KOB2 Diary – Part 1

Day 1

  • Left home a 6:00 am for Brisbane Airport
  • 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.

Day 2

  • 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.

Day 3

  • 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 too.
  • 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.
  • Bored.
  • 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 was arriving.

Day 4

  • 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.

Day 5

  • 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.

Day 6

  • 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.

Day 7

  • 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.

Started work on a new beetle-weight Sidewinder

With the upcoming first ever beetle-weight competition at the Ipswich Robotic Sports Group in a few weeks I have started a new robot. This is a armoured version of the omni-directional test robot that I built last year.

I have started with the gearboxes and wheels. I am not too confident that the gearboxes are strong enough to take any impacts during a fight so have beefed them up by making a 2 piece 3D printed mount that includes 608z skateboard bearings on either side of the wheel. The 3D printed wheel hub has been enalarged and lengthend to fit the 8mm internal diameter of the bearings while the 4mm gearbox shaft couples to the hub inside the bearing.

I want the robot to have 45 degree sloped armour all around so I will also use the outer bearing mounts as mounting points for the armour. Unfortunatly my poor CAD abilities have meant that these mounts have become quite large but we will see how it looks when finished.

Bye Huntsman. See you in China!

Huntsman has been created up and is now on its way to Chine for King of Bots next month. A custom crate was made around the robot and all the tools and spare parts loaded in. The only things not in the crate are the batteries and the cordless drill that will be used to open the crate. Sad to see it leave but we look forward to seeing him again in a few days.

Raspberry Pi based RC transmitter.

I have decided to make a Raspberry Pi based RC transmitter that will allow my kids (and me) to control a robot with an Xbox controller. Since I thought that this would have been a regularly done project I should be able to find lots of examples on the internet. Nope, I only found a couple articles about people attempting this. So I have decided to document my attempts to try and make it easier for the next person.

I have written up all my progress on a few pages here so others can learn from my mistakes. This is my first attempt at Python programming having come from a C and assembly background so please don’t judge me too harshly.

Painting Huntsman

After the last testing of Huntsmans weapon a problem was found with the weapon drive train. The 3rd stage axle has bent and will need upgrading. But while waiting for new brass bushings to arrive the top covers have been bent into shape. Now it is time to paint.

After much deliberation we decided to paint Huntsman red with black internals. Black stripes will be added over the top later. All the painting was done a the school where Daniel teaches by one of his fellow teachers who has experience painting cars. First a primer was painted on and then the black internals and red outside with a 2 pack paint. It looks fantastic.

Huntsman’s first test drive

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.

Huntsman progress for first week of Feb 19

After the successful weapon test a week ago progress has been made with more machining and welding. The beginning of the school year has slowed things down some what but we are still on schedule.

The second axe has been prepared. This axe is what I like to call the “spikey axe”. It has a more commonly shaped spike head that is designed to pierce opponents top armour. It has extra steel welded to the head of the axe so it weighs almost the same as the Dane axe. The King Of Bots organises have already expressed concern for their arena floor so the spikey axe may not be allowed to be used.

The drive is also being worked on. The drive train will be a 2 stage reduction with the first stage being a spur gear reduction and the second via chains. Due to some delivery concerns we have ordered a couple of different sets of gears from different suppliers so have some choices. The wheel hubs are being welded now so a test drive should be able to happen soon.

Huntsman weapon test

Huntsman took its first trip outside to have its weapon tested. The electronics have not been formally mounted in the robot as this was a test of the motors and weapon drive train. There was some damage to the rear of the chassis at the limit switch while testing the axe return. The power of the return swing will be limited once the robot is complete but not at this stage.

This first test went well and everything is looking good. Not sure where the lizard ended up though.

First test of the weapon.
Second test of the weapon with return swing.
Third test against a brick.