A lot of activity on the SORC Forum lately! Mark Setrakian has posted a proposed set of robot combat rules for future events, and Todd Mendenhall has posted a proposed set of arena specifications as well. Todd has even rendered up some very nice artwork ( 1 | 2 | 3 | 4) for some proposed arena walls! Looking very good, guys!
Okay, yes, I've been busy here in the last few days. There are just a lot of things I've been wanting to do to this site for a while, and so I am slowly getting them done.... If you've been checking back here every day for the last week or so (sure you are, aren't you?), you've noticed lots of changes and additions. Make sure you go through the whole left frame navigation tab to all the new areas! Most recently, I put together a collection of images from Hercules' various parts and posted it on the Hercules page. This should keep a few of you happy who keep e-mailing requests to see Herc! (You know who you are!). I'd also like to take this time to thank all of you readers for visiting my site and for all your continued support and e-mails! It definitely helps me to expand and improve this site when I hear your comments and praises! Thanks!
I made a few changes to this site today. You may notice that the tab window on the left has some more options, I moved the Media area to its own page, same for the Legal Letters. I also added a tab for the creator page and for sponsorship. You will of course also see a tab for my newest robot project- Nightmare!
Nightmare is currently only concept, and may end up as a completely new robot, or perhaps a weapon attachment to one of my existing robots. This Nightmare is as its name implies- a very brutal and destructive weapon of which we have not seen in Robot Combat in the past! A warning (and apology) to those who follow this website, I will be keeping a LOT of Nightmare TOP SECRET, due to it's unique and effective design.
Alright, alright, I know I've promised it for a while, and many of you have been mailing me about seeing some pictures, so, I finally put up some pictures and full description (well, almost) of Junior! (Sorry, still holding back on Hercules, though!) Check out the full Junior page!
I put together one of the standard "About the Creator" page, so you can read all about me and how/why I got involved in all this robot stuff.... enjoy!
Seems a bit quiet out there lately... Not a whole lot of websites getting updated.... What's everyone doing? Also, anyone notice how it got real quiet from Profile/Mentorn too? Hmmm... Wonder what's going on there?
Hey, if you have nothing better to do, why not and let me know what you guys are up to and if you have any suggestions/additions to this site! Thanks
Dave Cole has decided on the name "Robotics Challenge" for the event he is orgainizing for a Southern CA venue, exact location and dates yet to be announced. I will keep you posted as I find things out.
The SORC (Society of Robotic Combat) has created its own online Forum. Check it out.
Take a look at the Lego Mindstorm's page about their L.A. RobotTour '98. Christian Carlberg got a picture and mention in the article, and there is a lot of other good information there too!
Hercules and Junior have not been up to much at all this week- mostly hanging around the garage. I may be doing some work on Hercules before the next event to make him 4-wheel drive, if I can find a way to trade off some weight. I've been taking a break from robots and getting some stuff done around the house. I'm also involved with a bunch of stuff at work, and I am also working on getting a new car and computer in the next few weeks, so as you can see, I have plenty to keep me busy. Once things get back down to earth with my new car (either an Explorer or 4Runner, I think), I will probably be working on my second-most expensive hobby - car audio. I don't believe I've said much about it here before, but I am one of those guys that can rattle your fillings when I drive by. (Not that crappy cardboard box sound, either- I like the quality stuff!) Eventually, I'll be putting up a separate page here when I get the time to show off all about my adventures in the competition car audio field.
A new person on the Robot Wars Forum has stepped up to fill Gary Cline's shoes. Dave Cole has been actively posting very positive messages regarding the possibility of holding another Robot Combat event. Apparently he has the backing of a LOT of lawyers who are more than eager to fight this battle for us. Time, of course, will tell what could actually become of this, but I for one am taking a back seat on this one. We've already seen what Profile's lawyers are capable of. I'll believe it when I see it. The thing that I am mostly conerned with is this: why the heck do we have to start something ourselves? Marc Thorpe has already been fighting this fight against Steve Plotnicki for us for over a year now. Why shouldn't we just wait to see what the outcome is? Can't everyone just hold out and wait to see if things will fix themselves? If we have to wait, why not just face the facts that we might just have to wait until next August? I'm sure I'm not the only one who could use the time to relax and possibly upgrade the already finished robots.... Oh well, that's just my opinion, and of course if someone puts together another event in the meantime that is just meant to tide us over til the next Robot Wars, I will be there. (As long as it doesn't have Profile's name anywhere on it). If you'd like to see what Mr. Cole has been talking about, check out the Robot Wars Forum, there are more than enough postings to get the gist of what his plans are.
