July 1999


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I got a copy of the letter that Steve Plotnicki sent out to the registered entrants of Robot Wars '99, notifying them of the cancellation of the event.

Hope you're almost done with your robots! Only a couple weeks left until BattleBots!


These updates may get fewer and shorter in these final weeks leading up to BattleBots, as I'm finding myself running out of time and still too much work to do on the robots. I managed to get a lot of work done on Nightmare this weekend, completely finishing off his electrical system and most of his "Secret Weapon Configuration A" . I will be finishing this up by next week and doing all the finishing touches (painting, testing the weapons, finishing the armor, etc.) soon. Junior should keep me busy next weekend, as I have not done much with him lately.

The BattleBox is going to RULE!
I attended a painting party in the east SF bay area on Saturday to help Trey and others prepare parts of the BattleBox- arena for BattleBots. About half a dozen people showed up to help out. Oh man, you guys are going to LOVE this arena! We unloaded two huge semi trailers with a bunch of the huge steel sections of the arena floor, and still only got to less than half of them! (144 modules in all!) After first wiping them down with lacquer thinner, we began applying the "Posi-Traction" coating, which is a very cool black textured surface coating for maximum traction. We also unloaded the arena "curbs", which are covered with huge steel spikes (VERY VERY sharp!) and did the same with them, although with different paint. The huge walls also came out of the trucks and a small section of arena was constructed right there in the parking lot for testing purposes. I definitely approve! Until now, you guys have seen NOTHING in the way of a cool robot combat arena, this thing will knock your socks off!
There will probably be another painting party next weekend, and I'm sure the BattleBots crew could use some more help. Contact them to find out if you can help!

BattleBots has announced a discounted rate for competitors to get friends and family into the event. Instead of the regular $35 rate per session, contestants can get up to 10 of their freinds, family, admirerers, whatever, into each session for only $10. See the BattleBots site for more info.

Oh yeah, and on a lesser note, it looks like the '99 Robot Wars event has been cancelled due to lack of interest, since after all, everyone will be going to BattleBots anyway. The RW website has been pretty much shut down, information regarding the '99 event has been removed, and the RW Forum has been taken offline as well. The few people who had actually registered their robot for the RW event have had their fees refunded with a letter attached stating the unfortunate cancellation. More on this subject later as information comes in. My sincere condolences to those who had made travel arrangements, or who were buiding robots for that event and will be unable to attend BattleBots. If this is you, let me know, I'd like to see what I could do to help.

Gary Cline posted a cool "How To Attend a Robot Competition" message on the BattleBots Forum recently, and I thought it was very worthy of reposting here.

Oh, and to the creep who has been spying on me in my neighborhood, taking unauthorized pictures of my property and of Nightmare, consider this your first warning- next time the robot will be on your heels, so watch yourself- I'll be watching you too, and I don't take kindly to invasion of my privacy, neither do my neighbors, next time we're calling the cops.

Thanks, now get back to work.

7/19/99 (P.S.)

I stumbled across a cool article that was written a couple years ago on ZD The Site with dailogue from Blendo's Jamie Hyneman, and a hilarious interview with Greg Munson and Trey Roski (now fearless leader of BattleBots) from Team LaMachine, this gives you a great side of the personalities involved with all these cool guys! Check it out if you haven't seen it before!

The specifications on the BattleBox (arena for BattleBots) have been posted! Wow, this thing is quite impressive! Can't wait to see if it can contain Nightmare effectively!

Speaking of the bad-boy himself, I worked on Nightmare all weekend and made a ton of progress, but he's still not done. I think I will have him 99% complete by next week. I worked on his weapon a lot this weekend, so I can't tell you all that I did, but I am very pleased indeed! I now have two separate modular configurations for the weapon, one significantly larger and more powerful than the other, but definitely heavier! Which brings me to the point on weight:

Nightmare with "Secret Weapon A" Configuration 206 pounds
Nightmare with "Secret Weapon B" Configuration 189 pounds

Okay, I need to work on that 6 pounds he is overweight on the "A" configuration, but since this weigh-in, I was able to shave off about 2 pounds from his frame already, and have some places I can lighten on the weapon itself, so it shouldn't be a big deal. I was very happy that he came in underweight on the "B" config! I thought he would be much more than that! I may have to add something else to it to get the weapon a bit heavier! Heh heh...

