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Thread: Team Health & Safety - First Time Builder

  1. #101
    Zenith's Avatar

    UWE Bot Brawl 2019
    24th of February 2019, University of the West of England, Bristol, UK


    Prior to this event being scheduled there were already rumors going around of the next season of Bugglebots season happening somewhere in the Spring. Cosmin and I agreed that the Bot Brawl would be the ideal opportunity to get the new WeeWoo tested - this version includes weaponry, with Woo sporting a grabber, and Wee a spinner. In the months prior I'd made it my mission to build the new grabber Woo fully out of new parts, so should there be issues we could at least nip them in the bud.


    It would also be a farewell of sorts. The first version of Woo (as seen in season 1 of Bugglebots) was to experience its final outing this event, as the internals needed redoing anyway and I had plans to further improve the design. Apart from a better fork setup and a new 'spatula' setup, Woo basically ran this event straight from Bugglebots season 1.

    The event itself was a big one - 48 robots attended, with the first round being a 3-way melee. To make matters worse, only one robot would go through after the first round, and the losers would then try and get back through a redemption round.

    Our first round was against another new robot from Gus (OwObotics) called Sosig, and the infamous Drizzle. Sosig is modular, in that it can switch to a horizontal and a vertical spinner setup. This led to some interesting last minute alterations, where both teams went as far as to even bring their robots covered up to the arena doors. Drizzle had mounted its new raindrop blade, geared for maximum bite whilst also enabling it to selfright.

    We just went with the plows and hoped for the best. We'd agreed I'd go for Drizzle as Woo's plow was better mounted than Wee's, and the results were... spectacular. Woo first took a hit from Sosig, and then tanked the first hit from Drizzle sending both bots flying. Woo was seemingly fine, so let's do that again! Drizzle clipped the back, and then hit Woo in the face again, ripping it off in a shower of sparks. Woo, amazingly, was still able to drive away.

    Cosmin meanwhile was handling Sosig a bit better, as the horizontal had stopped working after the first encounter with Woo. Wee smashed into Drizzle, stopping the disc, and in a later encounter flipped both Sosig and Drizzle in 1 move. Drizzle couldn't selfright, Sosig lost its link... so under the crowd chanting WeeWoo we were ruled the winners!

    It took a while for the adrenaline to sink after this, for both of us.


    But it was at a cost, though. Woo's plow was bent like a pringle, the right-hand rear axle was bent and the wheel on it was smashed, so it would take some work to get the little bugger into shape again.

    Luckily though, we were the second fight of the day, and our Round of 32 wouldn't be up until after the Redemption rounds, so quite some hammering later Woo was ready to roll again... only for us to find out our next opponent was Saw Loser. Something something competitive field? We set WeeWoo up with the forks.

    That fight was basically the worst case scenario for us. Woo drove abysmally because of constant interference and so we had a harder time as usual to control Alex to where we wanted. To make matters worse Saw Loser flipped Wee over in an early hit, so Wee's magnet downforce was gone. Woo tanked another hit, and the right-hand drive side was then not working properly (hey, familiar problem?). Alex then putting Wee with its magnet onto the sidewall sealed our fate. We were out of the main tournament.

    Opening up Woo revealed that, much like at Bugglebots, the right-hand drive motor had loosened itself and had started eating its way through one of its wires. The motor was too hot to touch, still ran but probably had to be replaced. It convinced me that, even though Woo had proven again it was a tank, Woo had some serious design flaws that needed to be addressed.


    It also left us with another issue - we hadn't run the new WeeWoo yet. Enter the boys from Rust in Pieces - one of the other two (!) clusterbot entries this event. Signups for 2v2 whiteboards had opened and they wanted to fight with us against two other full-weight beetles. Yes please! Scott from Attitude Adjuster and Ralf from Anxt signed up with their axebots, so off we went to have a 2v2 with 6 robots in the arena. Clusterbot supremacy!


    The fight was chaos, as you would expect. I noticed Woo, even though it grabbed Anxt's axe and later drove Attitude Adjuster through the arena with it, could do with a bigger mouth, as the top jaw wasn't really able to hold on to opponents. Wee also took no prisoners, oftentimes sending itself flying because of its spinner hits. Both the axebots were eventually pitted, after which we had a clusterbot face-off. I noticed Woo needs the magnets to be a tad further down for more downforce, but other than that we were both pleased with how the new WeeWoo performed.

