Bot Blast 2012 Full Event Report

Having not competed since Motorama (and not competed in a Mall for five or so years), I was very excited to fight robots at the Columbia Mall in Bloomsburg, PA. We woke up around 7:30, had a terrible breakfast (why would you serve one egg by itself on a plate with an orange?) at Cracker Barrel, and were at the venue by 9:00ish. I was pleased to see that Bot Blast has a wooden floor because it would not interfere with Lolcat’s radio reception. Wooden floors are also a bit quieter and more forgiving.

This event report contains some fight videos, but only for the interesting ones. I have only included one Lolcat vs Tracked Terror fight and did not include any Amatol fights.

John in the Arena Image

With the guys.

We got through safety inspections without much of a hitch. Coercion was a tiny bit overweight (as was Amatol) but apparently the scale was off by a bit so I didn’t have any issues. We sat around and waited for the event to start. Fights kicked off around noon, which is way earlier than they would at Motorama. We were all impressed.

The first fight of the day for us was with Coercion against Kyle’s fearsome vertical spinner, Ripto. I knew it would be a tough match for Coercion (especially in an eight-foot arena like the one at Bot Blast) but I never imagined it would be as tough as it was. We both spun up and Coercion went flying into the ceiling. The S7 blade (which I did not have hardened for some unthinkable reason) was bent about 30 degrees upward. I tried to push Ripto, hoping that the belt would come off the weapon, but it was no use. I quickly tapped out.

I do not have any images of the bent blade because I was so concerned about getting it fixed. I can tell you that it took some vice smooshing and beating with a hammer to get it back into shape. I did, however, get Coercion fixed.

The next first-round match was between Amatol and another wedge bot. After about thirty seconds of pushing, Amatol ended up stuck on the wall and was counted out. Amatol’s wedge wasn’t getting it done and I lost because of it. The next version will need a bent back. 0-2!

At this point, I was running seriously low on robo-mojo. It was Lolcat’s turn to fight a small undercutter called Baby Box. Undercutters have always scared me with Lolcat ever since Jeremy Campbell’s Rebound broke the eggbeater twice at Motorama 2011. I was hoping that it would not be able to cut my belt or worse, rip the eggbeater out of its supports. After accidentally hitting the blade a few times, I felt like my robot would hold up. I eventually removed the other robot’s weapon. Unfortunately, I did not remove either of Baby Box’s wheels (there seemed to be some foam padding helping there) and I was unable to cut Baby Box’s exposed battery connector. But still, I won the match on a judges’ decision.

With some of my mojo restored, I set my sights on my next antweight opponent, Mateo. I had to postpone my match because of connector issues (which would come back to haunt me), but when we finally got in the arena, the match was boring. We pushed each other around and Mateo wound up stuck on the arena, and after being left on the wall twice, I decided not to risk freeing it. I felt horrible but won by knockout.

With two wins under my belt, I started to calm down a little bit. I had been seriously worried at the beginning of the event, but I chalk it up to a combination of bad luck, poor foresight and great opponents. My next fight was another with Lolcat. This time, it was against Hedgehog, which was the fairyweight I thought had the best chance of breaking Lolcat coming into the event.

The fight began and we both spun up. Hedgehog tried to attack my wheels as I moved to attack its wheels, so our weapons ended up making contact. After seeing that my beater could stand up to Hedgehog’s large, direct-driven blade, I became a little more aggressive. My strategy worked – one hit sent Hedgehog a good foot or so into the air and the next sent us both flying. The second hit broke Hedgehog’s weapon motor in two and Lolcat won by tapout.

The damage to Lolcat from this fight was actually a lot worse than it appeared. Lolcat’s weapon shaft was a little bit tweaked, the pulley had a big gash taken out of it, the right weapon bearing’s dust covers were broken off, and alarmingly, the weapon belt was nearly sliced in two! I made a new belt but chose to keep the shaft as it was since it did not appear to impact weapon performance. A quick spin up test confirmed that, and Lolcat was ready to go once again.

