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Messages - zacodonnell

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Questions / Re: TinyESC- Possibly Blown?
« on: January 28, 2015, 09:09:33 pm »
If the ESC is showing no signal by blinking the LED then the processor is probably ok (since it is executing the "slow blink" code) and the part of the controller responsible for driving the motor isn't being told to do so so it may be fine too.

Do you have other things (like the other tinyESC) plugged into the RX so you're sure that it is linked to your radio, powered up, and pushing signals through the pins? If so, try swapping the plug positions between the working part and the non-working part in case it is the port on the rx.

Also, you probably already checked but is it possible you flipped the plug around on the RX?  I did this when troubleshooting the other day and it totally messed up my decision tree :)


Progress Reports / Re: Team Brain Damage
« on: January 28, 2015, 09:03:37 pm »
Initial prototyping suggests that a dual UHMW loop of shame, with one on either side of the blade, should be reasonably effective at helping to bot roll over without making it overweight. I'll have to decide what attachment points I'll use. I'm not sure if I want them to be mounted only to the top plate or only to the bot. I do know that I'd rather not have it be half and half because it makes working on the bot more annoying.

I seem to have run out of my favorite material - ~.1" UHMW sheet.  I have a bunch of the .15" thick black sheet that I made the wings on Magneato out of but I don't have any more of the thinner stuff that should be better for this use case. Nothing Mcmaster can't take care of, and I'll certainly find a way to use it.


Progress Reports / Re: Team Brain Damage
« on: January 28, 2015, 08:03:16 pm »
Actually last night I was just thinking that. This bot is so front heavy and lopsided that a loop of shame will probably work great. I haven't decided if one across the width will be better than one on either side of the blade front to back yet.  I'm hoping to try something out tonight.  My 2 ounces should give me a couple of 1" wide .1" thick UHMW strips that will be stiff enough to do the job.


Progress Reports / Re: Novarobots: Iron golem 30lb Sportsman
« on: January 28, 2015, 07:54:25 pm »
I'm enjoying the photo stream. Making packs is a lot of work isn't it?  I switched to an 80w weller soldering iron with 3/8" chisel tip when I started making my batteries and have had no issues since. A 100w is a monster. Every time I make packs I wonder how steve hill could do it for so little on top of the cost of the cells, shrink, bus bars, etc.  I use folded over 14ga wire for my bus bars because I have it and have put 200A through it briefly.  No biggie. I think your descriptions of the cell polarities might be backwards. I can't tell from the pics if you got the wire colors the other way but definitely worth double checking before you plug one of those bad boys in :)

I'm amazed that your little HF lathe can handle cuts like that in a steel gear.  My little tag lathe sure couldn't. I have a 7x10 little machine shop one now with carbide insert tooling and it is like that soldering iron - I don't know how I did without it.  I might have to reevaluate the top armor on my flipper between you and Mike... At least with just one I could hope to avoid him in the brackets for a little while.


Progress Reports / Re: Team Brain Damage
« on: January 26, 2015, 09:08:05 pm »
Tonight I spent some more time on Chop. I installed the spare weapon controller I had then did some more testing. It spins up fine, and after I remembered to reprogram the controller for 100% reverse it spun down fine too.  Unfortunately when I did some invert testing it promptly smoked so I've got no weapon again.

This robot has now eaten three weapon controllers and two drive controllers.  Sure, the drive controllers were just calibration problems, but I've ignited two weapon controllers. I'm also being mean to the weapon a little by asking it to self right while inverted, but I didn't expect it to just smoke immediately.

I'm going to have to think a while about what controller to use as a replacement. I have a unidirectional one from Scurrie that is monstrous but could fit in the battery bay. The reversible controller was to help the bot self right but it seems the higher speed gearing on the weapon and rear bubble in the top plate are conspiring against me to prevent that.  It won't self right if it only spins one way, but if it won't anyway then a unidirectional controller is fine. The alternative is to reduce the speed of the weapon and hope the additional gearing is enough to get it to self right again... which would mean ordering another one of the controllers I just lost 2 of in as many days.

Good thing I still have 3 weeks to decide!


Progress Reports / Re: Team Brain Damage
« on: January 25, 2015, 10:30:48 pm »
I double checked the charger and the test was 441mah out of the weapon battery.

