June 2003

Thursday 12th June 2003

Not much has happened over the last couple of weeks because of various family events. On top of that, our PC crashed and died with a fault on the motherboard, so I spend quite a few nights salvaging files and rebuilding the poor machine from scratch. However, today was a good day in terms of collecting material and parts for the robot.

I had recently been asked to give a presentation about outside interests at our annual works staff meeting. Some people knew I had been working on a robot, so thought it might provide an interesting diversion from the regular works topics if I stood up and talked about my expeirences for 20 minutes.. The presentation went down quite well, after which I thought it was the best opportunity I would ever have to ask for some sponsorship. After a bit of wrangling with senior managers, I managed to secure a significant contribution towards the cost of a trailer to transport the Hog around in. Today was the day the trailer was ready for collection, so I went to pick it up from the supplier, Universal trailer of Billinghurst. Thank you BT Broadast Services for your kind contribution; the trailer will really help me out.


With entries for Series 7 now being invited, I needed to look at making a cradle for the hog, but was running short of metal. I rang up and ordered some rectangular box section from my regular supplier Southern Steel, which was ready for collection today too. When I got their Ian very kindly refused to take money off me and said that I should consider it as sponsorship for the Hog. Thanks Ian, that was an unexpected bonus!

The final task I undertook today was to change the valve in my CO2 bottle from a 1.1kg bottle to a 2.2kg bottle. I dropped the bottles and valves off at Life support services, who kindly did the change over and tested the new bottle as well. The reason I wanted to change from a 1.1kg bottle to a 2.2kg bottle was that I wasn't getting enough flips out of the smaller bottle. I also couldn't fill the smaller bottle with anywhere near 1.1kg of gas. The best I could do was .8kg so decided to ask how Life support managed it whenever they provided a CO2 filling station at Robot Rumble events. They told me that the secret is to ensure the bottle is well below room temperature before trying to fill it. Also, you should not try to fill a partly filled bottle; always fill it when it's empty. If there is a small amount of gas left in a bottle, you can vent it quickly by opening the valve, and this will cool the bottle down so you can kill two birds with one stone. Alternatively you can put a small amount of gas into the bottle, and then vent it out again. This should lower the temperature of the bottle. Failing that, simply put the bottle in the fridge before filling it!

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Friday 21st June 2003

I collected two 8ft x 4ft sheets of polypropylene today from Display Development Ltd in Mitcham. I had been working on the different permutations for panel sizes, and had decided to use a mixture of 4.5mm and 9mm sheets. I chose Polypropylene instead of polycarbonate because Polypropylene was lighter and I could therefore clad the hog with slightly thicker material.

When I returned home I tried making one panel today, which was a side panel that would need to be bent in two places. I cut the rectangle out and then held it in the jaws of the workmate while warming it up with an electric paint stripper hot air gun. After a few minutes, the sheet was soft enough to bend it. The bends were just about in the right place, although I think I will be able to do the other panels a bit more accurately.

I also had a go at making the support cradle for the hog. It was going to hook onto the chassis member so that I could not only hold the wheels off the ground for testing purposes, but I could roll the hog onto its side or back so that I could work on it more easily, well that was the theory anyway if I could manage it.

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Sunday 22nd June 2003

I finished the carrying cradle and tried it out on the hog. It would happily support the Hog on it's wheels and on it's side as well as holding the Hog on it's backside. I have to say that when on it's backside, it would only need a small "shove" to get it to topple over. The reason being that the Hog rests on two spikes on it's rear that are located half way up. This means that the back of the Hog is effectively only about six inches wide, and therefore is not a large base and won't need much to push it over.

The hog resting on its backside on the new cradle The hog resting on its side on the new cradle

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Wednesday 25th June 2003

I had a phone call from Robot Wars asking if I was going to enter this years event. They also asked a few questions about me to see if there were any angles they could use on the next series. The fact that my father was French seemed to appeal to them because I could be involved in a European type of event as well as a UK one. There didn't seem to be any firm plans, but it was interesting to ponder over what new formats Robot Wars might take now it was going to be shown on Channel 5 instead of the BBC.

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Friday 27th June 2003

I filled in the Series 7 entry form and handed in to Mentorn's office that happened to be within a few hundred yards of where I work.

I took some measurements of the snout of the Hog's frame and transferred them to some cardboard so that I could make a cladding template. Once I had trimmed it and made them fit the snout, I transferred it to the polypropylene sheets and then cut it out with a jigsaw. The next task was to try and bend this panel so that it fitted the profile of the chassis. I had used a paint stripping hot air blower on a small sample that I held in a vice, and found that after a while it became soft and could be bent. The first panel I tried bending was a 9mm thick section that I held in the workmate and applied the hot air blower to. It took over 5 minutes of close proximity blowing with hot air before the panel suddenly yielded and I was able to bend it. The polypropylene sheet was surprisingly resilient to the hot air gun and showed no signs of burning or damage after this rather fierce blast of burning hot air. With the panel now bent, I made a number of fixing lugs with welded-on nuts that I could use to screw the panel onto the chassis with.

Bent polypropylene side panel

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Last updated 17th july