08/02/02 - This week the skirt supports are nearly done. They need about 9 holes tapped on each support for mounting to the skirts. There are 3 different widths.
07/30/02 - I renamed the bot Max Wedge for Steel Conflict. With the range issue mostly out of the way, adding skirt supports is the next upgrade, and the front hinge will be changed. When the fans get here from Digikey, they will be added to the battery packs for better cooling. A third pack would be nice if the weight budget allows it.
07/22/02 - Here's todays latest debug report....
Last night the radio range was great. So this morning I wanted to make sure it was repeatable. The receiver, gyro and wiring were removed and re-installed. The range went bad again. With just the backup Rx, the range was ok. Adding the gyro ruined it again. Since BB 5.0, the gyro has contributed to intermittent range problems. A resistance check showed that the gyro case had metallic plating inside and out. Under a microscope there were no obvious problems with the gyro circuitry. So I took some copper tape with conductive adhesive and attached a piece from the top of the gyro to the aluminum box that it resides in. The range was good again. After removing and replacing the copper tape about 10 times, it was obvious that the tape cleared up the range issue. It must have been that the gyro case that was grounding intermittently that gave us the intermittent good range. We just did not know that at the time. The gyro circuitry is not touching the case anywhere. It's insulated with foam tape from the factory.
It appears that the primary receiver is not tuned as well as it could be. It's a 9 channel and the backup Rx is a 10 channel. The different pcb's may contribute to the range differences too. A trip to Georges will find out if it is improperly tuned when it was sent to JR for the 72 to 75 mhz conversion. With the poorly tuned Rx, the gyro would not change the range conclusively. But with the good backup Rx, the gyro made a huge difference.
As the man said, don't be afraid to try something off the wall to fix an interference problem.
07/22/02 - Today I performed a large matrix of experiments. The one thing I have learned is that everything affects the receivers range. For a sanity check, I installed the backup pcm receiver without any shielding or special preparation in the aluminum box. With the transmitter antenna down, the range was about 25 feet. Not bad considering it has been about 6 feet the past few days with the primary receiver. With the transmitter antenna fully extended, the range was 150-180 feet! The range has been around 30 feet! A fresh battery confirmed that the range was 150-180 feet. Saweet! More testing tomorrow.
07/18/02 - So far their is still a range issue, even with the full length antenna. Here are the ferrite cores that were placed in line with the receiver cables with little success. I wonder if isolating the receiver from the OSMC with opto couplers would work? I think the front end on the Victor 883 is opto isolated. It seemed that the receiver was happier if it was not right in front of the OSMC. There is not very much room to move the receiver around, so I will have to just keep debugging. The new Supernova cycler discharged a full 3.6ah rated pack, then it recharged it, all automatically from the manual mode. The pack registered a capacity of 3.6ah. The only problem is that the Supernova only discharges at .7 amps even when set to 3.0 amps on a 24v Battlepack. It charged at a max of 3.8 amps even though it was set to 5.0 amps. So it took 6 hours for a complete charge/discharge cycle. That's way too long.
07/17/02 - I installed a Deans whip antenna in the bot. The range went back down to 6 feet with the Tx antenna down. Been working on debugging that problem. Ordered the FMA Supernova 250S charger/discharger from the heli guys at Ricks. This will help keep track of the health of the packs. We are entering Steel Conflict in SoCal. I decided that just in case Battlebots had an issue with 64 Wedge, we changed the name to Max Wedge and plan some changes to it's appearance.
06/14/02 - Here is the latest list of updates that I would like to see happen to the bot. Fix inverted gyro issue, add more batteries, design aluminum skirt hinges, design skirt supports, design a lifting arm, use composites, loose weight, make Urethane tires. The problem with the gyro is that is adds to the direction of rotation when the bot is inverted, instead of resisting it. I put out an all points bulletin to every designer for their ideas. Here is a Visio block diagram of how the gyro could be made to work. Casting Urethane tires sounds like a great way to add traction. That way the tire width can be tailored to the bot. I've been hitting up everyone for info on materials and casting techniques.
05/27/02 - Monday, Day 9 of BB 5.0 - Because of a large spinner [Nighmare] loosing a tooth through the top of the Battlebox, most of the evenings mele's were cancelled.