    We hope we get to show its stuff for real in Bugglebots Season 2!

    Last edited by Zenith; 27th October 2019 at 20:35.

  2. #102
    Great write-ups Greg. Love the new Wee and Woo designs!

  3. #103
    Zenith's Avatar

    Thanks! I will be tweaking the design a bit in the months to come, probably giving it a bigger mouth and enhancing the drive too.

  4. #104

  5. #105
    Zenith's Avatar

    Head for the Exit - A beetleweight saw bot

    After shooting Bugglebots Season 2 earlier this year (no, I don't know when it'll air... hopefully soon!) I found myself eager to try something new, and build a full-weight beetle again. I had two choices: build the fourth version of my lifter This Is Not A Drill, or just start from scratch with something completely fresh.

    I chose to go ‘clean slate’ and do the latter. I wanted to try my hand at a saw bot, as I always appreciated their theatricality as well as rewarding nature for good driving. I didn’t want to go the way of SawBlaze though and have an articulated arm on one point. Instead, I made things complicated for myself.

    You see, I’ve always been fond of the Robot Wars house robot Dead Metal. It ticked all of the boxes: it looked awesome, it didn’t do all too much damage but it made a nice show when it caught something in its clutches and sank in its weapon. The rest is history; Robot Wars was axed again, and it’ll likely be a very long time for us to ever see it reappear on screen.

    The system Dead Metal uses is a 4-bar linkage which holds the entire saw assembly. This brings us also to the root of the problem - it’s complicated, unnecessary, and it can’t selfright. Nobody in their right mind would put something like that in a beetle.

    And that’s exactly why I chose to have such a system on Head for the Exit.


    As I usually do I sketched away, and set to work. I first wanted to get my dimensions correct and get a sense of the geometry required, so instead of doing the sensible thing and put the thing in CAD, I made a prototype chassis.

    The thing is, I don't like spending my time making a robot behind a computer screen - I want to feel the material, and just make things up as I go along.


    Here's an early mock-up next to an old chassis of This Is Not A Drill. This thing was going to have some serious width about it - another disadvantage to putting this huge moving system into your robot.


    I also wondered how to solve the issue of selfrighting. Some fiddling around with a pencil revealed that it didn't need a separate system - I could just elongate one of the 4 arms holding the weapon assembly in place and that would serve as a selfrighting arm. Added bonus would be additional theatricality!


    Prototype with the weapon assembly and selfrighting arm. I thought it had something cool about it, so about time to start the build for real.


    Main chassis parts cut and bent. The chassis is made up out of four pieces of HDPE (the three pictured, plus the baseplate) which are all bent with the same method I used with Woo. Sure, it's a pain in the ass to get right (not to mention if you screw up a hole you have to redo the entire part) but it adds rigidity, and it makes my builder-bug tingle with delight. I love the whole organic look it gives to my machines.


    Doing the sloped end of the main U-shaped spine of the chassis was a downright backache to do with the jigsaw, but I was quite pleased with how it turned out.


    Weapon assembly on top, looking good!


    Gratuitous bum shot.

    Time to put in a servo, and see how this thing would behave!

    Go to Part 2 of the Build Report here.
    Last edited by Zenith; 13th November 2019 at 21:57.

  6. #106
    Good to see you back, and Head for the Exit looks sweet! Especially the self-righting arrow. Although because it looks like a dial I feel like it needs a gauge above it, like this:


    Sadly that would probably stop it actually self-righting, which I admit is slight drawback to the plan, but no plan is perfect.

    One thought: when the saw is spinning, you may want to put quite a lot of pressure on the saw blade. With the 4-bar system and the servo pushing on only one side, is the mechanism going to be stable or is there a chance it'll start twisting? Feels like there might be a fair bit of flex with it being made of HDPE, and applying the force asymmetrically might not help...

  7. #107
    Zenith's Avatar

    Quote Originally Posted by McMullet View Post
    One thought: when the saw is spinning, you may want to put quite a lot of pressure on the saw blade. With the 4-bar system and the servo pushing on only one side, is the mechanism going to be stable or is there a chance it'll start twisting? Feels like there might be a fair bit of flex with it being made of HDPE, and applying the force asymmetrically might not help...
    Thanks! You're making a valid point - in the earlier tests (like the one shown) the weapon module moved from side to side - this is down to the 4 arms holding it having play in them, which extrapolated to the weapon module. Aside from doing up the bolts, the two arms on the left are now from 10mm HDPE which makes the entire assembly a lot more solid - there's hardly any room for the module to move other than forwards and backwards.