I also discovered that my 8 gauge wires for the weapon are heating up a bit more than I wanted to during the operation, and I certainly don't want those to melt, so I will be upgrading to 4 gauge, that may add a pound or so that I have to shave off elsewhere...

I couldn't resist the temptation of testing Nightmare's weapon out on his first target- lets just say I shouldn't have- at least not so close to the garage....
I sure wish he was small enough to transport by vehicle to a remote location! Did I mention he is BIG?

Got some minor work done on Junior too, but he isn't quite as far along... It shouldn't take much though.

Next weekend (and weeknights this week) are almost all wiring and electronics mounting,for Nightmare, and hopefully some real testing if I can find a trailer to haul him away!

I posted a few new pictures on the Nightmare page! I can't wait to post them ALL, but if you weren't totally surprized out of your pants at BattleBots, what fun would that be? : )

One Month until BattleBots!

The 1999 BotBash in Phoenix, Arizona went well, I was not able to attend this year, but from what I am hearing, and what is being posted on the Forum, everybody had a blast! The results and other info can be found on the BotBash website. Congratulations to the winners and to everyone who was involved in this event! I am pleased that things went well and was wishing every moment that I was there.

As you may have noticed, its been a few days since I've updated here. Like I mentioned in my last posting here, I have been very busy with robot building and family stuff. I had a great time this past weekend with my Sister and Brother in-law and their three kids staying with us. The twin boys (Joshua and Micah) really get into all my robot stuff and even at the age of 8, these kids can put together some pretty cool robot designs! Maybe someday we'll see them at BattleBots with an entry of their own! Time spent with family took up most of the weekend, which was a great way to get me out of the garage for a while....especially since it's been over 100 degrees lately! Whew!

In the meantime, I finished Nightmare's primary weapon. It came out even better than I expected, although I still have no idea how well it will work, because I have yet to get him out in a remote area for complete testing. Maybe soon, we'll see.

I also started getting all the parts I need for Junior's new weapon attachment. I took off his cutting disc from last year (trashed his motor on accident, and can't find a replacement of the right size), and am making a new weapon in it's place, possibly a rear lifter arm like he has in the front, possibly a spike like his daddy Herc. Or maybe just a scoop or such. I haven't totally decided yet, but I am pretty much refusing to buy anything new, so I have to make do with what I already have in the garage. (Yes, I know I'm cuting it too close on time, but hey, its only an additional attachment). I should be able to get some work on it done this weekend after Nightmare. After all, I built most of Junior in only two days, so I figure I can probably do a change on him pretty quickly.

Still no word on what is going on with Robot Wars. Rumors are flying around the forums that their August 20-21 event will probably be cancelled. The organizers are keeping quiet, and it's getting too late for people to make travel and robot plans for that event, so it looks like BattleBots will definitely be THE event to go to this year! I can't wait, this is going to be AWESOME! Stay tuned to the Forums and the official sites (and of course here) for more info as it comes in.

I reserved the truck for transportation to BattleBots! I'll be bringing down all 3 of my robots, but competing with only Nightmare and Junior. Herc will have to be the emergency backup robot, or maybe he can play in a grudge or something. We'll see. He's still all taken apart since his last major upgrade in February! In any case, I'll be in Long Beach about a week early as I attend Siggraph '99, and take some much-needed vacation time off work. Hmm, that leaves only a couple more weeks to finish up my robots! Yikes! Back to work now........


The Robot Wars suit against BattleBots has officially been dropped! Yippee! Download the Acrobat pdf document announcement.

I got a lot of work done on Nightmare this past weekend, including almost all the wiring and mounting of the electronics. I started on the weapon mount and did a quick test-run of the weapon and was VERY pleased at its amazing power! I also had a brainstorm over the weekend for a couple of additions to the weapon for modularity depending on the enemy he will be facing, and I will be buying parts and getting them welded this week thru next. Not sure if I will be able to do any work on the robots this coming weekend, as I have more family coming into town. I know I'm running out of time, but I should have everything done in plenty of time and even get a cool paint job done on the robot.

