Long Beach BattleBots '99 report

KHz all packed up and ready to return to England.

We had sent in a 30 minute video in response to BattleBots' very generous International Scholarship offer and were surprised to find that we had won one of the three available places, so our flights and hotel were paid for. Now we just had to get KHz ready in time. It was going to be tight...

We made up a big ramming spike, making use of the higher weight limit at BattleBots.
Made from 20mm silver steel. Green ally plate on top of square tube is bump-stop for axe.

We decided to transport KHz as luggage - there is an allowance of two 32kg cases and one 6kg peice of hand luggage each on BA North American flights. As BattleBots had kindly offered to the supply the batteries and chargers, we reckoned we could keep the weight of the whole machine under 90kg, so we could fit it into three cases, leaving one for personal stuff. We stripped everything out of the chassis and put it in a heavy nylon bag designed for transporting bicycles. The rest of the stuff went into two flight cases Dom had. See pic above. The problem was the axe shaft... At around 4ft long, it was too big to fit in the nylon bag, so we cut it in half and welded it back together when we got there! Also had the benefit of removing the kink that I had put in it during testing.


Spent most of the day assembling KHz. First time it had been assembled in this form. Didn't have time in Oxford - just had to pack and go. It was only now that I discovered that I had left the pneumatic ram in Oxford, so no axe! aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrgggghh!!!!!!!


First round

We got a bye straight into the second round.


A tough fight against this well-armoured and powerful wedge, a bit like Adam's Corporal Punishment. Didn't manage to pierce his ally armour with our spike. He was suffering with old batteries. It went the full distance and we just got the audience vote.



Overnight we'd been hatching plots on how to deal with this fearsome machine. We advised the safety team that we were planning to use ablative armour (10lb steel gym weights!). In the morning Nightmare was asked to reverse the direction of his disc to avoid flying debris. It would have been quite a challenge to meet Nightmare in the form it was designed, but the arena was not up to it.

Dominic came up with the idea of using the gym weights again, but this time pushed out in front of us, on top of blocks of wood, to hopefully slow down the rotor before we hit it.
They seemed to do the job, at least initially. Video (670KB Intel Indeo 5 AVI).

Once they had been used up, however, Nightmare managed to tear off one of our front panels, smash the axe bump-stop and mangle the 10mm silver steel axe safety pin.
We were hitting Nightmare pretty hard too, and bent one of his front legs and broke the castor. We managed to keep his rotor stopped quite a lot of the time either by running into it, or pushing it into the walls of the BattleBox. Went the full five minutes and we got the audience vote.

Vlad the Impaler

We had a lucky break by pushing Vlad over the saw blades, which removed one of his drive chains. Nice and brief! Video (830KB Real G2)


Here we were as the only machine apart from BioHazard not to have lost a match.
With the help of Lowell from team SLAM, we carefully sharpened the spike again and then hardened it. Video (390KB Real G2)

Nice titanium sparks when we hit Bio's armour, but no real effect. Video (650KB Intel Indeo 5 AVI). I accidentally drove over the saw blades and damaged one of our front tyres, which meant I could only steer left. Bio managed to trap us against one of the barriers and flip us over. This put is into the final round of the 'Best of the rest' leg (double elimination - you have to lose twice), against Rhino.


We were rather worried by the power of Rhino's pneumatic spike - full pressure CO2 firing out a 3 feet long steel rod with interchangeable spikes. He managed to hit us a couple of times, but didn't get through the Lexan, though it did dislodge the front panel again. We got lucky when one of the impacts flipped his master switch off. So we were in the final! Video (530KB Real G2)
When we pushed KHz out of the arena, there was a loud noise from the gears - the heavy impacts had separated the front mounting plate from the main case of both the Bosch motors (they're only crimped on). This was a potential problem that I was aware of, as it had happened to RoboDoc, but I never got around to providing better support for the motors.

The Final - BioHazard

We couldn't believe it - here we were in the BattleBots final, up against BioHazard again. Ian and Simon from Razer helped re-attach the front panel and wedge the motors in place.
In the fight I really just concentrated on keeping away from his lifter. Still kept running into the saws, though - they completely tore off one of the front tyres, snapped off the ramming spike where it had been made brittle by welding and put a couple more gouges in the edges of the chassis, but we kept going till the end. Video (580KB Real G2). The audience deservedly voted BioHazard the winner. If only we had had the axe working...

Best Driver Award

I also won the Best Driver award, as voted for by the competitors. TWO superb prizes - a motorised Go-Ped and a Sony MiniDiscMan.

Next stop - Vegas?