Saturday, September 1, 2012


A few weeks ago, my friend Xo invited me to build a robot at the GT Invention Studio for the robot battle competition at Dragon*Con. Since I have more money than sense, I immediately accepted his offer and bought a roundtrip ticket to Georgia.

My stay in Georgia was only going to be a week, so I knew that I had to come up with a simple and robust design since I wouldn't have any time to do any fancy machining or even time to properly debug and battle test my bot. I whipped together a wedge in solidworks:

...not far from the robot's actual geometry
But more seriously, I did design this wedge:

The design consists of two motors attached to gearboxes that are wrapped in a steel cage, and a top steel sheet that has two bends in it. The wedges in the initial design are symmetric. The design is about 3.1 pounds, which is slightly over the 3 lb weight limit of the 'beetle' category I am going to compete in. The design is strong, stiff, and most importantly, very easy to manufacture on a waterjet, a cool little machine that the guys at GT have.

So, anyway, here's the product of about four days of almost nonstop design and fabrication work:

I christen thee "Critical Space Item." May you rip other robots to shreds and achieve great victory... The dings are some battle testing from facing the bot off against a 12 lb robot...

The top shell is the only change from the original design: instead of a symmetric wedge, the wedge on the front is at about a thirty degree angle relative to horizontal and it also has compound bends on the sides to deflect attacks on the wheels. The back looks like this:

GT seems to have an unhealthy fascination with yellowjackets...
The holes all over the shell are to remove unnecessary weight and make it go fast. The slots in the front of the bot are filled with button head screws to make the robot front-heavy and less jittery when moving. It's only somewhat effective; the bot is a skittery crackhead when it comes to turning and runs at 15+ MPH. The bumpers on the wheels are a lame attempt to deflect rear attacks; they tend to bend in practice.

The competition is tomorrow. I hope my bot doesn't get totally destroyed because I'd like to use it as a Roomba back in the office...

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