abandon all hope ye robots who enter


 News: 1999 Archive

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1999 Highlights:

  • Missing Link & Dr. Inferno place at BotBash 99
  • Missing Link & Dr. Inferno compete at BattleBots Long Beach 99
  • Slugger fights at BattleBots Las Vegas 99
  • Initial design of Towering Inferno [Armed Forces]

11.09.1999: Slugger lives! I got him up & running on Sunday the 7th. Its power is truly stunning. That slugging stick was flipping and flapping and whizzing around like mad. The drive motors are unbelievably torquey and LOUD. Slugger's a bit tricky to control, but any enemy robot in its vicinity is going to be in serious pain. All that remains is a few final touches and some chain tensioners. Recent modifications included mounting of the batteries (encased in molded expanding foam for impact absorption) and carbon fiber/kevlar armor.

I finally got a page up for Tesseract, my second LEGO Mindstorms RoboGladiator. It features 4 heavy, spinning discs with pointy metal hooks (they're official LEGO pointy metal hooks).


10.29.1999: Work on Slugger has been coming along well. I've put in some time nearly every day for the last few weeks: installed the radio, finished wiring the motors/speed controllers/batteries, put in new sprockets & chains for higher speed, cut & fitted some fancy carbon fiber/kevlar armor panels, sharpened up the slugging stick, made a foam-filled shock-absorbing battery box, and put the robot on a mild diet.

Slugger will compete in the BattleBots event on Nov. 17, at the All-American Sport Park in Vegas. This place has not only extensive go-kart facilities & a huge NAMCO arcade & other such fun, but it also has Slugger Stadium, a huge batting cage facility. Perhaps Slugger (the robot) can go hit some fastballs between matches...The robot event will be televised on pay-per-view on Jan 29, 2000.

A British on-line news source, the Independent News, ran a short story on the Infernolab on 10.11.1999. The author says my robots owe "as much to Black and Decker as to Robocop." :]

A German on-line news source, Stern Online, came across these Infernolab web pages and wrote a news story on my robots on 10.22.1999. The story's in German, but I ran it through an on-line translator web page and the broken-English (and hilarious) text is below. A better translation from a real live German is below, too.

Plattmacher Out of Steel

He who enters, that would have would be all hope gone - that a suitable motto for "Infernolab", a Brutstätte genuine infernalischer robot. Service at the person and slave functioning in a production hall of hot the dim occupation outlooks that usually expect a poor industry robot. At the same time sticks much more in such a steel Kerlchen. To its real determination, the robot finds unleashed first as battle machine. At least the engineer who operates "Infernolab" believes that. "Rampage", "offered wants Eat Itself" and "Dr. pandemonium" of hot the creature of this Dr. Strangelove and such creations become on the Site of its master celebrated.

In the moment, the developer must yet 5000 dollars zusammensparen in order to release its new prototype, the einhundert kilo giant "Armed Forces", into the battle arenas. A rich Sponsor is sought therefore urgently, therewith the fellow with solid, doubles equipped will can displayed cutting edge burners. Perhaps then the Namenszug of the noble donor may decorate the hartmetallbestückten circle saws, with which "Armed Forces" thought take apart its adversaries.

Theoretical establishment for this hobby delivers find that "Society Of Robotic Combat", there enthused Newcomer connection to like-minded. One reaches offer" possesses the Mecca of warlike sheet metal-turtle on "Robot Wars" and also "Battle its attraction - at least for friends of bursting metal."

Steamroller Made of Steel

Abandon hope all ye who enter--this would be an appropriate motto for "Infernolab", a breeding place of truly infernal robots. Serving people and slave work in production halls are the sad prospects of occupation that an industry robot usually faces. However, there is so much more in such a thing made of steel. The robot finds his true destiny only as an unleashed battle machine. At least this is what the engineer operating "Infernolab" thinks. "Bot Will Eat Itself" and "Dr. Inferno" are the names of Dr. Strangelove's creatures, and such creations are celebrated on the site of their Master.

For the time being, the developer still has to save up $5,000 in order to release his new prototype, the 200lb-giant "Armed Forces", into the battle arena. Thus, a rich sponsor is needed so that the robot with solid, double cutting saws can be equipped. It might be that the name of the noble donor will decorate the heavy metal saws "Armed Forces" will use to take apart his opponents.

Theoretical reasoning for this hobby is given by the Society Of Robotic Combat, where enthusiastic newcomers find others to share their interest. The Mecca of metal turtle warriors is reached with "Robot Wars", but also "Battle Bots" has some attraction, at least for fans of bursting metal.


