Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Meet The Builders #3 - Team Genesis

Antione Trabulsi of Team Genesis spent a bit of time with us last Tuesday at Kwartzlab in Kitchener to talk about his 150lb sumo bot Grand River Express.

Team Genesis - Antione Trabulsi

Antione is a seasoned veteran when it comes to robotic combat and FIRST robotics.

In fact as he outlines in the video a number of parts used in Grand River Express come from FIRST Robotics supplier Vex Robotics.

Vex is a great spot for motors, motor controllers and when it comes to gears and sprockets they are simply unbeatable!

Bonus, the Canadian shop ships out of Mississauga!

Grand River Express uses 6 CIM motors for drive and the Vex 2 speed ball shifter gearbox.
To power those CIM motors Antione uses a mix of Vex Talon SRX and Vex Victor motor controllers.

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Monday, November 2, 2015

Event #1 Videos!

With editing out of the way we are starting to roll out video of the fights for Event #1!

Check out our youtube page and playlist for more videos!

Huge thanks to Kinetic Maker Lab for providing numerous GoPro's and editing!

We'll be uploading almost 6 hrs worth of video to this playlist!

30lb Gigarange VS Lug Tread

30lb Clawed Crawler VS Jaeger

30lb Gigarange VS Dado Demon

150lb DeltaWye VS Grand River Express

We might have a lead on a new venue for Event #2 and Event #3 in 2016 so stay tuned!

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

How Do I Robot?! Part 2 + Meet The Builders #2

Building on the last instalment today we dive into control systems and motor controllers!
Sorry for the delay, this is the 3rd time I've had to re-write the article.

But first don't forget to checkout http://sparc.tools/
Not only is it full of info for new builders but is a virtual meeting place for a majority of combat robot builders the world over!

Last week we told you about the 4 components needed for any robot.

1: Motors
2: Batteries
3: Control system
4: Motor controllers

With these 4 basic components you can build robot. Without them you will certainly have issues.
We asked Idea Factory Labs a rookie team to take part in our second Meet The Builders Instalment.

Team Idea Factory Labs 11pm Sept 18th
Cameo by ShaunZ of Team Orbital Spin in the back!

Idea Factory Labs is a new team who had plans to build and enter a 30lb sumo robot for Event #1 at Maker Expo. Unfortunately they lacked one of the 4 critical parts and try as we might we could not get them online for Sept 19th. 

Here's their take on the success and failures of their first 30lb robot Revered Rust Bucket. 

As Andrew said, time is always a factor but without the basic parts its difficult to make progress.

So here's what you need to know.

- Control System -

When it comes to sumo bots you have two options
-Radio Control

What you decide here may effect what motor controllers you need.

Lets talk about tether control.
What is involved:
1) Control box
The drive uses a control box with a number of analog switches on it
2) Signal wires
Low voltage signal wires run from the control box into the robot. (This means you have a physical connection with the robot)
3) Motor controllers ESC/Relay (more on this later)

Here is a handy intractable on a simple tether controlled robot.

Items 1-2 are fairly simple so lets look at Item 3, motor controllers regarding tether control.
Depending on your operating voltage you may be able to use simple switched attached directly to the robots motors like in the above instruct-able. However it is more likely you will need to use relays.

Relays are easy to use electrical switches, by applying a low voltage and current say 5v and 500ma you can turn a relay on (or off). In doing so the relay then allows a higher voltage/amperage to pass through its circuit, say 24v 10amp.

Using a relay allows you to use safer power levels in your control box and keep the high power stuff in the robot.

Why can't I just run 24v and 20amps to my control box with switches?
Because its against the rules!

Automotive relays can be had for under $5 each and operate on 12v.

Standard relay: Will drive a motor in 1 direction
For forward and backward control you will require 2 relays.

Reversing relay: Will drive a motor in 2 directions
For forward and backward control only 1 of these is required.

Here is a quick list of single and double through relays.
-12v Reversing Relay
-24v Reversing Relay
-12v Standard auto relay

Here is a little diagram showing how relays work!

Imagine the light bulbs as motors and you can see how this might work in a robot.
Its worth mentioning however you would have to remove one of the light circuits. You will notice with this circuit one light is always on. This means if you replace the lights with motors then 1 motor will always be running.

