It’s great to see Chuck Pitzer back with Ghost Raptor. The unusual duel weapon design of Ghost Raptor combined with Chuck’s highly aggressive driving always made for a great fight in the first couple of seasons of Battlebots. However this year’s Ghost Raptor does look like a slightly rushed design with not a whole lot of armour. The drive pods way out on each side of the robot look particularly exposed and the first pictures I saw of Ghost Raptor had me worried. But Chuck is an experienced builder so maybe there will be more to Ghost Raptor than I first thought.
In contrast to the lack of armour on Ghost Raptor, Shatter is absolutely covered in soft, shock absorbing UHMW polyethylene armour. I think Adam Wrigley has made a mistake in describing the polyethylene as “ablative armour” implying that the armour is meant to be damaged and break off the robot to absorb energy from attacks. I am sure Adam was using this term to try and persuade the judges that any cosmetic damage to the armour is intentional and should not be counted against Shatter because the polyethylene will get torn up by anything sharper than a spoon. However I think that by repeatedly using the term ablative to describe the armour caused the judges to be hyper aware that Shatters armour will be damaged and the judges attention will be drawn to any marks made to the armour. In fact, before the fight even started, during the in-arena function test Shatter lost several reflective stickers from the polyethylene due to the stickers not being able to bond to the polyethylene. Chris Rose then stated that Shatters ablative armour was coming off as intended. I am sure if Adam didn’t use the term ablative to describe the armour then Chris would have just said that the stickers were falling off, which sounds a lot less serious. But Shatter has both an axe weapon and mecanum wheel based omni-directional drive so it will always be one of my favorites.
The fight starts with Ghost Raptor spinning up the bar spinner and Shatter taking an axe swing right into Ghost Raptors weapon after waiting for the weapon to get up to speed. This seems to be the end of the bar spinner as Ghost Raptor doesn’t spin the weapon again but instead concentrates on using its lifter to try and turn Shatter over. Shatter on the other hand continues to loose all of its stickers plus the 3D printed top covers. Again this is only cosmetic parts falling off Shatter but again Chris announces that Shatters ablative armour is being damaged.
After Ghost Raptor pins Shatter against a wall but is unable to flip Shatter over Shatter is able to turn and land a couple of hits on Ghost Raptor. At this point it seems that Shatter has lost one of its wheels as it seems to only be able to move diagonally. But it doesn’t matter as Ghost Raptor overheats and begins to burn it’s drive motors. After both robots are stuck against the screws Shatter wriggles free off-camera (hmmmm. And where did all the smoke go? I think the fight was paused here and Shatter dragged off the screws) Ghost Raptor is counted out. Winner: Shatter.
So, despite Shatter not being hit by Ghost Raptors bar spinner it was stated that Shatter took damage due to the cosmetics falling off. Maybe Adam should stop using the term ablative armour to describe the polyethylene armour. Ghost Raptor on the other hand looked to be right on the edge design wise with all the lightening holes drilled all over the chassis and lack of armour showing that Chuck was battling with the weight limit when building Ghost Raptor. Also Ghost Raptor loosing both drive motors spectacularly during a pretty standard shoving match make me think that the electrical design is pushing the limits of what the components are capable of a little too hard. So in conclusion I think Shatter has some minor teething issues while Ghost Raptor may need a major rebuild.
Read the plan for the day on WeChat. The production crew plan an attrition style competition. So many teams complain about this style of competition. I have to go and watch. Relax day cancelled.
The main complaints (mostly from English teams) are based on not being able to recharge or repair between rounds and that this will make the competition boring to watch. The production crew disagree, and I actually agree with them.
I arrive at the event and go to the tv to watch the filming of the team selections. I’m the only international person watching, as per usual. I don’t understand why the international teams don’t want to watch the selection process. It seems that they don’t care about who they’ll be fighting, or care about the tv side of the competition. No wonder they don’t understand what is going on.
While watching the celebrities chose their teams, Emma insults the other celebrities, who end up ganging up against her. She yells and storms out of the film set. I burst out laughing and none of the chinese people around me understand why. I realise I was they only person watching who understood what she was saying as I was the only person who spoke english. The TV version of the team selections on the show was edited. When the Soccer commentator celebrity ran to join a team, Emma stamped her feet and screamed, yelled that it was all unfair and ran out the door before the chinese crew could stop her. The rest of the TV version was filmed the following day, which is why Emma noticeably changes.