10.13.1999: I've been on a bit of a robot hiatus, hence the long time between updates. Here's what's cooking now:

BattleBots will be holding a heavyweight (and superheavyweight) event in Las Vegas on Nov. 17, which will be on pay-per-view on Jan 29, 2000. I have taken on the job of finishing one of Christian Carlberg's heavyweight robots that he didn't complete in time for BattleBots in August in Long Beach. Check out Slugger. I think he takes the prize for the biggest wheel and biggest slugging stick in a combat robot so far.

I've been refining and upgrading my current fighting LEGO robot, Tesseract. A page will be up very very soon. He had a run-in with Peter Abrahamson's Mifune recently, and I've figured out Tesseract's weaknesses and addressed them. Mifune won the E3 LEGO Mindstorms RoboGladiators contest in May 99, so I don't feel too badly that Tesseract got whooped. As soon as I figure out a little programming issue, Tesseract will be ready for combat.

Armed Forces is still on the way. I've been doing a little more design and part selection, but I'm still being held back by a serious lack of fundage. If you're interested in getting in on sponsoring this robot, please let me know. I've also resurrected an idea from a few years back and it would made an awesome heavyweight or superheavyweight. I call it The Reamer. It will (theoretically) grab enemy robots from beneath and hold them up in the air while tearing holes in their underbellies, or it will launch them airborne.

I've picked up a new used Tomy Omnibot on eBay--it will serve as the chassis for Dr. Inferno Jr. The doctor will be a 55lb robot this time around, with a much more powerful drivetrain, as well as fun and creative new weapon uses for cordless power tools.

I'll have a pictorial report of the August Long Beach BattleBots event, as soon as I get some pictures from my brother. Those, combined with the impromptu BattleBots gallery pictures I've already posted, will give me enough material for a decent page.


09.07.1999: I just got back from Burning Man. Wow. Was it ever weird. I had the pleasure of seeing The Seemen put on an awesome robotic spectacle, with fire and large, treaded and walking machines causing serious mayhem. Our camp's BRAV (Black Rock Assault Vehicle) was one of the neater Mad Max-style art cars cruising about the playa.

I was tagging along with the AMF camp, as a friend of a friend. I hauled out Dr. Inferno and the Missing Link and put them on display at the front of the camp for the amusement of passers-by. The terrain was much too rough for Dr. Inferno's low-slung drivetrain, but the Missing Link's new high-riding tires let it handle the Black Rock desert with ease. Missing Link served as a sort of opening show for AMF's performances--I'd fire up the chainsaw or circular saw and start beating on flaming oil drums and other chunks of metal and plastic. Crowds instantly converged--they ate up any noisy destructive activities. Near the end of Saturday night's AMF performance, one of the AMF guys tossed a TV outside of the fenced-off performance area, amongst the attending crowd, which was my cue to fire up the Missing Link's circular saw and kill the TV. The crowd parted like the Red Sea and instantly formed a large circle. I went at the TV for a little while, then one of the AMF guys dumped some gas on it and torched it--I gave it a few more whacks with Missing Link's long 3' tail then zipped off when they doused the fire.

It took me about an hour to blow out and wipe off all the dust that got in my robots. Yuck.

The word on the street (meaning, it's not official yet) is that BattleBots will be putting on a November heavyweight-only competition in Las Vegas, NV. This event is sure to get some heavy media attention. So, I'm trying to step up the pace on the construction and sponsorship of Armed Forces. I've got a few leads on companies and individuals who are interested in helping me get Armed Forces together, but I definitely need more help to get it all together. Right now, what I need most is money--here's a rough breakdown of the main components I need to purchase to complete Armed Forces:

  • 2 Husqvarna Power Cutters: $750 each
  • 2 Husqvarna Vari-Cut 14" blades: $300 each
  • 3 Futaba PCM radio receivers: $100-$180 each
  • 2 Speed controllers: $500-$1000 each
  • NiCad batteries (including spares) and chargers: $500
  • Miscellaneous mechanical and electronic components: $300
This brings me to a rough grand total of almost $5000. You can see why this will be a tough project to put together on a graduate student's salary! I refuse to cut corners--if I don't finish in time for the November BattleBots, I'll bring Armed Forces to the next event, which should be only a few months later. Please look at my sponsor page to see how you can help and how I can help you. Thanks.


08.25.1999: Thanks to Laurie Seymour & my brother Byron, I have several pics of Dr. Inferno, Missing Link, and Tesseract at BattleBots.

