By Greg Intermaggio
So, you’ve seen the fighting robots
on TV, and you finally got off the
couch to go to RoboGames and see
a ComBot event in person. Up close,
it’s a whole different game. You can’t
tell on TV, but most of those robots
are bigger than your dishwasher and
made of heavy metal designed to
tear their opponents to shreds. Saws
spinning, hammers slamming, and
flames spitting from the flame
throwers, you just get drawn in.
There’s no other sport like it.
So, you decide you want to build
your first ComBot. This two-part
series covers the basics of designing
a 30 pound (Featherweight) ComBot
from the ground up using only tools
you’d find in a home shop.
In this first installment, we’ll talk about what goes
into building a ComBot and begin the design process.
For more information on the ComBots event, visit
http://combots.net/ and see the Sidebar for additional
The first thing to consider in building your ComBot is
cost. Robots get very expensive, very fast. Building a basic
30 pound ComBot will cost somewhere in the
neighborhood of $800-$1,600. For a cheaper alternative,
consider building a three pound bot instead, which will
likely cost $400-$800. We’ll also want to keep in mind the
nature of the sport — even in the 30 pound weight class,
these robots are designed to destroy each other. Robotics
team Tesla Prime designed “Overnight Delivery,” a 30-
pound ComBot which had an upturned 1/16” steel
cooking wok as armor. In its first match against Chainzilla
— a 30 pounder with a spinning steel bludgeon —
Chainzilla managed to literally tear holes into Overnight
Delivery’s steel armor, leaving the critical electronics
exposed. The robot was incapacitated within just a few
short seconds of the match starting. In this respect, an
$800 ComBot can quickly become a $1,600 ComBot, and
a $1,600 ComBot can quickly become a $3,200 ComBot.
Remember that the goal of the competition is to destroy
your opponent. Factor this potential for destruction into
your budgeting for the project.
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