Tuesday, June 30, 2015

So you want to fight eh?

You've seen the robots on Battlebots these past weekends, you spent your childhood watching Robot Wars on  TV and sketching robot designs over your morning breakfast cereal. Now you have a chance to build the bot you've always dreamed of! 

The question is, how do you get involved?

First step, register your team for Bot Brawl Event #1 at Maker Expo.

We are hosting 30lb and 150lb robots, build em at home, build em from wood, fight em at Maker Expo!

Event #1 is a modified sumo event. Robots will square off 1-on-1 attempting to push each other out of the arena. Robots may use lifting arms, wedges, grabbing claws and more to out smart their opponent. 

Here's an example of a simple but very effective robot;

Thomas Kenny's Pin Ball a simple 30lb steel wedge bot taking on the spinning drum of Higgins (Michael Fagan). Pin Ball is powered by four 18v cordless drill motors and armoured with a lot of steel.

*These are full on combat robots*

A similar simple wedge bot built by Joe Provenzano

Now what? How do you build a fighting robot?

Step 1: Take note of what tools you own
Step 2: Track down your local makerspace and find out what tools they own.
Step 3: Get on the SPARC forums, the worlds best fighting robot resource
Get on our forums for local builders
Step 4: Research and design
Read the rules
Step 5: BUILD

These bots are surprisingly easy to build. All methods of construction have merit. Bots build of wood, PVC plastic tubing, steel and sheet metal all have a place in the arena.

Have questions?
Tweet us at @GC_BotBrawl
Email us at gcbotbrawl@gmail.com


Join All Black Robotics at Kwartzlab every Tuesday night at 7pm where they will be building their 120lb Combat Robot and Bot Brawl Sumo bot.

How do I register? 
Spots are limited so register now using our online registration form!

*Registration fee required prior to event (payment through Eventbrite)
You can register now and pay before event date.

-$25.00CND for 150lb robots
-$15.00CND for 30lb robots
*Eventbrite fees apply (non-refundable)
All event fees are folded back into the event, for building the arena, renting equipment etc. But also prizes!

Due to space restrictions only two competitors per robot are allowed. Competitors will be given ID badges, required to access the pit area. Additional passes may be offered on a case by case basis.
Email: gcbotbrawl@gmail.com for details and requests.

Event registrations opens May 5th 2015 and closes August 19th 2015.

To register please fill out an event registration form and use Eventbrite to pay registration fees. Using the same email for both will help us organize. Furthermore please print out and bring the Eventbrite ticket with you to the event.

Event Rules
Event Registration
Event Payment
*please use the same email as event registration for fee payment.
Event Forums
Our forums are being populated with tips and tricks for building sumo robots.

Event Date: September 19th 2015

Get registered today for Bot Brawl!

Tweet us @GC_BotBrawl
Join us on Facebook @ BotBrawl

Friday, June 26, 2015

Bot Brawl is gaining ground!

We were recently contacted by CBC KW for some more information on Bot Brawl.
Thank you Andrea Bellemare!

This resulted in a radio interview and this web article!

Thanks to all of you out there Bot Brawl is becoming a force to reckon with!

Don't forget to sign up those bots before August 19th!
Event #1 will be at Maker Expo on September 19th 2015.


We are also working on a new website!

Massacre Robotics was kind enough to send us a few build pictures of

Get registered today for Bot Brawl!

Tweet us @GC_BotBrawl
Join us on Facebook @ BotBrawl

Monday, June 22, 2015

Interview with Team Armadillo!

We sat down with Neil and Ben Eaton of Team Armadillo on Tuesday night
at Kwartzlab Makerspace in Kitchener Ontario.

Bot Brawl is Canada's only robotic combat event hosting 30lb and 150lb combat robots. Event #1 will be modified sumo, robots with grabbing claws and lifting arms will be fighting one-on-one for supremely in our specially built arena!

Team Armadillo is a new father/son team working away on a 30lb sumo robot called
Sir Tophambot.

Wait, what?

Sir TophamBot, a quirky reference to a children's cartoon promises to be an interesting robot. We are sworn to secrecy regarding the robots inner workings. No pictures were allows. No cell phones or cameras were permitted into the shop. 