I know I asked before, but I didn't get a whole lot of response yet (as a matter of fact, I have misplaced the two responses I received before, sorry!), are any of you interested in going in on the cost of a rental truck In August to haul robots/tools/whatever down to Long Beach for BattleBots from the SF Bay area? I myself am bringing three large robots and a plethora of tools, but there will be room for several other 'bots and stuff too! Interested? E-mail me!

I have to share with you guys a very cool invention I saw on TV last week. It is an extremely cool electric wheelchair that can do some spectacular feats, including driving thru sand, gravel, up curbs and even climb stairs!But best of all, it can actually stand up on two wheels, raising the seat up to standing height and maintain its own balance with the help of 6 gyroscopes! I was thoroughly amazed at this invention, which turns out to have come to life thru the same mind who brought us the F.I.R.S.T. Robotics Competition- Dean Kamen! Check out the MSNBC link for the full story and video of the Nightline spot that aired the other night!



Well, even just a half-day in the shop, and I've made some serious progress on Nightmare! He's ALIVE!
Yes folks, I drove him around for the first time today in his final (albeit weaponless) form. I was extremely pleased at his performance! I spent much of the day wiring up the drive motors and routing the cables carefully through the frame to the well-consealed and protected Vantec speed controller. Once everything was hooked up, I flipped the switch and started driving with no problems at all! I am also very happy to say he drives equally well forward as he does in reverse -something I have not been able to do with my three previous robots- something always seems to pull or swerve, but not this time!
I did the riding test too, driving around my wife first (hey,she was more than willing, its not like I forced her--much) and then myself. Still no noticable slowdown even under that much load! After about 20 minutes of this, battery, motors, and speed control were all still cool to the touch- excellent!
I continued on, working on the weapon mount, and made great progress there as well. So far I think he weighs in at about 120lbs, and the rest is weapon and one small piece of titanium armor. I should get him to a scale soon to make sure I'm not too far over budget.
So far, most of Nightmare is welded, I've counted only 16 bolts (grade 8, of course!) holding on various components, he will be very sturdy when complete!

Well, that's about it, no work on robots tomorrow (Happy 4th of July!), but I have Monday off, and all day is dedicated robot-work!


Here we are, a new month, and I've archived the June updates below to keep things nice and tidy around here.

Today, Marc Thorpe posted a message on the Robot Wars Forum stating his support for the 1999 Robot Wars Event. Here is the text:


Robot Wars R99 is coming up on August 20 -22. Although my role in the event
was initially going to be limited, I've decided to be involved with the
production of this year's event. While I'm anxious to continue the tradition
of the annual event held at Fort Mason in August, the scheduling of another
event has created a conflict for those of you who can only compete in one of
these events. My preference would be that the other event move to a
different date and, in fact,I've asked the promoters to do so. The annual
August Robot Wars in San Francisco is a well-established tradition. If you
find that you cannot attend more than one event, I would like to encourage
you to attend Robot Wars -- the event that has special significance to me
because I conceived it and it follows the rules that I developed. Entry
forms were just distributed. I will be at RW R99 and I hope to see you there.

After reading this, I decided to call Marc, since this seemed so unlike him, given his previous postings. In the course of the conversation, I barely got any information from Marc, and he sounded extremely exhausted the whole time. When asking about the posting on the Forum, the only responses I could get from him were "It speaks for itself" , and "I'd rather not talk about it".

Needless to say, this seems a bit strange to me. Knowing I wouldn't really be able to find out what was really going on, I asked Marc how he was doing, to which he replied, "I'm doing the best I can".

It seems apparent to me that there is a lot going on that we don't know about. I myself feel considerably misinformed. I am just glad that things are at least in order for some Robot Combat events to take place this year, but I am very dissappointed at what Marc still seems to be going through.

If I hear anything else on this subject, I'll be sure to let you all know.