I’m loving that my kids talk about BattleBots (http://battlebots.com) all week long and can’t wait for it to come on Sunday night. Even more exciting is that I barely had to whisper the idea that we should build our own and they are all over it. Parts have been ordered for a 1lb “antweight” bot…
Basically, these are just R/C cars. However, as with all things I need to complicate this a bit… So, I have this plan to add a NETMF controller for specialized moves, sounds, lights, etc. One thing that’s not clear in my head right now is how I can switch between having the receiver control the motors and having the micro control the motors. To make that love triangle a bit more interesting, the receiver would need to tell the micro to start doing something. My best idea right now is that I’ll need to create a custom board with a bunch of transistors to switch the signal between the two boards but I’m not even sure if that will work (quickly) due to the arming required of the ESCs. I’m sure I’m not the first person to want to do this. Does anyone know of an off the shelf solution for this? I feel like I’m over-thinking this and there must be an easier solution. Thanks for your ideas!
I pushed the button to buy one from Pololu. Does that count? I don’t want to wait to design & order my own right now Although, I have in mind to build a daughter board for the G30HDR that gives me exactly what I want at a future time.
Ooooh, don’t even get me started. Here are photos from my ancient past. I was a competitor on TLC’s Robotica Season 2, 2001, which was different from Battle Bots - more of a robot agility challenge, with a little fighting at the end. “Scarab” (an ugly contraption, built with brute force, ignorance and no discernible design aesthetic) could go about 22 km/h and had a nitrogen-powered pneumatic piston that could lift over 700kg with every 250 ms stroke. It was powered by two motorcycle batteries and a 350A controller driving four wheelchair motors.
We were in the finals of our episode, but got done in when the radio dropped out and we lost control over the bot. It was an ugly contraption, but it seemed to do what it needed to do. All of the control electronics were based on PIC chips at the time (mostly to decode pulses to control relays and to act as a fail safe and disarm the pneumatics if the signal was lost).
The shark (made from old propane tanks and spandex tights) was our first competitor. Points for style, but didn’t work out well for them in the end. The guy who built it was a professional sword swallower. I kid you not.
I used the Pololu multiplexer in my R2D2 at one point. I now have moved towards making my own controller(s) using XBees in a mesh. I can control the droid withone controller and can offload the sounds to someone else, if I have a handler with me… otherwise everything can be controlled by one controller. The setup has given me some interesting options. R2 is parked alot for pictures.and I usually have people in the crowd looking for the operator and if I am not using my custom hidden controller they end up seeing my big 11 channel transmitter. If I get the type of person that wants to point out to people that I am controlling the droid thus ruining the magic for kids and kids at heart… I just hit a switch and my handler has control of the dome and sounds. I then go hands free and show he is still working without me doing anything. It helps bring back some of the magic a bit.
Which is my way of saying, sadly enough, yes it is me. A year or two after that, I started shaving the whole orb and never looked back. Luckily, I lost the 1970’s porn-style mustache a couple years before this photo.
The people in the photo are : myself; a rep from NPC Robotics (National Power Chair - the motor makers); a friend of the family who helped us schlep stuff around; and at far right, my co-conspirator and welding/beer buddy.
It hurts less than you would think. I was always worried about busting something custom or expensive, but that bot has been through a lot of full-contact battles; being ridden quite inadvisably by an SDE/T thrill seeker; and two falls - one from 1.5m and one from 2.5m onto metal spikes, and we never did anything more than some cutting and re-welding.
And when it did get busted up in a fight, I was mostly too busy laughing and hollering.
Advice for UAV and robot pilots : Kiss the money goodbye when you build it - and laugh with everyone else when the smoke comes out. …and be sure to capture and upload to youtube.
Interesting side note - that same robot had the pneumatics removed (the whole upper deck) and replaced by an ATX-sized PC board. It was demoed to Craig Mundie, then Chief Strategy Officer for Microsoft, in the bottom-level parking garage of building 32 on the Microsoft campus. I made a pitch for using some of the process-algebra based computing work we were prototyping (later to become CCR and DSS) as the basis for robotics software. That led to the purchase of more equipment and along with Tandy Trower’s work with Bill Gates, the Microsoft Robotics Group was born.
Good advice. Reminds me of the hobby of a colleague, Jeff Prosise. Jeff, in addition to being one of the founders of Wintellect, is an avid R/C jet pilot. As in real turbine jet engines. I don’t know how much gets invested in a battlebot, but a few years back, Jeff gave the keynote at the inaugural (and late lamented) MADExpo conference here in the Mid-Atlantic US. I forget the exact numbers, but I think he said that the R/C jets start at around $20-25K, and can get as spendy as $75k. And when one of those goes bad, it goes REALLY bad, as this video attests: