Motorama 2020 and Portable Apocalypse v3

Motorama 2020

While this update may be a few months late in coming, I guess it’s better late than never.

Portable Apocalypse managed to go 3-2 for the best single-event performance I’ve yet managed, and gives me hope that only a few small tweaks are needed to achieve greatness.

Portable Apocalypse v2 next to the v1 chassis


TT was a D2 kit, but was using some custom made vertical armor in place of the typical D2 wedge. Despite my less than stellar driving, I managed to take 3 out of the 4 wheels off which helped lead to winning the judge’s decision.

Vs Rickety Cricket

Despite its lack of wheels, Rickety Cricket has shown to be able to turn surprisingly quickly, making it difficult to attack from the rear. Just after characteristically flinging myself across the box and into the corner, I managed a maneuver I would expect to come from a far more skilled driver than myself. I managed to fake him out going one direction, circle around the other direction, and hit him from behind to knock him into an unrecoverable position to earn the KO.

Vs Off Track

Off Track entered the arena in pieces after a tough previous match, literally having to finish being assembled at the door of the box to avoid being eliminated. He seemed to suffer some self-inflicted issues early on after our first exchange, and one final tap was enough to fully disable his drive, earning me another KO. The one hit from where I threw myself on top of his weapon turned out to be the most significant damage to the frame during the whole tournament. I believe that you can see some points in the video that mark the beginning of the receiver issues that would rear their heads later in the tournament.

Damage to the bottom plate courtesy of Off Track

Vs Squishy

This fight wasn’t going too badly, but then the bot just suddenly stopped working, losing me the match. The frustrating thing was that after getting it out of the box I could turn it off and on again and it was back to 100% functionality. Without any idea what had happened, I just put it back in for the next match.

Vs Billy

This one was just embarrassing. Without even making contact with my opponent, I proceed to throw myself across the arena and then promptly stop moving. Now I was fully knocked out of the tournament, and left with a bot that that again mysteriously works after cycling the power.

Lessons Learned

  • The cause of my last two losses got traced back to some type of damage to my receiver from repeated impacts. 3 of the 4 career losses for Portable Apocalypse have stemmed from electronics failure. It is time to start padding the electronics better.
  • I also seem to have been experiencing receiver brownout during some of my matches, so that is another issue to address.
  • The exponential settings on my transmitter were set wrong, so instead of lowering the outputs near the stick centers it was raising them. This did nothing to help with my driving control.
  • The new weapon ESC worked well, but with only minimal testing I missed a few issues in the settings I used.
    • My throttle calibration was somehow horrendously off, so the ESC was compressing the whole throttle range into the first 20% of the throw of the stick. Again, not great for my control.
    • I had managed to turn motor braking off, which made my intended strategy of lowering the throttle to get out of a gyro-dance much less effective even if the throttle was working correctly.
  • By the end of the competition both of my drive motors were starting to loosen from their gearboxes. It looks like Loctite alone wasn’t enough, time to go the full battle hardening route.

Portable Apocalypse v3

Portable Apocalypse v3

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The overall design has held up very well, so I don’t see a lot that needs to be updated for the next version. Portable Apocalypse v2 was designed with the idea of turning it into a kit bot and selling it, but with current events that idea has gone to the back burner. One of the main influences that this idea had was changing from the original 0.08″ titanium frame to a much cheaper 0.10″ 7075 aluminum frame. The overall frame design held up quite well, but now I want to go back to being an indestructible tank so it is back to 0.08″ titanium for the v3.0 frame. With all of the parts either being off the shelf fasteners, 3D printed walls, or laser cut metal from SendCutSend, this bot is extremely easy to source and build!

Portable Apocalypse V2 vs V3

The only other real changes are padding the electronics, changing to a battery that should give me a higher max current output, and new brand of weapon motor. I’m hoping that the lower listed current draw of the motor will help prevent the brownouts, and the larger bearings inside it should hopefully hold up better to my abuse.

Unrelated to the bot design, I also now have some stickers to go along with it!


EDIT: And now it looks like Portable Apocalypse has made it onto being the cover article for an issue of Servo Magazine!

Cover Article of Servo Magazine!

2 thoughts on “Motorama 2020 and Portable Apocalypse v3

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