18 SERVO 08.2015
with voodoo-themed top hats lined
with candles, feathers, and skulls.
As Buzz wrote on his site: “Now,
the question was, with all this
showmanship would [the robot]
perform?” We were the “new” team,
and we were in full voodoo garb. If
they didn’t notice us before, everyone
was watching now.
Once the first round fights were
announced, the playing field was
suddenly leveled. Our opponents
came to our pit table to examine
Witch Doctor and Shaman, and they
seemed as intimidated as we were.
Champions) took Bronco off to their
nearby shop as soon as the fight
schedule was announced.
We thought this was just an
intimidation tactic, but they finally
returned just hours before our fight
with lowered armor and an extended
The Lincoln Electric welding
station often had a waiting line of
competitors anxious to modify their
robots before their next match.
Even for our match against one of
the most formidable modern
heavyweight robots — Tombstone of
Hardcore Robotics — switched to their
shorter, heavier bar to make the
notorious bar spinner more stable and
controllable. This was the long-awaited return of BattleBots, and no
one was taking any chances.
At a typical open-entry event, you
meet some experienced teams and
some first-time builders, but most
teams fall in the middle of the pack.
So, what happens when the
competitors are hand-picked?
You get the most difficult, most
rewarding experience a robot builder
can ever imagine! I can’t wait to meet
next year’s “new” teams! SV
Building Better Bots:
The Weak Link
● by Russ Barrow
Donald Hutson (Mutant Robots, Diesector) draws
Witch Doctor as he challenges us to a
Safety inspections in costume.
In building any robotic system, every part of the system must be tuned to provide the maximum
possible reliability and performance.
Simple things like loose screws,
exposed wires, or fatigued batteries
can turn even the most brilliant design
into a smoldering mess.
One component — often
neglected or assumed reliable — may
be waiting to fail at the worst possible
minute. That brushed motor you rely
on to keep your robot moving could
be your weak link. DC brushed motors
are the core of most mobile robot’s
drive-train. They are simple to use; you
just apply power and go.
This ease of use is based on small
carbon/metal brushes, spring-loaded
against commutator bars (segmented
arc shaped copper arranged in a
circle) on the motor commutator
(center rotating assembly of a brushed
motor). Photo 1 shows a basic DC