These guys are SERIOUS about this robot.


The Interview

 Q: What can you tell us about the bot?


*After some encouragement and promises of secrecy*

A: It has 4 wheels, unique steering system and secret weapon(s) 

This is our first competitive fighting robot. Collectively we have some experience with robotics, electronics and mechanical assemblies. But this project is our first fighting robot.

We're doing a lot of experimentation to nail down the unique steering and control system. We'll be doing the control system from scratch. The common R/C method of buying off the shelf parts doesn't make sense to us, its old technology! What we are working will be better in every way.

We did a lot of research on existing battlebots for this build, we wanted something different then whats out there. 

I snapped this picture on my way out while the team's attention was elsewhere
Experimenting indeed....

Q: How far along are you?

A: We are at the design level right now. Nothing concrete but we're getting there.
There's a lot of prototyping going on, first it was lego now we're moving into laser cut and 3D printed parts. We have a 3D printer at home but making good use of Kwartzlab's laser cutter for this job. 

We've begun a small degree of programming the control system, its all part of the development process.

The plan is to get the drive system done as soon as possible so we can get in a few thousand hours of driving practise in before Event #1 at Maker Expo. Thats only a few months away so we're working hard.

Q: So why bother building a bot?

A: First, for fun and a great learning experience. We've never done anything like this, its a great way to marry the skills we have on one project. All the experiments and design plans allow us to use skills otherwise separate on the same project. 

We're also makers so this kind of thing is right in our wheel house. We're really interested in testing our maker skill against other makers. Makers make because we love it, we'll make the best robot we can.

Q: Where have you been sourcing parts?

A: We snagged a few 18v drill motors from refurbished drills, we found a place at SouthWorks in Cambridge, ON. They were very affordable. 
KW Surplus, Sayal Electronics just to name a few. 

We're also planning to 3D print a few custom parts, maybe wheels...I read some interesting internet articles on urethane casting...

Oh and AliExpress, if you have the time to wait for shipments from China you can get almost anything from AliExpress. 

We got a great *REDACTED* for the modular weapon system

Q: Anything else you can share?

A: Well....The frame will be mostly steel and the outer shell's material will be weight dependant. 
Our plan is to disable the opponents traction so they can't push back against us. But the main strategy is to simply sweep the field and take home the gold.

Q: Any concerns?

A: Time...Time is always a factor and we only have a few months until Event #1 on September 19th. We want a driving frame in the next few weeks so *NAME-REDACTED* can practise his driving
Then there is the 30lb weight restriction, that can creep up pretty quick if we aren't careful.


We thanked Team Armadillo for their time, promised not to reveal their secrets...snapped a picture on the way out and ran for the door.

For a new team this father/son team is doing an awesome job. It looks to us like they are planning for every possibility.

Registration for Bot Brawl Event #1 closes August 19th 2015
Don't delay, register your robot before slots fill up.

Want to see the bots? Join us on September 19th at Maker Expo!

Get registered today for Bot Brawl!

Tweet us @GC_BotBrawl
Join us on Facebook @ BotBrawl


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Building Battle Robots on a Budget

Lets be honest, building fighting robots is a hobby. Its an awesome hobby but it can be expensive. 

Bot Brawl asked Jason Ribeiro of Team Terror to write an article regarding budget building.
Jason might be one of the worlds best budget builders. If you ask him about it on September 19th at Maker Expo he'll likely tell you hitting things with hammers and repurposing items is almost therapeutic. 

The repurposed lawn mower and steel
 making up Gloomsday's (220b) frame and drivetrain

Classifieds, flea markets, eBay, garage sales.  These are the supermarkets for budget builders.

That noisy power wheelchair with the sluggish batteries and the ripped seat.  That power wheels jeep 
that someone’s child has long since out grown.  Those cordless drills whose batteries are too expensive to replace.  These are some of the potential ingredients perfect for the budget builder’s recipe.

The design for a new machine is usually centered around the drive motors.  This is because the frame 
must fit around them, the wheel size is chosen based on their output speed, and the batteries and 
electronics are sized to suit their power requirements.  So where does one get cheap motors that could 
power a large robot?  