My next opponent was a beetleweight vertical spinner called Lezlee. Considering my blade had just been re-straightened, I was happy to just be fighting. I noticed that Lezlee had thin aluminum armor, and since Coercion appeared to be on its last legs at the time, I decided to just go all-out. I spun up and chaos ensued. I chewed away at the front of Lezlee (somehow while avoiding the blade), and one hard hit jarred its LiPoly free. Jeremy is smart enough to know a one-pound piece of spinning steel could do bad things to an explosive battery, so he called the match. Coercion won by knockout.

The next fight was Amatol vs Kyle’s Cutter, an antweight spinner. I was confident heading into the fight because Amatol was built to fight spinners, not wedges, so I was looking forward to testing my robot’s strength. Unfortunately, I box rushed Kyle’s Cutter, hit the wall, and one of the battery connections in the speed controller came loose. Amatol was dead in the water and I tapped out less than three seconds into the match. I thought some very non-PG words after that fight.

With Amatol out after two stupid, preventable losses (AGAIN!), it was Coercion’s turn to continue carrying the Team Slammers banner. It was matched up against Play ‘n Krazy, which was fighting as a lifter at Bot Blast but is usually a vertical spinner. I was looking for revenge for my three-second match, and I got it in the form of a nine-second one. Coercion spun up and delivered a hard hit to the front of Play ‘n Krazy. The hit removed a wedge panel, a wheel, a wheel guard and a receiver and Play ‘n Krazy tapped out.

Lolcat was up next in the fairyweight winners’ bracket semifinal against The Tracked Terror. This was the first of three straight matches between these two robots. The Tracked Terror beat Lolcat at Motorama, so I was out for revenge. We traded blows for two minutes but Lolcat won on judges’ decision. More on these matches later.

The next fight for us was Coercion vs Counter Shock. Counter Shock was a very well-built beetleweight drumbot, but the drum wasn’t working so all I had to do to win was to keep the weapon running and not get stuck on the wall. I only accomplished the weapon part. I spun up and hit Counter Shock hard, but unfortunately, the hit also flipped Coercion over. It was too tall to hit Counter Shock, and got pushed up against the wall. Counter Shock gave Coercion one final shove, and the wheels could not get traction. Coercion was counted out, leaving Lolcat as our only robot still in the tournament.

Despite being out, Coercion still had one trick left up its sleeve – the beetleweight rumble. Although it ran out of battery at the end, it was crowned co-champion of the rumble along with mantisweight Dead Metal (since there was no mantis rumble). I think it had something to do with the flying around everywhere thing (see the video) combined with my exuberant cheering at the end of the match.

Lolcat was in up next against The Tracked Terror in the first fairyweight final. This match did not go as well for Lolcat as the semifinal did. I kept getting flipped over and according to Jeremy, lost on aggression. The good hits were also 3-2 in favor of Tracked Terror. I was worried – I was very close to finally getting a win with Lolcat, but it was going to come down to an all-or-nothing final. I charged my batteries and decided that no matter what, I would keep chasing Tracked Terror. Lolcat uses 50:1 gearmotors instead of the 30:1 ones used by Tracked Terror, so it was at a major speed disadvantage.

Nearly two years of work came down to one final match. I wanted to win really badly. I stayed aggressive. I followed the game plan. Luckily for me, it all worked out. Lolcat won on a judges’ decision and was crowned fairyweight champion. Congratulations to Chris on building an awesome robot! Lolcat could barely scratch it.

So, with the event over, what did I take away?

  • Lolcat is too slow and 30:1 HP Pololu gearmotors instead of 50:1 Sanyo gearmotors would do it a lot of good.
  • Coercion’s blade is too heavy and needs to be hardened. At Motorama, I plan on using an 11-12oz blade spinning at closer to 10,000 RPM. I will keep the MOI as high as I can while designing it.
  • Amatol needs… improvements. It is very strong but keeps failing in dumb ways. I will make some adjustments to keep it from getting stuck on the wall and hopefully the robot lords will smile upon me at Motorama.

Due to SATs, we won’t be able to make it to Franklin Institute this year. Any changes we make won’t be tested for a very long time!

Another big thanks goes out to Jeremy Campbell for putting on a great show. We will definitely be back next year!

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