Category Archives: Event Reports

Motorama 2013 Event Report


As usual, fighting started way after the already relaxed beginning time of 1:00PM, though I don’t remember exactly when. I got through all my safeties with minimal problems; the only issue I had across all three robots was that Cannon was a smidgen overweight. I fixed that by enlarging its connector hole and liberally grinding the underside of its top with a Dremel tool. I also removed some screws. The 0.3oz literally fell off!

My first fight of the day was with Cannon, against Toni Fowlie’s antweight brick bot, Malicious Mule. I was relatively unsure of how Cannon would perform, but I was glad its first fight would be against a robot with no angled sides and no active weapon. I spun up and hit the Mule gingerly a few times. When I saw Cannon could survive its own weapon, I started hitting harder. What I found astounded me: I had truly built a cannon. I was able to send Malicious Mule flying all over the arena. Needless to say, I was stoked. I also won by knockout.

After the battle, I noticed two problems that I know I will need to fix in future Cannons:

  1. The UHMW sides are not strong enough to withstand Cannon’s hits. The ball bearings that support Cannon’s beater got pushed down. In the future, I will enlarge this hole, put something larger and stiffer in it as a bearing support (likely a small 7075 bushing), then mount the ball bearing inside of that.
  2. The battery and electronics like to flop around, and there is no front firewall–the only thing between LiPoly and titanium eggbeater at 13,000rpm was a few pieces of duct tape. I will need to fashion a firewall.

Mercifully, lolcat’s first fight was against a similarly unweaponed bot: my buddy Sean McKeown’s brick, Gyroscope. Gyroscope was put together at the last minute; it weighed in at a relatively anorexic 100g or so. Lolcat had no trouble throwing it skyward. It was another victory for my trusty beaters.

After I fought Sean’s fairyweight, my next opponent was Joey’s undercutter antweight, Swamp Woman 2. As I own a robot with exposed wheels, the prospects of fighting an undercutter scared me. I also had no idea how strong my weapon was–would it be able to hold up? I spun up at the beginning of the match and decided to keep the beater pointed at the other robot. The strategy worked: a big hit sent Swamp Woman reeling back and the next one was lucky–it removed a wheel. Cannon won by tap out.

After Swamp Woman, my next match was against Demise with lolcat. This fight, although it was my first loss of the tournament, started out very well. I delivered solid hits and managed to keep my beater pointed at Demise’s enormous, 50g spinning disc. Unfortunately, Demise eventually caught a wheel guard, breaking it and destroying the gearbox it was meant to protect. I was not able to hit Demise much more after that, and I lost by judges’ decision. What I learned in this fight:

  • Lolcat wasn’t quite driving straight, and this was a big flaw. I need to make sure everything is either trimmed or aligned well enough that the ‘bot will drive in a line. This may require new side rails.
  • ABS wheel guards are terrible. I will replace the terrible ABS wheel guards with good, 1/16″ UHMW ones.
  • The beater assembly is surprisingly strong. It went blade-to-blade against Demise with very little trouble.

Before Cannon fought again, lolcat had to take on another challenger: Tenacious Tinkerbell, a smaller version Malicious Mule. The whole tiny rematch thing was extremely cute. Lolcat’s driving woes continued; I was not able to deliver as many hits as I should have been. Still, I stayed on the offensive the whole time and managed to win the judges over enough to get the victory.

Cannon’s next match was against the reigning antweight champion, Low Blow. This was easily my favorite match from Motorama. I hope the Cannon-Low Blow rivalry continues into the future. We wound up fighting three times during the course of the tournament (which you’ll read about later) and every match was wildly entertaining because it showcased each bot’s strengths so much. Low Blow is clearly built very well and is able to deliver big hits. Cannon is apparently built very well, too, despite the duct tape that holds in its juicy electronic guts. Cannon also tends to act like a bouncy ball around undercutters, and based on this fight, is able to send robots into the ceiling. Woo-hoo! After trading big hits, Cannon finally caused Low Blow’s blade to strike its own body, leading to a tap out.

With that fight taken care of, Cannon was guaranteed third place. The next fight was lolcat vs. Keres, a very nice-looking undercutter bot built by a person who gave me some invaluable advice about Coercion and Cannon’s weapons, Mike Jeffries. Mike recorded every single fight at Motorama, and I am featuring his videos in this event report. Click here to see the rest of the videos on his YouTube page.

