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!

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