5/31/98 - Wow, I couldn't stop myself- I changed the look and feel of my whole site, even adding in a couple of new pages, including two dedicated ones for both Hercules and Junior. Now everywhere you go on the site, you will get that cool Navigation bar to the left, so you can just click and jump to almost anywhere without all that pesky scrolling. Yes, I also did get some work on the robots done so far this weekend.. I finally got the 4QD controllers working and installed into Hercules. I am very impressed at how things are turning out. Yes, I finally drove the robot! YESSSSS! Man, did I mention how FAST- how INCREDIBLY fast this robot is? WOW!! I had to turn the gains on the speed controllers way down so he is at least controllable. As I get used to driving him, I may turn them up a bit. There is only one slight bug in the controls that I have to work out with Dan at Team Delta (He provided me with the RC Interface boards to work with the 4QD controllers)- one of the boards is acting kind of funny and I don't know if it is radio interference or something else. But so far, so good! I am planning on adding in the extra frame supports in the front tomorrow (er, today- man it's almost 2am! What the heck am I doing here?) I will probably post another update soon. In the meantime, make sure you check out the rest of my site, as I have made several changes and additions to it! Watch soon for the new links page too!
5/29/98 - Posted the letter from Profile Record's Steve Plotnicki, regarding the legal status of Robot Wars. It was OCR'ed from a fax, so if there are misspellings, sorry about that. Check it out here.
5/28/98 - Still working on getting the 4QD controllers configured and running with the Team Delta RC interface (running into a couple of snags here and there, nothing too bad though). The biggest news so far is that we finally got to hear Profile's side of the legal debate against Marc Thorpe for Robot Wars. I'll post their letter here later, but here is Marc's response letter to their statement. I guess at this pont I would sadly have say that there is basically no chance that Robot Wars is going to happen this year. However, I am convinced that SOMEHOW, there will be a similar robot event on the same dates, probably just a simple gettogether of the robots and their creators in a public lot somewhere, but I'll keep you all informed on the status as it comes in. You can also stay tuned to the information on the Robot Wars Forum, as it is currently the highest traffic area of Robot Wars on the net. I'm still building and testing my robots, this isn't going to slow me down, I'm doing SOMETHING with these robots in August!
5/25/98 - Just got back from a long weekend vacation in Lake Tahoe. Whew, I needed that! Well, needless to say, nothing got done this weekend on the robots, althought I did find some time to start wiring up Hercules' new 4QD Speed controllers before I left, and they are looking great. Everlasting thanks to Team Delta's Dan Danknick who both supplied and gave me full directions for hooking up the RC interface boards for these awesome controllers! Also tonight I updated the links page again, there were a ton of new UK robots that I had not had time to add. I'm starting to dislike the clutter of my links page, so I think I'll be redesigning it soon. If you're into the details on the UK robot wars, the Vector of Armageddon site has a great links database for all the robots out there. Well, hopefully this weekend I will get the controllers into Hercules and fire up the whole thing, I'll let you all know how it goes. Maybe I'll have time to work a little bit on Junior's arm attachments too. Stay tuned!
5/17/98 - Man, what a long day. I spent pretty much all day on Hercules today. With the reduced weight of the entire robot after having replaced my motors with much lighter ones, I've been trying to figure out what else I can do with all that weight I saved (22 pounds!) I decided to add on some reinforcements to the frame before adding on the armor. I spent all afternoon welding in the top of the frame, adding on the first of the armor (side panels behind the wheels), and improving on some of the mounting of the components. The 4QD controllers arrived on Friday and I started mounting them too. I have decided that I will mount these speed controls on some sort of cushioned platform which will be in a large, reinfoced and ventilated cage before it goes into the 'bot. Unfortunately, the other parts that I was hoping for this weekend didn't make it in time (the controller boards for the 4QD's created by Dan at Team Delta), so I decided to get more mechanical and structural work done instead. After the additions today, I cannot believe how strong this robot is! I did a few stress tests on the robot as-is at 120 pounds (no electronics, armor or batteries), by dropping him HARD from my workbench to a concrete floor (almost 4 feet), several times- even on a corner- NO problem! Well, one part of the frame did buckle a bit from one of the drops, but I replaced the bent bar and reinforced it with supports. Took out a pretty good sized chunk of concrete from my garage floor! (I guess next time I'll test it outside in the parking lot...) I can stand on any part of the robot without worrying about damage or flex (I'm not exactly a lightweight myself), and I really slammed the robot around a lot today! Looks just fine. I can't wait to get the rest of the armor on. I am trying to decide exactly what to do now that I have so much weight budgeted for armor, I may use sandwiched Titanium instead of only one layer. I may add in more steel frame in the key locations (especially the front). Its all up in the air right now. Regardless, I am very happy with the progress made today. Hercules looks like a whole new robot with all the extra frame and roll-cage (definitely a lot bigger!). No update on Junior at this time, sorry, still sitting in the same place as last week (except for taking him out for a spin once to show the neighborhood kids who keep bugging me to see the robots every time I am outside). I don't think I'll be able to get any work done on the robots next weekend (celebrating our 5th wedding anniversary), so this will probably be the last update of May. I've updated a few links on my links page, so be sure to visit all those other sites out there!