05/26/02 - Sunday, Day 8 of BB 5.0 - NDA
05/25/02 - Saturday, Day 7 of BB 5.0 - NDA
05/24/02 - Friday, Day 6 of BB 5.0 - Our first match was against Miror Image. Their bot had a fixed wedge in front powered by 4 motors. It looked like a very even match from a robot perspective. When the lights turned green, I just slowly moved the bot out of our square. The Mirror Image guys boxed rushed us at full speed! I turned our bot to the right and added some power. We just side stepped them, and they went plowing into the spike strip! They appeared incapacitated, but some wheels were still turning, althought their bot was not moving. Bill kept telling me to back off and we'd win. I knew he was right, but I came here to hit someones bot!! So I sort of scraped them off of the spike strip then drove them into the spike strip again!! We found out from the judges that we turned a TKO into a KO by incapacitating them ourselves. Woohoo! We had our first Knockout and another win!!! The biker looking dude from the Mirror Image team came up and said "you weren't suppose to do that!". We had a few hours between matches to charge the battery's. Toni worked like mad to scrape off the black floor paint from the wheels.
We were ready for our next match against The Edge. Marc and Chris I knew from the BB forum. When the light went green, both bots just crept out into the center of the box. Then we just started hitting each other hard and often. We got under them and pushed them around several times. They got under us maybe twice. These guys had been awarded "Most Aggressive Robot" at BBIQ, and were good drivers. The one advantage that I remember is that we could spin on a dime and change direction much quicker than they could. So I was all over them the best that I could. I started to charge them, when suddenly a skirt corner caught the edge of a floor seam. Our bot jumped straight up in the air about a foot. What a sight!! After that a skirt was dragging the floor and slowing the bot way down. So I flipped the invert switch and just drove backwards. That gave us our speed back and flattened out the binding skirt. The only obvious damage was our front skirt hinge had bent up slightly. Two of the skirts had slightly curled up corners and the four 1/4-20 bolts we used under the front skirt to keep it from folding in, were sheared off. Otherwise we were in great shape! It was a fast fight, and we knew the score would be close. We beat them in strategy 8/7 and aggression 8/7, but lost in the damage category 6/9. They had handed us our first defeat, 23 to 22. Our bot will have much stronger hinges next time! Marc and Chris were great.
05/23/02 - Thursday, Day 5 of BB 5.0 - We lucked out and got to stay home all of today. We had no fights scheduled. We needed to get the new hinges installed and get the Titanium top machined.
05/22/02 - Wednesday, Day 4 of BB 5.0 - Today the robot gods were smiling on us. We stayed home most of the day to make adjustments because our fight was not until 7:36pm. A test drive showed that we suddenly had a major range problem. Removing the gyro seemed to help significantly. We spent hours trying to debug. The speed control suddenly gave off a bright flash that we all heard and that I saw. The power was disconnected too! We slowly inspected what little we could see. Nothing looked damaged at all. Then I took the boards apart and actually used a microscope to look them over. No sign of anything that would account for the flash. At this point we were sure that the bot was dead and we would have to forfeit the match! It was now 5:00 pm had we had a fight at 7:30 pm, with at least a one hour drive back to Ti, in rush hour traffic! So we reassembled the speed control and got ready for the big moment. Was this really it for us after 7 months of hard work?? With the key in hand, we stood back and powered up the bot. The LED's lit up and there was no smoke, yet. I gently pushed the stick forward and the bot crept slowly down the driveway. We went for broke and made a bonsai run down the driveway. The ESC was fine! The bot drove as it always had!! Woohoo!! Much rejoicing!! By the time we got the truck loaded it was 5:30 pm. I put the batteries in my lap and charged them the whole way up. There did not seem to be enough time to recharge the batteries. During the drive up we came up with a plan. When we arrived, we emptied the truck just outside the loading area, installed the 32 screws that held on the top, and the 32 screws that held on the skirts. We dashed towards the pit area. It was windy and cold too. Toni rushed the transmitters back into impound. Bill and I raced toward the pits. It was 7:15 pm. Unfortunately, we had just found out that during the commute that our match had been re-scheduled for 35 minutes earlier at 6:40 pm! But there was our competitor Mark who was next in line to enter the box staging area. So we had to just stop and get in line right then and there!
