walls and frame pieces that were a half inch thick. To have
a body that thick, the overall robot ends up having a much
smaller footprint. So, in response to the query about
Troublemaker’s weight class, we would simply say it was a
The second question we usually got was about the
carbon fiber plenum top (from the air intake manifold on
an Indy car engine from Cosworth). The third question we
got was “How old did you say this robot was again?”
Curious onlookers never even usually got to the question
we’re normally asked first: “Are you guys identical twins?”
Hey Ho, Let’s Go!
It was finally robot fighting time. We were very
impressed with how smoothly the competition rounds
seemed to run from the perspective of a competitor.
Brackets were posted in several places, frequently updated,
and the matches were largely on time. That’s quite a feat
when managing three heavier weight classes in the main
arena, Ant and Beetleweights in a smaller arena, and a
whole other building of non-combat events.
Our first match was against Agent Z, a rookie
competitor with a low mounted horizontal spinning
blade. Unfortunately, due to some confusion before
the match, it ended up being a forfeit in our favor
because of a safety issue. So, we moved forward in
Our next match was against Big Papa, a new
robot from the University of Illinois team. As we were
waiting on deck for our match to begin, we had the
chance to chat with the U of I team a bit. The team
of students (including Daniel Tisza, Ryan Shulski, Alex
Cuti, and Collin Valley) were experienced roboticists,
having organized a 30 lb bot tournament back at
their university. They brought along two of those 30
lb bots to fight as a multi-bot in the lightweight class,
and had built Big Papa in a time crunch to have a
true lightweight to bring along as well.
Big Papa was a gnarly drum spinner that was
exactly the kind of design we were most afraid of. Would
Troublemaker be able to withstand the full force of a deadly
drum? Would we get flipped and regret our lack of a self-righting mechanism?
Our mass began to spin up, but with the heavier setup
it wasn’t fast enough. We took Big Papa’s drum head on,
and it bent our front chromoly spikes. The spikes did a great
job of absorbing the shock though, and with front end
fisticuffs we didn’t appear to be in danger of getting
flipped. The maneuverable Big Papa did get around our side
several times, and one time it landed a hit that fractured
one of our side panels. We caught some air off of Big
Papa’s drum, and even got nearly flipped over by a well-placed hit to the back of the bot. We stayed aggressive,
going for the head-on hits and hoping that Big Papa
couldn’t take three minutes of punishment. By the end of
the match, neither of the active weapons were working,
and it went to a judge’s decision. Troublemaker lost, but we
had gone the entire round without getting flipped or KO’ed.
After the match, we discovered that our spinner
stopped working because the solenoid controlling the
weapon motor had been knocked out of its base. We
put it back and secured it with silicone, and the
weapon was good as new. Big Papa was not quite so
lucky. The drum shaft was twisted and bent, and by
the end of the match its drive train was shot. In its
next arena appearance, Big Papa had to forfeit
because the bot wasn’t functional. In its last match,
the drum wasn’t really working and the noticeably
slower Big Papa was flipped almost immediately.
Our next match was ostensibly against a bot
called Punisher, but they never showed up to the
arena and we won by another forfeit. It just goes to
show that having a functional bot in the arena really
is half the battle. Or, in some cases, all of it.
Our next real match was against Jakebot, which
58 SERVO 06.2016
DAMAGE TO BIG PAPA’S DRUM AFTER THE FIGHT.
GETTING SOME AIR FROM BIG PAPA AND
TAKING OFF JAKEBOT’S WHEEL.