5/13/98 - Looks like I moved the website just in time, the old server
(flash.net) went down this morning! I'm sure they are working on getting it
back up, but I think its pretty interesting that their server crashed the
day after I moved this site over to a new server (first time I saw it down
in almost two years I was with them!) Anyway, I had to post a quick update,
because I forgot that I didn't mention the new Robot
Wars Forum created by Carlo Bertocchini. Lots of Robot Wars related discussions
going on there! (I added it to my links page, but forgot to mention it here!)
I also filed away some of the past updates on this page, to make room for more, you can see the old updates at the links at the bottom of this page.
5/12/98 - The biggest news for this update is that I had to move the
entire Hercules Website to a new server. Why? Well, its like this: it basically
comes down to the fact that I hardly ever use my account on flash.net, and
I can no longer justify paying for both flash.net and AOL services, so I am
cutting back. I'll let my annual account at flash.net expire when the time
comes around, but for now, I will leave the links to this server there so
people won't think I up and disappeared altogether. Why AOL? Well, I have
had my AOL account for about 10 years, and I end up using it more than any
other ISP, especially for e-mail. So, why not consolidate and save some money
at the same time, right? You may notice things load a bit slower from the
aol server, but hey, thats part of the bargain, I guess.
Robot updates: Not too much, weekend before last I had my brother in town, so I got no robot work done, this past weekend, I attended my friend's wedding, and it looks like this coming weekend, I have to go to yet another wedding. Sheesh! In any case, I DID order my newest speed controllers from 4QD. They should be here by Friday, so if I get a chance, I will try to put them into the robot on Sunday. Also talked with Dan from Team Delta, and he is going to construct a couple of the RC interface boards for the 4QD controllers. I have high hopes that these controllers will be just what I need. Maybe I'll actually be able to drive Hercules around by this time next week! No work on Junior, he's just sitting in the garage waiting for me to add his armor.
Yikes, guess what I realized today? Only 3 months until Robot Wars 1998 is scheduled to run! Man, I wish the stupid mess between Marc Thorpe and Profile would come to a quick resolution! This is cutting it WAY too close this year! I sure would like to know that all my work on these robots is not going to go to waste!
Oh, I also have to mention a pretty cool thing- last week I had a phone interview with a reporter from the Marin Independant Journal (local Marin County newspaper), and yesterday (Monday the 11th), an article appeared in the paper primarily about MondoTronics' Robot Store, but they actually quoted me in the article! Carlo from Biohazard was also quoted, it was pretty cool. If you get a chance to pick up the MIJ from 5/11/98, check it out!
5/1/98 - NOTICE! Looking for a taped copy of a segment that aired a couple months ago on I believe the Discovery Channel (or possibly MSNBC) with some Robot Wars 1997 footage. I hear there was some coverage on Hercules, and I never go to see it! Contact me if you have a copy, I'd really like to see it! Thanks!
The newest update on the legal battle from Mark Thorpe is here- read his letter for more information.
Got the new motors for Hercules yesterday! These will probably be very good
replacements for me. They are 1.5 horsepower each at 12v, and are MUCH smaller
than the old ones- only 9 pounds each! (Compared to the massive 20 lb ones
I had in there before). Which of course means they are probably going to heat
up like a furnace, so I'm planning on ordering a couple extras just in case
they fry during the battles. They should be fine at a 12v configuration, but
if I really wanted to, I could run them at 24v for short periods of time and
get almost 3hp out of each! Hmmmm..that sounds familiar, huh? To make things
a LOT easier, these ones are permanent magnet motors. Now I don't have to
deal with all the problems from the last ones. I will be working on mounting
them into the robot and testing geardown configurations over the next week
or so, and I will be ordering the new Vantec speed control next week too (getting
the BIG one-RDFR38E for 800 clams-whew!), so after that, I'll be DONE with
BOTH robots except for the armor! With that much weight taken off of Hercules
(over 24 pounds total from the difference of the motors, solenoids, etc.),
I should be able to add on a lot more Titanium armor plating to the crucial
top and side panels of the robot. I may even add in a couple extra small surprises
down the road, but we'll see how the armor goes first.
Haven't done much with middleweight Junior since last report, but he looks great. I came up with a couple more small ideas for some added weapons, since I have about 30 pounds left, not including armor! Since Junior is mostly a fun robot, I might make a couple of amusing add-ons like lights, horns, etc. just to be fun and a bit different. If you have some ideas, go ahead and let me know! Oh, and hey, keep me up to date on all the Robot Wars Links out there! I don't often see new ones as they pop up, so let me know if you find one that isn't on my Links page.
Also, check out the new newsgroup dedicated to Robot Wars alone! (Both US and UK events)- point your news reader to: alt.robotwars.