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Thread: A Beginners Guide to Vapourbots

  1. #1
    This guide is just here to let people new to this section of the forum get their bearings, after a few incidents which could perhaps have been handled better. It covers the basics of vapourboteering, how it works, how to do it and a few guidelines on etiquette. Conincidentally Id written this last week, and then there was a request for something similar, so here it is.

    Part 1: What is a vapourbot?

    The basic idea of vapourbots is that of Robot Wars or Battlebots - a remote controlled machine fights another remote controlled machine until one wins. The difference of course is that both the fights and the robots don€™t actually exist (although real robots may be entered in the majority of tournaments). Whether you don€™t have the funds, patience or experience to build a real robot, or even if you have built a real robot but use vapourbots to have fun with designs implausible to construct, it€™s just a bit of fun.

    You design your vapourbots from top to bottom with whatever features you wish and enter them into tournaments written by other people on the forums, who will draw them off and write the fights until they get a winner. Simple.

    Part 2: How do I create a Vapourbot?

    The key to designing a vapourbot is writing the stats, remember these are almost always expected to conform roughly to a standard heavyweight machine which is 100kg. Certain movement styles may gain weight bonuses but this varies between tournaments, so make sure to check the start of a tournament for it€™s specific rules.

    The basic stat layout is as follow:

    - Whatever you want it to be, as long as it€™s not offensive and not already taken (either by a real robot or existing vapourbot).
    - 100kg is the standard, however, other movement mechanisms sometimes get different bonuses. The common ones are: Walkers - 150kg/200kg, Tracks - 110kg, Shufflers: 120kg/150kg. Note that the term shuffler may vary between writers in interpretation, so check.
    - Whatever you want it to be, just describe it as best you can. A picture usually helps.
    - Describe in detail wheels, tracks, walking mechanism or anything else you come up with. The more detail you give the better idea the writer will have about what you are imagining, talk about materials, widths, and any special features.
    - What motors you use and what voltage they run at. Remember they have to be real life components. If you don€™t know what motors to use look in the €˜How Could I Improve€™ Thread, or ask anyone.
    - Is a pretty obvious one - the faster a machine is the harder to control it will generally be, the slower it is the easier to out manoeuvre. As a guideline, staying between 8mph and 16mph will suit most needs.
    Turning circle:
    - This will almost always be 0m, however a few robots with more exotic drive systems may vary.
    - Armour is pretty self explanatory - pick a material and give a thickness for the most basic armour stats, however, you may want to have different materials and/or thicknesses in different parts of the robot. Also if you want to talk about the chassis, that should go here. If you are unsure what material suits your purpose and how much you can fit in, ask someone.
    Ground clearance:
    - The difference between the bottom of the robots main body and the ground, generally this measures between 3mm and 1cm. If you had no ground clearance you wouldn€™t be able to move, but the higher it is the easier to get under. If you have an axlebot or an externally tracked bot then you done really need to give this stat. Also, €˜skirts€™ should be listed here - essentially pieces of metal that sit against the ground to prevent an opponent getting under so easily - make sure to list what they are made of and how thick they are.
    - AKA self righting mechanism - essentially how does your robot recover from being flipped over, can it€™s weapon right it or does it have a specific mechanism for doing so.
    - Generally the €˜big€™ one, you can use anything you can think of as long as it follows the normal rules (no chemicals, no untethered projectiles etc) Be realistic, generally the more weight you give to a weapon the more powerful you can make it but the more you sacrifice elsewhere in your design. You can have as many weapons as you want, but the more you have the less weight you€™ll be able to use for each and the weaker they€™ll be. However, remember that your own weapon will feed back into your robot - so you better be able to withstand the impact as much as your opponent!

    Additionally some writers may ask for strengths/weaknesses and dimensions, but usually these are optional.

    A picture will always help the writer a lot, whether its just a sketch or a fancy 3D model, some people will even be willing to make an image for you if you don€™t feel up to it yourself.

    Part 3: Any other suggestions?

    The most important thing to remember is that in theory your robot should be able to exist in real life, so don€™t use things which don€™t exist. For example saying you have mithril armour will just get you asked to redo your stats, as will creating your own materials, motors and suchlike.

    If someone says your robot is overweight ask them to elaborate if you aren€™t sure - it€™s usually pretty rough anyway, but if your robot glaringly is too heavy people will bring it up. This is nothing personal but its just being fair.

    If you are stuck in any way ask for advice from anyone - even if they personally can€™t help you they can probably point you to someone who can.