This was the first fight of our lives, and we were already extremely nervous. But the bot was charged and ready, just barely. As the fight began I was just sure that the bot would not budge an inch because of the speed control. Mark driving Two Fisted came out of his square and our bot actually started moving too. I was shocked. I was unprepared to actually fight. I thought for sure it would have died before even leaving the square. Now I had a fight on my hands and had to get with the program. Still plagued with thoughts of the afternoons problems, I found myself having a mental battle too, worrying that the bot would just die at any second. I was petrified, but just had to got for it!! Both bots crept out of their squares. We figured Two Fisted would want to stay in the middle to more effectively use his weapon. But to my surprise, he was about 10 feet away from the wall. So I just added power and aimed right for him. 64 Wedge's front skirt had high centered Two Fisted, and we were able to push him across the floor. At one point we pushed him over half way across the box into the spike strip with pretty good speed. Crash!! We backed off, he was slow to move again, so we pounded him again. This all occurred clear across the box floor, so seeing details was not easy. We went at it some more. We were hit a few times by his hammers. Our first fight was really exciting!! The judges decision was 16 to 29 in our favor. We won our very first fight!! I was really impressed with Mark's sportsmanship. He has competed in other contests and it showed. He gave me a cool trophy from his bot, and autographed it.
05/21/02 - Tuesday, Day 3 of BB 5.0 - Today we arrived early as well. We only needed the final phase of inspection which was the failsafe radio test. Otherwise know as the "yellow sheet". So while waiting we rechecked our weight. The new hinges and reduction in screws put us at 115.0 lbs which made us 5.0 lbs under weight. That would allow us to use the bottom Titanium sheet for sure. We waited all day for the second inspection. The only thing we could find out is that they were not taking anyone in order. They started giving higher inspection priority to the HW and SHW classes because they actually had them fighting that evening for paying audiences. Waiting without knowing anything was tearing everyone's guts out! Then suddenly Bill was telling us over the radio that this was not a drill, the inspector had arrived! Toni and I ran back to our table. It was 5 pm. We rolled the bot outside for our second or "yellow sheet" inspection. This inspection I was confident we would pass easily. Then we stopped in for the team pic's. The camera guy had to leave for about 5 minutes so we took the opportunity to take our own pics using their backdrop. We grabbed some food then checked the schedule. Wednesday was our first fight. So we packed up and headed home around 8pm.
05/20/02 - Monday, Day 2 of BB 5.0 - We arrived at 7:30 am, before registration was open at 9:00 am, so that put us first in line when it did open. The Crewbots there were just great. They explained everything in detail. Battlebots uses Mac's throughout their organization. Our moving dolly had two casters just self destructed on the way to the pits. So we looked like major rookies just struggling to get our stuff to our pit table #164. We set up camp. We were required to just wait at our pit table for the inspector to go through the first phase of the technical inspection. I was so incredibly tense. The inspector took all of 3 minutes to look over our bot. He said that if people just build them right that all inspections would go this fast. Woohoo!!! All of those extra hours machining and making very clean motor covers and a nice terminal block and master switch paid off at that moment!! We waited until about noon and found that the folks that were signed up many hours ahead of us were probably not getting inspected that day. Therefore we very probably would not get our second inspection. We packed the bot up and went home to get more done. We were at 118.5 lbs. on the BB scales. Our scale read 117.0 at home. We still needed to start machining the 3.7 lb., .040" Titanium sheet for the bottom of the bot, but could not afford the additional weight. So when we got home I went and found some solid looking plain steel piano hinges and some button head screws at Olander. This new piano hinge would be strong enough to replace the 3" hinges and would be secured by the already present top plate screws. With all of the screws, nuts and washers removed that held the old hinges, we should be under weight enough to add the Titanium bottom sheet.
