The design of the new version of Apex Predator is now complete, and it is now 2/3 built, with the electrical work and the carbon fiber plates being the remaining work to do before it would be ready to compete. Since the first iteration performed fairly well back at November’s Norwalk event, the design is mostly the same but with a bunch of minor improvements spread throughout.
- The previous battery seemed to only have enough juice to run everything flat out for about 2-1/2 minutes, which I found out when I didn’t even have enough power left to drive back to the door at the end of a brutal 3 minute match. The new battery adds 30% to the storage capacity, so it should give me plenty to last through my matches.
- While the Fingertech beater bar is a solid off-the-shelf option, it isn’t going to be the most powerful weapon in the brackets, so I wanted to see what I could do in that regard. Adding grub screws to the unused teeth holes ups the spinning mass a bit, and a new motor with a slightly higher KV rating combined with the new battery being the high voltage variety gives me an extra 2k rpms at full throttle. The napkin math says that all together this should increase the stored kinetic energy by about 1/3.
- The drive motors are also getting swapped out for a lower gear ratio version, allowing for a higher top speed.
- Having experienced the repairs in the pits showed me that it was not very easy to work on the weapon system without having to halfway disassemble the frame, so a few minor design tweaks now make it much simpler and less time consuming to remove the weapon components for repairs.
- After seeing how my front fork-lets dragged the floor and flipped up when reversing as well as flipping under and holding my wheels off the ground, I knew this needed to be addressed in the next version. The new forks have a bit more ground clearance and can no longer leave me stranded if they hit a divot in the floor.
- The center rails of the frame may be the single most time consuming part to replace after getting damaged since everything else mounts to them, and I had one of the bunny ears get chopped off of them twice last time. To try to prevent this requiring a full replacement, I made the bunny ears replaceable by themselves.
- While not a direct upgrade to the design of the bot itself, I hit on the idea of 3D printing jigs to perfectly place all of the screw holes that I would need to be drilling by hand, making the frame parts much faster and easier to produce.
So now with a bigger battery, faster drive, more powerful weapon, and easier repairs I feel like I should be ready to shoot for the podium next time around!