Plastic Battlebots Might Bite Your Hand Off

The folks at Fetch Robotics do love a good game of combat robots. Time is tight these days, however, so putting together a good ol’ 220-pounder for Robogames is a dream few of us can realize. Instead, the Fetch team hosted their own Plastic fantastic battlebots competition to blow off some steam, and the results are in!

Battlebots enter the ring built from a frame of entirely plastic parts and weighing a humble 3lbs. Just like Battlebots and Robogames, they’ll follow a 2-minute episode of hack-and-slash after which judges determine the winner. Bots were forged from everything you might see in arms reach of your local hackerspace: pvc pipe, acrylic sheets, and a few 3D-printed components. On the menu of shredded plastic we have everything from classic wedges and spinners to a giant spinning rubber pterodactyl strapped onto the body of an RC car. (Time is tight, right?)

While 3 pound plastic fighters might not seem devastating, don’t underestimate the LiPo batteries and brushless motors that are running under the hood. These competitors can easily heave each other across the ring. We’ve definitely seen mini Battlebot tournaments before, and we’re thrilled to see them on the rise in everyday places. Better start getting your materials ready. Who knows? Mini Battlebots might be coming to an alley near you too.

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Cardboard Robot Deathmatch

Fighting robots are even more awesome than regular robots. But it’s hard for us to imagine tossing all that money (not to mention blood, sweat and tears) into a bot and then watching it get shredded. The folks at Columbia Gadget Works, a Columbia, MO hackerspace had the solution: make the robots out of cardboard.

The coolest thing about building your robots out of cardboard and hot glue is that it’s cheap, but if they’re going to be a modest scale, they can still be fairly strong, quick to repair, and you’re probably going to be able to scrounge all the parts out after a brutal defeat. In short, it’s a great idea for a hackerspace event.

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Hebocons And Why They Matter

Everyone remembers Battlebots, and those of us feeling the pains of nostalgia have tuned into the recent reboot on ABC. As with the golden age of Battlebots, all robot fighting competitions eventually become a war between machines perfectly designed for the task. In the original run of Battlebots, this meant a bracket full of wedge bots, with the very cool robots eliminated year after year.

You don’t watch NASCAR for the race, you watch it for the crashes, and professional robot fighting competitions will always devolve into a few hundred laps of left turns. Fire and sparks are great, but there is a better robot fighting competition, and this time anyone can get in the game without spending years working on a robot.

It’s called Hebocon, and it’s billed as, ‘a sumo wrestling tournament for those who don’t have the technical skills to actually make robots’. The best translation I’ve seen is, ‘shitty robot battles’, and it’s exactly what robot battles should be: technical mastery overcome by guile, and massive upsets through ingenious strategy. You won’t get fire and sparks, but one thing is certain: no robot will make it out of Hebocon fully functional, but that’s only because they weren’t fully functional to begin with.

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Hackaday Links: July 5, 2015

It’s the fifth of July. What should that mean? Videos on YouTube of quadcopters flying into fireworks displays. Surprisingly, there are none. If you find one, put it up in the comments.

The original PlayStation was a Nintendo/Sony collaboration. This week, some random dude found a prototype in his attic. People were offering him tens of thousands of dollars on the reddit thread, while smarter people said he should lend it to MAME and homebrewer/reverse engineer groups. This was called out as a fake by [Vadu Amka], one of the Internet’s highly skilled console modders. This statement was sort of semi retracted. There’s a lot of bromide staining on that Nintendo PlayStation, though, and if it’s a fake, the faker deserves thousands of dollars. Now just dump the ROMs and reverse engineer the thing.

Remember BattleBots? It’s back. These are my impressions of the first two episodes: Flamethrowers are relatively common now, ‘parasitic bots’ – small, auxilliary bots fighting alongside the ‘main’ bot are now allowed. KOs only count for the ‘main’ bot. Give it a few more seasons and every bot will be a wedge. One of the hosts is an UFC fighter, which is weird, but not as weird as actually knowing some of the people competing.