Now lets tackle Radio Control

What is involved:
1) Radio transmitter
2) Radio receiver
3) Motor controllers ESC/RC Relay (more on this later)

RC transmitter and receiver

For purposes of this discussion we are going to assume we are using off the shelf components and not custom built radio systems.

First thing is you need a radio system. Stick to the following frequencies:
-FM 75mhz
-PCM 75mhz

Other frequencies such as AM or FM 72mhz are not suitable for ground based robots or unsafe due to  interference issues. Also avoid simple RC toy controllers.

A complete starter radio system can be had for less then $50

Your transmitter sends out a radio frequency which is then picked up by the receiver. The receiver then turns that signal into an electrical pulse (RC PWM). An electronic speed controller, ESC can then use that RC PWM signal to control a motor.

Here is a little setup picture of a basic RC setup.

- Motor Controllers -

Now its the big and more confusing topic. How do I drive my motors off an RC rig?!

Use an electronic speed controller (ESC) or an RC Relay

An ESC is a little circuit which interprets the RC PWM from the receiver and uses it to drive a motor.
An ESC allows you to run a motor from 0% to 100% and everywhere in between for proportional control.

When choosing an ESC consider the following;
-Motor Voltage
-Motor amperage

Lets assume we're using this motor:

According to the specification sheet this is a 12v motor with a stall current of 23amps.

The stall current is theoretically the most current this motor can draw, so our ESC should be able to handle a minimum of 23amps (lower and we risk damaging the ESC).

Here is a list of popular 30lb combat robot ESC's which would work in this instance
-BotBitz 30amp
-Talon SRX
-Roboclaw 2x30
-Marine Controller
-Scorpion XXL

A single channel ESC like the Talon SRX or BotBitz 30amp will drive 1 motor forward and backward.
A 2 channel ESC like the Ragebridge or Roboclaw 2x30 will drive 2 motors forward or backward independently.

For instance I use a Roboteq AX1500 2 channel ESC in my 120lb robot. This allows me to use 1 circuit board (AX1500) and run each set of drive motors of my robot independently.
Being able to run motors independently is important for a robot with tank style steering.

What is tank style steering?
The robot below has 2 wheels and 2 motors, one on each side of the robot. By altering the direction of these wheels the robot can drive forward/backward or turn.

What is an RC Relay?

An RC relay is kind of like a dumb ESC, it has a small circuit onboard which can read the RC PWM signal from the RC. When the signal from a transmitter is given the circuit in the RC Relay will open or close said relay.

Here is an example of a motor control circuit with an RC Relay.

Just remember, when relays are turned on they give the motor 100% power. This might make it difficult to drive.

The circuit above will allow you to remotely drive a motor in a single direction. You will need another RC relay wired slightly differently (with diodes) to drive the motor in the opposite direction.

Here is a list of RC Relays:
-Battle Switch
-Double Battle Switch (useful for running forward/backward)
-TD Relay (useful for running forward/backward)
-Pololu Relay

This should be more then enough to get to get you moving!

If you have more questions feel free to email, tweet or join our Facebook Group!

Until next time!

-Ravi B
All Black Robotics

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Friday, October 2, 2015

How Do I Robot?!

We've noticed a lot of google traffic searching for parts and insights into 30lb sumo robots. 
With that we decided to put out a little info to get you new builders started.

Don't forget to check out http://sparc.tools/
Not only is it full of info for new builders but a virtual meeting place for a majority of combat robot builders the world over!

You need a minimum of 4 parts for any robot.
Ravi Baboolal of All Black Robotics talks about the 4 components needed for a 30lb robot. 

1: Motors
2: Batteries
3: Control system
4: Motor controllers

 - Motors -

Realistically the aspiring builder has two options when selecting drive motors for a robot. 
A) scavenge / repurpose
B) purchase new

Which ever way you go it's good to keep in mind that you will likely need a gearbox or gearing system. A gear system utilizes gears, pulleys or chains to reduce the output of a raw motor into something more useful. For instance, the E-scooter motors I use on my 150lb robot Roach have an output of 2750 RPM (revolutions per minute) had I attached a wheel to that motor the robot would have had little pushing power but moved at 30mph...much too fast to be of use. 

Instead I used a series of timing pulleys and chains to reduce the motor output to something useful (1000 RPM) all while gaining much needed torque for pushing other bots around.