Unfortunately for Mike (and fortunately for my cheezburger-loving, miniature eggbeater), Keres had taken a huge amount of damage from Demise, which wound up going undefeated and winning the tournament. Keres’ weapon wasn’t functioning, so all I had to do was hit, hit and hit again. I did the best I could with my shaky drive train. It was enough to get a nod from the judges. Lolcat finished 3-1 and took second.

In the third-place match, Cannon fought Algos. This was a tough one for me: Cannon’s drivetrain was far more decrepit than I thought it was after the match against Low Blow and as such, my robot was extremely slow. Adding insult to injury was Cannon’s seeming inability to bite on Algos. I did get lucky and manage to take out one of Algos’ drive wheels. The result was a nail-bitingly close judges’ decision after I did my best to stay aggressive (though I think I lost on that front) and was able to dish out more damage.

The next two fights were antweight finals matches against Low Blow. I’ll be upfront about it: I lost both. Reflecting back upon the experience, I wouldn’t say it was because I choked so much as that Low Blow was probably the better robot, even though I had already beaten it. It was also driven far more cautiously; I usually stay aggressive but my aggression did not pay off for me.

In the first match, I managed to keep things close, but the hits favored Low Blow and I eventually lost a wheel. In the second, Cannon was in rough shape and I wound up tapping out after my power connector got unplugged. It was a heartbreaking end to a good run, but with a few changes (read: what I outlined above and 1/16″ UHMW wheel guards), I’ll be ready to fight Low Blow. If I’m not super aggressive, maybe I’ll come away with the victory next time.


Saturday morning arrived, and my uncle and I decided to go out to eat. We visited the Colonial Park diner in Harrisburg, which turned out to offer delicious food (as with every year past, I ordered the #7 meal, which is eggs and hash–robot builders need protein!). We headed over to the Farm Show Complex way too early, as we had done the previous day; my uncle is a very early riser.

After far too much waiting, Coercion’s first fight was against a bot from Georgia Tech called Parallelogreg. Parallelogreg was a parallelogram-style wedge bot. From the looks of it, it was put together very well: titanium sides and very sturdy wedges. I was worried–I didn’t want my expensive spinner to not be able to break it. Luckily, when the fight started, Parallelogreg flipped against the arena wall after a failed box rush attempt.

Every fiber of my being wanted to free him. I remembered thinking about how the culture of combat robotics had changed from gentlemanly competitiveness–think French and Indian War–to something a little more competitive, and how I resented that change. At the same time, we don’t stand in a field and volley fire one round at a time anymore; one must stay with the times. Despite the crowd’s pleas (and those of my conscience), what stuck out in my mind was a conversation I had with my father shortly before I left for Motorama. He made me swear I wouldn’t free anyone off the wall.

Promise kept. Sorry, Greg.

Coercion’s next challenger was another Georgia Tech robot (which was a little awkward after the wall affair). It was called The Hammer, and featured a horizontal disc. It looked pretty nasty, it spun fast, and it spun in the opposite direction of my blade. That assured a massive hit. I was able to get to know The Hammer’s builder, Dan Hammer, a little, and learn a bit about life at Georgia Tech. He seemed to be fond of it.

When the fight started, Coercion got up to speed, but The Hammer didn’t. I drove straight into the Hammer’s front, which seemed to kill it, but then I came back for more: I removed both of its wheel guards, and after my miraculously lucky hits were over, my opponent was motionless. The Hammer got counted out. Coercion, which had won a total of three fights before Motorama 2013 (1-2 at Moto 2012 and 2-2 at Bot Blast 2012), was 2-0.

Unfortunately, it looked like Coercion’s luck had finally run out. I was set to fight Shame Spiral, runner-up at Motorama 2012 and infamous spinner killer. The entire outside of Shame Spiral is hardened steel, and I knew it would be a tough nut (haha… Team Slammers joke) for Coercion’s blade to crack. The fight began as I expected. Coercion’s blade got up to speed, and it took Shame Spiral’s hits well. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much in the way of damage until one big hit removed half of Shame Spiral’s wedge. A few hits later, I maimed the other half of the wedge. I had to turn off the blade for a little while to allow my weapon controller, weapon motor, and belt to cool off, but after the blade got back up to speed, Shame Spiral stopped moving. Coercion got the win by knockout.

That took care of Coercion’s Saturday fighting. All it had to do on Sunday was beat Dr. Super Brain to get a guaranteed third-place. I was amazed.