I then tried to do some self right testing. It had a bit more tendency to drive the bot forward instead of flipping it over than before. Possibly in part due to the bubble in the top plate changing the impact angle when inverted. I'll have to look into that further.  At the end of my testing the weapon went out for some reason. I did a couple of quick checks on the bench and the weapon controller is showing no signs of life now... It definitely has power (verified by meter on the exposed solder joints) and the "power switch" jumper shows the contacts shorted, so something else is going on.  My spare controller shows a blinking LED when it gets power and nothing else, so something is wrong with the input power. The solder joints look pretty shady on the main leads so I'm going to try reflowing them tomorrow to see if that fixes it. If not I'll swap in the spare. This controller was only ever used on Devour and Weakened Warrior (in two exhibition matches) so I'm not sure how well tested it is.


Progress Reports / Re: Team Brain Damage
« on: January 25, 2015, 05:04:05 pm »
Today I spent most of the time in the shop working on redoing the electrical system in Chop.  I pulled out the Tiny ESCs so I can send them back to Kurtis. He agreed to send me a replacement upgraded pair for free which is pretty cool.  After thinking about the bot a little bit more though I decided that I wanted some more ground clearance, which meant bigger wheels. Bigger wheels meant more current draw and I was already a little iffy on using the TinyESCs to drive around a 6 pound bot in a 16' box at 15v... So I decided to swap in the Old Reliable BaneBots 12-45 controllers that drove Scurrie in all those fights I mentioned above.  These are way overspec for this bot but I have about 4 ounces available and they only add about 2, and being overkill in the speed controller department has served me well in the past. Also it means I get to play with the bot this weekend instead of waiting for the TinyESCs to come in.  I'll keep them as backups in case these controllers get bashed.

After I got it all set up I took the bot out for a spin and... it drags horribly left.  That makes sense I guess, as the weapon motor and weapon controller are way heavier than the battery and drive controllers.  The difference is so much that the bot visibly leans to that side on the foam wheels.  This makes the back corner drag and so the bot slews to that side when I'm driving forward.  I added a skid in the middle to hopefully make the drag be more centered, and that helped some, but it is still tough to drive forward.  It handles like a dream backwards though, so I may have to do my long distance driving that way once Chris has their weapon stopped :)

I did a 3 minute test with as many spinups as I could get (without hitting a target... I need to put another floor plate down if I'm going to be hitting my test box with the weapon) and I tried to drive continuously the whole time. This bot isn't going to be doing any pushing so that's probably about as heavy as the load is going to get on the drive. I was nervous about the load on the drive motors since the wheels are bigger than they have been in Threecoil and the voltage is a little higher too.  I was also interested to see how much battery capacity I used with the bigger battery and faster weapon.

In the end the hottest component was the weapon motor at 104F and the drive motors and battery were fine.  I used about 350 mah during the test too, though it will be a lot higher when I'm actually hitting other bots and self righting.  I still need to verify the self righting works but I think it will.



Now I get to decide what to do with the other 2 ounces and maybe run some more tests.


Progress Reports / Re: Team Brain Damage
« on: January 24, 2015, 11:09:25 pm »
Well... that was the plan. It never really did anything that way and I had trouble keeping the blade working because I had it on the throttle stick which isn't spring-centered and the controller needs to be centered to switch directions properly. I thought it might be effective against all the drum bots that were cropping up because the frame design is pretty common between them and tooth failure is the #1 way the drums fail.  In the end it wasn't a great design but I was trying to do something different than everybody else.  I probably could have worked on it a little more to make it more effective but it got so trashed by cataclysm in those two fights that I never rebuilt it.


Progress Reports / Re: Team Brain Damage
« on: January 24, 2015, 08:55:51 pm »
I spent some more time on Chop tonight. The lipo installation went well and the rewiring I had to do to put the battery on the right side came off ok. The left side is looking a bit cramped but not as much as most of my bots.  I did a heat-formed lexan top plate because it sounded fun and it came out ok.  It gave me clearance where I needed it, though also a little extra over the battery than I needed. That's not all bad though I guess.

After I got the top plate done and the wiring all tightened up I took the bot out for a test of the weapon. The blade spins great, even scarier than before. I haven't tested self righting yet because I want to cycle the batteries a couple of times before I do big bursts. I don't think it will matter but that's what the documentation says and I have time so why push it?

