Brighton Modelworld 19th and 20th Feb 2005

The Brighton model world event was my first event since last year's Portsmouth meeting. Since then I had made some improvements to the Hog's motor controller so was looking forwarcl to a good couple of days battling at Brighton.

We were in the same hall as last year, but this time we were shoe-horned in a lot tighter. We had less room on our benches than last year but we nonetheless managed to work on the robots without jabbing each other in he ribs too often. The worst part about being crammed in to such small spaces was that very few of us had a bench next to the railings, which meant that we didn't have the same contact with the public as we usually do. They couldn't get "right up and close" and we couldn't chat with them as much either.

Crammed in at Brighton Modelworld Kan Opener doing some repairs

For our first battle we were in a mêlée of four other robots with whom we had a good scrap. The flipper was working well, and we were able to move around the arena despite the floor being quite dusty and slippery.

The Hog at the start of the days battling First battle

In our second battle we had another mêlée which this time included Kan Opener. The last time we met with them, we had to be crow bared apart because they got their claws trapped behind the Hog's rear panels. This year they had decided not to be so "considerate" as last time when they had flat plates at the end of their claws, but instead they had fitted their very sharp and nasty pointed claws. I had seen a few holes they had made in the other robots, so were not too keen to get very closely involved with Kan Opener during our second battle. As the battle went on, we came into contact a couple of times, but only received a couple of minor slices in our rear panels. We held our own against the other robots too and were pleased with our performance when Mike Lambert called "Cease!"

For some reason Kan Opener didn't either hear Mike shouting, or just had it in for us, but whatever the reason he put a full squeeze on us with his claws that severely bent our flipper. I have to say that I was not impressed with him attacking us well after cease was called, but in exchange for him doing us damage, he bent his main hydraulic ram's push rod. Not only did this lock us together again, but it put them out of action for the rest of the exhibition. It took quite a few minutes to knock out a couple of locking pins and then crowbar the two robots apart, but once apart I was not sure that we would be able to use our flipper again.

The Hog's bent nose after being squeezed by Kan Opener

I was a little despondent as we lifted the Hog back onto its bench, but Gary from the Grim Reaper team came over to lend a hand. With a lot of heaving we managed to very slightly straighten the flipper, but it was still no where near being functional. A few minutes later he reappeared with a couple of 5 foot long planks of 4 by 2, which we carefully threaded through the flipper. With a few other kind roboteers holding the Hog still, Gary put his full weight on the plank a few times and the Hog's nose began to yield. With a few more carefully positioned levers they got the flipper back to a position where it would work again even if the tip didn't run quite parallel to the floor. Thanks Gary for your help, you made it possible for us to participate in the final battle of the night.

Brighton modelworld battles Brighton modelworld battles

The final battle on Saturday was arguable our best battle of the day, if not the event. It was yet again another mêlée were we flipped quite a few robots as well as self righting ourselves when the same was done to us. We were one of the few mobile robots by the end of the battle, and did a victory spin to celebrate after "Cease" was called. We backed off to the side of the arena as usual ready for disarming, but it was then that I noticed that dreaded burning bakelite smell when I approached the Hog. It was not possible to check the Hog out any further that night, but first thing the following morning, I needed to reassure myself that all was okay before we embarked on the days battling.

Sadly when I checked things out on Sunday morning the drive motors didn't run. Instead they made a rather strange buzzing noise and after few more seconds there was a shower of sparks and some smoke emerging from somewhere inside the robot together with more of that rather unpleasant burning bakelite smell. I was fairly sure we were now out of the competition, but decided to remove the motor controller just to check. Sure enough with the aid of the trusty voltmeter, I identified that one branch of the H bridge MOSFET brick was short circuit.

I also noticed that I had burned out some of the battery wiring. The main power lead from the battery had become so hot that the polypropylene support bracket had melted with the heat and the contact had shorted against the frame. This may have been the reason why the motor controller MOSFETs finally blew up, but I couldn't be sure.

Burnt out wiring from the battery, and melted support bracket

However, what I could be sure of was that I would be unable to take part in any more battles to day, so I spent a fairly enjoyable time watching the others battle it out, and wandering around the exhibition to see what else was on show. All in all we thoroughly enjoyed the show, and were not too upset about the amount of work needed to get the Hog back in action.

Brighton modelworld battles Brighton Modelworld battles

Everyone understands (or should understand) that if you can't take the knocks, you shouldn't take part. Getting damages is all part of the "joy" of Roboteering!

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Last updated 26th Feb 2005