Dr. Inferno paired up with Phil Putman's Air Burial, an amazingly strong one-shot catapult. In our first match, our opponent didn't show. Our second match pitted us against the featherweight champion, Ziggo, a wok-on-wheels that spun at tremendous speeds. Dr. Inferno went in bravely, took a few hits, the shattered into bits when Ziggo's blades connected and sent pieces of him all around the arena. Air Burial took one hit that bent its frame. That evening, I replaced Dr. Inferno's mangled speed controller and duct taped his pathetic plastic body back together for day two.

Phil had trouble straightening out Air Burial's frame and the match organizers also goofed up on our second matchup, so we decided to focus our efforts on the rumble. Since Phil had a plane to catch, my brother took over Air Burial's controls. Since I couldn't run both Dr. Inferno and the Missing Link simultaneously, I borrowed a radio from Christian Carlberg and let my buddy John pilot Dr. Inferno. We set him down in the very center of the arena. John's account of the rumble: "I moved him forward for a second, then back for a second, then he was like a billiard ball, bouncing back and forth off of all the other robots. Each time I looked away for a second, he had been shoved 20 feet in one direction or another.

Dr. Inferno is back up & running, albeit looking pretty pathetic. His aluminum hinged skirts are bent and contorted and his plastic body is attached loosely to the base so he twitches and wriggles as he scoots about. He'll be providing comic relief entertainment at Burning Man.

The Missing Link fared a bit better at BattleBots. In the first match, I fitted him with the new heavy carbide chip circular saw and the whacking stick tail. I was up against a multibot of Spike and the Wedge of Doom. I managed to get lined up on Spike and dig the circular saw well into his body, knocking out his speed controller from the force of the impact and chewing up many teeth on his drive gear. The Wedge had a spontaneous breakdown and lost a wheel, so the Missing Link prevailed.

The next match, against a short wedge called The Crusher, didn't go as well. With the huge gyroscopic forces inherent in turning a platform holding a heavy blade spinning in a vertical plane, Missing Link was not very maneuverable. The Crusher made pass after pass on the Missing Link, incurring scars and cuts and chunks out of its armor every time. The Missing Link was unharmed. After a while, Missing Link's gas engine stalled (no time to warm up the engines before matches...) so I took to using the whacking stick. Unfortunately, my battery drained before the time was up because the robot was fighting that heavy spinning blade. Missing Link lost be default.

The third match was against Endotherm, a small box with spikes on it. Because of the previous match's outcome, I swapped over to the chainsaw and scooper. The chainsaw derailed on the first hit (funny, it never happened when I abused it during testing...) so it degraded to a shoving match. A little ways into the match, Missing Link's drive battery managed to unplug itself. Another silly loss.

Since the chainsaw was ineffective and the circular saw sucked too much battery current, I ditched some armor and zip-tied on a 2nd battery pack and went back to the circular saw weapon for the rumble. Missing Link's saw tore into one or two robots in a pileup near the beginning then stalled. I drove around looking for opponents to scoop. In one mad dash across the arena, Missing Link bounced over the low-slung Mouser Catbot 2001 and bounced over upside-down. A third self-inflicted loss for the Missing Link. Darn.

Now I must decide if I should repair the robots and re-fight them, upgrade them (Missing Link could go to the 100lb class easily), or drop them altogether and start on Armed Forces...


08.06.1999: Dr. Inferno is one of the favored robots to win in his weight class at BattleBots, according to reporting at ZDNet! ZDTV will also be broadcasting all of BattleBots live (August 14-15), and they're giving away tickets.

Dr. Inferno has undergone some rewiring and is a little more stable and sturdy now. I'm going to add a few little bump stops for his hinged skirts to ensure that they don't fold up underneath him, getting him stuck.

The Missing Link has a new tire tread scheme. I've replaced the vacuum cleaner drive belts with an 8" tire that I've trimmed and screwed down to the spherical wheels. The electronics box, which failed in both of the Missing Link's combat matches at Bot Bash, has been beefed up an enormous amount. It won't fail again.

On the web page front, there are some new pics in the Dr. Inferno and Composite Materials pages.

I'm also in the midst of creating my 2nd LEGO combat robot. No pictures yet, but it goes by the name of Tesseract. It sports a big fat high-energy heavy spinning weapon driven by 16 motors. For an idea of what's on it, imagine these metal hooks attached to these saucers, all spinning around mighty fast.


07.16.1999: Dr. Inferno and the Missing Link need a few repairs and upgrades for BattleBots. Both robots held up quite nicely at Bot Bash, but there are a few weaknesses that need addressing:

Dr. Inferno's weapons system wiring went up in smoke. Last night, I took him all apart for a cleaning and a going-over and found a collection of melted wires from the radio switches that control his power drills. I stripped off the destroyed wiring and briefly reconnected all the wires and was pleased to find that everything works great. There was no damage to the drill batteries, drill motors, or radio switches. I'll perform the rewiring this weekend. I'm also contemplating making small bump stops on his hinged skirt so that they can't fold underneath his body, thereby pinning himself.

