Over this past weekend I attended my first Robotics challenge down in West Virginia, at the Shepherd University ShepRobo Fest. This was a really cool experience for me.  A member of the Trossen Robotics forum, Seth (sthmck) put out the invitation to any mech robot builders to come join in the festivities and compete in the first East coast Mech Warfare competition.  A few of us made the trip.  And I think it was a well worth it trip.

DAY 1

First off, I found out that packing Draco for travel is really a PITA!  I am going to try to make improvements on how I will pack him, but I think going to Robogames will be easier since I decided not to bring my turret along, I’ll explain shortly.  I took a train down on Friday early so I could meet up with the guys and get things set up with my robot.  We arrived and met with Seth.  He took us on the grand tour of the competition venue, which they got the theater department at Shepherd to make a full Mech Warfare arena.  It was really nicely done, with all removable panels and such.

Then we went over to the lab, where we met the rest of the competitors, who were all going crazy trying to put together their mechs.  Looked like a madhouse.  I think there were about 20 or so Robotics club members of 5 teams.  Each team was scheduled to make one mech and one fire fighting robot for their class.  There were tons of electronics, metal, plastic, screws, tools, computers, BBs, and then some strewn about the lab.  Seth pushed everyones stuff off a table and let Andrew, the creator of Mech Warfare, start assembling Giger, the massive 24 DOF humanoid mech robot.  You can find tons of pictures on the trossen forums, but seeing this thing up close is really impressive.  He gave some nice demos of the robot and everyone was in awe.  I also put together Draco to have it ready for the weekend.  Draco got some good attention since every other competitor there was also working on a quad robot as well.  I still needed to work on the gun/firing and tune in some walking gaits.  Oh and, forgot, before I left for WV, Draco somehow reassigned a leg servo ID number by accident, and all of my legs were non-functional.  But with a few clicks of troubleshooting, Andrew got it back up and running, and I was able to show off my mech to everyone.  I also put together my turret which was easy enough, but like I said I don’t plan on bringing it to Robogames.  It takes up too much room in my pelican case, and I had to disassemble Draco in order to fit the turret  This way, I can keep Draco assembled and not have to worry about that when I arrive in San Fran next month.

The rest of the night was spent trouble shooting small problems, optimizing gaits, and just helping the team members out.  This was done with tons of coffee, energy drinks, and snacks all around.  The night ended around 3, when people started getting too silly to work on advanced robotics machines.

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