As I mentioned before, Coercion started off the day with a match against Dr. Super Brain. I actually fought Super Brain last year and lost the match; I was concerned about a repeat. I decided I would attack its back and hope for some maiming hits, though Super Brain’s titanium construction made me wonder I could break it.

The fight started and Dr. Super Brain…didn’t. A bad battery had failed, so Super Brain got counted out. Coercion won its second match of the event by being able to move at the start of the fight. Who says a good robot doesn’t need luck!? In my case, my luck helped me to 4-0 and the promise of third place.

With third place locked up, the competition started getting even fiercer. Coercion’s next fight was against Mondo Bizarro, a Weta kit that I was sure would provide an awesome match. It did, though the awesome match turned out to be Coercion’s first loss of the competition on a close judges’ decision. The reason for the loss? Coercion’s weapon stopped turning. It didn’t stop because the belt got clipped but because one of the pins attaching Coercion’s weapon motor to its speed controller got so hot that it unsoldered itself. Whoops. After doing a number on my pulley, the fight ended, for a little while, anyway.

Now in the losers’ bracket (technically my first trip there during the entire competition–Cannon’s first loss was in the finals and lolcat competed in a round robin), Coercion had to take on Grande Tambor. In another unbelievably lucky break, Grande Tambor was more Grande than Tambor: its drum wasn’t functioning. I was fighting a pushybot that had a big hunk of aluminum on its front. In another weapon controller-meltingly long battle (the reason for the shutdown in the middle), Coercion got enough hits to pick up a judges’ decision. It was on to the finals again!

When I opened up Coercion to charge its battery, a frightening surprise awaited me: the weapon controller had gotten so hot that the capacitors attached to it had melted off. I didn’t want to use one of the cheap, old, Chinese spares I had brought (the connectors were not the right size and I figured if the 40A E-Flite had died, the spares stood no chance), so Sean loaned me a 60A ESC. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it required a 3S battery. I had to jam in a 3S battery along with the bigger controller: it was a recipe for disaster. In fact, it caused disaster: on the first big hit of the match, Mondo Bizarro removed one of Coercion’s wheels and the weapon refused to spin up. After a little more prodding, the weapon motor started spewing smoke. Fearing for my LiPoly, Sean’s controller, and my robot, I tapped out after a very short match. I was disappointed again, but I had gone 5-2 with Coercion and picked up my third silver medal of the competition. Things could have been far worse.

Motorama 2013, my tenth trip to the Farm Show Complex, showcased how far I have come as a robot builder. My first robots were fashioned out of cardboard and hot glue; the ones that competed today were painstakingly CADded and CNC-machined. I bleed a little more when I build robots today than I used to, I sometimes get sweaty, but I do cry less (there’s no crying in robot fighting!). My three silver medals were the best result I have ever had at a robot competition. My robots’ combined record was 12-5, which is probably a new record for me for single wins at a competition and winning percentage. To be honest, I don’t mind not winning that much, although it would have been nice. What is really important was the journey: I learned a huge wealth of information about my robots’ strengths and flaws.

The best part about all this is that in robotic combat, there is really never anywhere to go but up. I have what seems like a tremendously good design in Cannon, lolcat remained reliable, and Coercion has finally become somewhat destructive. I was incredibly lucky this year at Motorama–lucky in the sense that I got some favorable draws and unorthodox wins as well as in the sense that I was able to compete at all. My uncle, Mike Filion, proved himself to be a valuable member of Team Slammers: I look forward to his help in future events.

This event report wouldn’t be complete without a heartfelt thank-you to my parents for supporting me through over ten years of very costly, highly emotional robotic endeavors.  They introduced me to technology. They helped me find my passion in engineering and computers. They’re the reason why I do well in school. They’re the reason why I adore math and science. They’re the reason I’m the way I am, and I am ineffably grateful for how they’ve molded me. Without their amazing guidance and the lessons they have taught me, there would be no Cannon; there would be no lolcat; there would be no Coercion; there would be no Sharpened.

This concludes my 2659-word monstrosity of an event report. I probably won’t compete again until Bot Blast this summer, but I will post about my design changes as they’re made. I’ll also write more about programming again–I’m working on an independent study project in which I am creating an iPad app. Fun stuff!

Thank you for reading!


