of aesthetic must-haves was the metal
protective skirt — an item I worried I
might have to weave from gossamer
and morning dew in order to make
However, I was spared from
beseeching the Fairy Queen for help
when the postage scale — arguably
the altar and chief deity of small bot
building — indicated I had weight
enough for 1/16th inch galvanized
Before we move on, here’s some
Q&A that will help make sense of this
Question: What advantages does
galvanized steel offer a combat robot?
Answer: It’s corrosion resistant.
Question: Is that quality actually a
useful trait in this context?
Answer: Not in the slightest.
Question: So, why did you use it?
Answer: Because I found it in my
garage in the vicinity of the biggest,
scariest, most useless wood screw I
mentioned earlier. I have no idea why
I own either.
While identifying material for the
metal skirt may have been easy, if for
no better reason than I am cheap and
not terribly fussy, getting the skirt into
a useful shape turned out to be the
chief challenge of
In order to more fully emulate the
source material, I determined the skirt
was going to be made from one piece
and have no screws in the front.
This second point was to partially
thwart spinner bots who would be
liable to catch any screws with their
spinny bits and put my creation into
However, doing so required both
cutting and bending the metal at
relatively precise angles. My initial
attempts resulted in the left and right
sides of the skirt being so high in the
air that it looked like it had slammed a
Red Bull and gotten metal wings out
of the bargain.
Frustrated and desperate, I turned
to the robot builder’s secret weapons:
computer-aided drafting (CAD) and
I then remembered I majored in
English and have access to neither of
those things — let alone any clue how
to utilize them — and turned to the
robot builder's other secret weapons:
scissors and poster board.
In case anyone wants to replicate
this (because it sort of worked), I cut
the poster board into three strips for
the three defended sides of my robot.
I then commenced trimming the
corners and taping them together
until I had a shape that seemed like it
would fold into the desired wedge
Finally, I put this shape on my
sheet of galvanized steel, traced the
outline, and engaged the bandsaw,
being mindful to end my cuts with the
same number of fingers with which I
started. I bent it into shape along the
lines I had marked prior to cutting,
and it ended up flush enough to the
ground to be considered a legitimate
defensive metal skirt.
I fastened it to the frame with
wood screws into some small 1/4 inch
LDPE pieces made specifically for that
purpose. With this done, voilà! I had a
robot that looked sort of like a tiny
ineffectual version of Beta.
During all of this, electrical and
mechanical components were far
lower on my list of concerns while I
dealt with making the bot look like
the source material.
As one can no doubt imagine,
this did introduce some problems I
had to address late in the build.
Originally, I intended to use a
small ~800 RPM gear motor from
eBay to swing the hammer. Since the
hammer arm was so light, my
assumption was that I could get away
with gearing the hammer up (at
about 1: 4) to increase the speed of
Long story short, a tiny made-in-China motor is not up for swinging
even a small amount of weight when
that weight is positioned at the far
end of a seven inch lever.
Undeterred, I ended up
32 SERVO 05.2017
The hammer arm was actually made of two pieces of 1/4”
LDPE that are bent together where they join with the
hammerhead. The only reason for this is weird spacing
issues surrounding the center channel of the robot.
Check out the light burst on that galvanized metal skirt and
try to tell me this isn’t beautiful.