July 17th saw me bring both Someone Else’s Problem and my new 150g Pocket Apocalypse out to Bayside Robotics’ innaugural First State Fight event. Since I have been refining these designs for a while and they have accumulated a few event wins (at least under another owner/driver), I was using this event as a final shakedown to determine any last changes that might be necessary before I considered them worthy to be sold. As I will detail below they both performed admirably, and I decided to move forward with adding them to my shop with extremely minimal changes.
Pocket Apocalypse (Spark! Kit)
Pocket Apocalypse went undefeated to take home first place in the fairyweight division, marking my first time making it to the podium for an event! The bot proved to be pretty durable, not requiring any repairs during the entire event, just charge the batteries and it was ready to go again.
The one change I am making to the design for the kits is the material of the mount for the wheel guard strips. One of the mounts cracked and came loose in the final match, so I am changing them to TPU going forward to take the durability up a notch.
One minor shortcoming of the design that I would love to improve on is its ability to get out of doing “The Thing”. In one of the matches the bot wound up balancing on its back edge, doing “The Thing”. My 1lb and 3lb undercutter designs have BLHeli ESCs where I have customized the settings to turn the motor braking on (as do all of my Jolt! Kits), meaning that I just turn the throttle down and it is enough to kick it to one side and back onto its wheels. This design is a bit different due to the much tighter weight constraints, so the BEC in the brushless ESC is actually providing the power for the receiver and drive motors as well, and the only ESC I have found so far that was small/light enough with a BEC did not give me the ability to program those types of settings. I was thankfully able to let the weapon slowly spin down and then flick the throttle back up to right the bot before I was counted out, but I would love to find a tiny BLHeli ESC with a BEC that would work for this design.
The videos of the matches are available here:
I only realized after the event that I had the radio set to the wrong model, resulting in the mixing settings preventing it from reaching top speed, so it should actually be a bit more nimble in the future.
Someone Else’s Problem (Shock! Kit)
This was the first outing of what I am designating as Version 4 of Someone Else’s Problem. The last time that I competed with my antweight robot, Someone Else’s Problem was way back in 2018 (with Version 1.1), and a lot has changed since then. (Version 2 was essentially the updated 3D printed design that I published on Thingiverse, and Version 3 was a titanium framed version that became the inspiration for the first build of Portable Apocalypse but got sold due to a lack of local 1lb events to participate in.)
Gone is the 3D printed frame, the fragile N20 drive motors, and the stock Fingertech blade. In their place are a carbon fiber frame, Fingertech silver spark motors and bearing blocks, and a custom AR500 disk.
It may have only achieved a record of 3-2 at the event, but it also demonstrated high durability and destructive tendencies. The bot had one Silver Spark gearbox give out on it, but other than that it was again a case of charging the battery and throwing it back in the ring.
This durability was particularly welcome since it validated a major change that was made at the last minute. I had originally designed the weapon/pulley/bearing setup way back in 2018 for Version 2 (but never had a chance to test it in combat myself), and by coincidence it actually wound up debuting on another person’s bot exactly two weeks before my event. On the other bot the weapon setup wound up experiencing significant issues, including having the disk get completely knocked off. This gave me significant cause for concern, and just two weeks to fix the issues.
With the fast turnaround of parts from SendCutSend I put together a new weapon setup that is a scaled down version of my successful setup from Portable Apocalypse, including figuring out a good V-belt setup for an Antweight. The new design dished out hits, and withstood the stress of the bot’s tendency to pinball around the box without a hiccup.
For the first match of the event I got placed against Darkest Legend, a Viper lifter kit driven by a first time competitor. I tried to be as gentle as I could, but won the round by knockout.
My second match was against Breakpoint. As Sean and I were neighbors in the pits I got the amusement of watching the him size his bot up against mine and start cutting bits off in an attempt at keeping the saw arm out of my reach. This approach ultimately proved unsuccessful, as the unpredictable nature of my bot allowed me to bounce up and take out the saw arm anyway, but not before he managed to pin me once and saw halfway through my bottom plate. While I looked to be the likely victor based on damage, my bouncing came back to bite me as I landed in the “pit” corner, and it was just a bit too small to allow me to spin my weapon up and bounce back out, leading me to be counted out.
Down in the loser’s bracket I faced Nick San, so I got to give another newbie another KO. This win then placed me against Sean’s other antweight, Thagomizer. About 20 seconds into the match it looks like I got lucky and managed to clip one of the wires for his brushless motor, disabling his weapon. We were already in the loser’s bracket, so we spent the rest of the two minutes with Thag trying to break my fist with his face to no avail, so I won by judge’s decision.
It was at this point after a slug-fest that went the full 2 minutes that I finally checked my battery’s capacity to see how much juice was left. I found that since I had only been charging it as a normal LiPo instead of a high voltage LiPo the battery was close to drained, so I need to change to a charger that can do LiHV batteries if I want to be able to last the duration for longer matches.
My final match of the competition was against Sleep Deprived, a Viper kit that alternated between the horizontal and vertical configurations, this time appearing with the overhead blade. The match lasted precisely long enough for us both to spin up and charge headlong into each other once. That one set of blows managed to take out both his weapon and one side of drive, but also left my bot suddenly inert and thus out of the competition.
A post-mortem revealed that the only physical damage was that the hit managed to knock off the cap nut that helps keep my bot more level when inverted, but the force of the impact managed to disconnect most of the servo plugs from the receiver, leaving the receiver without power and knocking me out. It is frustrating to now find myself leaving two events in a row knocked out by a receiver related issue while the bot remains mechanically intact, but at least this time it qualified as going out with a bang rather than a whimper.
In the end I had a blast, finally made it to the podium, and proved that both designs are quite durable and destructive. My daughter got to come watch and cheer me on, and even got to drive her first “match” (with a liberal application of unsticks). Both designs are going forward as kits, starting with the 150g Spark! Kits as soon as the parts finish arriving.