3/26/98 - Okay, things are a bit better now. Talked with several Electronic wizards, and it turns out that these motors are just so powerful that they are acting as generators with any movement! With any motion of the motor, the positive terminals are feeding back a significant amount of power- so you can imaging at 6000-10,000rpm, thats a lot of power, so what was happening is that I could speed up the motor just fine, but when I stopped the signal, the motor would still be spinning down and the leftover juice had to flow somewhere, and it was going right back into the Vantec. That reverse current fried it. Well, that narrowed it down, so now I knew I needed to keep the current from flowing backwards, so I wanted to add a diode on each side, unfortunately all the diodes I was finding were only rated and handling like 1-20 amps, not 100 or more that this needed, but one of the guys I work with found a company that sells 150 amp diodes! Needess to say, they are on the way-they'll be here tomorrow... I'm gonna have an interesting time finding how to dissapate all that heat those suckers are gonna build up. Maybe I can get this thing to work after all! This weekend should almost finish off the entire drive system. Next after that is getting the armor formed- not sure if I mentioned it here before, but I've got all my Titanium plating! Just got to find someone to bend it the way I want it.
3/24/98 - Well, things are not so good lately... Almost everything has been too perfect up to this point, something had to come up....I've been testing the robot drive system and so far have blown two speed controllers ($200 each- $75 each for repairs). I think these darn motors are pushing more amperage than the controllers can handle (and they are the highest power-handling available!), or else there is something else wrong with my wiring, which I spent the entire weekend trying to figure out what went wrong, and as a result, I think I am getting real close to just pulling these monster motors out and replacing them with more standard permanent magnet ones instead. Its depressing- I wanted these motors to work so badly, that it may not be worth it to pursue them further at this point- besides there are a few upsides to less-powerful motors- less weight (I can add more armor in the places I need it most), simplified speed control system (no more solenoids needed, just one Vantec), less of a headache on the programming of my Futaba 9ZAW radio (it has been a headache programming the specialized functions for the switching motors).... At this point I am not sure what I'm gonna do. Heck, not even sure if Robot Wars is actually going to happen! If you don't know what I'm talking about, read the letter Mark Thorpe sent out to the Robot Wars competitors. Well, until next time.....wish me luck!
3/11/98 - Got all the speed controllers I need for both robots today. Thats two heavy-duty ones for Hercules' drive motors, one bi-directional one for the weapon arm, one for Herc Jr.'s Drive system (to replace the one Blendo destroyed), and a few extras (just in case something goes wrong, I'll have a backup!) The whole thing came to over $1500, but it will be well worth it. I'll be working on installing them this weekend! Can't wait to actually DRIVE the new robot!
3/3/98 - Well, I've been making some BIG progress on Hercules II.
I have about 90% of the parts I need, including the INCREDIBLE motors, huge
11.6" diameter wheels, my new (and truly amazing) 9ZAW Futaba controller,
three main Vantec speed controls (plus some extras 'just in case'), two 12v
28ah batteries, and more! I've completed the frame welding job, and mounted
almost all the components. I've calculated and built the exact geardown ratio
from motors to wheels, using a nice chain/sprocket system that will be extremely
reliable. At the last minute, I gave up on trying to get or build a gearbox
for the drive system, as I really don't think regular gears will be able to
take the amount of power I am putting through this drive system -chains will
be much more reliable (not to mention cheaper to replace if something goes
wrong!). I am continually amazed at these motors. I cannot believe how powerful
they are. The final geardown will allow these motors to push all 6 horsepower
directly to the wheels, providing what I expect to be the fastest and probably
strongest robot at this year's event! I can't wait to get the whole thing
together so I can do what I didn't have time to do much of last year- PRACTICE!
One of the factors that disabled me last year from practicing was the fact
that Hercules was built very close to the floor, and I could not practice
on anything but a smooth surface (which is exactly what my townhome parking
lot is NOT). This year, this is not an issue. Hercules II will be able to
drive over almost any obstacle. I expect to be done building the main chassis
of the robot in the next month or so, then comes the real challenge- the armor.
This year, I am not going to let any other robot damage me. I am using sheet
Titanium to cover every part of the robot, top, bottom, and sides. As I am
fully aware, Titanium is extremely hard to work with, but I have it all planned
out. When all is complete, I estimate that I will be really close to the 180
pound weight limit, so I have to be very careful of every last component added.
If I need to, I can drill some holes in some frame and armor areas to reduce
weight. I'll see what happens when I get there....
Needless to say, I am not cutting many corners this year, this thing is going to be STRONG! I'll keep posting here with any new changes, and possibly some pictures! (without giving away too much of the design, of course)
3/1/98 - Okay, its been a while since I've updated this site, sorry
about that... I have to get my links page updated too, I know there are a
few more new Robot sites out there, so please e-mail
me with any that you find!
Well, the robot names have been decided- This year's Heavyweight will be adorned with the 'Hercules' title. More likely 'Hercules II'. I figured that once you enter into the Robot Wars, you need to keep the recognition of the name consistent, so I decided the new robot should not have a new name, besides- the old robot is going to be so different (new weight class), so he can't stay the same name... My middleweight entry will be simply called 'Herc Junior'.