05/19/02 - Sunday, Day 1 of BB 5.0 - We had not finished the machining of the Titanium skirts. After carefully checking the forum, it appeared that we could check in and get inspected on Monday as well as Sunday. So we stayed home today to get the skirts finished. I kept Bill and Toni out driving around to find the rest of the 3" hinges that we needed. We also had to drill all of the hinges too. It took us most of the night to get the hinges and skirts done, and I had never in my life machined Titanium before. Fortunately I had read the BB forum alot and knew the basic concept of slow rpm and lots of pressure when machining Titanium. It worked great!! There was not enough time to machine both motors to run neutral timing. So we ran them unmodified.
05/11/02 - Three hard drive crashes in one week! Lost 5 gig worth of stuff!! The first one was the IBM 75GXP drive that is renound for failing. The other two crashes were the power connector to the hard drive was intermittent. Otherwise there has been decent progress on the bot. Toni is gone starting Monday on a business trip for a week. Yesterday and this morning Bill came over and helped get things rolling. We added keyways to the intermediate gears in the gearboxes. Now almost everything is keyed. Here are some before and after pictures of the gears that we put on a diet today. That 60 tooth gear lost about 50% of it's original 1.5 lbs. So 4 times .75 is about 3 lbs we can use elsewhere. The side walls are done. They just need component mounting holes and weight reduction pockets added. Toni and Bill mounted the walls to the baseplate on Thursday night during a build party. Toni brought over baked chicken, rolls, and strawberry pie!! Woohooo!! Here is a collar that seized to the shaft and to the pillow block a while back. I clearanced it at .015" per side. Guess that wasn't enough. It took an hour to get it off of the shaft. The Titanium sheet arrived. I had them cut into rectangles. They just need some angles added to them and mounting holes drilled. Spare parts are ordered and a few have arrived. I wish there was time to go to the Fresno Heli meet this weekend. It's a great season opener. One week left 'til Battlebots season 5.0 starts!
05/05/02 - The last few days have been difficult. The first baseplate was wrong because I oriented the first wheel opening the wrong way. Big piece of scrap! This is the correct orientation of a wheel opening. Just imagine the incorrect opening at 90 degrees to this one. So the second baseplate came out useable. Two pillow block holes ended up being added in the wrong place. There are two small pieces of tape covering the "extra holes". I was machining the bases upside down from the drawing. All of the drawings are now changed to the correct orientation. I even placed labels on the base to remind me of the orientation. Here is a shot of the raw side panel material. I did not know the camera focused on the ground. There have been a few new set screws loosening up in the gearboxes since the direct drive conversion was completed. Although these screws have not been loctited for two months and they did not fail until now. In fact one of the motor drive gears fell completely off the motor shaft! The direct drive system definitely puts more load on the system. Loctite was added, and we'll see how things go. Maybe adding more keyways soon. With the wheel base 1.5" shorter and 6" narrower, the bot is a bit quicker in its rotation. More gyro tweaking ahead. This new layout shows clearly that there is a lot of unused space on the sides of the base. Next revision the belts will go outside of the wheels to make this space more accessible. Some 50 cfm fans are on order for the OSMC. A massive hard drive failure absorbed a couple of days as well as me being burned out....
04/26/02 - The bot is once again rolling on plywood again, but with direct drive. A few tweaks like over sizing some holes will help align the drivetrain a bit better. The bolt heads are dragging the ground so bad that they leave sparks. The biggest changes are that there is noticeable room between the tires on the side and in the front/rear areas. Bill shot another video of the bot spinning even faster (72 RPM) on 24 volts. Also here is Toni very focused on drilling mounting holes. Our meeting tonight was just a quick bolt together session because I spent the last 6 days getting the direct drive conversion machined. The belt tensioners need to be added and then this version will be test driven hard all weekend, so the final aluminum baseplate can then be made.
04/24/02 - The four new axles are finished. One gearbox only needs a thrust shim for the output shaft, the other gearbox is finished. I finished the dimensioning of the baseplate so one can be prototyped in plywood again. The bot should be running again by this weekend. Toni and Bill dropped by tonight and we had ice cream and chips. Yum. They are very supportive team mates.
04/22/02 - Four wheels and four spares were narrowed to flush fit the hubs. The hubs were narrowed also, but still need keyways. The gearbox output shafts were made and need keyways too. After everything gets keyways, a new plywood prototype base will be quickly made to test everything out before making the 2024 aluminum base.
