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Thread: Project Cedar - Featherweights

  1. #1
    Good evening all!

    Feels like ages since I've done a full write-up, but here we go!

    I think it goes without saying that 2020 has been a little bit of a bust for all of us robot people. With lockdown 2 (3?) in full swing and no events to go to, I think it’s about time for a long-overdue reflection on things.

    With that in mind, I want to make a clean start for 2021. Speaking from the heart I feel my past projects have done robot combat a slight disservice, 2019 especially I was cranking out constant bodge jobs after bodge jobs that were so below-par it was laughable. I took so much pride in being able to enter something so janky, thrilled that it even worked with 1 wheel-drive! That’s no way to do robots, is it really? Ended up losing a lot of that pride as it turns out.

    I had a superb time at events and met with some absolutely fantastic people, but towards the end of 2019 there was certainly the feeling something was going wrong; After 2 years of competing, I started to feel a degree of imposter syndrome turning up to events, as if I didn’t belong among all these brilliant people who’ve clearly put an enormous amount of effort into their bots (entirely self-generated I need to stress, nobody was ever hostile), coming home from them a bit dejected and at times wondering if it’s worth carrying on. I saw people who we'd started out at similar times progressing to mazing levels and being dead proud for them... but couldn't help but feel that I was lagging badly in comparison, it came to a point where I really couldn't justify what I was making at all. Sad times really

    Cut to January 2020, by complete chance I had an opportunity to drive Mattock for a Robodojo and then again in July… things changed. It was such a brilliant feeling being able to enter something fully functional, actually having a chance at a bit of success to go with the socialising. It felt great being able to take pride in what I was doing at the event, even if it was being loaned out the very thought of being able to win something or have a seriously good fight was incredibly exciting, I'd been bitten by the robot bug all over again! Maybe lockdown came at a good time in that regard, it’s allowed me to re-assess things quite drastically and find a way to move forward with the sport.

    ...Plus it’s been a good time to accumulate parts that need to go to use
    So that leaves us in an exciting position. Lots of ideas, lots of parts, and for the first time in a while, a good drive to get building.

    That brings us onto Project Cedar. With possibly a long wait until the next events, much to learn, and much time on my hands to learn it, it makes sense to build a family of featherweights. Each one will be planned in advance (exciting times, planning?!) and constructed in order of difficulty, taking the skills learned on each one and carry it to the next. Essentially I’m starting fresh and learning how to build back at square one, but there’s no time like the present! Each of the planned 3 robots will share a similar design ethos for a limited degree of commonality. No corners will be cut, nothing will be bodged - I really don’t want that reputation anymore and I hope I can prove to people that this won’t be the case from here on out. It’s been a humbling time to reflect on past robots, but crucial in giving me a real drive for self-improvement.

    The robots themselves will follow a similar design and construction method. Those being:

    Barrel nut construction - I’ve been advised this by other builders as inserts have slowly been phased out of the mainstream. They look really solid and I’m happy to take the successes of Barróg among others as testament to this.

    Standard sizes of materials - They’ll largely be 10 and 25mm HDPE mainly for the sake of simplicity and being able to have a degree of parts commonality, I suppose that makes it more economical too. Thinking 6/8mm bolts to hold it together, leaning towards the latter

    Small footprint - I’m planning on making them all full-combat specification or easily modded to achieve that depending on which I want to throw in, therefore it gives ample opportunity to armour the living hell out of them! Secondly for practicality, table space is often at a premium, smaller bots make sense.

    Project 1 will be a reworking of Boring Wedgebot... of sorts, don’t panic! I want a very basic design to get to grips with this new (to me) construction method while the stakes are low and design is simple.
    -This will be the front half of the old Boring Wedgebot, the only bit of it that worked rather well - and a whole new arse-end.
    -But are we going for something sensible like drills? Ehhhhhh no. I was thinking something... bigger. Say, a pair of 300W hoverboard motors Key reasons being: I have a spare pair, mounting them will be good practice in doing more precision engineering, and come on... they're going to pack one hell of a punch, enough to turn a few heads at events I'm hoping.
    -With the new lips on the sides of the arena, it's more important than ever for plain wedges to be able to do something 'more', either it slams so hard it KO’s the opponent or somehow jumps above the lip. We're using what worked on the old Boring Wedgebot and tossing everything that didn't work, something I should have done a long time ago.