Unfortunately while the weapon works great, something is wrong with the drive setup. Everything is connected correctly because it was working, but seems to be intermittently losing calibration. I've been able to get it to kinda work by resetting the Tiny ESCs back to default calibration but it only lasts a couple of power ups then it dies again. I did some troubleshooting and the whole thing is a total mess.  In the end the right side doesn't respond at all and the BEC for that controller is outputting 0v. The left side goes to 100% reverse as soon as I power up and stays that way until power down, even if I unplug the rx lead from the receiver completely. It won't even failsafe when I unplug the rx lead.  I've tested with each Tiny plugged in as the only thing in the RX and I've tested with a receiver battery instead of the BEC. Other than the dead BEC on the first tiny I am able to drive a servo in each setup but can't get anything reliable out of the controllers. 

During my tests I noticed that I accidentally had the rx battery (4.9v) and one of the tinyESC BECs plugged into the rx at the same time.  I don't know which Tiny it was but probably the one that has a dead BEC now. The RX also has a white powder inside the case that looks like I fried something though it seems to work ok with the battery and servo still.

The weapon seems to be getting the right signals. I've only actually tried to spin it a few different times but the startup tones indicate valid signal when I have the rx lead plugged in and it has always worked correctly when I did spin it.

I don't know what's going on but I don't want to fry my only backup BR6000 if something is wrong with my tinyESCs. I'll do some more troubleshooting tomorrow.

Pictures of today's progress:


Questions / Tiny ESCs needing recalibrated often?
« on: January 24, 2015, 07:38:31 pm »
I picked up a pair of TinyESC v2.4 from Fingertech for my 6 pound bot Chop. Since I hooked them up they seem to spontaneously lose calibration and I'm not sure why. Resetting the calibration to defaults (per the packaged instructions) seems to fix it. Has anybody else seen this?  Here are the details:

I know they offer calibration and I'm using a Spektrum DX6 with a BR6000 which is known to limit throws in the mixing so once I got the bot set up I decided to try to calibrate the controllers. Once I completed the calibration full forward worked ok, and neutral didn't move the wheel but full reverse only gave a very slow response. I figured I must have done something wrong so I just reset the calibration back to default (by not moving the stick during calibration) and everything seemed ok.  Then later on one side seemed to lose calibration and stop working entirely even though I had the jumper contacts taped over.  I thought maybe I had just only done one controller and forgotten the other so I reset the one that wasn't working and it was ok for a little while. After that I moved on to working on other parts.  All of this testing was done with a 4S A123 pack.

Once I had everything else ready I moved to the 4S 1300mah TP lipo pack that will be the real one.  I took the bot over to my test box and powered it up and... nothing. Both drive sides didn't move. The controllers are flashing red (I don't think it is loss of signal red).  The weapon worked fine though.  Cycling the power on the bot didn't change the behavior. I took the bot back to the bench and on a whim decided to reset the calibration on one side back to defaults again.  That side started right up and the other side is still disabled.

I've tested the RX with a servo and rx battery. Unplugging the weapon ESC and plugging in an rx battery doesn't fix the one that lost calibration but the one I just recalibrated works with that setup. I'm wondering if my BEC on the HK weapon controller is flaky and I'm going to try switching to the BEC from one of the tiny ESCs to see if that helps them keep their calibration.

System details:
DX6 with Delta mix on
Driving with one stick on the right side
BR6000 RX
2x TinyESCs driving kitbots 1000 RPM motors with capacitors installed
BEC provided by reversible HK brushless controller


Rules Discussion / Re: LiPo Rules
« on: January 24, 2015, 04:07:25 pm »
While we're on the topic, what kinds of extinguishers are you guys using for lipos? I think I saw Ed use a CO2 extinguisher to knock down the HyperActive fire last year but I'm not sure that's what it was.  What kind of damage to the bot do the various types of extinguishers do?  Obviously knocking the fire down is vital or the bot is a total loss anyway, but are there compounds that can stop the fire without gumming up / shorting out the rest of the bot?


Progress Reports / Re: Team Brain Damage
« on: January 24, 2015, 10:12:46 am »
Pics are now 800 x 600.  Is there an easier way to do that then resizing them myself and linking to the resized ones? Kinda makes it not worth embedding them in the page very much.


Progress Reports / Team Brain Damage
« on: January 23, 2015, 10:47:03 pm »
Team Brain Damage has been competing mostly in the northeast US since February 2004.  I build the bots solo and sometimes have help from my family at events. My website is http://www.therobotdesigner.com and it is a little out of date like most people's :).  Here are my bots from lowest to highest weight:

3 pound beetleweight flywheel powered flipper Eclipso (retired)
This bot was the first of many prototype versions of flywheel powered flipper I worked on. I had bad tools and a small budget and finished it 11 PM before its only competition where it went 0 and 2.