When Emma left the filming set, she ran past the tv that I was watching and toward the real pit. Her security team were caught off guard and couldn’t keep up. She went through the pits and her teams thought she was coming to talk to them, but she pushed past and went through the catering tent and toward the main road. Everyone was confused.
While I am explaining what happened during filming to the other international teams we get news that the Chinese government have decided to ban Americans from appearing on Chinese tv. Donald Trump seemed to have had another anti-china press conference. Filming and production seems to stop. The entire area goes silent for the fist time since I have been there. The fights were scheduled to start at 3pm. Nothing was happening.
There seemed to be panic from the TV and KOB production teams. People start discussing that they might need to refilm the show with Americans removed, including Emma. But that seemed impossible.
The production crew start asking the American teams if they had someone of a different nationality on their teams. Every team had someone, except Megabyte. I jokingly said I could join the team. Would have been cool to drive Megabyte.
Production magically starts up again. Fights start at 7pm. In hind sight I think the anti-america thing was just misinformation and the actual problem was the missing Emma. It took over 4 hours to find her and production had to stop with one of its stars missing.
The attrition competition actually runs well, apart from the judge screwing it up and awarding a tie for one of the fights. There was supposed to be three judges, each awarding their own score that add up to an odd score. It should have been impossible to award a tie. But since the head judge was the only one actually submitting scores (he usually handed over the final score card before the other two judges finished writing), the tie was based on the fact that he was a boxing/mma judge and it is acceptable to have ties in that sport. Ties in robot combat, and especially an attrition competition, should never happen. He was an absolute muppet. The production crew had to convince him to re-score the fight and not ruin the show. He was angry that they told him he was wrong. I overheard him say that he has more experience judging fights than any robot builder and therefore he has the right to change the rules and we shouldn’t complain. (can you tell how much I hate this guy?)
Head back to hotel at 10:30pm. No chance to have another underground fight.
Day 20 (Ep 9,10 and 11 filmed during these 2 days)
Deicide to stay in the hotel and relax. Leslie has left on a pre-planned holiday and won’t be back for a few days. We didn’t tell the production crew that we let her go as it would have got her fired.
Ask Melissa for another fight. Keep waiting for time in the arena
Hear that fights are running late again. Also that Emma has been replaced. Probably slowing things down. She probably had more tantrums that the show was unfair or rigged against her. She didn’t need to leave early for study. This was a friday and filming finished sunday. How bad was your time management?
Don’t end up going in.
Decide to keep waiting in the hotel as Leslie is still away. If I went to the competition without her, she would not get paid.
Hear that fights are running late, again.
Also hear that Orby missed out on an after-hours fight again. Lots of teams still asking for this. Hear that the directors have organised some 4-way rumbles, but no idea if that involves us.
Don’t end up going in.
Day 22 (Final day of filming)
We wait for the last bus to allow Leslie time to arrive from the airport.
When we arrive Melisa finds us to ask if we will be ready for a rumble at 6pm. This will be a warm up for the grand finale. Also included in the rumble is 2BBQ, Purple Minotaur and Pink Beater. I finally get another fight.
Spend 4 hours putting the batteries in and chatting to random people. Find that the battery with a hole in it is actually holding charge better than the good battery.
Told to weigh the robot and move it to the arena at 6pm, so far on time.
One rumble is scheduled before ours. 3-way with Orby, Fire Wheel and Earth Mover. Was thinking these were not to be filmed and just for fun, which is why I was allowed to officially drive.
Fights getting delayed. First see the referees and judges turn up. But then the presenters turn up and the audience get excited. Then 4 knocked out celebrities turn up. The 3 team captains have to film a walk-on introduction and we are moved to wait in a war-room. We suddenly realise that this will be filmed and will be our only fight in front of the audience/celebrities. Only had to wait until the last day of filming for this to happen.
Watch the previous fight in the war-room. Feels strange to finally be on set.