For an in-depth look at how gearing works check out;


Scavenging motors is an affordable way to go, though this doesn't mean digging through piles of trash looking for the perfect motor (most of the time). But rather repurposing readily available options such as cordless drill motors, E-scooter motors or car window/fan motors.

Cordless drill motors can be a great option, they are built to be powerful, lightweight and perfectly suited to run off DC power (battery packs). The drill motor itself comes with a gearbox which amplifies the motors raw power into something more useful.  The trick to working with these is they can be difficult to mount to a robot frame and have a threaded output shaft. However these issues are not insurmountable. There are a number of ready to use wheels and hubs which mount directly to a drill, otherwise you can mount your wheels to the motor with nothing more then a drill and the right thread cutting tap.

For details on dissembling a drill check;


If you'd rather buy a purpose built gear motor there are now many options built specifically for fighting robots. Check out the following websites;

Quick recommendations for the 30lb class; check out the Banebots gear motor and wheel combo

 - Batteries -

We could take an entire week to go through battery details. But I'm going to make this quick and easy. First thing you must do is select a voltage, this usually depends on the motors you're using. So lets say you've settled on 12v drill motors motors. Now we need a 12v battery with enough capacity for our robot. 

Here is a nice little tool for determining how much capacity you need, capacity is measured in Ah or Mah (Amp Hours / Miliamp Hours)

Lets say, 2x 12v harbour freight drill motors with 3" wheels 
This is a fairly common set-up.

The calculator will spit out a number, in this case 0.11Ah to run for 3 minutes. Meaning we need a battery with at least 0.1Ah or 1000Mah capacity. For this I may select a 12v 5amp sealed lead acid battery.

Like this;

At 6Ah we should be able to run for a lot longer then 3minutes too! 

You have a number of options when it comes to batteries. Generally select the battery with the highest capacity you can afford so long as it will fit in the robot.

Here would be a few other options:

or one of these

Battery Chemistries; 

For reference I used 2x 24v Nicad battery packs to run my 150lb robot Roach. The battery packs were run in parallel equating to 7.2Ah which gives me 10-15minutes of run time.

Which ever you select please research the battery, how it needs to be charged and the equipment required to do that. Most batteries require special charging equipment. 

Here is a little intro video for RC batteries;

Next week we'll cover Control Systems and Motor Controllers. 

If you have design or component selection questions do not hesitate to reach out via Facebook, email or twitter!

Until next time.

-Ravi B 
All Black Robotics

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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Meet The Builders! Segment #1 -Ravi Baboolal-

Our first segment of 'Meet the Builders' is out!
Join Bot Brawl founder and Maker Expo organizer Ravi B of All Black Robotics with a rundown of his 100lb robot Roach!

More to come as the various robot fighters competing in Bot Brawl's Ontario based events walk you through their robots and build styles.

Check back next week for Segment #2!

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Event #1 wrap up - Meet the Builders - Mayoral Battle

Good morning Makers!

We are now 3 days post Maker Expo and what a show that was! 
Despite a few downpours and grey sky Maker Expo hosted 7500 attendee's!

We would like to thank Maker Expo for hosting us and putting on an amazing show, cannot wait for 2016. Our sponsors Fingertech Robotics and Kinetic Maker Lab for their support, all our competitors who stuck it out in the rain and of course all of you who showed up to catch the battles!

We had a lot of great fights and thanks to KML they were all recorded. It will take us some time to process all the video but check back on where to find them.

-Meet The Builders-

Over the course of the next few weeks we will be posting a few 'Meet The Builder' videos where we meet with a few of our builders in their shops and discuss their robot, why they built them the way they did and some details on component selection.

Our first segment will go live later this week with founder and builder Ravi Baboolal of All Black Robotics and his bot Roach!

150lb fighting robot Roach - All Black Robotics

There is so much information to share but lets start with our winners for event #1
150lb class:
1st place - E.Honda <right> (Team Maple Bacon)
2nd place - SARS (Massacre Robotics)
3rd place - Grand River Express (Team Genesis)

30lb class:
1st place - Gigarange <right> (Robot Mafia)
2nd place - Lug Tread (Massacre Robotics)
3rd place - Dado Demon (Death By Design) 

-Mayoral Battle-
Big congratulations to Mayor Berry Vrbanovic from Kitchener who won the mayoral brawl!

Full videos of the battle will be out shortly. This was a lot of fun! Huge thanks to the mayors for their support and dedication. You can tell they had a blast!

