Home > Robots > HAZARD > Event

The bomb will not start a chain reaction in the water,
converting it all to gas and letting all the ships on all
the oceans drop down to the bottom. It will not blow out
the bottom of the sea and let all the water run down the
hole. It will not destroy gravity. I am not an atomic playboy.

- Vice Admiral William P. Blandy

Actually showing up to compete is a really different experience. As a competitor with a robot, you're caught in the web of people "in charge," each with their own goal and short-term agenda. The best you can do is figure out whom to ignore (like crewbots that can't speak English) and enjoy your time with the rest. If you're lucky you get a pit table near a cool team.


On the way out we stopped off in Burbank to pick up Mechadon at Mark's shop. Peter's car was packed and we still had some room left in the back of the truck.

Mechadon arrived on a forklift.

Somewhow we packed it all in there. Going up over the mountains north of LA it started to rain, so I called Mark. "Hey, I think the legs on Mechadon will arrive with some rust." "Should make a nice patina" was the reply.
Once on scene, Mark immediately buried his head in the robot to search and destroy a noise interference issue.
We picked out our spot and loaded all of our gear in. It was nice to come back to Fort Mason in San Francisco again.

Both Tony and I enjoy speaking with other competitors in the slack times; here, we're trying to pry valuable information out of Ziggo builder Jonathan Ridder.

One of the last things I built was a titanium arm setup to let the ramp hinge at the top while limiting upward travel. This "limited upstop" scheme worked great for keeping the ramp out of the spinning blade (until one of the Ti plates came unbolted in the melee, see below.)
Here's a shot of the pits looking over the Team Sinister zone, those tennis balls protect the anti-Rhino spikes on Ronin.

Clever T-shirts abound, Steven Nelson in blue and Todd Mendenhall with the SORC shirt to his right.

Chuck Pitzer from Raptor Robotics was to our right and usually working to keep AlphaRaptor dialed in. It was a beautiful robot.
Jason Bardis from Infernolab displays the Ziggo and killsaw carnage leveled upon Missing Link. Ouch.

Rumor has it that Johnathan hung the mangled wheel upon his Christmas tree this year.

Don Larvariere's amazing Mjollinir, a 4130 chromoly robot with tool steel spikes. Also the only robot that comes with its own engine stand.

The carbide-tipped killsaws are no respecters of tool steel spikes, though.

Don Hutson of Mutant Robots shows off his newest superheavyweight, DieSector.
DieSector was one of the more sylized robots at the event, a nice blend between metallic death and graceful form. The jaws are especially cool. Giant wheel-chair scooter motors run the show and give it about 4 HP of drive.
Also of note are the Rammtech 59 guys from Florida. A FIRST team with incredible potential, they're just easing into the combat robotics scene with their first entry Rammstein.

There was something wrong with that tie-rod cylinder setup so the CO2 powered ram didn't work.

Clever drive wheel gearing setup on Rammstein. Unfortunately the weakest link was inside that Dayton gearbox and a shaft snapped during one of their fights.
Here we are posing with HAZARD before its first fight. We also added our sponsor logo to the blade of doom.
This is what an intact spinner looks like before a big fight. That was the last time it looked that nice, because...
...here we are catching some air in the arena in our first fight against Turtle Road Kill. We put a 3" gash through the side of TRK, cutting some 0.200" steel in the process. The builder couldn't believe his eyes.
Then the next day, we couldn't believe our eyes after we swept through the middleweight class and took home two giant aluminum nuts, just like fellow builder Gary Cline had predicted five months earlier.

Behind Tony and I is Bob Brewer, our top-notch pit assistant for the weekend.

Post Mortem
You can learn more about robot building if you study your failures after the event.
Here we list our design failures so that you might not make the same mistakes we did.
This is killsaw damage into the corner of the base. It actually cut into that corner pillow block as well but missed the bearing and axle.
Bolts holding the Ti plates on the front ramp popped their heads and really twanged up the aluminum spar holding them all together.

The spar used to be straight.

When the bolt sheared on the above plate, we actually caught it with the spining blade at the end of the melee. In this video clip, watch how the plate catches a seam in the floor, flips up into the blade and then gets whacked (white sparks.) The energy from that pops HAZARD into the air and spins it about 90 degrees.
From an earlier status report you see we built the weapon pod on a big 20 x 4 plate of 6061 aluminum, a half-inch thick. Amazingly it was twanged as well from the enourmous shocks coming back from the blade hitting other robots.

The mashed open 1/4-20 hole is a good example of why you don't use screws to locate under high shear loads.

The Vantec 36E held up pretty well but our wiring got a bit warm. The insulating sleeves on the crimps melted together so they all came off in a clump. Part of the reason is the poor electromechanical connection you have to work with on the terminal block of the Vantec.
The blade stopped spinning in the middle of the melee because we cracked a motor magnet. Fortunately the tie down strap eventually broke and let the motor slide off the ring gear, giving us one final hit on Bad Attitude (just after the buzzer.)

Don't use stainless steel pipe straps to hold down heavy motors.

One of my secrets is to put down strips of double-stick tape in the bottom of the robot to catch FOD as it falls in, keeping it out of mechanics and electronics. Here's what a piece looked like after the competition.

Well, that's it!
HAZARD really came through for us, even though all the 1/2" Lexan eventually cracked. About the only thing that saved us in the melee was that we accidentally wired up the blade motors backward - the clockwise spinning caused the stress cracks to start developing on other parts of the robot where things were still undamaged.

Tony and I pulled the important parts off HAZARD and threw the remainder into the trash, many lessons learned.

Look for our other two robots War Machine and a newly rebuilt Evil Fish Tank for the second season of BattleBots on Comedy Central.

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