    Having said that, I'm curious how it'll behave during weapon testing. I do believe if it would lead to problems it'd simply be a matter of sliding the servo more into the robot. I drilled and retapped the servo horn to take M4 bolts, so if need be I can run a shaft through the back end of the weapon module and have the servo sit dead center.
    Last edited by Zenith; 26th October 2019 at 19:19.

  8. #108
    Zenith's Avatar

    Head for the Exit - Build Report Part 2

    Now the base of the chassis was finished, time to address the more finicky type of stuff.


    I started with the weapon arm. It's a rather prominent feature atop the robot, so when you need to save some weight, why not make the weight-saving interesting? I took the theme, and just doodled a bit.


    Then drill lots of holes, connect the holes with a jigsaw...


    ...and here we are. This was after I removed the gloss HDPE comes with, by giving them a quick once-over with my heat gun. This gives the plastic a nice, matte finish.


    The new arm in place, with the self-righter shortened and bent down as well. This gives the weapon arm more travel, as the self-righter is stopped by the bolt head of the saw's axle. In this setup, the saw comes as far as 10mm above the ground.


    Time do some wiring. I was using the internals of Woo up until now, and I grew fed up with using the little one's internals.


    With the wheels on and the light working, it gave me an impression of what was to come. I loved how this stance started bringing the lines of the machine together.


    Time for more bending! After trying the shape with bending cardboard, I cut out the shapes from 10mm HDPE.


    Lots of drilling, cutting and bending later, this was the result! I felt quite chuffed with the look of this.


    On to the wheelguards! I felt the machine was missing them, so I decided to give them also a special treatment; the wheelguards for both sides would be one big wheelguard spanning the rear, meaning I'd have to bend one strip of 5mm HDPE several times, and make it symmetrical too. This is as hard as it gets really, as normally you can copy one wheelguard off the existing one you made before. Now they'd be joined together, I'd have to go by eye.


    The bends all done. Looked okay I think - time to carve a few bits off, and get it onto the machine.


    I usually cut my plastic using nothing but a jigsaw, but I always make a point of smoothing out the rough edges with the sanding disc of my angle grinder. I loved how the wheelguard pulled the entire machine together, and it made me realize that I enjoy the building of these things most of all as opposed to fighting them.

    You see, you have to know I didn't design any of this beforehand. I start with a sketch, but then just make it up as I go along, and see where I end up. This build in particular seemed very rewarding in that respect; the creative process is where most of the fun is for me.


    On to the next thing then: metal work! I cut out these two forks from 2mm Grade 5 Titanium, and while I was at it I also made a new mounting bracket for the weapon motor from a 1,2mm Ti off-cut.


    Of course I also bent the forks. For bending Titanium, I normally just used my vice and looooooooots of patience, but in this case I added the use of a blowtorch. Looked okay, but the bends were not as smooth as I'd hoped.


    The forks mounted. I know what you're thinking: did he make the forks that shaped so that they'd make arrows with their shadow? Well actually no - I only realized this when I took this photo.


    Now everything was done, time to add the livery! I broke out the traditional reflective stickering again, but this time, time for some Emergency Exit green.

    I just took this concept...

    IMG_20191111_224638.jpg IMG_20191111_224609.jpg

    ...and turned it into this. I was thinking what to do with the rear as it has the power light in it, so after some deliberation, I turned it into a little EXIT sign which would light up once the robot is active. A nice touch, I thought.

    This Friday I fly off to Scotland where Head for the Exit is to debut this Saturday. Currently, it's in pieces again, packed in my suitcase. I'm quite nervous for the event myself, as it's a new machine, and part of me always fears it'll spontaneously self-combust in the ring.

    I'm just happy it has ended up looking as good as people say it does. Hopefully it can turn a few heads this weekend, but for the non-competitive roboteer that I am, seeing this build through has been the most important and gratifying thing of all.
    Last edited by Zenith; 13th November 2019 at 22:00.

  9. #109
    Bravo sir. I hope it drives well and the event is successful, but regardless of functionality you are a true artist when it comes to bending HDPE!

  10. #110
    Zenith's Avatar

    Thanks! I wouldn't go as far as calling myself an artist - I just know I like messing around with the stuff

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