So, that's me and three new teammates in China. We're about to go into the arena for our first international televised HW robot fight. 10 million people will watch this. Yowza. You're probably wondering how I got here... let's rewind a bit after the jump.
When we left off in our last post, Bots FC had sadly gone winless at Robogames in San Francisco. You probably watched that live on Twitch. What wasn't televised on Twitch was that Karma, the head of King of Bots, was at Robogames. I had been talking to him online for months, but we finally got to meet in person.
The thing about the internet is that it's all a bunch of text on a screen. The other thing about the internet is that all that text is actually real people, and it always pays to be nice to them. So when Karma came on the combat robotics facebook group a few months before Robgoames talking about a new televised event in China, I responded. Why not? It sounded great. Then we met up at Robogames, and it turns out he was really serious. He brought a whole film crew from halfway around the world with him to Robogames. And he wanted Bots FC to be on the show in China. OK, let's do this!
Our robot Mega Melvin worked decently at Robogames, but had exposed some flaws. April to October isn't much time, so instead of building an entirely new robot, we modified Mega Melvin into "Blue", our entry for King of Bots (we changed the name since "Mega Melvin" is a bit hard to translate, but the sarcasm of a pink robot named "Blue" seemed pretty universal).
So, on to the modifications. First, let's put a shaft of the correct length on the mid stage so my bearings don't go flying out every time I get hit.
It's a beaut Clark! Ok, first fight vulnerability fixed.
If you remember the second fight, our drive receiver died. So I put 4 drive receivers in, 1 for each ESC/BEC. So our whole drive going out due to receivers is much less likely. How did I do this? Super simple. I run a Turnigy 9XR Pro with a FrSky transmitter/receiver setup. Turns out when you bind these, the receivers bind TO the transmitter... but not the other way around. You can bind unlimited receivers to the same transmitter. So just follow the normal bind procedure and you get 4 FrSky X8R receivers bound to 1 FrSky XJT module. Yay, second fight vulnerability fixed! We're invincible! Well, ok, not really.
So other than the bits that directly cost us the fights, we also had some other problems. We lost 2 ESCs due to shock. I had them directly mounted to the baseplate. Dumb. Needs more shock mounting. So I turned the ESCs sideways and wrapped them in foam.
This also leaves more clearance for the wheels, win win! More is of course relative. Still less than an inch...
Now, onto bigger/better improvements. Bigger hammers!
Look at that! Yowza.
The two new hammers are both cut from 1.5" thick grade 5 titanium. No heat treating needed! Which is great because I don't have any heat treaters near by that return my calls. Now for the most important step:
This is a little known fact but pink paint adds 10 points on the rockwell hardness scale without changing brittleness of the part. It's a trade secret that METALLURGISTS DON'T WANT YOU TO KNOW!
Due to the slightly increased weight limit for KoB (110kg instead of 100kg for Robogames) we get to run our bigger hammers AND the proper 1/2" thick polycarbonate tops instead of the 1/8" thick dust covers we ran at Robogames.
And... that's it. Mostly. But I can't spoil all the surprises. We also got spare parts for everything. Yay build stipends!
With Blue and the spare parts all packed, it was time to relax for a hot second. What better time to enter a 12 lbs competition and build the bot in 12 hours? So we took some parts we had lying around, bought some cutting boards and a hatchet, and got to work.
Mini Melvin! Ok, actually we didn't name it that. We ironically named it "Despacito" because that song was really popular at the time... horribly missing the "Deathpacito" pun we could have made. I'll never live that down.
Anyway, Despacito worked great in practice, and lit on fire in every actual fight. Somehow we got 2nd place even though we lost every fight.
Then it was back to China prep. More jerseys!
That's right, we've got names on the back now, because we're an official Professional Sports Team.
And then we packed up all our stuff (including a ridiculous amount of LiPo batteries as carry ons... did you know they have a limit on the per battery size [100 WH] but no limit on the total number of batteries you carry on? Fun fact) and headed off to China...
PS: always check your voltages. Despite the fact that I buy all my electronics from China, they don't all work there (where the power is 220V...). So I ended up needing to bring a voltage transformer to get it down to 120 so it didn't blow my stuff. Important to check before you travel abroad!
Now... the other issue was my brother couldn't get the time off, and neither could our third teammate Matt. So I had to search for teammates and brought 3 close friends and coworkers (it's surprisingly difficult to find 3 people to go to China for 3 weeks). Let's welcome our new members to the team!
From left to right you have Me, Claire Lorman, our new axe-man XY Feng, and Jeff Ong. This photo was taken shortly after we landed from our 15.5 hour flight. I still can't believe we got an all expenses paid trip halfway around the world to fight robots on national Chinese TV. What a ridiculous thing, and all because I was nice to someone on the internet. I think that's a good lesson :)
Also, I couldn't have made this happen without our new teammates' help! Thank you again!
Anyway, I won't/can't say too much about the competition here (look for future posts after our fight(s?) air for breakdown(s?) of it all)... but below is a video of our first time seeing the pits. What an event! And that's how we ended up standing in the tunnel before our first fight in China.
Our first fight airs Monday the 22nd of January, 2018. For more information on how to watch it and what time it airs in your part of the world, check out this reddit post.
I leave you with a few random photos from China: