What a fight! This fight is why we build robots. Some choice quotes we heard about this match:
A young fan after the match: "You're the new Beta!"
John Reid himself: "Great fight. Impressive performance."
The Spinner Proof Podcast: "This is the best 3 minutes of combat robotics that has ever happened" (1:32:03, thanks guys!)
We were really, really happy with this fight. Hit the jump to keep reading and check out some fun damage photos! Also, obviously, SPOILERS AHEAD.
When we started out building hammer robots, we did it to test the torque performance of some motors. We originally intended to build a spinner (gasp!), but something happened and we couldn't stop building hammer robots. They're just too much fun. We've been building them for 3 years now, and fought them all over the world. And the whole time I keep hearing this:
"Why did you make a hammer? Hammers are bad weapons. Hammers don't cause damage."
Most people stop asking this after they see us fight. This particular fight vs Wan Hoo is a perfect example of why, and having it happen at Battlebots was a dream come true for us. So let's dive in.
First off, Wan Hoo is a TANK of a robot. Second off Wan Hoo is a vertical spinner... and honestly I don't particularly like fighting vertical spinners...
Anyway, Wan Hoo is made by the Chinese featherweight champions, and one of the members runs FMB. They may not have made a HW before, but they have made a lot of robots and they know what they are doing. Almost the entire interior of the robot is aluminum. There just isn't much space inside that's not solid metal, be that gearboxes or frame members. Here's a shot of it before the fight, couldn't get any internal shots since these guys are pretty secretive:
The biggest change is that they put a big honking chunk of steel on the top. It was so much steel that they didn't have enough weight for both wedgelet teeth. It's really cool to know that we have a weapon people have to specifically design for.
For us, as we mentioned last time we switched out that pesky weapon ESC from the Witch Doctor fight, and also switched out all our ablative armor. We spent a lot of time in the test box dialing in the weapon settings, because we knew we had to put on a good showing. We couldn't go 0-2.
So, did the top panel work out for Wan Hoo? We will dive into this a bit later, but they made it 3 minutes against our full power hammer, which not a lot of robots can do. It didn't look as pretty coming out, but they certainly built a tank of a bot here and congrats to them:
So, wow. What was that about "hammers don't cause damage" again? By the end of the fight Wan Hoo was down 1 of 2 drive chains, 1 of 1 weapon belt, a weapon ESC and their entire frame was bent including their titanium gearbox shafts.
So let's walk through this fight a bit and talk about strategy.
We came into this fight wanting to make sure we didn't get taken advantage of by that weapon, while at the same time showing off our weapon. Their weapon is NASTY. It has a Minotaur-esque hum when it gets up to speed. However, Witch Doctor's weapon is even nastier, and we knew our armor was up to snuff. So we just had to make sure to get lined up before we fired the hammer("wait for a good hit!"). Our front/sides are well armored, but the last thing we want is to have their weapon grinding against the bottom of our chassis.
This sort of dancing is really fun with mecanum wheels. Eventually, we did hit them square in the top, and you could actually see the top armor bend immediately.
Anyway, we did that a lot. The announcers said we fired the hammer 54 times (told ya we could hit 50+!) and we counted 34 hits.
Many cool things happened in this fight. Go buy it on Amazon to see it all! But one interesting thing is it wasn't our hammer that first knocked out their weapon, it was our wedge:
You can see that they drive right into our side, and the belt just goes flying. It actually might have been the recoil from firing our hammer that hopped us up to the correct height. These fights happen so quickly, you can actually miss a lot. In the moment, we didn't know exactly what had happened, but we DID see the belts go flying. At that point we saw the weapon slowing and knew we could fire at will without worrying about the weapon. And we did!
One of my personal favorite combat robot moments actually happened in this fight, and I didn't even realize it until reviewing the tape. Check out this photo by Tony Woodward, and really look at it:
And let's look at the slow mo replay of this exact moment:
If you look at the image and this slow mo, you'll see that there are 3 separate sparks, that all happen simultaneously. At first we thought we'd just had a really good hammer hit, but the spark is clearly delayed until after the hit. Then we realized that the spark happens at exactly the moment the arena saws contact Wan Hoo's frame... and there was also a spark from the back of our frame. This leads us to only one conclusion:
We fired the hammer directly into Wan Hoo's wiring, and shorted their batteries from the hammer, through our robot, through the floor, and back into their robot through the kill saws. Wow! As far as we know, this has never happened before. Check out the burnt mark on the back of our fame, and the severed wires inside Wan Hoo:
Wan Hoo said the speed controller was still working after they rewired it, but there was certainly more-than-none smoke on that hit.
On to top armor strategy: Wan Hoo used a large piece of steel mounted on rubber "wubs" to support their lid. The idea is the rubber acts as a shock mount. Hypershock used this same type of mounting last season. When we fought at OMF we nearly knocked it off, before knocking them out (start at 4:59:00 if it doesn't automatically, and you can see their top barely holding on by the end):
Wan Hoo didn't break a single rubber wub. Nearest we can figure, this is because Wan Hoo's top armor wasn't as stiff as Hypershock's. So instead of transmitting all the force to the wubs, and shearing them on the rebound, the top just bent and the force went directly into Wan Hoo's frame. However, this isn't necessarily good. The shock of these hits going through the frame bent a LOT of stuff, and Wan Hoo had to go to their backup robot for their next fight.
As for our robot? We had some dings in the ablative armor that didn't look pretty, so we switched it all out. But other than that, and resharpening the hammer/wedgelets, we were good to go! Here is Shatter in the post-fight tent after we removed the batteries, you can see some of the dings on the front wedge:
This was a great fight. This is why we do it. It's so much fun to go out there and have the robot work, and to fight a good opponent and put on a good show. The fact that we literally had some of the younger fans coming up to us and saying they were inspired by the fight is truly meaningful and we hope we helped nudge some of them toward a productive STEM future.
From left to right: Eric Wrigley, Adrian "Bunny" Sauriol, Adam Wrigley, Paul Gancitano, Mary Chimenti. Not pictured: Matt Bores.
The team put a lot of effort into this robot. Years of blood, sweat, and tears goes into making those 3 minutes happen and it was an amazing pay off to go out there and have everything perform as it should. I mean, look at the joy in those faces! And of course, the currently most upvoted post in /r/battlebots of all time was inspired by the post fight interview.
Thanks for reading, and thanks for being fans!
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EDIT July 20th: A reply from Wan Hoo's team:
"A little bit of clarification: Wan Hoo's frame was not badly bent, but indeed Shatter got one hit on our bottom plate and bent it, and got the bot being harder to assemble for the next fight. But mainly we swapped a lot of parts for fight 3 (we are not changing into spare bot, that bot is not wired so we only opted to change some main modules) becuase we thought that was the time to change into some new parts for the regular season, as well as we had no time to properly check them since both horizonal spinner kit and hammer kit were not very well prepared between the first 2 matches."
So the frame "was not badly bent" but the baseplate didn't fit, and they didn't have time to fix the "main modules" so they went to their spares... I can say that by the time they were done replacing parts the "spare" robot looked like the robot we fought and the robot in the next fight looked brand new. So a real Ship of Theseus problem as to which robot is actually which. Personally I'd consider that using my spare, but I don't think it really matters. Everyone brings a spare bot, and most people end up using their spare bot. That's what it's for after all.