    If a writer writes a fight and you discover they have misinterpreted something about your design, don€™t worry - explain what they didn€™t get and then add the extra details into your stats to help people understand your idea better. Diagrams can help sometimes.

    Keep your stats somewhere online where you can link to - for example, on a website or forum, this saves you copying and pasting every time.

    Part 4: What Should I Design?

    Whatever you want! If you have an idea write it down in stats. It doesn€™t matter if it turns out to be a bad idea, you can always change it or just scrap it and start something new later. Most vapours will take a little bit of refinement before they take off properly.

    Don€™t just copy something, be imaginative, designing can be as much fun as the taking part. If you want base it on your favourite robot then take the basics of that design and have a go at making it how you would make it.

    Remember, you don€™t have to design to try to win, just design something because it could be cool if you want.

    Part 5: Tournaments and Etiquette

    Anyone can write a tournament, however, this means there are a few things to bear in mind. Firstly try and keep civil at all times - this should go without saying anyway as this is a public forum, but there is no reason to argue when a rational discussion will suffice, and if that fails then it takes a better person to walk away. There is no excuse ever to verbally attack someone.

    Equally if you are being unfairly treated by someone, tell one of the more senior members and they can try to sort things.

    If there is something that makes you struggle in any way again just ask a senior member for example if you are younger than most people or you have any learning disabilities, people will be able to try and help you. However, don€™t just leave it until something has happened and bring it up as a defence as that doesn€™t help anyone.

    Don€™t take other people€™s stuff unless they ask you to - for example vapourbots or tournaments, it€™s theirs and so they get to decide what to do with it. Feel free to base stuff on it though.

    If you lose a fight, which we all do a lot, don€™t let it put you off - remember it€™ll take a while to perfect your designs and stats - and learn the ins and outs of it. Don€™t take a loss personally (unless of course you really have reason to suspect it is personal, in which case talk to some of the other forum members) but remember in every tournament there is only one robot which doesn€™t lose, and generally they are ones which have been refined for ages - there are robots with over 8 years worth of development out there - and you can beat them, just don€™t expect to do it in your first match.

    Part 6: Writing

    I advise against writing until you have settled in a little, but whenever you are ready is good. Take a look at how other people write, and at actual robot wars fights to get an idea of what kind of stuff happens.

    You can define your arena, your house robots and any rules you want so don€™t feel limited by what you€™ve seen before.

    A good idea is to start small and get feedback on your writing and then write bigger stuff when you feel more confidant. A good starting size for a tournament would be 8 or 16 robots. Remember when you ask for entries to be realistic about the number of people you can get to enter and how quickly you€™ll get them, it€™s generally good to give at least a few weeks for signups as our community is very small, but start whenever you are ready.

    Delays are always preferential to cancellations, but if you do have to cancel, most people like to see a hypothetical - basically just a quick list form of what you think would have happened.

    Anyway, that gives you a good solid starting point, I hope you enjoy yourselves!

    Note to official forum people: if this is use to people any chance of a sticky or something?

    Other Note: If Ive missed anythign and youd like further writing up, yet tell me and Ill add some further sections.

  2. #2
    Im not sure if this would be appropriate in a begenners guide, but maybe a few links to places that would be of interest to newbie vapourboteers - places like Aarons and Kodys boards, your website, sites like and for calculating things, things like that. Possibly there could be a basic guide to what weapons work and what doesnt, armour types, etc...but if people have managed to find their way here the odds are that they know all that already.

    And good job, by the way

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  6. #6
    Some more usefull links: Torque converter.
    Pneumatic calculators. Also for hydraulics by the way. See how much force your ram really generates.

    (Message edited by leorcc on August 18, 200

  7. #7

    Oh, and theres nothing wrong with giving a robot a name that has already been taken (I know there are two robots called American, one Swiss), as long as it isnt deliberate.

    Actually Chris, when a Swiss roboteer accidentaly gives his robot the same name as an American roboteer, yeah, I can understand that. But the FRA is a small community and FanFic even smaller, the competitors should be more than able to avoid having 2 bots with the same name I think.

  8. #8
    Ladies and gentlepeople, just to inform you that I have recenty joined the rank of moderators for the fanfic side of the FRA forum.

    Any problems, you mess with me.

    Best regards,
    Leo Powermad van Miert.

  9. #9
    And for a useful link, one I totally forgot:

    Specially in the archives there are some very good tips to be found.

  10. #10
    For all you spinner builders out there that have trouble figuring out how the KE works on team-cosmos site and what battery power you need:

    Very easy and good sheet to work with.

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