Posts Tagged ‘Robogames’

Thought I should do an update of my trip recently to Robogames.  Competition-wise, Chimera was a complete and utter disappointment.  I ended up burning up 2 of my RX-64s for some unknown reason.  Luckily I did get to show it off for a little while on qualifying day.  Completely qualified and looked great by the way.  I got to do a demo that day as well where some press video taped Chimera and Insanity Wolf going at it for about 15 minutes.  I would like to see what comes of that footage.

After that though, burned up my servos, and couldn’t compete due to disqualification at setup time before my matches.  I did get fixed and competed in an exhibition match for fun again Godless Endeavor and I think I took that one, but it was fun to just finally get to compete.

Otherwise it was good showing off Chimera to a lot of people, and the 3D printing really brought in a lot of the crowd to see how I did it.  If you were any of the attendees to Robogames and Mech Warfare, and you stumbled across my card, I hope you drop a message by here and let me know what you thought of Chimera.

I will post pictures of Chimera and Mech Warfare as I find them.  To start though, here is a video montage of Mech Warfare, I put the start time to my exhibition match, but rewind the whole thing to check out all the mechs.

I think the posters will be available sometime soon from me (Rusty Wrench Robotics) and/or at the Mech Warfare site.  Remember, all the proceeds are going to help us to continue to improve the arena and other aspects to make Mech Warfare better for the viewers.


Here is Chimera showing the walking for the first time.  It isn’t optimized, but it is exciting.  Paint is complete also.

Just a display stand.  Well for display purposes but will also be used for programming and testing, so it doesn’t have to fall to the ground if there’s a mishap.

Quick peek at the black primer I put down on the pieces so far.  Gives it a nice look, and highlights all the details.  Sorry about the blurriness, took it from my phone.

Day 1

This past weekend I made the trip out to San Mateo for the annual Robogames.  It was a very good experience for me.  Right before leaving I decided to change my gun system on Draco, to the automatic fire “Defender” style gun.  This was great for firing but caused a lot of problems for me at the event that I could have avoided with better testing of all my systems.  That was my biggest fault and piece of valuable information.

TEST! TEST! and TEST some more!

So we got in Thursday night and had a little meet up with the Trossen Community at the hotel bar.  They are a great bunch of guys to hang out with, and it was awesome finally getting to meet everyone and put faces to the robots I had been following on the forums.

Friday was the start of the competition.  So checked in nice and early Friday morning and started assembling Draco.  No problems getting her together.  Mech Warfare was also setting up at this time.  That consisted of getting the scoring system up and running, the wireless routers placed, and the buildings in the arena.  These things were amazing.  Andrew, from Trossen Robotics, had gone down to San Fran a few weeks early to meet up with Fon Davis and create these building facades that had such amazing detail in them and really gave Mech Warfare a realistic look for this robots going down a city street.  Fon Davis is the creator of MORAV and worked with Industrial Light and Magic, which is a visual effects division of Lucasfilm.  So, if you’ve seen any Star Wars movies, I think he has worked on them…

Back to the progress, all mechs need to pass a qualifying round in order to compete in Mech Warfare.  Draco worked fine, walking, shooting, scoring, video.  Passed with flying colors.  But there was a small problem actually, my video was dropping out some times when I fired my gun.  This had my checking my voltage levels when firing guns to make sure I didn’t drop to far for my video wifi encoder to reset.  Stupid me though, shorted it out by touching the leads together, and this in return fried my arbotix board in some place.  I didn’t know that at the time though, and spent the rest of the day, frantically tested what happened, trying to fix this, that and the other thing.  It was a frustrating time then.  At the end of the night, I was finally running again with the help of a friend donating me a new board to use.

The rest of the first day, was spent between testing my bot for problems and helping Mech Warfare run qualifying rounds, plus getting to walk around Robogames and checking out some of the other events and booths.

These are pictures (1-9) of the arena and buildings in the arena.  They are some really impressive pieces of work.  The next bunch (10-18) are pictures of other mechs, robots, and stuff around the venue.  The last few (19-20) are pictures of Draco and myself at the competition.

Day 3

Sunday was finally here, time for Mech Warfare competition.  The tournament was set, and ready to begin even if participants weren’t.  We had about 2-3 hours to put on all the finishing touches and get batteries charged for the upcoming matches.  Teams scrambled to get their mechs ready, and this is where I learned the most about mine.

Draco may have taken around a year, with tons of planning and trial and error, but nothing lets you know more about the robot then testing in competition situations.  This is why going down to West Virginia a few weeks before Robogames was so beneficial to me.  I tested my mech in the arena with Giger, and learned how terrible the Airsoft Tankguns really are.

