Maybe you’ve seen video on the Internet, event
reports here in SERVO,
actually been to an event, or
remember when robot
combat was on TV.
Whatever the source, you’ve
decided that you want to
build a bot. At this point, you
may be asking yourself a
very important question:
Where do I start?
Finding An Event
One (if not the first) step
you should take is to figure out
where you’ll be competing. For
those that have been to an
event, you probably have an
idea where to look. If you’ve
never been to an event, you
may not even know where to
look. In general, event information is
readily available online through a range
of sources. In the US, the following
URLs are your best bet when looking
for an event:
In the UK, the best source for
upcoming event information is www.
fightingrobots.co.uk. In Australia, the
best source for upcoming event
information is www.robowars.org/
forum. Beyond being a source for
event information, the vast majority of
the robot combat community online
can be found spread between the
Facebook Robotics Community, Delphi
Forums, FightingRobots.co.uk (the
Fighting Robots Association), and
Robowars.org (Robowars Australia).
These groups will be a great resource
both for getting questions answered
and seeing how other people have
answered many of the design
questions you’re trying to address.
Once you’ve found an event you
want to attend, the next step is to
read through the rules of the event.
While many events have the same rules
across all of the weight classes, some
events will have different rules for
influence which class you
decide to start with.
While not necessary, at
this point it would be a
good idea to attempt to
find video from previous
years of the event you’re
planning to attend. This will
give you a good idea of the
sort of machines you’ll be
fighting, and the unique
quirks of the environment
you’ll be fighting in.
At this point, you’ve
got enough information to
start figuring out what you
want your first bot to be.
The next decision to be made
is whether you want to start
with a kit, design and build it
yourself, modify a kit, or buy a
ready to run bot.
From a learning
standpoint, designing and
building your own machine is likely the
best option. Building your own is also
the most difficult option, especially if
you have limited tool access. If you go
this route, looking through past build
reports in SERVO and online will be a
great means of learning from the
mistakes of others, and possibly
picking up tricks to get better results
out of the tools you have.
I would suggest getting actively
involved in the online communities,
and if one is available, go to a local
robot club meeting and talk with other
builders about what you want to do.
The best thing you can do during this
process is ask questions. Every builder
was new once, and most builders are
happy to offer advice when asked.
The easy option is to buy a robot
32 SERVO 07.2014
Getting Started: Before
You Build Your First Bot
● by Mike Jeffries
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