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

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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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Report from RoboGames 2012

Last week we reported on the upcoming 2012 Robogames competition would be held in San Mateo, California. Nobody from the Hackaday staff could make it this year, but luckily [Sabrina Merlo] from the Make: blog was able to provide a full report of the spectacle of fire, sparks and pierced metal this year.

For anyone who remembers the wonderful Battlebots TV show from 10 years ago, the main event is very familiar: two competitors face off with the remote-controlled extensions of themselves in a Lexan enclosed arena. The resulting battle is an orgy of flames sparks and mortally wounded robots. Yes, there are a ton of wedge robots, but most of them had very interesting weapon designs.

Off the main stage, there are also more traditional robotics competitions. Sumo robots try to push each other out of a ring, robot soccer tries to demonstrate a mechanistic Pelé, and foot-tall MechWarriors battle in the streets of a miniaturized city.

There were also a lot of not-really-battling robots like a robotic foosball table. It sounds like everyone had a blast, so we might be hitting up the bay area this time next year.

Hackaday Links: April 11, 2012

This hurts our head

You know you can ‘freeze’ drops of water in mid-air by flashing a LED at the right time, right? Well, according to this video you don’t even need a strobing light; just use the frame rate of the camera. Much cooler if you don’t know how it works, in our humble opinion.

Now do Junkyard Wars!

[James Cameron] and [Mark Burnett] (the guy who created Survivor) are bringing Battlebots back to the Discovery Channel. The new show is called Robogeddon and calls upon the current talent in the fighting robot world. Our prediction? Someone is going to build an amazing piece of art that will be completely destroyed in the first round; a wedge with wheels will take the championship.

A steam engine made out of rocks

[Hansmeevis] just spent 230 hours hand carving a steam engine out of gems. It’s called “Dragon’s Breath” and it’s an amazing piece of work: the cylinder is carved out of quartz, while the flywheel, mount, and base are carved out of jasper, onyx, zugalite, and other semi precious gems. Amazing artistry and it works.

Don’t lose a finger on all that science over there

[Dr. W] is a science teacher in Saint-Louis, France. Next year, his students will be learning about reaction propulsion and impulse conservation. To demonstrate these properties, [Dr. W] hacked up an old vacuum cleaner in to a jet engine and built a Pitot tube to measure the 140 km/h wind speed. Google translation.

Circuit bending a Sega Saturn

Making cool glitched-up graphics from Ataris and Nintendos is old hat, but not much has been done with circuit bending slightly more modern consoles. [big pauper] found his old Sega Saturn in his grandma’s attic and wondered what secrets this forgotten box held. It turns out he can make some pretty cool sounds and even cooler glitched out graphics. The pic above is from Virtua Fighter; done correctly these glitched low-polygon graphics could easily find themselves in a very stylistic indie game.

Battle cars

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There’s a new show coming to the Discovery Chanel called Weaponizers. Brought to you by the same people who brought you Mythbusters, this show centers around weaponizing and remote controlling cars. They’ll be building them with several different types of competition in mind, including defense of an object and all out warfare. You’ll note in the press release that they keep mentioning their special effects backgrounds. Judging by the picture above, we should expect to see them shooting lots of fireworks, maybe some flame throwers thrown in. Generally, we think we’ll see lots of flashy stuff that really isn’t effective at destroying an unmanned car. They do mention live ammunition, so maybe they’ll actually try to make these things able to harm each other. Let’s hope they don’t let us down.