This is a big one- I’ll have to finish later, but basically I participated in 3 consecutive years of battlebots in various capacities. I was understaffed, underbudgeted, and my robot was over-complicated but I did it anyway, and it was great.

Camped out in cousin Val’s basement turned emergency shop

This was the original series, and it’s single elimination. At the time I had a few sponsors in the form of the company I was working for at the time (Insight Product Development) who also had an office that I would help close in California. They had some resources that I used as well and a few folks with enough interest to help out but not a whole lot of the type of commitment it takes to make a competitive robot. So- I learned a lot really fast, recruited my dad to help with some of the electronics (ultimately ending up with a programmable pic chip to run most of the functions), and set off on one of several exciting road trips to San Francisco via Chicago/80.

hardest earned ounce of aluminum ever.

The robot itself even now reviewing it I’m pretty proud of- the panel armor is 6-4 titanium Alloy, friction cut, welded, and shock mounted. It took a pretty good beating then, and I think would still hold up today to the average robot. Internally there was cascading system of pneumatic pancake valves that allowed me to switch modes on the fly between lifting and flipping action. There were some quick bolt on additions, the one which helped me win was a “crab claw” style lifting arm which allowed me to lift opponents and deposit them strategically while the front tilted flail spinner inflicted damage (build from a heavily modified trolling motor chassis).

At this point most of the tech is obsolete in terms of competitiveness but conceptually I still really like it. The thing is, if you REALLY want to win matches, the best strategy is the boring one. Pick one feature and really throw all your effort/cost/weight budget into it. Also, some of these teams are spending six figures on a robot, so you’re going to be up against some goliaths if you get into the sport now (especially). That said- you should do it anyway. It really is a cool experience.

I never got to use the automatic sensor activated tail trigger in combat. But I did send this rolling coke can into the air so fast that it exploded over Mom’s car. That’s kinda the highlight of this video really- hearing my mom scolding me about it.