The Missing Link had a little play in his drivetrain, so I stripped him down to his basic parts, tightened everything down (Remember that I've been using and abusing him for about a year now, so a little loosening is not surprising at this point.). I also gave him a good cleaning. I took his rusted spherical wheels to the wire wheel and they're now shiny and happy. I removed and disassembled the Aluminum electronics box, which was in pretty sorry shape, cleaned it up, and had it welded (It was held together by a few teeny pop rivets before.). I will add and weld some reinforcements to it and make a few small modifications to that box and the carbon fiber armor around it so that it will never fail. All of these fixes should take only a week or 2, and I have 4 weeks until BattleBots.


07.10.1999: Dr. Inferno and the Missing Link both took 3rd place in their respective weight classes at BotBash 99! Dr. Inferno caught eye of the press--the Arizona Republic newspaper ran this short pictorial in the Sunday, July 11 edition.

Dr. Inferno got hung up on the obstacle course, posting a very slow time, but he pulled off the win in the sumo contest. In the very final bout between Dr. Inferno and Wrath, Doctor Inferno was fortunate to get his skirt caught under the duct tape defining the sumo ring, preventing him from being shoved out. In the combat portion, I mis-adjusted his hole saw weapon, leading to a spectacular shorting out of some wiring--his head caught fire and belched smoke for half a minute or so. He was quickly repaired and went on to fight two more battles, albeit with only one drill operating. The judges, charmed by Dr. Inferno's cuteness, bestowed upon him the Most Innovative robot award.

The Missing Link fared better in the obstacle course, coming in 3rd place (out of 9 heavyweight robots). Unfortunately, for the sumo matches, my 1st fight was against my best friend Christian Carlberg's Toe-Crusher. He beat Missing Link on the 1st of 3 matches, but the Missing Link came back with a sneaky win on the 2nd shoving match--his new "ugly stick" attachment was so long that, even though Toe-Crusher pushed Missing Link out of the ring, Toe-Crusher left the ring 1st, giving Missing Link the win. The rest of the sumo went fairly easily for the Missing Link--he made it through entirely undefeated with his brand new ugly stick and scooper attachments, even though this configuration brought him in at about 10lb under the weight limit. Finally, the combat portion of the event was less spectacular for the Missing Link. In his first bout, against Terabite, his abrasive gas-powered circular saw exploded in a flurry of fibers and chunks, and then his electronics box broke open, allowing the radio receiver battery to fall out onto the ground. In his second fight, against Carnage, the Missing Link's main drive battery suffered an internal failure after being clocked mightily by Carnage's axe.


07.07.1999: Using what I learn from combat at the BotBash, Dr. Inferno and the Missing Link will be in prime form for BattleBots. Dr. Inferno (paired up with Phil Putman's Air Burial) and the Missing Link are both registered in the kilobot (25kg=55lb) weight class at BattleBots, which takes place on the weekend of 7/14-7/16 in Long Beach, CA. BattleBots features robots up to 200lb (300lb if it's a walking robot!) in a trap-laden arena.

The folks putting on this event are past combat robot competitors (the men behind La Machine), have a passion for the sport, and have the financial and creative resources behind them to guarantee that the event will be outstanding.


07.06.1999: Only 3 days and then Dr. Inferno and the Missing Link are on the way to their first fight, at the BotBash in Scottsdale, Arizona. BotBash is a smaller event, with robots weighing no more than 23kg (51lb), a feature of the annual Hexacon gaming convention. Dr. Inferno is in the 12.5kg weight class, while the Missing Link is in the 23kg class. With over a year of testing and refinements under their belts, these two robots will put up a great fight.

Additionally, the Missing Link has two and a half brand new weapons to add to its arsenal, for a total of six. I can bolt any pair of these weapons onto the drivetrain, effectively tailoring the robot to have the optimal weaponry for each of its fights. I'm keeping these items under wraps so they'll be a surprise--the other four weapons have been well-publicized for over a year now, so I want to keep at least something mysterious! I'll just tell you now that the two new weapons are extremely low-tech.

The extra half weapon I mention above is actually a new component for one of the pre-existing weapons. I found a new, shall we say, "attachment" that looks more at home on a 200lb robot than on the medium-sized 50lb Missing Link. Unfortunately, this new item is so very nasty that it's not allowed under the BotBash safety rules and it would probably put the Missing Link overweight, anyway. It will be unveiled at BattleBots. The other robots will be frightened.

2001: archived 2001 News page

2000: archived 2000 News page

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