Power wheelchairs would be a number one candidate.  During their service life they’ve hauled around their owner, which when combined with the weight of the chair itself, could be approaching 450 pounds,  at a speed that is very respectable for a sumo robot.  Once their gearmotors have become too noisy, or batteries become too weak they can be found on local classifieds such as kijiji or craigslist for a bargain.

Powerwheel jeeps (kiddie ride-on cars) and cordless drills have similar drivetrains as they are both 
powered by hobby-sized 550 or 775 motors with an attached gearbox. Although their output speeds and mounting configurations are vastly different, a machine that uses 4 of either of these motors will have enough grunt to push an opponent off of the sumo platform. Perfect for a 30lb robot.

Stripped down drill motor/gearbox attached to a 4" lawn mower wheel

If you are adventurous and want to do your own gearing via gears, sprockets, or belts or some 
combination of the aforementioned, then there are several options for cheaply found DC motors.  

Electric ride on scooters and cordless lawnmowers will yield powerful motors, and there are many
others to be found on ebay and surplus stores.  For a 150lb machine between 1/4hp – 1 hp 
would be desired.


The framework and body of a bargain build could be made of materials such as plywood, angle iron, and sheet metal.  Even high quality structural plywood such as birch isn’t that expensive and can be found at home depot or other building centres.  Old bed frames are an excellent source of angle iron and can be found locally at the side of the road on garbage days at scrap yards.  The chassis and framework has to be strong and ridged but exotic materials are not required.


Wheels should be sized to the output speed of your gearmotors, or the gearing chosen for the 
drivetrain.  The mounting options for these wheels, whether for a live or dead axle are an important 
decision.  Cheap wheels such as lawnmower wheels can be coated with a grippy rubber such as bike 
tread or urethane.  Soft tread caster wheels are a good choice, and pneumatic wheels can be too.


The weight available in a large sumo robot gives you some options for battery choices.  I would 
recommend being careful about scavenging batteries as they are typically the reason why the 
equipment they’re powering is discarded.

Control System

The ruleset for the sumo allows for tether control, and this can be a cost effective but sometimes 
awkward route to take.  A hand held controller consisting of two DPDT switches can control small 
motors directly, or switch a set of relays or winch solenoids to give you forward/off/reverse control of 
your machine without speed control.  Using the stock wheelchair controller and joystick is another 
tether control option although the control can be very sluggish as the wheelchair controllers are 
programmed to avoid quick jerky movements.  

If radio control is the method you’d like to pursue then you have a couple “lower” cost options for 
suitably sized motor controllers.  VEX Pro has some cost competitive offerings that could control robots this large, as well as Victor ESC’s (883, 884, or 885 series) if one could find used units.  Companies like RobotPower, and Dimension Engineering have products worth reviewing as well. On top of a motor controller you will also need a radio system, its best to stick to a 2.4ghz radio system. If you can afford the wait time www.hobbyking.com has a great 2.4ghz radio selection, make sure you order from the US warehouse or the will ship from China.

-Jason Riberio
Team Terror

                Get registered today for Bot Brawl!
            *See below for Event #1 info*


              Tweet us @GC_BotBrawl
                Join us on Facebook @ BotBrawl


Friday, June 5, 2015

Bot Fight Videos + About Bot Brawl

Over the past few years 'Team Canada' has been travelling to the USA to fight bots!
Bot Brawl is proudly Canadian.

Bot Brawl is hosted by those Canadian builders, endeavouring to being a little what we love back home.

"Team Canada" Consists of 7 people and the following teams
Team Terror
All Black Robotics
Team Maple Bacon
Robot Mafia
Massacre Robotics
Team Genesis

Bot Brawl will be hosting 30lb and 150lb fighting bots on September 19th 2015 at Maker Expo.
Our bots won't be as deadly as those featured in the videos below but we're working our way up to it.
We will open with a sumo competition, building the ground work for killer robots!

Here are a few videos for your viewing enjoyment!
The Creature (Team Terror) vs Scary Mary
The Creature is a simple 4 wheel 150lb sumo robot built by Jason Ribeiro with adjustable forks.
Scary Mary uses a unique upward rotating mill cutter which grabs onto robots and lifts their wheels off the ground.

