each other.
A cool thing after this fight was that due to the simplified nature of the billet frame, even though it was fairly trashed it came apart pretty easy. Once we were able to remove the bolts in the baseplate we got the electronics out and into the new frame in about 10 minutes. We even shot a tech segment the next day where we measured the G force of hammer impacts (got over 200 Gs!) but they didn't end up airing it.
Check out the flex in that 1/4" Ti! Probably wouldn't be good if you had components behind that...
We thought about joining a Bounty Tournament - but at this late stage in the event they were all filled up and we were a bit burnt out. No one from the top 8 ended up competing in any of the bounty tournaments.
Overall, what a season!
I'd love some help from the stats junkies, but from what I can tell on the wiki, our 4 wins in 2020 are the most by a hammer robot since 1999. In 1999, Son of Smashy won the MW title with 5 wins (including 1 forfeit) and also in 1999 Killerhurtz made the finals, but lost, racking up 4 wins in the process. No other hammer robot has 4 wins in a single Battlebots season. Not The Judge, not Beta, not Chomp, not Blacksmith, not Pressure Drop, not Frenzy, not Slam Job, and not Deadblow (RIP Grant :-( ). So even though we didn't win it all, that's still a nice stat to have. People like to say that hammers can't be competitive, and it's nice to prove those people wrong. We look forward to breaking that win record next season!
We learned a lot this year. We found a lot of things that work well, and a few things to improve upon. Ablative armor, magnets, billets, are here to stay. But we'll be improving our hammer attachment method and making the weapon even more powerful. We'll probably have some long prongs too... We can't wait to show off the new design soon!
Thank you so much for reading this blog! It means a lot to the team to know we have fans enjoying what we're doing.
The season may be over, but that doesn't mean we're done posting content. Keep watching our youtube channel and catch up on all our pre/post fight videos if you haven't already, and watch out for design and build videos for 2021 Shatter! soon:
Of course you can also follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to see more bite sized content, even in the off season.
I also want to give a shout out to the 2020 team that made this great season happen. My girlfriend Mary Chimenti has been a huge help getting the robot ready before and during the competition. Paul Gancitano stepped up to hammer duty this season and helped tremendously with this year's design. And my brother Eric Wrigley may not have been at filming, but was instrumental in our fight strategies.
We'd also like to thank our sponsors, without whom this wouldn't be possible:
Prismier who machined our beautiful billet
TMS Titanium who supplies all our titanium components
MaxAmps who supplies our batteries
Qooos Watches which is a watch company maybe one day I'll actually launch on Kickstarter