Motorama 2013 Day Three

In brief, Coercion wound up beating Dr. Super Brain (its battery died), then fighting and losing to Mondo Bizarro in a close judges’ decision. Its next match was against Grande Tambor, which it beat thanks to Grande Tambor’s drum not functioning properly. In the finals, it fought Mondo Bizarro again, but its blade never got to speed; the weapon motor smoked, I lost a wheel, and I finally tapped out. Second place isn’t bad at all!

I will put up a full event report when I get the chance–I’ll most likely write it this weekend.

I would like to thank NERC for all the hard work to making Moto 2013 as great as it was! I would also like to thank my parents for their continued support and my uncle, Mike Filion, for coming along as my pit crew. It wouldn’t have been possible without you!

Here’s a victory shot:

It's FAB!

It’s FAB!

Motorama 2013 Day Two

Continuing with the amazing success I had yesterday, the second day of Motorama was also wonderful. Coercion is currently 3-0 and is one win away from being guaranteed a trophy. In its first fight, it got a quick TKO against Parallelogreg (it got stuck on the wall at the beginning of the fight). In its second fight, Coercion beat The Hammer by knockout after a few big hits. Coercion went on to beat the notoriously tough Shame Spiral by a strong knockout:

I have never seen Shame Spiral receive damage before: I am stunned. Coercion ripped off half the front wedge and broke the drive.

I have never seen Shame Spiral receive damage before: I am stunned. Coercion ripped off half the front wedge and broke the drive.

I am set to fight Revenge of Dr. Super Brain tomorrow morning. Hopefully I’ll get some videos up soon!

Motorama 2013 Day One

I will post more once I get some sleep: those concrete floors and six-plus hours of robot fighting really take it out of you! That said, I am pleased as punch. Lolcat went 3-1 and took second place (it beat my friend Sean McKeown’s fairyweight, a disabled Keres, and Toni Fowlie’s fairyweight box and lost to the eventual winner). Cannon also took second, going 4-2 (it beat Toni’s ant box, Swamp Woman 2, Low Blow, and Algos then lost to Low Blow twice in the finals).

Both robots performed well, but both are in such a state that they should probably be rebuilt. It was worth all the effort I put into building them, though.

Here is a fight:

Note that we have several official videographers this year: I’ll be able to link all my fights to the full event report. Also note that my hotel Internet is terrible, so I will post these incremental reports when I get the chance.

Motorama 2013 Event Pre-port

As I did before Bot Blast, I am going to provide you with a quick summary of what’s new at Motorama and what you should expect once the results are in next Sunday.

The fleet I'm bringing to Motorama 2013.

The fleet I’m bringing to Motorama 2013.

First, a quick note: my dad will not be going to Motorama this year. He has been ill. Instead, my uncle, Mike Filion, will accompany me. He will take over as my interim pit crew, engineering assistant, and copilot. He is an engineer with the Navy–I’m sure he will be an invaluable resource as I compete against almost 100 other robots. Actually, the competition is against Murphy.



  • Cannon is now complete. 
  • It was not complete before.
  • It can fight.
  • It could not fight before.

Cannon was awesome in testing. I am concerned about the ball bearings digging into the UHMW side rails on big hits, but other than that and the exposed wheels, Cannon doesn’t seem to have any problems. I expect at least three wins against a very strong antweight field. A lucky draw of fights will yield far more wins than that. Let’s just hope Cannon avoids the undercutters.



  • Upgraded motors from 50:1 Sanyos to 30:1 MP Polulu gearmotors. This provides more speed.
  • Software changes to increase drive speed.
  • Battery recharged from Bot Blast.

Lolcat seems like it could do well, as it always runs the risk of doing. However, just about every fairyweight that is registered for Motorama is a horizontal spinner, and historically, lolcat has had heinously bad reception at Moto. If the radio works alright, lolcat ought to get a few wins and may even place. Without radio reception, the kitty won’t be getting its cheezburger anytime soon.



  • New, 11oz-ish, hardened S7 tool steel blade. This blade won’t bend, is lighter, and has a very high MOI.
  • Changed weapon gear reduction from 3:2 to 2:1. The blade spins up faster and running the weapon does not make the weapon motor as hot as it used to.
  • New, higher KV weapon motor. This motor spins faster and harder than the old one. It is rated at about 400W peak, as opposed to the old, 200W peak motor.
  • The weapon should now spin at about 6,000RPM, which is slightly faster than the theoretical maximum speed at Bot Blast. However, this blade gets up to speed much faster and seems to hit very hard.
  • 1/8″, custom-bent UHMW wheel guards that won’t shatter have replaced the old wheel guards. The first set, which shattered, was made of ABS. The second, smaller set, which shattered, was made of Lexan. These are thicker and tougher.