  1. They are incredibly slow!  I was getting one shot off for every 15-20 that Giger was hitting me with.
  2. Accuracy is terrible!  It would take 5-8 shots on a non-moving target in order to zero in.  I don’t think robots will stand still for me to shoot them.
  3. They are so finicky.  Every other time they would jam up and nothing would come out.
  4. The motors did not like me at all!  The turret shot nicely for awhile and then just stopped sometime on Sunday.  I totally pulled off one of the two tank guns because of its inability to ever shoot a BB!

This helped me easily decide to go with a fully automatic airsoft gun.  The same kind of guns found on a lot of other mechs attending Robogames.  I guess thats the experience of veteran Mech Warfare competitors had over me.

Through the testing, it became visible that my mech was a little heavy.  Something that can be very troublesome if its very overweight, but Draco isn’t bad.  He was able to go about 11 minutes of full operation and then 2 of his leg servos would collapse from over heating trying to carry the weight.  That’s 11 out of the 12 minutes needed for a full Mech Warfare match.  A little leg position tweaking and hopefully I can make the whole 12 minutes then.

The matches themselves went okay at ShepRobo Fest.  Many of the competitors were still having problems with their mechs.  My first match, the opponent had some trouble walking, and he collapsed.  Second match was against a fully functional mech, and was going well, but then he lost his video feed and couldn’t continue.  My last match was against Giger, and just couldn’t contend with his firepower.  I was able to get around back of him a few times, but again, the airsoft tank guns are so terrible I only scored one or two hits.  In the end, I finished in 2nd place and came home with a cool trophy form ShepRobo Fest.  The knowledge I learned about my mech was the most useful though, and can help me to have better matches while at Robogames.

There are some nice write ups about ShepRobo Fest online from some local newspapers.

Here is a video put together of some of the matches down at ShepRobo Fest.  You can see Draco running around and getting shot at a lot.

I will try to catch readers up with my work in robotics in this post.  Like I said, I started a year ago in March of 2010.  Happened to be looking through some magazines about robots, just thought they looked cool.  I came across some articles about Mech Warfare and was hooked.  But that was all of my robotics experience – ever.  That goes the same with electronics, programming, anything that has to do with robotics, I had zero experience in.  Maybe when I was very young I took apart a few Sega controllers and re wired them when my dog chewed part of it up, but that was just connecting wire A to tab A, easy.

The Robotis Bioloid Comprehensive Kit is an all inclusive robotics platform made for versatility as well as power, that’s where I started.   It was able to help a total beginner like myself get going in robotics.  Put together all the configurations, played around with the programming software, made some of my own creations, and was ready to get going on my mech.

Mech refers to the robots found in video games much like Mech Warrior, Chrome Hounds, Front Mission, etc.  They are piloted robots made for military purposes.  If you visit the Mech Warfare site you can read the rules and vision of the competition is.  I can give you a short rundown of it.

  • The robots must walk (there is another division for treaded vehicles)
  • The driver can only view the arena through a First Person POV camera mounted on the robot sending the video back wirelessly to a laptop or viewing device.
  • The driver scores points by shooting BB’s and hitting the opponents target panels a certain number of times.

That is pretty much the idea of the competition.  The robots are small-scale, ranging from 8-24 inches tall.  But that does not mean they are easy to make, or make well.

The robots come in 2 types, Biped and Quadruped.  The bipeds look very cool and resemble the mechs from the video games more closely.  The quads are able to move quicker and keep their balance having more feet touching the floor.  This is why I decided to create a quad for my first mech robot.

I was introduced to Autodesk Inventor, a 3D design program that I use frequently now to plan out my robot and design builds.  Was able to put each little piece 3 dimensionally on-screen to make sure everything fits and works.  This has been a huge help.

Now I was able to create my custom robot for the competition.  Plans changed multiple times in order different parts to fit or work correctly, but the design was done and I started getting more parts in for the mech.

Pretty much the project on this mech is in the final stages of completion.  In the videos you can see the mech has the ability to walk and look around so far.  The programming is all done for that, with help from the creator of Vanadium Labs and the Arbotix Robocontroller who created a Python based application to take measurements of the leg segments and body and spat out Arduino based code.  The only things left to do are:

  • Wire the motors on the guns for firing.
  • Program the guns for firing.
  • Program some usual movement sequences.
  • And practice…

I am hoping to have those last few things completed within the next week.  I would like to be able practice piloting the mech through the first person POV camera around the house.  I will get more practice for Robogames because of a new event which has opened up.  It is called the ShepRobo Fest.  It is at Sheperd University in West Virginia in a couple of weeks.

That is where I am today with my Robotics.  I have some future plans which I will talk about in the next few posts, but for now I think I have written enough.

Photos will be posted shortly…