There was also an announcement for the UK alternative- a live "constructors" contest to be held in central England possibly before December. Anyone interested can contact Magenta@proweb.co.uk, stating interest and details. Man, looks like this alternate event thing is becoming quite the popular way to go! Even in the U.K.!
Hey, Steve P., from the looks of this, you are NOT going to get to corner the market on Robotic Combat. Do you really want to fight this kind of thing for the rest of your life? Maybe now you are getting a clue, eh? Why not just give up now so you can get back to your other life? Time to stop messing with the robot competitors, we aren't like a stupid Rap group that just needs better control and management. We are everywhere. YOU are only one. If you give up now, we'll send you a video of our next event. Deal?
Well, this weekend was definitely different than what we have been looking forward to all year, as instead of getting into an arena and focusing on robot destruction, we got together to discuss the topics surrounding our mess. At the SORC Meeting yesterday, we met to discuss how to save the demise of the sport we love so dearly. The meeting took place yesterday in downtown San Francisco. There were a good number of people in attendance, and it was a great opportunity to meet other competitors from the past as well as future. Several robots showed up (too many to mention here), some pretty cool designs so far. I even brought Junior in for his first public appearance, but Herc had to stay in the car (those stairs were far too narrow...) The meeting mostly consisted of people throwing out opinions, and from what I saw, the only good information from it came out in the first 15 minutes or so, where it was announced by Todd that Profile has contacted SORC about holding some event as representatives of Profile. While some people may think this looks like a good deal, simply because it gets us into an arena (which seems to have been the preference for most people there), I give warning: any deal you sign with the devil is still a deal with the devil; no matter how good it looks. Marc found that out early in his partnership with Profile, I suggest we stay away from that altogether. But, of course this is only my opinion. It was brought before the group as a show of hands whether we should stick it out and wait for the battles Marc is fighting for us to come to a conclusion, or if we should try to go on without Profile/Marc. It seems that more people just want to get things going at any cost. I know a lot of you competitors just want to get things going, but remember that we are looking at the big picture here- many many years of Robot Competition are ahead of us, not just the next one. I for one think we should just be patient and wait to see how things play out.
Anyway, after the meeting, a few of us got together, and Team LaMachine and I (and a few others) went out to practice a bit with our machines- Ginsu and Hercules got to show off a bit. We both found that there are a few things we need to work on, so a little bit of time to make robot modifications is fine with me. I will keep posting updates here as long as I have something to say, but I assume there will be a bit of a slow period. And for all of you that have been asking and begging to see some pictures, YES, I will have some up very soon (at least of Junior!). Stay tuned!
Carlo Bertocchini also put together a rundown of the meeting. Read it here.
The follow-up article appeared in today's L.A. Times about the cancellation of Robotica. It really is unfortunate that they end up having to print this kind of article, but communications like this are the only way the public is getting informed on the mess we are in!
I added the Order on Consent that was delivered to Gary Cline, which subsequently stopped Robotica '98 from happening.
I scanned and OCR'ed the article from last Sunday's L.A. Times (came out pretty good, but I haven't proofread the whole thing). It is a great article, and it's pretty long, but you gotta read the whole thing, it's a riot! I can't believe how much of the interview with me got printed!!! Too bad they have to print a follow-up about the cancellation tomorrow (watch the LA Times site for the follow-up article, and I'll try to post it here too).
Not too much new to report this time, although it looks like there are a few more details flowing out thru the press, etc about the cancellation of Robotica. It seems that Profile had everything arranged to file suit and threw the possiblity at Gary, saying that the suit would be dropped if the event was cancelled. What choice is there? Gary had to cancel- he was already too far into it financially, he couldn't add to it the cost of a legal action. Of course, we don't have too much info from Profile's side except for a quote in the SF Chronicle, and an interesting e-mail sent to me from Steve P. himself. As for this weekend, it would seem that the only plan is for a get-together of SORC to discuss things and perhaps show some deactivated robots. You can read about how to get there in the following message from Todd M., the chairman of SORC.:
The meeting is at 571 Mission St. in San Francisco. This is on the outskirts of the financial district. If you have a robot, show up at 10:30 am and we will be setting up. The general meeting starts at 11:00 am and goes to 4:00 pm. Remember to bring chairs if you have them!
You can get onto Mission St from 101 north. Follow Mission until Second Street. You will see a triple wide billboard on the right that has a woman painted orange with an orange peel around her. That is the building. There is a construction site next to it. The first door past the construction fence is the one. It is on the second floor. The stairwell is wide enough for any robot.