The beetles at Motorama look awesome. I don’t mean that lightly. I am very scared of what Coercion will be up against. That said, Coercion has a ton of reach and will hit extremely hard–at least on the first few hits. I would be upset if Coercion gets less than two wins at Motorama. As always, a top-three finish is possible, but highly unlikely.

As the saying goes, months to build, minutes to break. I hope the breaking is at a minimum this year. I will post nightly updates while I am in Harrisburg.

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!

Back from Bot Blast!

My dad and I are back from Bot Blast. I’ll write up a full event report tomorrow. For now, here are the results:

  • Lolcat: 4-1, 1st place
  • Amatol: 1-2, did not place
  • Coercion: 2-2, did not place, won rumble along with Dead Metal

I want to extend the first of many thank-yous to Jeremy Campbell, the EO, for putting on an awesome event. We had a lot of fun and it was worth the long drive.

To keep you occupied until tomorrow, here’s eventual beetleweight winner Ripto bending Coercion’s S7 blade. Maybe I should harden the next one!

Bot Blast 2012 Pre-port

I’ll be attending a robot competition in Bloomsburg, PA this Saturday (July 21st). If you live around there, it’s in the mall gazebo at the Columbia Mall. Fighting should start by 11:00 and we’ll be done by 7:00. 150g fairyweights, 1lb antweights, 3lb beetleweights and 6lb mantisweights will be fighting. It’s worth driving a couple hours to see. I understand that it’s a very fun event for builders and spectators alike. I’ve only fought in a mall once but it was one of my favorite events of all time.

I’ve been working hard over the past few days to get ready because just like every other robot builder, the 1-week mark seems like a good time to start prepping to me. Luckily, I didn’t have much to do. Here’s a picture of the three robots I’m taking:

Robots Before Bot Blast

I promise they won’t look this good on Saturday night.

Here’s the lo-down on changes I’ve made to my robots since they last competed (at Motorama in February) and how I think they’ll fare:



  • Complete redesign of sides. They are now taller and the front beater support has been swept back slightly so wedges will tend to hit beater first instead of support first. They are also made of polycarbonate now, so they are lighter and do not cause radio interference.
  • Upgraded from a custom 2S 160mAh LiPoly to a ready-made 2S 180mAh LiPoly that is capable of 40C burst current. The new battery seems to work much better and fits better as well. It can also be balanced.
  • New wheel guards provide more wheel padding so the plastic has time to absorb more energy. They are also swept back more and will hopefully be less flexible. The screws are farther from the edge on the new ones, too.
  • Because of the height, all components now fit inside the robot.
The current lolcat is running extremely well. If it does not suffer from any radio issues (receiver failures or interference) it will place in the top three.


  • Replaced a drive motor that was taken out at Motorama for use as a spare.
  • Remarkably unchanged. Hopefully this robot will have better luck at Bot Blast!
There are a lot of antweight wedges going to Bot Blast, so winning will come down to driving and having a lower wedge. Amatol does both well, so it should pull off at least two wins and if it gets a lucky draw, could place in the top three.


  • Weapon is now supported by ball bearings which reduce friction and allow for a tighter weapon belt.
  • Weapon belt has been tightened significantly to prevent slippage.
  • Weapon can now be fully tightened which should reduce flexing into the weapon pulley like what happened at Motorama.
  • 1Ah 3S LiPoly has been replaced by a 1.3Ah 2S LiPoly to meet the increased current demands of the motor with a tight belt driving a 1lb blade and to combat the increase in power consumption by lowering the voltage.
  • Grease has been removed from the robot to reduce belt slippage.
  • Polycarbonate wheel guards have been fashioned to use instead of the ABS ones that fared so poorly at Motorama.
  • I have purchased spare motors and wheels! The motors can also be used in Amatol.
  • Drive motors are now protected with foam to prevent the magnets from breaking during big hits.

The beetleweights at Bot Blast are excellent. Coercion hits very hard (it will go through quite a bit of aluminum and bend titanium) but is unproven in the arena, unlike the rest of our fleet and the rest of the beetleweights there. Assuming it holds together, it could do very well, but that can be said for any robot. Coercion is a tough call but placing in the top three is highly unlikely.

I am extremely excited for Bot Blast. I’ll post an event report, videos, and pictures when it’s done!