6 pound mantisweight flywheel powered flipper named Threecoil (probably retired)
This bot had many iterations and competed several times at the PA Bot Blast. It was where I developed the flywheel powered flipper and clutch mechanism that I now use in my Sportsman bot. It won the PA Bot Blast at least twice, maybe three times, but got trashed by One Fierce Bushwhacker this year. It was never likely to do well in a full combat class because I spent everything on making the flipper as good as I could. I don't think I'll be able to be successful with a flipper now that spinners are coming so I'll probably retire it and do something else fun.
Latest build log - https://picasaweb.google.com/107279152885550274671/ThreecoilBB2014
Best Fight vs Precipitor - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nwBYpUHE4Y

6 pound mantisweight Weakened Warrior AKA Chop (part of 12 pound multibot for Moto 2015)
I built Weakened Warrior in 15 hours over a single weekend out of only spare parts as an experiment. The mantis class was mostly sportsman-esque bots that year though and the bot ended up being so violent that I decided to only run exhibition matches and let the audience drive it to drum up some interest. Only one person wanted to try it out and it turned out to be a little hard for him to get the controls down. That's what 15 hours will get ya I guess.  I'm revamping the bot as half a multibot for Moto 2015 named Chop Block with Chris A's mantis wedge bot.
Build log - https://picasaweb.google.com/107279152885550274671/ChopBlockMoto15?noredirect=1
WW Exhibition vs 30 pound bot Phoenix - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7AJr3-HOogc

6 pound mantisweight CounterStryker is a vertical spinning bot with counter-rotating blades and giant expendable wheels. At the time of this update the build had just started:

12 pound hobbyweight Scurrie (retired)
Scurrie was my most successful robot. It won 28 of its last 30 fights and won first place at the PA Bot Blast in 2008 (I think?), then continued to win first at Motorama and Franklin each year until I retired it after Franklin 2011. It was an undercutter with a 3.5 pound blade running at ~17v (5S A123).  The drive system was slow and the weapon was geared low but it was very reliable and could spin the weapon up even as things got bent. I think my two favorite fights were:
Build pics - https://picasaweb.google.com/107279152885550274671/ScurrieMoto2010
vs Foobar Moto 2009 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxpFRCq2_g8
vs Surgical Strike (fight 1 of 3 at this comp) FI 2008 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6siA5nVAk5g

12 pound hobbyweight Devour (retired)
Devour only competed at Motorama 2011. I built it to see if I could make a vertical spinning bot that spins "down" a successful design. The blade was my first vertical one, and was asymmetric with only one tooth. It was sunken into a .125" ti swept-back wedge and was mounted on a hinged weapon mount that had a bungee return built in. The idea was to hook the blade over drum teeth or frame rails on other bots and try to break the screws and pull the frames apart.  The belt setup for the weapon was crappy so the weapon didn't hurt enough to do what it was designed for. The drive and wedge were both solid though and I was able to get a lucky second place finish after Surgical Strike had electrical problems against me. It was a tough bot but not quite tough enough. This is my only bot to almost hit the ceiling of the box and it got totally destroyed by fighting Cataclysm twice.
vs Cataclysm #1 (sorry bad video) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXCziQZwRGc
vs Cataclysm #2 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsKOmUT-x_8  Did it just spin up FASTER?!

Featherweight shell spinners: Bipolar, Tripolar, Steel Shadow, Tetanus, Triggo. All retired except Triggo. Ok, I've been building shell spinners a long time, in fact, I've had one at every motorama since 2004 I think. The success of the bots has varied some.

Bipolar was a cooking wok with giant 1" holes drilled in it to make weight and it went 1-2 at Moto 2004. The second version had an 8.5 lb aluminum cooking pot based shell and went 0-1 at RCRA 2004.  I drove 22 hours to alabama to get one fight... but I had fun!