For those getting there by car, there is are two parking lots directly across the street. One is at street level, and the other is underground. They are fairly expensive, but if you drive south a few blocks there are some cheaper lots.
I will try and post a map and agenda ASAP. I am going to make the meeting style less formal so that family members can attend without being bored to death! There will be some discussion groups going on as well as "show and tell". BTW, if a couple of people can stay after 4:00 pm and help me clean up, I would greatly appreciate it.
Everyone repeat after me (if you can carry a tune, sing it)
RULES: 1) All robots are to be "deactivated". No power to locomotion, no power to weapons. Absolutely no pneumatics or hydraulics energized. If you have an electric lifter or mechanism that you want to demonstrate, that's fine. Safety first!
2) You will be asked to show ID and sign in. This will allow us to keep a record of our visitors.
3) The purpose of the meeting is threefold, first to show solidarity, second to discuss the growth path of the SORC and finally to give some technical education (everyone will learn somthing!).
I have a lot to say today, so a warning: this'll be a long read for ya....
If you get a chance, check out today's (Sunday) L.A. Times! There is a great article about Robot Wars/Robotica, and I am featured, along with my robots! So is Team La Machine/DoAll, Blendo, and others! They really go into some detail (probably more than I even let on here on my page) about both of my robots, so if you want some of my secrets, there ya go! The article is a kick in the pants, you GOTTA check it out! I'll probably scan it in here and post it later!
HERCULES IS DONE! Not that it makes any difference, since there is no competition to go to, but I worked all weekend on finishing him, just because I was determined by my own schedule to complete the project. He performs as good as I had planned. The armor looks fantastic and everything is working perfectly. I even took him out in my parking lot to test him out a bit. I adjusted my radio to have him go at 60% so I wouldn't run down any garage doors or any more curbs, and practiced driving. He is fairly smooth to control at that speed. I may have some presets on the radio so I can run him slower with a flip of a switch. Then, I decided to go ahead and try the TOW challenge....(idea stolen from Team Delta's website and Corporal Punishment). I hooked up a rope to my car, put it in neutral and hooked the other end of the rope to Herc. My wife got in the car (to apply the brakes if needed), and I gave Herc the juice. He towed the car about 20 feet! Now, keep in mind that he was still 'turned down'! After 20 feet, the car wheel hit a bump and I had Herc do a little rocking action to get it rolling again, and it SNAPPED the nylon rope! YESSSS! I think he passed that test! I still have a few minor details to complete on Herc, such things as putting on any logos, etc, but it appears I will now have plenty of time for that!
I'm not even going to get into too many more details here about Robotica being cancelled. I'm still too pissed off. I have a feeling that some of the competitors will still probably be getting together- with or without their robots- next weekend anyway. If I hear about anything happening that I can say publicly, I will let you all know. At least there is something to look forward to, meeting other people who until now have only been faceless e-mail addresses, etc. Looking around on the web and the forum, I see some of the competitors just hanging up their hats and continuing on, but I am really finding that concept very difficult for me. I just can't take the last 10 months and flush them away. Something has to be done. No more on that for now....
Anyway, I did get a bit of a 'fix' for my need for robot competition! At work on Friday, I brought in Junior, and that afternoon, I met with a fellow ILM employee, Grant Imahara, who is also building a middleweight (about 90 lbs so far), Deadblow- who is still without armor, but his weapon and drive system is fully functional.. We decided to show off our robots a bit to some people in the company, so about 30 people gathered around to watch us beat up a wooden box. Well, temptation got the best of us, and soon we left the shattered box behind and went after each other instead. Deadblow got a couple of hits in on Junior, but soon I was able to flip him onto his side. Unable to right himself, I helped out and flipped him back over. This went on for a while, and then I got a perfect shot at Deadblow's underside, and Junior was able to lift Deadblow completely and suspend him in the air! The crowd was going nuts! Humilated and falling apart, Deadblow retreated back to the bench, and Junior drove back to my car, a little dented, but uninjured. THAT was satisfying! And guess what? No interference from Steve Plotnicki! HA!
Well, that's about it for now. For some reason (Gee, I don't have a clue as to why..), I am not quite as excited about finally finishing Hercules now. I had been planning a big website addition, complete with pictures and details when he finally was done, but now I simply don't have the energy. Stay tuned, though. I'll get to it eventually. After next weekend, I plan on taking a LONG and much-deserved break. This time also happens to fall on my wife's last week of her school semester, so we finally get a chance to spend some quality time together without schoolbooks or robots. Maybe even a vacation... Now THAT I am really looking forward to!