I was then told that I couldn’t be in the filming. Connie had to do the entrance and drive the robot. I was allowed to do the weapon and stand behind her. But because they waited until 10 minutes before the fight to tell me, I actually left Connie’s radio at the hotel. I run to the pits and ask Cat King if I could borrow a radio. I give it to Connie and she pretends to use it. She was driving the robot with another teams radio that wasn’t even turned on.
Fight finally starts. Plan to be calm and watch the spinners. But Pink Beater charges at us and I take a swing. I fitted the robot with the spiky axe (was the only chance to use it) and it got stuck in the floor. I didn’t realise that 2BBQ was also coming and hit a wheel while I was trying to retract the axe. I felt that the fight was screwed in less than 15 seconds, again. One side of the robot just didn’t want to drive.
Spend the rest of the fight trying to be mobile enough not to be counted out. End up breaking two count downs and taking a few swings at other robots. However I don’t remember any details and the tv view of the fight was focusing on the other robots as it was thought that we were out. We ended up outlasting 2BBQ and Pink Beater before being counted out. I didn’t realise that the referee was looking for 3m of movement from the point of counting. I was just trying to move toward the robot that was circling me. This means that I was moving the robot in circles during our third count out and the referee counted us out.
I did a nice spin and axe at the end that launched the robot a good distance into the air, as a victory dance, because I thought the referee counted the other robot out. This wasn’t shown in the final edit of the fight. And the fight didn’t make it to air, probably because the elimination torniment ran so well and filled the show.
While moving the robot to the pit I realise that a short has come back. But are then told to return to the arena for more filming before I can remove the covers and find the problem.
We get told that we have to film an advertisement for the energy drinks. Connie can’t drink it because she is pregnant, so I need to be a stunt drinker. Connie stuffs it up by pretending to drink.
Run back to the pit to make the robot safe and pack it in the crate. Connie wants to return to the hotel with Alice to begin packing there. I’ll stay at the competition to watch the finals.
The robot only takes 30 minutes to pack while watching fights on the TV. A lipo fire causes a delay, so I walk with Connie and Alice to the taxi.
Once back I follow the English teams to watch the fights from the audience. So much fun.
The final judge’s decision of the final fight between Vulcan and Drift is scripted. First close decision of the competition that was correct. I am sitting behind the judge and watch the whole thing happening. The fight involved a lot of attacks by Vulcan that caused it to drive up Drift’s wedge. Using the muppet’s judging system this would have given all the aggression point to Drift and thus he wanted to give the fight to Emma’s teams. The production team didn’t want this to happen and wanted the chinese team to win. I could see the main director tell the judge to make sure he scored the fight the correct way. So the aggression points went to Vulcan, which is how everyone is the audiance judged the fight. I could see the muppent going back to check his rule guidelines after handing over the envelope and looking upset that someone was telling him what to do.
The English guys that I was sitting with are told to move to arena to film a group of robot builders during the decision. I decide to follow and get in the way. I was in the group of cheering builders, see if you can find me. I walk out before filming has finished and the director’s laugh when they realise I was there.
We think there would be a bus for the hotel as a lot of teams need to catch early flights, but we are all told to stay.
At 12:30am I am told I am needed for filming. Not sure why.
Realise they need to refilm the energy drink advertisement because Connie stuffed it up. They didn’t even use the add in the show.
Finally get on bus at 1:30am.
Wake up at 8am to finish packing.
At 11am I check the flight status of the flight to find that the flight from Shanghai to Guangzhou was cancelled. Message Leslie and Melisa to get it fixed. Lucky I checked, as no one was aware that it was cancelled.
Told we are moved to an earlier flight and to go to the airport immediately.
Arrive at airport at 12:30pm. 1.5 hours to get through check-in. Bloody slow line, trouble with Connie’s passport, extra check on suitcase and other stupid Chinese shit.
Check the ticket and find that it is for a 11:50am flight that started boarding 1:20pm. Fuck.
30 minutes to get through security. Needed to have the batteries scanned twice. Why?
Arrive at gate at 3pm. Flight still delayed. WTF?
Go to find food. Eat quick. Hear the call for boarding. Arrive at gate and find everyone already boarded. How?
