It's been a couple weeks since an update, and I owe you an update of our first fights in China!
To start, a fun fact: these shows air live to an audience larger than any robot combat show ever before, and the full episodes posted online regularly rack up view counts higher than even the most viewed Battlebots clips of all time on youku. We're talking multiple millions. Wow! Hit up the break to watch our first fights and hear a post fight breakdown!
Our first fight was the first one shown in Episode 3, the final episode of the first round. If you missed the first two episodes. Check them out here and here.
Our fight starts at 6:30 in the video below, but I recommend watching the whole intro as it's all about us. Don't forget to stay afterward for the post-fight breakdown by legend Ian Lewis (builder of Razer).
The fight is a matchup against a very powerful Bronco-esque flipper. I'm not sure of it's name... Raging Bull maybe? I was really, really scared. Of course flipper vs hammer is always a good fight... but this was a bot that could control a fight, could get under me, could really toss me. I wasn't 100% sure our self righting would work if we got stuck with the arm extended either, as we only ever tested it with the arm retracted. There were a lot of poor quality robots at the competition (as there are at all competitions)... but this wasn't one of them. I was really worried we were going to be out in our first fight and that we would embarrass the nation. Waiting in the tunnel for this fight was the most nervous I have ever been in my life. Once the lights turned green though, it was all good.
First thing I want to say is WOW! It works! Yay! This is the first competition where we finally had the omni drive running well, the hammer running well, and the major bugs ironed out. So happy to finally put on a good show! The self righting worked, the shock mounting worked, the drive worked! I've been waiting so long to finally be able to show people this fight, and talk about it. It's great to have it finally air!
Second thing I want to say is WOW! I had no idea Ian Lewis gave that interview afterward! I feel really honored by his response. Not shown here is that in the pits John Reid said our bot was a "proper hammer," which coming from a British person is a HUGE compliment and I was really excited (2 minutes later he yelled at me for my safety lock procedure :-( ). John Reid and Ian Lewis complimenting my robot! Wow, I really never thought I'd be here.
Overall this was a tight fight against a good opponent. I thought maybe the flipper would be under powered, but it was quite powerful and was able to get one very impressive toss on us right as we fired the axe, launching us a good 5 feet or so into the air. The axe perfectly countered the rotation of the flip, so we went straight up. I was really happy to survive the drop! I mean look at this, we're not even fully in the frame!
Watch when they announce the winners and you can see the relief on my face after the fight when they said we won. In the pits, everyone told me we obviously won, but in the moment I had no idea. Immediately after the fight ended I was right back to extreme nervousness. We hadn't been a total embarrassment, the fight was a good one... but if we lost it wouldn't matter. Luckily we won. I still have trouble believing it.
Let's take a look at the damage we did, since they didn't show it on the episode for some reason:
If you rewatch the video and count, we got 35 shots of the hammer in and 15 of them hit. This was confirmed by the team who actually counted all our hits! Not a bad ratio, especially since this was my teammate XY's first time firing the hammer in a fight! Most of the hits didn't do much damage unfortunately, since we kept hitting their nearly-indestructible steel flipper arm. Seriously I think it might be made of 3/8" steel. But we landed one great hit on their side pod, and caved in the top. This was inches away from getting their master power switch, or air tank, or ESC. But instead it hit a support member in the frame, darn!
Some unseen damage also occurred, as the increased downward pressure from the hits blew out one of their drive motors.
The only real visible damage we took after that fight was a little paint wear on the hammer:
But while we may have looked like we escaped totally unscathed, but we actually lost power in one of the drive wheels halfway into the fight. I had a really hard time driving straight after this, but could still strafe. I also realized the strafing was perhaps even more useful than driving straight anyway. This was a happy accident and definitely changed my driving style in future fights. After the fight we realized it was just a loose wire. We added some tape on the connection and we were good to go for the next fight. We pretty much just charged the batteries and waited for the random fight assignment (a bit different from normal tournaments: every round was randomly drawn and there was no bracket).
When the random assignment came, we got Danger Zone (some people online have been calling it Thunderstorm but my teammate XY says Danger Zone is a better translation).
As we all know, I hate vertical spinners, so of course Danger Zone is a vertical spinner. In its first fight the blade didn't work, but it worked in the test arena and it looked nasty. It was powered by a HUGE brushless motor and had a nasty death hum. Also the builder was scary looking and didn't talk to anyone the whole time. So, needless to say I was having flashbacks to Robogames. On reddit, everyone was picking me to lose.
Check out the fight below, it starts at 40:30 in (we're the 5th fight out of 6).
Firstly: Take THAT vertical spinners! Ugh! I hate them so...
Something not shown in this video is that when he spun up his weapon before the fight, I waited a good 30 seconds for it to spin down to a stop. I wasn't about to give him a head start, even if the judges were yelling at me to pull the handle before it had stopped. Watch closely and you can see how I'm staring at his robot waiting for the bar to spin down before I pull the lever.
You also probably noticed the big change in our bot for this fight: our extra armor on the front. This is our secret-sauce anti-spinner ablative armor. Check it out below in a behind-the-scenes slomo video we took to test if the axe would still hit the ground with the armor fitted (it covers the axe slot a bit, but the answer is it dented the armor after the first hit and worked fine).
Here's what our ablative armor looked like after that fight:
Not bad! Pretty much worked perfectly to absorb the hits and let us control the fight. I also want to say that we picked up that yellow/black tape before we knew our opponent. We just thought it looked cool and weren't trying to match our opponent. We just couldn't have any actual blue showing! That would be a shame. Here's how our hammer looked for good measure:
A little more smushed and a little yellow paint.
Danger Zone didn't come out of the fight looking too bad either:
He had a very thick top plate, not sure what it was made from though it was quite solid and didn't even dent... but visual damage doesn't tell the whole story. One of the chains was totally smashed. I rewatched the tape about a dozen times and finally figured out what happened. When we ran into him on the first hit off the start of the fight, he bounced backwards off of us and into the wall. He hit a spike and the spike perfectly landed on his exposed sprocket, severing the chain. You can see it flop off as we drive him to the corner the first time. He can't drive correctly from this point forward.
I was unaware his drive was impaired, which is why I was cautiously circling him (lessons learned from Robogames).
Eventually we shoved him into a hammer, where he tore it to bits with his blade. Fun fact about the arena hammers... they're made out of foam. Hence why it was so easy to tear up. No idea why they made foam hammers. Nothing else in the arena was foam and all the other hazards were quite scary. Odd choice. So after he tore it to shreds... he got stuck on the shreds.
He would have been able to get off if his full drive was working, but somehow between losing that first chain and this sequence he also lost a front wheel (on the same side he lost the chain). With his only functional side of drive high centered and spinning in the air, he got counted out. I was unable to confirm why he ended up losing the front wheel. The chain is still connected, but perhaps the ESC went from shock. Same thing for the weapon, not sure what happened. I can only assume shock or current overload from being repeatedly stalled.
After we won, reddit apologized for doubting us by making us into a meme.
Tune in next week, for our third fight! I leave you with this never before seen photo of Spectre with it's top off. Just look at that CNC!