6) The moment of truth: Have one person with both
hands on the controller and another person to turn
the switch. Turn on the master power switch — you
should see power to the speed controllers and the
fans almost immediately.
7) A solid green light on each speed controller indicates
that they are communicating properly with the
receiver. If you have solid green, try adjusting the
joysticks, and watch your wheels spin!
IF SOMETHING GOES WRONG
Immediately turn off your master power switch and
disconnect your battery completely from the circuit.
Determine whether the problem was an electrical failure or
a communication issue, and where the problem originated.
Check all the related connections, and consult the manuals
for the involved components (see the sidebar on
Documentation). Patch it up and keep trying until you have
a working ComBot!
Now that you have a working ComBot, the next step is
practice. Dave Calkins — a former BattleBots judge, prolific
robot builder, and one of the founders of the ComBots
competition — stresses that you should drive your robot
every day. Two hours a day. Get over 100 hours of practice
before competing in your first event. He also wrote an
excellent article called “Judge Dave’s Guide to Winning,”
geared towards anyone in robot combat. It’s also included
in the download package on the SERVO website.
1) Go to the competition with a 100% working robot.
2) Practice. Practice again. Practice MORE!
3) Have some sort of self-righting mechanism.
4) Test your armor by beating the hell out of it with a
sledgehammer and seeing if the bot still runs.
5) Have an active weapon.
6) Test your weapon by attacking a realistic opponent
(a hunk of steel, not a teddy bear).
7) Watch as many competitions as you can, and learn
8) Bring good batteries that will last a full match; bring
at least one full set of spares.
9) Don’t let the match come to a judge’s decision. Go
for a knockout.
10) Read and know the rulebook of each competition
you go to BEFOREHAND.
If you have any questions about ComBots, electronics,
or anything covered in this article, you can contact me at
I hope you’ll be inspired to build your own comBot.
See you in the pits! SV
SERVO 05.2010 53