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Thursday, September 17, 2015

2 Days to go!! Mayors + Toronto Star Article + Live Stream!

2 days until Canada's large and most brutal robot fight! 
Fights will run 10am - 6pm with the special Mayoral Battle starting at 2:30pm.
Sept 19th at Kitchener City Hall @ Maker Expo

 -Mayors Tricities Battle - 
Huge shout out to Berry Verbaonic, Dave Jaworsky and Pam Wolf for accepting out challenge and attending on Saturday. Not only are they fighting but allowed us to join up with the Maker Expo crew for a special kind of photo shoot. Turning each mayors office into a work shop we set them and let the photographer call the shots. Check out the each mayors robot story here;

Mayor Dave Jaworsky of Waterloo:

Acting Mayor Pam Wolf of Cambridge:
Mayor Berry Vrbanovic of Kitchener:

- Toronto Star - 
On August 28th the Toronto Star joined us and many other robot builders at Kwartzlab Makerspace in Kitchener for our first build session. 

Here is the resulting article! And its killer. 

*I never said Buggin'!!!*

Thanks to our sponsor Kinetic MakerLab we are able to live stream Saturdays fights including the mayoral battle at 2:30pm. 
If you can't join us on Sept 19th you can still catch the fights! Just go to the link below and you can watch the fights from your computer.

UStream portal: 

The live stream will be up by 11am on Saturday if not sooner. 
*tournament fights begin 11am* 

Thats a lot of GoPro's

You don't want to miss this
Trust me.
Event Date: September 19th 2015

Kitchener City Hall

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Thursday, September 10, 2015

Bot Brawl Build Session 2 + Video/Photos

Boy oh Boy we are but 1 week away from Sept 19th and the robot battles.
To say the least we have been BUSY.

Join us on Sept 19th 10am-6pm at Maker Expo at Kitchener City Hall.

This event is turning into something amazing, with 19 teams and droves of fighting robots we will be running fights throughout the day. Not to mention our special TriCitiesBrawl with mayors of Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge which begins at 2:30pm.

Ravi Baboolal of All Black Robotics teamed up with Darin White and knocked down the doors of Cambridge and Waterloo city hall for a photo shoot with acting mayor Pam Wolf and mayor Dave Jaworsky.  All in preparation for the TriCitiesBrawl where the 3 mayors of Waterloo Region will descend upon the arena and kick bot.

Check out the story on Mayor Dave Jaworksy and acting Mayor Pam Wolf!

Mayor Dave Jaworsky of Waterloo
Acting Mayor Pam Wolf of Cambridge

- Build Session -

We are proud to announce another Bot Brawl Build Session!
Join us on Sept 18th 5pm-10pm at Kwartzlab
All of our teams are welcome and the arena will be setup so you can get your practice in.
Interested parties welcome!

At our last build session we were joined by The Toronto Star! We can't wait for that story to go live.

*You should be telling everyone you know about this!*

Here are a bunch of pictures from the last two weeks.
150lb The Pusher - Robot Mafia
Build Session #1

30lb Gigarang - Robot Mafia
Build Session #1

Mock 30lb Battle

The Pusher getting a snack

 Taking a break with Brian from the Toronto Star

DW shooting Pam Wolf at Cambridge City Hall

Mmmm big fat 60amp electrical distribution system

150lb Roach - All Black Robotics
Getting fitted for electrical

30lb Lug Tread - Masscare Robotics
Farm tools for the win!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Registration Is Closed!

Registration closed at midnight last night. Its official we have 19 robots registered for Event #1 at Maker Expo on September 19th 2015!

19 robots, that is incredible and just speaks to the excellent maker community present here in Waterloo Region. Across the world gaining new recruits is very difficult for any combat robotics competition. Often numbers only grow by 1-2 builders a year!

We are over joyed to welcome 9 brand new builders into the fold!

*Update from All Black Robotics*
Caption: IT MOVES!