Get on plane, which sits on the tarmac for 30 minutes.
Arrive in Guangzhou with 3 hours to make the connection. Easy. No security checks and immigration was quick. Batteries stayed in the bag this time.
Plane for Brisbane boards on time, but delayed on the tarmac for 45 minutes. What is wrong with Chinese air traffic control?
Arrive back in Brisbane. Hooray.
Once Huntsman arrived back in Australia I finally found what happened during the final rumble. The drive with the issue wasn’t the side that lost the tyre chunck. Instead it was a broken receiver wire that was cause intermitted loss on the other side. Should have added a cable tie to stop the wire from rubbing on the drive outrunner. No other damage and the robot was fine at the end of the rumble.
Still haven’t received the second half of the build stipend.
I waited and watched the selections and fights
all day with not much to do.
Connie locked up inside the filming pits, but
allowed out during the later part of the day. She over heard the celebrities
say they are only wanting spinners.
All rounds of the selections were done. Connie
was not talked to by any of the celebrities until after they had filled their 3
spots. The American and Old Soccer Guy came to talk to ask her about Huntsman
and were surprised that she spoke perfect English, answered every question confidently
and mentioned that we’ve been competing for 16 years. Once they found out how
experienced we were they were disappointed that they didn’t talk to us earlier.
12 of the 48 robots didn’t get selected to fight
in the first round. Earth Mover was selected to join a team without having to
fight, so the remaining 11 become losers without fighting. Doesn’t seem fair.
We could have at least had a practice or demonstration fight.
Connie kept practicing driving. Got a lot better
and drove all around the pits. Started getting in other peoples way, but was
doing perfect flick-turns.
TV Production crew feeling sorry for us. Might
find a way for me to be more involved, including possibly controlling the
Finally got the robot back from the holding area after 3 days. Batteries fine. Tightened a weapon chain as it had be worrying me.
Finally allowed back to the hotel at 1am.
Day 9 Continued
Woke up at 10:30. Told we weren’t needed for the day as the winners and international teams would be fighting.
WeChat blew up about a bad judge call between ******* and *******. Seems that the judge is using his own rules and not the standard international set of rules. None of the teams seem to understand how he is coming to come conclusions. I wish I was there to watch.
Caught a taxi to a big shopping centre. Brought a red shirt that matched Connie’s just in case I was allowed to help her.
While organising dinner got a call that the international fights were finishing and that we were needed for rehearsal. Seems that they can do 12 international fights in the same time it takes to run 5 Chinese fights.
Caught taxi at 8:30pm for the venue. Catherine stayed at the hotel with Alice.
Found that 4 international teams lost. 8 won. But it seems that everyone wants decision on the ****** fight to be reversed.
While Connie had rehearsal Chinese teams started asking a lot of questions. They are getting less afraid of me. Silver Scorpion wants to build a copy of Shunt and is asking how to copy my axe mechanism, but it seems a bit is getting lost in translation.
Medusa is made by a team of students and teachers. They have also entered Thunder. We checked the calculations for the battery capacity of Medusa and found that the batteries are undersize for the weapon, which is why it dies toward the end of its fights. But the rest of the robot looks nice.
Connie came back with instructions of the next phase of the competition. Very confusing and involves running to be selected to fight, so they are letting me substitute for Connie as they are afraid of letting a pregnant woman run. They seem to be afraid of letting Connie do anything, which is why she was given fancy dust masks and an extra fancy chair in the pits. So I guess I can be her stunt man during filming.
Delayed at check-in by Connie’s passports. Chinese airline doesn’t understand Hong Kong passports.
Delayed at security by batteries. Got through without losing anything. Removed the labels from the weapon batteries to help convince the security that the batteries were undersized. It worked.
Flight at 10:10 am on China Southern from Brisbane to Guangzhou
Flight not too bad. Food was decent. Alice watched Spider-man 3 times.
Landed on time in Guangzhou
Flight to Shanghai delayed 40 mins, so extra transit time. Delayed by Connie’s passports again.
Lost weapon batteries at Guangzhou security. Taken because they had no labels. Plan to fool security in Brisbane back-fired. $400 worth of batteries gone.
2 hour flight from Guangzhou to Shanghai.