Tripolar had several different iterations but was my first bot to go 2-2. It originally used 2x Astro 940s at 24v to the 15.4lb shell @3000 RPM ish but the motors kept breaking. I then switched to an AXI 5330 and have been using it ever since.
Build Log - https://picasaweb.google.com/107279152885550274671/Tripolar09Build?noredirect=1
Tripolar best fight grudge match vs Billy Bob FI 2007 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmpbF3a-_oE
Vs multibot at FI 2007 - first ever robo-explosion for my fights - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbpr3Npa5lA

Steel Shadow was my first slope-sided shell. It started at FI 2010. The center of gravity was too high and it couldn't drive while spinning or spin up very well. The shell was pretty strong though and this was my first bot that pretty much always spun. That was thanks in large part to the axi 5330. I did melt a controller at Motorama 2011, making this my only bot so far to actually have flames inside during a match. The shell was sturdy but it never did well because it couldn't attack. It never had any really good fights but this one was kinda fun
Build Log - https://picasaweb.google.com/107279152885550274671/SteelShadowBuildMoto2010?noredirect=1
Steel Shadow vs Shaka (last fight for SS ever) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IpDx-DIPGY

Tetanus was my first successful FBS. It started at FI 2012 and got 2nd after losing to Mangi because I couldn't get through the .75" UHMW front with all my little blade teeth. I ended up melting a battery in the fight but the bot translated great and the shell spun great... just needed better teeth.  I eventually upgraded the teeth to giant hammers instead of little blades, and after that the bot never had a match go 3 minutes and never lost another match.  It won Moto and FI from 2012 to 2014 (though Moto 2014 was really really close).  The big hammers had a downside though, the shell slowly got more and more bent every time I hit somebody with it until eventually it could barely spin at all.
Original Build Log - https://picasaweb.google.com/107279152885550274671/TetanusFI2011?noredirect=1
Updates - https://picasaweb.google.com/107279152885550274671/TetanusMoto2012?noredirect=1
Tetanus vs General Disarray - with the blade teeth - Get Back from the Glass! - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMOwQUv61oI
Tetans vs Mangi - payback with the new teeth - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNq5NAyexAQ

Triggo is the updated version of Tetanus, and my only active Combat Featherweight. I had to sacrifice some mobility and stability for a stronger shell. It doesn't translate as well as I want, but not as badly as Steel Shadow either. It has only had one fight so far but performed well in that fight. I'm still using the same AXI 5330 @30v since October 2010 but this is the first bot that put the friction roller right on the motor shaft.  The shell is 16.5 pounds and about 18" tip to tip on the teeth. Its first competition was right around Halloween 2014 so I painted it to match.
Triggo vs Drum-thing-else - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0EFXd89DedE

Jack Reacher - 30 pound Sportsman class (retired)
Jack Reacher (the protagonist from my favorite book series) was my first ever sportsman. It was an attempt to scale up the flipper mechanism in Threecoil 5 times over. It stored 43 times as much energy in the flywheel and could flip the other bots ok but it took too long to spin up and it wasn't invertable. That last problem made it pretty much useless. It competed at Motorama 2013 and had an upgraded clutch at FI 2013 (where it placed 1st, but should have gotten 2nd. Alan flipped me back when I was stuck several times)
v1 vs K-Onstant - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFH_dU9652o
v2 vs Upheaval - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7bcd97J5VE

Magneato - 30 pound Sportsman class (active)
Magneato is a flywheel powered flipper with an auto-resetting clutch and a 4-bar linkage for the arm. It has had a couple of different iterations. The first iteration could barely self right and competed at Motorama and FI 2014.  I'm currently working on an upgraded version for Moto 2015 that has been able to self right reliably in my tests. It has an on-board Arduino that controls the timing of the flipper mechanism, weapon throttle, and senses the opponent on the flipper. This is my coolest bot from a design perspective.
How it Works - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRgbLZp2hbQ
Best fight vs multibot - http://youtu.be/nZ3R8sOsetk

edit: smaller pics and new vid for Tripolar

Progress Reports / Re: Team Ranglebox (formerly Team Expat)
« on: January 23, 2015, 09:39:45 pm »
You're right, your 30 does seem to pack a punch. I thought it drove better than you made it out to be.  The right angle gear setup is pretty cool too.  In the first few pics I saw the wheels before you put treads on them and wondered how you would get any traction. Did you have any trouble with the treads coming off of the rims?


Progress Reports / Re: Near Chaos Robotics
« on: January 23, 2015, 09:29:09 pm »
The patterned duct tape really sets off the crazy pattern on the blade.  This bot looks a lot like Mr. Self Destruct... but easier to contain. 

The whole RatBot thing is basically what I did for Weakened Warrior for Bot Blast a couple years back. I'd enter it in this except it's my multibot entry now.  Looks like you really nailed the spirit of it. It might be a very short-fought class but it will be fun to watch.


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