Team Joker - Combat History etc.
Team Joker - Combat History
This was at Nottingham in December 2002 during the filming of Technogames 2003. We were the substitute robot to be called in should an entry break down. We were resplendant with a large aluminium bucket designed for the football event.
We had been available since 9am but had not been called up. We were given five minutes to prepare for action late evening but this came to nothing. It did however allow us to demonstrate our skills at changing crystals, checking voltages and bolting down the inspection hatch. We were like a well-oiled machine - almost like a formula 1 pit stop crew.
At 10.00 that night we were contemplating the drive home when we were again called upon to perform, this time in the Sumo arena. Moments later we were ushered onto the set and our Joker placed in the arena. John gave Joker a friendly pat. We were up against the Tornado team, the grand final winners of the latest Robot Wars. We had no time to remove our aluminium bucket. It could get horribly mangled.
Our tyres were cold but John had earler applied adhesive to the tyre surfaces to improve grip. James Silvester was to be our driver. He had not driven the machine before, apart from during the auditions, and even then he was only working on 12 volts. This time he had 36 volts to throw at the motors. Over 4 kilowatts (5hp) available by flexing his left thumb. His instructions were to go full ahead and get the tyres warmed up quickly.
Our debut in the arena resulted in an interesting match. Joker was easily able to push our opponent into the side barrier. Unfortunately our blade was designed for football, the event for which we had been prepared. We did not have our wedge with us. we were unable to get under our opponent and lift it off the ground. Quite the opposite! We did a wheelie and we were upended and pushed ignominiously out of the ring. We lasted just 18 seconds!
Our consolation was that we were defeated by the eventual winners.Top of Page
Team Joker - Mistakes
Avoid our mistakes
- Costs will escalate even when using inexpensive materials such as aluminium.
- It will take longer than planned. You cannot set a deadline - it gets finished when it is finished.
- Set a deadline for next week and it might get finished next year.
- Watch the weight. It could weigh 30% more then expected. Do not rely on bathroom scales. They are designed to flatter the user and under-read shamelessly. Consider calibrating any weighing devices with known masses.
- Design underweight. Mass can be added later.
- Keep a tally of weights by recording everything on a spread sheet.
- Soldering heavy guage wires is difficult since the heat dissipates into the components and may damage them. We used a heavy-duty soldering iron and augmented the heat with a kitchen blowlamp (The sort used to de-whisker turkeys before you pop them into the oven). These blowlamps can produce a fine hot flame.
- Before the final construction, have the machine designed in its entirety. Space will be tight and new components might not fit.
- Do allow access for spanners in the final design - a minor mistake we made meant that we could not actually bolt it together. We were fortunate that we could weld the components together and make the sub-assembly stronger and lighter - but we were very lucky that time!
- Measure everything accurately! In our case a very simple error resulted in two expensive speed controllers blowing up because the heat sinks had been reduced in thickness by a few millimetres. Slightly too long transistor mounting screws caused a short circuit that blew several dozen power transistors. Of course the fuses all blew at once as more than 120 amps attempted to flow through the heat sinks!
- Keep your test track clean - The floor of our workshop had a fine deposit of metallic swarf that was picked up by the tyres and re-deposited inside the robot. This had the potential to do a lot of damage - we were very lucky not to lose more components this way as the fine tracks on printed circuit boards can easily be bridged by metal flakes. Also, iron filings will be attracted to the motor magnets and, if any motors are not sealed, then the metal swarf could cause arcing on the commutator.
- Practice pit procedures. A small screw lost in the innards of our machine put us out of the two events at Technogames for which we had been entered. (We were consequently pitted against the Tornado team in the 'sumo' event as a back-up robot. We were not optimised for this event but nevertheless put up a splendid fight.)
- Don't use a dot-com domain as the search engines seem to want megabucks to include your site in their listings which is making it difficult for Team-Joker as a non-profit site to get listed!
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Team Joker - Future Projects
- Voice control
- GPS satellite positioning
- Interfacing with transducers which can be fitted
- Control over the internet via a wireless LAN , cellphone or Bluetooth
- Adding tools for work or filming in hazardous environments
- Power from a fuel cell
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Team Joker - Help Us
We have a general purpose 'robot' - except that it is not actually a robot. Its just a human controlled machine. Any intelligence it has is supplied by the human operator. We really would like the machine to be autonomous. We are prepared to modify it with a controller which could be interfaced with a computer and fit a powerful Pentium type computer into it.
If any programmer would like to collaberate with us if writing a program for Joker, we would like to hear from you.Top of Page
Team Joker - Contact us
John Silvester - Team Leader
Neil Manuel - Webmaster
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Team Joker - Postscript
We may be fortunate enough to be offered appearance money or royalties for our project.
We have decided to donate any profit to the charity providing sporting facitities for disabled people, in memory of Arthur, a keen diver and skier.
Next Chapter :
Joker - The Team