Robotica is getting CANCELLED! Apparently, Profile Records (half-owners of the Robot Wars name) is serving Gary Cline (who has been privately paying for and arranging everything for Robotica) an injunction by the United States District Court Southern District of New York. This appears to be enough legal action to intimidate poor Gary Cline into cancelling the event. I do not blame him, nobody can do too much against a multi-million dollar company on that legal level.
This, of course INFURIATES me! Needless to say, I have spent a LOT (heck, there is no word besides ALL that describes it) of time preparing for a '98 event. And I am only one of a HUGE number of others who have spent countless hours and dollars on their creations in preparation for an event. People have plane tickets and hotel reservations, my dad was flying out from Colorado just for this, so many people and even television shows, newspapers and more, were counting on this to happen. And we can only guess how this is affecting Gary. Right now I am still in shock about the news, which I am sure will develop considerably within the next few days. I will try to keep up with it here, but for the best source of information, please check the Robotica site and the Robot Wars Forum.
At this point I don't know what is going to happen, but there are sure a LOT of angry people right now, Profile, (I know you guys read this) you have killed more than you realize- you are nailing shut the coffin of the entire future of this sport, not just for everyone here, but for yourselves as well. I just can't figure you guys out. WHY the hell are you guys so cruel to do something like this? Please explain to us what you hope to achieve with this.
All invitations to Robotica have been filled! If you didn't get your waiver in, you'll have to wait until the next robot competition! Only about a week left before the big event! I don't know about the rest of you competitors out there, but I for one am EXCITED!!!!
Hercules is ALMOST done! Just a few more adjustments and parts to mount, but all should be complete this weekend! Also got in the base-loaded antennas for both robots, I'll be installing them probably tonight or tomorrow.
The Society of Robotic Combat (SORC) has their web page up! Check it out! Great job, guys!
Well, here is is, August! Robotica is in less than two weeks!
To clean this up, I have moved the July updates to its own page, see the links below for all previous '98 updates.
Well, as you probably noticed, its been a few days since I've updated, that means I have been VERY busy with the robots. Since the last update, I have done all the following (and then some!):
I picked up the Titanium armor for Hercules (it is VERY nice and strong stuff! I'm glad I had someone else do it for me, I sure did not have a clue how to weld/bend/cut this stuff!), I've rewired much of Herc, including adding in the charging adapters and power switch, added in more battery supports, reinforced the front of the frame (again...- you can never have TOO much support, especially in the "impact" zone!!!), sealed down everything that might move around, added all the side armor, positioned the top armor to verify that it lines up with the bottom plate, started mounting the bottom armor, cut all the internal armor plates (stainless steel), reconstructed one of the castor wheel supports (it was starting to bend when I would drop the robot on its wheels from a couple feet off the ground), completely reconstructed the support for the weapon motor (the cheap mounting bracket that shipped with it was bending and cracking from the stress, so I constructed my own motor mount), and spent half a day cleaning and reorgainizing all my tools and parts in my garage to be ready to pack everything for Robotica. Whew! Herc is looking like an actual competitor now!
On the whole, things are looking rather good! I ordered two specialized electronic antennas for both robots, (by suggestion from Dan Danknick), they should be here in the next couple of days. This week, I will be putting in an hour or so after work each day to finishing Hercules- which mainly just consists of mounting the top and rear armor plates, and by next weekend, I plan on getting out to yet another isolated parking lot with a few large metal 'targets' to practice Hercules' weapon. After that, I won't have much opportunity to practice driving skills, since the following weekend is Robotica!!! Oh well, a destructive, almost out of control robot is not neccesarily a bad thing for a competition event... I just might take out more walls of the arena instead of actual robots! (Man, I'm SUCH a tease, aren't I?)
Yesterday, a reporter from the L.A. Times came by to interview me about the robots... cool. I got to demonstrate a bit and showed him how Junior could tear a 20 pound cinder block into several pieces- it was pretty cool! Speaking of Junior, not much else going on there, he's basically just waiting to fight the small selection of Middleweights at Robotica in two weeks... I may open him back up to put on some protective wire wraps and maybe reinforce the sawblade arm (yes, his secondary weapon is a saw, almost like how I had Hercules '97, so he truly lives up to his name of 'Junior'!
That's about it for now, dunno if I'll get a chance to update this week, so hope this will tide you all over! Are you guys EXCITED yet??!?!?! LESS THAN TWO WEEKS TO GO!!! WooHoo!