the electronics and software
involved (complex enough to make
your brain melt!).
In the last year or so, however, a
breakthrough by Rich Olson of
Seattle has resulted in a small
electronics board that combined all
the essentials required in a small and
cheap package. Problems still
remained with the fragility of the
brushed drive motor used and that’s
where Ready To Rumble stepped in
by developing a brushless version of
the code that removed that fragility
and opened the door to a design
that could soon become
A Melty Brain spins like a
Thwackbot, but by switching the
drive motors on and off at exactly
Franklin Institute 2010 –
The Rise f the
● by Pete Smith
The Franklin Institute Science Museum in Philadelphia and
NERC ( www.nerc.us) presented
their fourth annual robot event on
Saturday, October 9, ‘ 10.
There was a good turn-out in
most weight classes, and this made
for a very busy one-day event.
Competitors started arriving around
7:00 a.m. and by 10: 30 a.m.,
everyone was through safety and
ready to fight.
Of particular interest to most
competitors were the three brand
new “Melty Brain” bots (Figure 1)
brought by Team Ready to Rumble.
Melty Brains is a nickname of a
design of bot that has been around
for years but had not achieved wide
acceptance due to the complexity of
FIGURE 1. Melty Brains.
the right time each revolution, it can
also create translational movement.
The bot can thus be very simple and
solid, and by spinning its whole
mass very rapidly it becomes a
The design is also easily scaled
up or down for the various weight
classes. An Ant, Beetle, and
Hobbyweight were entered at
The one lb Antweight Melty
“Little Spinny Tortoise Thingy” did
well but “Zergling” managed to
knock it out in a semi-finals fight.
The three lb Beetleweight
“Spinning Tortoise” did better,
getting to the finals only to lose to
tough wedge/vertical disk bot “Mr.
Only the 12 lb version “Double
Trouble” failed to get a prize. It started
up in the wrong mode at the
beginning of its fight against
“Surgical Strike” so did not spin up
to full speed, and quickly failed to
translate anymore. However, that
fight resulted in what was probably
the biggest hit of the competition
(Figure 2) and caused considerable
damage to the arena. A short circuit
during repairs resulted in damage
that knocked “Double Trouble” out
of the event.
Meltys had certainly showed
their potential. Work still needs to
be done on the translating as the
other bots could show more
aggression by taking the initiative.
While they certainly hit hard, they
appear to hit themselves about as
hard or even more so as they
34 SERVO 12.2010