    Codename: Magnum

    Project 2 we're going full combat! I made some mockups of this in Lockdown 1, it's a tiny little vertical spinner using a 140mm dia 2kg disc.
    -It's your basic 2WD vert design which I'm hopefully trying to pack into the smallest footprint as possible. Not much special here, I'm aiming for something in between Catharsis and Get Shrekt in shape.
    -Why? The smaller it is, the more I can armour it - with full combat Dojo events being particularly spinner-heavy and having to take on a good number of those fights in a day, this thing needs to be able to tank a few hits at least - this might also lend itself to dodging some too, being a smaller target.
    -It’s a bit more complex than the first project, but can still be boiled down to a basic 2WD 18v drill drive setup and spinner module

    Codename: Millennium

    Project 3 is the ultimate end goal for Project Cedar, an axe! This should be a culmination of the skills I’ve learned in the past couple of robots, dealing with the new construction methods and dabbling with different types of reductions. Driving Mattock at Robodojo events last year was honestly some of the most fun I’ve ever had with robots (topped off with a cheeky link snipe on Bread Dead :P)
    -Once again, I’m taking what worked on it and then developing on what could be improved
    -I loved the hard-hitting but fewer between hits as opposed to pepperpotting as it made it a tad more potent for getting KOs. It also meant that when I waited for a good hit, it felt that much more special
    -As such it’ll be optimised for this purpose, on a higher gear ratio than normal to shift the extra weight and possibly some fancy Arduino proximity sensor might be in order here… I made an IR Theremin a couple of years ago, that’s enough training right? - will elaborate more on this in a future post
    -Once again keeping it small to allow enough weight for 4WD; this will give it the best possible maneuverability to land those all-important hits, plus I'll bare in mind the weight distribution so worst comes to worst it can be a decent pusher should the weapon fail.

    Codename: Valravn (pronounced Val-Raven)

    ^^^ A few images at various stages in development, all done quite a while ago, but lend some hand at showing what I'm on about.

    Thank you all so much for reading and the past couple of years of being awesome, here's to some more

    So that brings us to now, I can't wait to get stuck in! The proof is in the pudding, after all, best get cooking

  2. #2
    Ocracoke's Avatar
    Team Kaizen

    Reads good, looking forwards to seeing what comes out of this.
    Team Kaizen - Build Diary for all the robots

    AW: Amai, Ikari, Lafiel, Osu, Ramu
    BW: Shu!, The Honey Badger
    FW: Azriel
    MW: Jibril, Kaizen

  3. #3
    Hi Theo
    When I first started reading your post I thought Oh No ! another Roboteer throwing in the towel but
    then I read on and found quite the opposite.
    You are a great ambassador for the fighting Robot circuit Theo with your enthusiasm and your effort
    to keep Boring wedge bot going were admirable not Laughable.
    Good to hear your full of good ideas and your cardboard model of a design looks great-Perhaps there
    is a shinny real robot under there as a surprise.....well maybe not but the design is awesome.

    I hope you bring some or all of your designs to fruition and Lock down is ended asap.

  4. #4
    Hey Theo! Look forward to seeing your projects unfold over hopefully not that many months, and getting duffed up at Robodojo by the results later this year.

    As for your historical "bodged" robots, I think your innovation under pressure is really impressive, as is your ability to successful drive robots with drive on only one side, mismatched wheels and so on. Everyone brings something different to the competition and I don't think your past efforts are any less worthy than a masterpiece of CNC machining or whatever. Still, it's great that you're taking a positive view and aiming to develop other skills. You've given yourself an ambitious but perfectly reasonable plan and I'm sure your vision will carry you through.

    Thanks for taking the time to document your efforts (it'll doubtless be good motivation for you as well, but I for one will enjoy following this thread).

    Quote Originally Posted by Theo View Post
    ...when I waited for a good hit, it felt that much more special

    This seems like a good start.

    Quote Originally Posted by Theo View Post
    ...Arduino proximity sensor might be in order here… I made an IR Theremin a couple of years ago
    That sounds awesome (if slightly scary in the pits ). Can I move that the proximity sensor retains the Theremin function when installed in the robot, thus creating a sense of rising 60's horror movie tension? Also, generally, tell me more about this Arduino Theremin!

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