Ceci n’est pas un Arduino, which means it’s from the SRL camp. No, wait. It’s a crowdfunding campaign for AS200 Industries in Providence, RI.

Wanna look incredibly sketchy? Weld (or braze, or solder) your keys to a screwdriver.

The UK’s National Museum of Computing  is looking for some people to help maintain 80 BBC Micros. The museum has a ‘classroom’ of BBC micro computers still in operation. Caps dry out, switching power supplies fail, and over the years these computers start to die. If you have the skills and want to volunteer, give it a shot.

USA-made Arduinos are now shipping. That’s the Massimo Arduino, by the way.

Win $1000 for pressing a buttonWe’re gauranteed to give away a thousand dollar gift card for the Hackaday store next Wednesday to someone who has participated in the latest round of community voting for the Hackaday Prize.

Robot Cage Fighting is Still a Thing!

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Remember Battlebots? Turns out it is alive and well in Southern California at the National Tooling and Machining Association (NTMA) Robotics League. That’s right — high school students are getting to build remote controlled weaponized robots to battle to the death inside a poly-carbonate octagon arena. Awesome.

[Bradley Hanstad] wrote to us today to inform us of the 2014 Regional Competition — happening tomorrow at 10AM (PDT). We can’t make it there ourselves, but there is a live stream for everyone to see!

The league started just this fall which currently consists of 15 area high schools, community colleges, and technical schools. The goal of the league is to spark an interest in engineering and manufacturing in young students, while at the same-time providing hands-on education on the applied side of the sciences. It’s sometimes tricky to get students engaged in engineering competitions — but as soon as you say fighting robots you will have most peoples’ attention.

To see a teaser trailer for what is to come at these competitions, stick around after the break!

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Battlebots in the Sky

Here’s one of those ideas that makes us wonder: “Why didn’t we come up with that?” The LVL1 in Louisville, Kentucky is hosting an event they call the Quadcopter Ultimate Aerial Combat Competition (QUACC). Kudos to them on coming up with a very professional name for the event. At risk of drawing cease-and-desist orders from the defunct TV program, we’ll always think of this as Battlebots in the Sky. (Lawyers: please don’t make us take that down… it’s an homage to the awesomeness that was at least the first few seasons of the show).

So why are we publicizing local events on Hackaday? It’s not the event, but the idea that’s spectacularly worth sharing! You’ve got to check out their contest rules as well as the Q&A list. Registration is closed, but the lucky ones who claimed a spot for the low price of $40 will be issued a regulation quadcopter today. They have a week to play around with it, testing out different ideas for disabling their enemy. A match ends when either one competitor defeats the other, or when a competitor’s battery runs dry. A new battery is the issued to the winner for use in the next round.

We’d love to hear your ideas for weaponizing (or adding countermeasures to) these delicate, lightweight aircraft. Aerosol accelerant and a BBQ igniter? How about shielding and a type of EMP, or some other system that will disrupt controller commands of your opponent? Obviously if you launch a similar competition at your hackerspace we want to hear about it!

[Thanks Gerrit]

How to build a competitive battle robot

Ever wonder what’s under the hood with a competitive battle robot like this one? It’s usually a big secret as teams don’t care to give their competition any help. But [AlexHrn] decided not only to give us a peek, but also shows us his step-by-step build process for Phoenix, the 30 pound flipping battle robot.

[Alex] has already seen quite a bit of success with a different robot, but he couldn’t quite beat another competitor whose bot included a flipping arm which threw its competition across the ring. So [Alex] decided to join in on the technique with this build. The arm itself uses air pressure to exert a large force very quickly. Inside, a paintball gun tank powers the pneumatic ram. It looks like this tank is charged up before the competition and only gets about 12 shots before it’s depleted. You can see the power in the quick clip after the break.

For locomotion the unit uses a couple of cordless drill motors. These have a fairly high RPM and work well when powered by batteries.

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