Met our assistants at the airport. Leslie and Catherine. They are interns for the Production Company and stay in the same hotel as us.
Got to the hotel at 10pm local time. 18 hours travel time.
Hotel wanted passports. Couldn’t understand Connie’s Hong Kong passport, again.
Went down to breakfast. No other western teams had arrived. Just a few Chinese teams that I remember seeing from the previous season.
Told the bus to leave for the venue left at 11:20, so we went for a walk around the local area while we waited. Was able to buy power-boards as even though China uses the same wall sockets as Australia, Australian plugs don’t have earth pins, the wall sockets locks them out.
Leslie took me on the bus to the venue. Connie stayed in the hotel with Alice and Catherine to try and organise phones and internet.
Bus ride was about 15 minutes. Venue looks like a disused stainless steel processing plant. Bloody huge. At least 1km long.
Arena and pits are in the corner of the factory. Disused conveyors and equipment outside the area.
Didn’t see the arena or filming area, could still hear construction.
The pits were still being set up. Only half the tables put out. Crates were scattered around the tables, making it hard to walk around.
Team Orby seem to have been there earlier as they already found their crate and claimed a table.
We were told to claim a table and that we couldn’t change once we selected it. I quickly found the crate and claimed the table next to it.
Robot and stuff was easy to get on the table. But wire mesh was welded across the table legs, so can’t store stuff under the table. Annoying.
Had lunch supplied by the event. I was the only westerner, so I was given a different meal. Three chicken wings and some green leaves. Everyone else had pork knuckles and other things. Their food looked nicer. This happened for the rest of the competition. I ate a lot of fried chicken.
Found that my spare drive batteries didn’t fit in the weapon battery bay. (I already knew and dreaded this). Leslie spent a few hours trying to buy new batteries online for me. Prince, the international team director, tried to ask the other teams if they could lend some batteries to me. Team Orby was the only team to respond, but they use longer batteries. Nice guy. Hobbyking won’t ship batteries to China from the Hong Kong warehouse. Aliexpress was useless. Leslie found a few batteries on Taobao, took a while to find ones that fit, were in stock, and were cheap. Then needed to figure out how to pay for them. Took about three hours to organise. Leslie was very helpful. Cost $200.
I walked around and looked at the other teams that were setting up. Orby is way too nice to go into combat. Only recognised one other robot, Mr Hippo. Next to my pit table is a robot that seems to be trying to copy Dead Metal, but also seems to be a first time builder, so really dodgy. Also next to us is a pneumatic flipper that looks like a block. Also 4 full body spinners, an ICEwave clone, 4 other flippers, 3 or 4 horizontal spinners and some drum and vertical spinners. Nothing really outstanding, but only half the robots had turned up so far.
Talked to Prince. Asked if I could take photos and got a big NO!! Also asked who the celebrities were, and he said it was still a secret, even to the builders. But he did say one was American. No idea why it was a secret.
We were asked if we wanted to test the robot as we were the only team not painting or building. But without batteries it was useless.
So caught the next bus back to the hotel. This time was a minibus with a lunatic for a driver. So only a 10 minute trip this time.
Connie was bored at the hotel, so we went for another walk. Found Maccas and a convenience store.
Organisers supply dinner, so we went back to the hotel to wait. Was another takeaway box. They must order a couple of hundred for each meal. We got the western menu again and Connie complained. So we got extra Chinese boxes too.
Americans started arriving during the night.
The batteries don’t arrive today, so we got told
to stay in the hotel. Boring day.
Met the Cat King guy during breakfast. Nice guy
Went for a walk again. Bought Chinese snacks and
tried Starbucks. Tried fish cheese.
Connie and Alice had long naps. I was bored and
started writing this.
Went out to find dinner rather than eat the
takeaway boxes. AU$3.5 noodles.
When we came back a bus full of English builders
Had breakfast and went to find stuff to wash clothes.
Batteries arrive before we left for the venue at 11:30.
Was told that we would be taking green screen photos of the robot at 12:40.
Connie had to get photos taken, but they decided that her makeup was not good enough, so they had to give her new makeup and take the photos again.
