Mecha-Mayhem M ves
● by Dave Graham
The fall of 2012 posed a challenge for the members and
supporters of the Chicago Robotic
Combat Association (CRCA). The
previous five years, CRCA had
sponsored an Insect class fighting
robot competition called Mecha-Mayhem at the International Hobby
Exposition (iHobby) in the Chicago
suburb of Rosemont, IL. This year,
iHobby was moving their event 370
miles east to Cleveland, OH.
The CRCA was founded by
Brian Schwartz and Dan Toborowski
in 2004 in hopes of creating a
midwest Insect class fighting robot
venue. The CRCA formation was in
response to the Central Illinois
Robotic Club (CIRC) downsizing their
combat robot events and movement
towards expanding their thinking
Dan left for school shortly after
CRCA was formed, and Brian
became involved as a robotics
advisor in the science and
technology course at Glenbrook
North High School near Chicago.
Students were working on a yearlong project to build Insect class
fighting robots. Dave Miller was a
student at Glenbrook North High
School, and joined Brian and the
CRCA in 2005.
Together, Brian and Dave built a
high quality, state-of-the-art eight by
eight by four foot steel arena
enclosed with Lexan and sporting
four 120 psi pneumatic hammers in
the arena corners. They also
designed and built computer-controlled driver start/tap-out
buttons, sequenced starting lights,
and a match timer.
The arena debuted in 2005 at
Glenbrook North High School where
FIGURE 1. Group shot of Team CRCA: back, Jen and Brian Schwartz; front,
Erin Grondin; center Zoe Schwartz; and right Dave Miller.
the pair held a fighting robot
demonstration for the school.
Immediately following that
demonstration, the arena was
disassembled and moved to
Minneapolis, MN for the Minnesota
Twin Cities Mechwars 8.
The arena was also used for
Mechwars 9 and 10 in 2006 and
2007, and for an event at the Mall
of America in 2008.
Early in 2007, CRCA
was contacted by the
Chicago Area Robotics
Group (ChiBots) about
bringing robot combat
to their annual event
held at the iHobby
Expo in Rosemont. It
was an opportunity
too good to pass up,
and a new partnership
As a result,
CRCA’s new Insect
class fighting robot
event — Mecha-Mayhem — was born.
Both the CRCA/
iHobby partnership and Mecha-Mayhem continue to this day.
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