Here are our teams for Event #1:
Team NameRobot NameRobot Weight Class
Massacre RoboticsSARS Clever Class Sumo (150 LB)
All Black RoboticsRoachClever Class Sumo (150 LB)
TerrorMule IIClever Class Sumo (150 LB)
Robot mafiaThe Pusher Clever Class Sumo (150 LB)
Orbital SpinDeltaWyeClever Class Sumo (150 LB)
Scholars BotsKiller-MachineClever Class Sumo (150 LB)
GenesisThe Grand River ExpressClever Class Sumo (150 LB)
TerrorSiege EngineClever Class Sumo (150 LB)
Projects Addicts Anonymous 4 LowClever Class Sumo (150 LB)
Maple Bacon E. HondaClever Class Sumo (150 LB)
ECRobotGeorgeClever Class Sumo (150 LB)
ArmadilloSir TophamBotHobby Class Sumo (30 LB)
Untitled 1Thing 1Hobby Class Sumo (30 LB)
Death by DesignDado DemonHobby Class Sumo (30 LB)
Idea Factory LabRevered RustbucketHobby Class Sumo (30 LB)
TerrorClawed CrawlerHobby Class Sumo (30 LB)
Team EdwardsJaegerHobby Class Sumo (30 LB)
Robot MafiaGigarange Hobby Class Sumo (30 LB)
Massacre RoboticsLug TreadHobby Class Sumo (30 LB)

Join us September 19th for Canada's biggest robotic combat event!

Maker Expo @ Kitchener City Hall 10am-6pm, we'll be right outside in Discovery Square!

Event Date: September 19th 2015

Kitchener City Hall

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Sponsors Pt2 + The Challenge

We are but one month away from Maker Expo

Join us on Sept 19th along with over 100 other makers and exhibitors for what is proving to be an amazing and unique event.

Registration for Bot Brawl Event #1 closes TODAY AT MIDNIGHT!
Currently sitting at 16 robots we will not be extending registration so get in gear!

The Challenge

We are proud to announce the Mayors of Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge have accepted our challenge. On Sept 19th at 2:30pm the mayors will descend upon Maker Expo and battle it out, each piloting a monstrous 150lb fighting robot!

We hope this is the first of many annual TriCitiesBrawl's. The winner will receive a trophy to prove their dominance of the battle field. 


We are proud to welcome our friends at Kinetic Maker Lab to the Bot Brawl family!
Kinetic Maker Lab has committed to helping Bot Brawl set up camera's around our event to film, live stream and broadcast the fights! 

Thats right, thanks to KML we will be able to live stream the bot battles and build our video archive!

Kinetic Maker Lab's mission is something special. Taking a unique approach to the makerspace trend they are a 'pop up' maker space supporting community events such as the Cambridge Arts Fest, Maker Expo and more!

What can you expect from Kinetic Maker Lab?

Just to name a few activities here are some excellent kid friendly workshops.

If your considering attending a community event and spot Kinetic Maker Lab on the exhibitor list YOU SHOULD GO!

We were at Cambridge Arts Fest promoting Maker Expo and Bot Brawl placed in the same area as Kinetic Maker Lab. It was very very cool watching kid running around with jet-packs and weird robots. They were proud to show us what they built and why certain design elements made the jet-packs faster or the robots cooler.

Encouraging the next generation to think outside of the box, design and build something of their own is paramount and something we here at Bot Brawl can get behind.

Big thanks to Kinetic Maker Lab.

Registration deadline is August 19th
Don't Delay

Event Date: September 19th 2015

Get registered today for Bot Brawl!

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Challenge - TriCitiesBrawl

As the days tick away we are but 6 days away from the registration deadline!

Thats right August 19th 2015 is the cut-off, if your team has not registered by then you'll have to wait until event # 2.

If your not able to join us at a combatant for Event #1 then be sure to attend Maker Expo and catch the fights 10am - 6pm!

Better yet sign up as a volunteer to help run the show!


The Challenge!

We have challenged the Tri-City mayors of Kitchener, Cambridge and Waterloo to help us kick-off event #1 on September 19th by taking part in a robot battle.
We hope this is the first of many TriCitiesBrawl

Reach out to our mayors and encourage them to prove their metal in one of our robot battles!

Berry Vrbanovic - Mayor of Kitchener Ontario
Dave Jaworsky - Mayor of Waterloo Ontario
Doug Craig - Mayor of Cambridge Ontario

Mayor's of Waterloo Region, will you accept our challenge?


Again big thanks to FingerTech Robotics for sponsoring Bot Brawl.
Here is FingerTech's contribution to the prize pool.
Brand new 2.4ghz 6 channel radio control unit!

Registration deadline is August 19th
Don't Delay

Event Date: September 19th 2015

Get registered today for Bot Brawl!

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