Robodome Show at Portsmouth 8th May 2004

The RobotShow on 8th May took place at the Mountbatten Leisure center in Portsmouth, and was a one day event run by Robdome. Like the Brighton event, it was a well organised show by Simon, Jill and Gary Smith of Team Grimreaper, Mike and Louise Lambert of Team Dantomkia and Gareth Dean of Team Lancaster Bombers.

Nasty spikes surrounding the inside of the arena

The sports hall was fitted out with their well tried and tested circular arena with the nasty red spikes on the inside. There were also a number of the Robot Wars house robots on display where you could have your photo taken along side them.

This event was the first time I had tested the Hog since it took part in the Brighton event. I had only just finish the repairs and modifications the night before, so I was hoping I hadn't forgotten anything vital that would cause me to bow out of the show early on. Attending the show with me were my sons Robert and Jonathan, and for the first time a friend Martin offered to lend a hand in the pits. Thanks Martin for all your help; it makes a real difference to have an extra pair of hands to cart the Hog to and from the arena.

Robert and the Hog relaxing in the pits

There were three battle sessions taking place throughout the day; one from 10am to 12pm, another from 1pm to 3pm, and a final one from 4pm to 6pm. The first session was fairly well attended, but the later two were full houses and the crowds seemed to have a good time. I had expected there to be about thirty other roboteers, but I only counted 15 to 20 that actually turned up. Some had recently attended another event and were undergoing repairs so had to drop out of the Portsmouth show. However, there were enough robots to keep the battles going throughout the day.

Kan Opener at Portsmouth

My first battle was with Kan Opener and Thorax who had a problem with their flipper. I decided to have a go at Kan Opener, but was quickly held in their claws where I was unable to do much more that be pushed around the arena. I was thankful that they were only using their flat ended claws and were running their hydraulics at half pressure. Despite this, they managed to snap a few of the panel mounting brackets that I had painstakingly made over the previous few weeks while they squeezed the Hog. By the end of the battle they had managed to embed one claw through a rear panel were the flat plates at the end of the claw had become trapped like a barb behind the panel. It took a number of us five minutes or more to pries the two robots apart with a couple of crowbars before we could return to the pits to charge up the batteries and stick the punctured panel back together with copious amounts of gaffer tape.

Throughout the day there were raffle tickets being sold, one prize of which was to be given the chance to drive Dantomkia. My next battle was to fight against whoever won the raffle which turned out to be a young boy who was somewhat overwhelmed by being in the pits behind the controls of a robot. However, the robots both jostled each other around the arena, and flipped each other over numerous times. In the end Dantomkia's link fell out, so I proudly took a victory spin in the arena before my batteries finally gave out.

My next battle was a melee of too many robots to remember. The Hog had been performing well, and despite the batteries running flat a little too quickly that I would have liked, we managed to flip most of the opposition, and were able to self right without any problems.

In the penultimate battle I had Spawn Again to content with whose flipper was somewhat more powerful than the Hogs. In one well timed flip I was hurled three foot into the air and then landed hard on the flipper tip, which bent a little bit. Undeterred, we self righted and inflicted a couple more flips on them before the battled ended. During the interval I removed the aluminium flipper tip and took it outside with a club hammer where I successfully managed to straighten it up again.

By the last battle the Hog was looking a bit battle scared and was fairly well endowed with gaffer tape on various panels. The final battle was to be a "girlie" battle where the drivers had to be girls. By chance my friend Martin's wife Sue, and daughter Charlotte had arrived so I quickly seconded them to be the driver and weapons operator. They were a little apprehensive about damaging the Hog, but after the battle with Spawn Again, there was little worse that they could do to the Hog. Considering Sue had never driven a radio controlled vehicle before, she did surprisingly well. After some initial confusion at the start of the battle when the Hog missed the opposition completely and shot straight into the barrier, Sue managed to orient herself and flipped a number of other robots over. They also managed to self right a couple of times before a drive chain finally came off and they could only spin back and forth into the arena barrier. All in all Sue and Charlotte did a splendid job of battling it out against the other "girlie" teams.

Hog 2 after the battles

One of the many battles at Portsmouth

It was good to take part in this event and talk to the other roboteers. It was also good to hear about a live filmed event run by the Fighting Robots Association (FRA) that was due to take place at Bingham Nottingham this August Bank holiday. The general consensus was that Mentorn would not be planning any more Robot Wars battles, but instead associations like Robodome, FRA, Robot Rumble would be running exhibition events throughout the country.

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Last updated 12th May 2004