Finally got to take the green screen photos of the robot at 4:00. Process took 30 minutes. Had a good chat with Warrior and Steel Barbie. I doubt Steel Barbie guys built their robot.
Tested the robot. The axe got stuck in the wall in the arena corner. Suffered radio problems on the drive side. Power switch for weapon VESC fell out.
Fixed radio by moving the receiver. Removed VESC switch.
Weigh in. 97kg
Went back to the hotel at 8:30pm
Received late night message saying that I was not allowed in the filming area and that Connie had to drive the robot. WTF.
Told that the buses leave at 9:30am
Arrived at venue with not much to do.
Tested the robot with Connie driving. Didn’t go well. She had never driven any robots before and kept getting stuck against the walls and over correcting the steering. Typical first time driver.
Sat around doing nothing.
Argued with directors about me not being allowed to drive. Found another Chinese team that had an American guy and Chinese girl. The American guy was allowed to drive and be filmed. Was told that he was allowed different rules because they had planned a back story. We were told to stop complaining and go away.
Sat around sulking and doing nothing. 8 years of designing, 6 months of building and 3 unpaid weeks off work only to be told I would be disqualified if I went near the arena. Not happy.
At 7:30pm rehearsals started. I was told that only Connie was allowed to be involved and I couldn’t watch.
Alice needed to pee. Couldn’t find a toilet with a light fast enough, she wet her pants. I cleaned her up. 15 minutes later she wanted more pee. Still couldn’t find a toilet, Alice wet herself and me. Had to catch a taxi back to the hotel to have a shower.
Connie still at rehearsals.
Not a good day.
Bus left at 9am. Filming starts today.
Directors mentioned that there was a special children’s toilet at the other end of the building. Would have been nice if they told me yesterday.
Bolted up the robot and had it ready for a fight and moved it to the filming pits.
Connie got makeup and told that she needed black jeans, as that was what was in her photo. I was sent back to the hotel to collect black pants for Connie.
Lots of waiting until 5pm when filming finally started.
Began with an exhibition fight between Shredderator and Xiake, to show the celebrities what fighting robots is. Shredderator won easily.
Team selection process for the Chinese robots. All 48 robots placed on display and each celebrity had to pick one. The selected robot would then fight each other in 1 vs 1 fights. The winner would gain a place on the celebrities team, the loser would move to the “pending group”. Each celebrity had a maximum of 3 places on their teams. Connie missed out on the first round, no celebrities wanted to talk to her.
Next two fights between the chosen robots took an hour each. Lots of repeated walk in’s and poses.
Third fight was to contain 2BBQ and Xiake, but the driver wanted more time to prepare his second robot after the damage sustained in the demo fight.
Second round of selections took a long time to start. Connie still not selected and no conversations. No time for any more fights.
Back to hotel at 12am.
Told to catch the bus at 8am. Connie got the bus, I waited with Alice and caught a taxi with Leslie.
Got some breakfast on the way.
Connie and other team captains had to do a little bit of filming for the show intro. They were locked up most of the day.
I did nothing but wait all day.
Tried to find a practice robot to buy on the internet. Nothing suitable.
The fights from the previous night’s selections were run first. Started about 1pm, once the celebrities arrived.
Found a beetle-weight robot from the white tiger team for Connie to practice with. Had to make some modifications to get it to work as one wheel was broken and the speedos had no BEC. Set up the weight distribution so that it drove like Huntsman.
Third round of selections. No-one talked to Connie. Started to realise that there were too many robot and not enough slots on the teams.
Watched the footy scores on Connie’s phone. Suns lost by 1.
Connie started practicing with the beetle.
Final fights run and the missing fight from the previous day.
Getting worried that the robot has been sitting in the set, loaded with batteries and ready to fight, for 36 hours, but I’m not allowed to check that it is fine.
The day finished at 9pm.
Connie drove the beetle in the hotel. Starting to get the hang of driving. Feel like I might be fine with letting her drive if we get selected.
The wheels have been mounted and the motors wired up. The electronics are only temporarily mounted but Huntsman has had its first drive. The set screws on the gears are slipping and there is too much weight over the front but it does work. With new castors under the front and the top and side armour mounted the weight should be more evenly distributed.