04/21/02 - Finally a decision was made after much discussion, Direct Drive is now the drivetrain of choice. Here is a spontaneous task list from eating out the other night. Direct drive eliminates 6 pulleys and the two short belts! There will only be one long belt per side remaining. Potentially, this configuration gives us a little real estate to add a weapon over the old layout. This drivetrain would work great in a heavy weight bot. The only issue with direct drive is that it requires modifying the gearboxes. The output shafts are only 1/2". They have to be changed to 5/8", which means the bearings have to be changed, which means the making the bearing bores larger, which means writing more CNC code. See why it took so much consideration? A massive chain of events was set into motion to convert to Direct Drive. Today the bearing bores were opened up from 1.125" to 1.375" and from .875" to 1.125" via the code I wrote for all four gearbox halves. Then keyways were broached into the two output gears. New output shafts need to be made and keyways added to them too. The gearboxes should be done tomorrow. Then it's time to cut the plywood base to the actual dimensions for one last R & D session of test driving before mounting everything to the aluminum baseplate. The armor needs to be done too. Here is a video of me riding the bot at a total of 320 lbs. Not bad for a middleweight. Toni and Bill taking their rides! Here are some other videos. 64 Wedge racing on 12 volts, or spinning on 12 volts at 36RPM. These videos were all taken by our team mate Bill.
04/19/02 - Today registration closed for BB 5.0. We had everything in several days ago. Got two of three extra radio channels from George. Last night we had a team meeting that started at a great Chinese restaurant. When we got back to the "shop", I explained the two different ways that we could layout the drivetrain. Bill and Toni figured out a couple more ways too. So I will model these new ideas in CAD to see how everything fits. Then we have to freeze the drivetrain changes and start on the frame asap.
04/14/02 - Here is a delrin end cap that covers the power connections to the Generic Magmotor. Again, less for an inspector to wine about if they are well covered. It's held on with two 1/4-20 screws.
04/13/02 - Spent all day making a new two piece "Superswitch" for the bot. It's a delrin body that covers the bottom electrical studs. It has four 1/4-20 mounting holes on the top and bottom in a 1.25" square pattern. Here is a gearbox.
04/12/02 - Last nights team meeting was great. Wing Wah's Chinese food was awesome. Toni and Bill were given rides on 64 Wedge. I went easy on Toni, but for Bill it was WOT (Wide Open Throttle). Bill took video of my huge ass riding on it. It's much harder to drive smoothly when you are a passenger. He'll post it this weekend. It was great meeting Peter and seeing the fruits of his hard work. Just got back this afternoon from Fedexing my registration doc's to BB for 5.0. Cost $13 to get a signature upon delivery. Last night everything else was submitted via the BB website. The Kevlar belts, Kevlar plate, 2 Generic Magmotors, 1 Apack motor all came in today. The 3 Battlepack kits and charger are due Saturday. I'm really dying to receive the hose for my washer so I can get some clothes washed!!
04/06/02 - Today 64 Wedge was driving well on 24 volts. I added a 12v gel cell to the Battlepack. I put a temperature display for r/c cars on the OSMC during testing. It only read 75F when the run was over. I suppose the 12v fan running on 24v helped a bit too. The bot only weighs 65 lbs right now, so it will slow down a little when it gets to 120 lbs. I will be testing for peak current draw soon. The radio range is fine with the antenna fully extended. But with it down, it's only about 30ft. I want it to be as clean as possible since the battlebox is very electrically noisy. Hunting for 7075 aluminum plate has been tough. A battery box, receiver and gyro boxes need to be made. Bill and Toni have both driven the bot now. A few days ago I was charging one of the two Battlepacks with the car charger. I kept checking it but got distracted working on the bot. I start to hear this hissing. I look over and the pack is just having a major meltdown! I pushed it out of the garage and into the dirt. It just kept getting worse. Most of the solder joints melted!! After 10 minutes it started to cool off. Into the dumpster it went! The Astroflight 112D charger, power supply and one more 12v Battlepack are on the way. In the mean time I am using a 200ma charger to keep me out of trouble....