Diabolical Machine (Team Terror) vs Upheavl
Diabolical Machine is a simple investable 2wheel Saw bot built by Jason Ribeiro of Team Terror
Upheval is a very competitive pneumatic flipper

Sloth (Massacre Robotics) Vs Tripolar
Sloth is a monster with a custom made brushless motor and vertical disc built by Dalton OConner of  Massacre Robotics. 
Tripolar is a spinning ring of hardened steel and doom.

PitterPatter (Team Gensis) Vs Shaka
PitterPattern is built by Antoine Trabusli of Team Genesis and features a clever walking mechanism and little spinning disk. 
Shaka has a MASSIVE spinning disk!

Placebo (All Black Robotics) Vs Tough Nut
Placebo is built by Ravi Baboolal of All Black Robotics and features a 9in fly wheel powered by an 18v grinder and a few drill motors for drive.
Tough Nut is a tough little pusher bot

Gigarange (Robot Mafia) Vs Nyx
Gigarange is Logan Prizenac's baby using a slick 4-bar lifer as a weapon. 
Nyx is a modular robot able to wield a number of weapons.

Honourable Mention:
RoboGames 2015

And now the best fight EVER!

Gloomy Vs Hyper Active
Gloomy (white) is a buget bot with an overhead saw blade built by Jason Ribeiro of Team Terror
Hyper Active is a fully machined bot with a spinning disc.

Now that you've seen all of this.

Register now!
Scroll down to Post #1 for info on how!

If you like this post let us know by using

Get registered today for Bot Brawl!
*See below for Event #1 info*

Tweet us @GC_BotBrawl
Join us on Facebook @ BotBrawl

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Interview; Fighting Robots

A while back one of our builders; Ravi Baboolal of All Black Robotics sat down with Kwartzlab radio to talk about the world of robot fighting and how it evolves with new technology.

Kwartzlab is Kitchener Ontario's primer makerspace. Please stop by for their open house every Tuesday night @ 7pm.

Check out the interview:

There is passion in those words. Want to build your own fighting robots? 

Enter the Great Canadian Bot Brawl competition at Maker Expo on September 19th 2015!


If you like this post let us know by using

Get registered today for Bot Brawl!
*See below for Event #1 info*

Tweet us @GC_BotBrawl
Join us on Facebook @ BotBrawl

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Can fighting robots be considered art?

Jason Ribeiro of Team Terror says yes.

In the internaional combat robotics community Jason's creations carry a certain expectation. Art, functionality and thrift could be considered the corner stones of his design theory. Funny part is Jason doesn't consider himself an artist in the traditional sense. He is not a painter, musician or sculptor but rather a robot builder. His home is the battle box and the medium steel and mayhem. His machines are often regarded for their beauty as much as they are feared for their destructive power.

He is also a recycling mastermind, often using forgotten bits of steel and discarded power tools as a source of parts and materials for his bots. It is not uncommon for him to sit on something which has peaked his interest, for years in some cases until finding a perfect use for it. 

Just goes to show that art takes many forms. A painting, a lovingly prepared steak and even a killer robot.

We can't wait to see what Jason and Team Terror cooks up for Bot Brawl Event #1 at Maker Expo!

30lb combat robot Clawed Crawler 
with builder Jason Ribeiro

Team Terror carries 220lb Heavy Weight combat robot 
GloomsDay to the battle box

SteamPunk theme robot

If you like this post let us know by using 

Get registered today for Bot Brawl!
*See below for Event #1 info*

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Monday, June 1, 2015

Building robots using wood?!

Robots come in all shapes, sizes and materials.
Its usual for visions of steel and sparks to pop into ones mind when talking about fighting robots. However the truth is, wood is as practical here as anywhere!

Using a common material such as wood and thus common tools and techniques one can certainly build a 30lb or even 150 sumo robot.

Just take a look!
Using a few common materials and techniques builder Matt Spurk built a perfectly capable and certainly competitive robot. This bot weighs in at 15 pounds, but it scales. 

If you like this post let us know by using 

Get registered today for Bot Brawl!
*See below for Event #1 info*

Tweet us @GC_BotBrawl
Join us on Facebook @ BotBrawl