Dan Chatterton was gracious enough to take some
time to talk with me about the creation of Wrecks and his
team's experience on BattleBots. Dan is a CNC machinist by
trade, but likes to think of himself as a "professional
tinkerer." He is extremely interested in how things work and
enjoys figuring out how to build just about anything out of
components scavenged from garage sales, surplus stores, or
from dumpster diving.
SERVO: How did you get started in competitive
Chatterton: As I started high school, BattleBots
became a huge TV success, and I aspired to build a bot and
be on the show. It was over before I had the chance,
though, and my opportunity didn't return until college
when I met Zachary Lytle (check out his SERVO articles in
October 2012 and April 2013). He ran a robotics club
where we built smaller fighting robots. I started small,
helped with some larger ones, and eventually teamed up
with Orion Beach to build our 2012 Robolympics
(RoboGames) silver medalist 220 pound Heavyweight bot,
The Electric Boogaloo.
SERVO: Tell me about your robot, its weapon, and
how you designed and built it.
Chatterton: Wrecks was designed after two other
bots. One was my Antweight, Gyrobot which is the original
gyroscopic walker. What that means is that it uses the
spinning blade as a gyroscope, then tilts that gyroscope
side to side to cause the entire bot to take steps forward.
Without the blade spinning, it just rocks back and forth and
doesn't go anywhere. Once the blade is spun up, though,
gyroscopic precession causes the bot to move forward as it
The other bot it is designed after is one that Orion and
I built a few years ago, The Electric Boogaloo. We copied
several of the strong points in terms of frame and weapon
design, and implemented those into Wrecks.
The gyroscopic walker design originated from watching
62 SERVO 09.2015
Let’s Talk Bots
Beach, Joe Sena,
Team Wrecks’ logo.
Wrecks' frame made of formed and welded steel.
This year's BattleBots were
bigger and more powerful than
ever, featuring technology and
innovative designs never before
seen on television. One of the
more inventive and imaginative
designs from this year's field of
24 competitors was the
gyroscopic walker, Wrecks built
by six veteran robot builders
from the Berkeley, CA area:
Micah "Chewy" Leibowitz, Dan
Chatterton, Joe Sena, James
Arluck, Orion Beach, and Adrian
“Bunny” Dorsey. Together they
are Team Wrecks.