SERVO 12.2013 33
okay robot can beat a great robot
with a bad driver, so we needed
some practice. We began by simply
drawing a big square with sidewalk
chalk on the driveway. The last bot
remaining in the square was the
winner. We made a big square on
the order of 12' x 12', so their
random stick mashing style didn't
result in two bots immediately driving
out of the square.
The problem was they still had
issues driving and they kept dropping
the remotes. I watched their hands
closely and noticed their little fingers
were too short to hold the remote
and move the joysticks. I pulled out
some chairs and voilá, the driving
The boys started getting even
better with each match. The first
couple matches only lasted a few
seconds before someone drove out
(without ever touching each other).
After a few days, they started being
able to run into each other
occasionally before immediately
driving out of the square. Then, the
bad stuff started happening. I was
letting one of Cayden's friends try
driving Angry bot when suddenly one
of the wheels fell off. I assumed the
screws just vibrated loose.
On further inspection, it turns
out the gear case itself had failed
allowing the face mounting bolts to
fall out. I realized my mistake. I had
never put an outboard support on
the BaneBot gearmotor.
I knew that was a big no-no, so I
took Cayden's robot back in and
began building an outboard support
for it. It took me a couple days, but
we got it back up and running.
The new setup was much
stronger. I also used the shaft
support as a means to keep the
robot from tipping, so I was able to
remove the bent aluminum plate. The
boys were back in business fighting
in the driveway.
At this time. I started to notice
that Cayden was getting some pretty
good wear on his wheels, so I
decided it was time to break out the
plywood and build a … wait for it …
arena. It's getting serious now. By
arena, I mean a 4' x 4' plywood floor
with some 1 x 4s nailed to the edge
to provide some walls and an
opening on one side. We broke out
the house paints and had some fun
decorating up the arena with shapes
After a few days of practicing in
the new arena, we decided these
robots needed some paint too, so we
went out in the garage and picked
out our favorite colors. Cayden went
with red and Ethan went with green.
Both boys wanted to try to paint
them, and I couldn't come up with a
reason why not to, so we went for it.
With my help to push the button
down, they actually did pretty well.
After a couple coats of color, the
boys explained that they wanted their
robots to look like things. Cayden
wanted his robot to look like an
Angry Bird and Ethan said he wanted
his to look like a scary monster.
Ethan explained that he wanted
a scary robot, so the other robots
would just run away and fall in the
pit. (That's a pretty good strategy for
a wedge bot!) I certainly couldn't
argue with his logic. I broke out the
pencil and permanent marker, and
after an hour or two (like eight) I
finally had an ogre and an angry
bird. Once they had paint, the boys
decided to name their robots Scary
for the scary monster and Angry Bot
for the Angry Bird.
I applied a couple coats of clear-coat to help protect their
"masterpieces," then we got the bots
back together again for a couple
more days of fighting. We had a
week to practice, so all should be
well. We started honing our skills and
after a few fights, I noticed Cayden's
robot started to pull to the left. I
picked up the bot and one drive
motor face was loose. I tightened the
screws, but one didn't feel like it
really tightened. I decided to open
the case and check it out, and my
worst fear was realized. The gear
case had shattered again, and I didn't
have any more replacements. I
decided to order a pair of the 20:1
Finger Tech Spark motors from Robot
Marketplace. I went with the gold
series, and I was not disappointed.
The motors arrived on
Wednesday and on Friday we had to
leave for Florida. I took out the old
PVC mounts and made a one piece
mount for both Spark motors. This
saved me two steel PVC clamps, so I
had some more weight to spare. I
got everything wired up and
reweighed the bot. With the weight
savings, I was able to add rear armor.
Boy, did that turn out to be handy.
Cayden and Ethan had one night to
practice driving for about 20 minutes
and then it was bed-time. We were
ready to head to the Orlando Mini-Maker Faire.
Next month, I'll write about how
the event went, and the answer
might surprise you. SV
Ready for the big day!