04/01/02 - I committed to having the prototype drivetrain made by March 31st, and we did it!! Here is my great crew, Bill and Toni, after they just finished mounting, with surgical precision, the bearing blocks to the prototype plywood base. We also had pizza! What a build party! Last night about 10:30pm the drivetrain was running! Today I drove it about 5 times. Each time requiring a battery recharge and tightening of loosened setscrews (yeah, I know!). Here is a shot of a gearbox half during machining. The driving manners at this stage are very good. The OSMC speed control has a built in braking function that stops and rotates this baby on a dime!! The steering is very precise also. Top speed is good on 12 volts. I will try 24 volts also. The OSMC only gets a tiny bit warm without a fan after driving on a fully charged 12v Battlepack. My receivers and transmitter modules are back from being converted to 75 mhz. Just need to send off a second module for conversion.
03/26/02 - Two hubs are done, with a third started. All 4 wheels have been drilled for hub mounting. All four hub nutplates are done. I was worried about the difficulty of machining slots in the axles. I cut the slot at nearly the slowest speed the mill can deliver, 0.2 feet per minute at a very slow rpm. So now there is one axle finished too. After all four hub assy's are done, then everything gets mounted to the plywood prototype base. One more gearbox needs to be made before the whole thing is drivable. My goal has been to drive 64 Wedge by the end of March! We'll see!
03/01/02 - The axle shaft material and the 2 12v 3.6ah Battlepacks arrived today. Now there are no excuses for not building 24 hours a day for the next month!! Except that it's been very warm outside for the past 2 weeks. Still have not completely decided whether to use set screw pins or keyways for the pulley/axle assemblies. The set screw pins are less work.
02/15/02 - The pulley on the right had to be bored out to .625" from .500". The hub was almost completely removed except for what is left for a thrust surface against the bearings of the pillow blocks. This also significantly lightened them. They still need 3/32" keyways added and 1/4-20 set screw holes tapped.
02/14/02 - The Lexan V7 OSMC enclosure was just finished today.
02/11/02 - Here is the modified pillow block. Previous images show a 1/2" ID bearing. They are now 5/8" ID bearings.
02/05/02 - The first pillow blocks. 2nd set on the mill. This is the bot's latest concept chassis that all of the parts are being machined from. Hopefully there is enough left over weight for a weapon. The project name is now "64 Wedge".
01/12/02 - The motor end plates are done. The old ones only had bushings. The armatures have an odd diameter that required a bushing to fit the larger ID of the bearing.
01/08/02 - I did a bit of testing this morning to determine which direction of
rotation that the 1002 "Generic Magmotor" has advanced timing. With the output shaft pointed at you....
CW - 6300 rpm, 24a @ 11.4vdc.
CCW - 5300 rpm, 16a @ 11.7vdc.
The data shows that the motor has advanced timing in the CW
direction. To advance timing, you must rotate the brushes the
opposite direction of shaft rotation. Since the motor spins faster
going CW, then the brushes were rotated CCW to advance the timing by
the factory. Therefore, the brushes need to be rotated CW to retard the timing
back to neutral, again, the orientation is with the output shaft
pointed towards you. The stall current was about 250 amps @ 2.5 volts on the motor
terminals. The automotive jumper cables got warm and just drop the
voltage too much for accurate tests. The voltage at the battery
itself was 10.5vdc. This reinforces the use of buss bars in my bot. Here is the brush housing mod that allows adjustable timing.
12/14/2001 - The assembly of the OSMC speed control boards are done. They work fine on the bench. The 2 hp and 3/4 hp motors from AM Equipment that look beefy enough. They are suppose pull a few hundred amps. They have bushings as well as advanced timing. Testing for current draw and rpm are the next step. Also picked up some 3 1/2 inch diameter 6061-T6 for making new motor ends if needed.
A few months ago I purchased some surplus motors. One set of motors are nearly the same as the motors on my CNC machine. The other set of motors are small servo motors that have four brushes. They seem to work ok. I just don't know if I can get them in the future or if they are durable enough. Some testing would help. Below is my design concept. Project Name: Phugly