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August Overview
Well, here we are. After 12 months of work and roughly 1500 hours in the shop, the Ag is ready to join the ranks of competitors in San Francisco. In the face-off competitions, we battled three times to win the event. Unfortunately, face-off is a single elimination event; one loss knocks you out of the running (I don't think this is very fair.) Then on Sunday night we entered the middleweight melee where we faced all our vanquished foes simultaneously. Let me just say this: TORQUE RULES.

Having said that, you'll understand how the Ag rounded everyone up and mashed them into one corner. Whenever someone tried to leave, the Ag pushed them back in. It was at this point that someone leaned over to me on the control podium and whispered "Maybe you should rename this robot The Sheephearder. I laughed at the time, but since only 1 in 80 people were ever able to say "Agamemnon" correctly it may not have been such a bad idea.

Let me tell you in advance: we took no pictures and shot no video at the event. Why? We were busy. Don't believe it? Buy a ticket next year and see for yourself. The event pictures below were taken by others and graciously permitted for me to display.


The Robot Wars 1996 logo from my pit pass. It is most excellent, especially on the poster they sold.
Here is Dave grabbing another pile of gear as we load up the trucks for our morning departure. We brought most of the shop: MIG welder, belt sander, roll away tool box, drill, sawzall, scrap steel and aluminum, boxes of spare parts, three sets of batteries, spare RC gear, an 80 lb. nitrogen bottle, etc. We were glad to have everything at our fingertips. And so were the teams next to us; we were real big on helping everyone else out. After all, that's the whole idea.

We also brought a couch. The security guard that slept on it every night was really happy. And so were we: he was sleeping right in front of our stuff.

Team Delta 1996. From left to right: Greg Willingham, Dan Danknick, Dave Johnson and Mike Bell. The subdued urban camo fatigues were for psychological effect as well as comfort.
The night before we split my friend Dean shot some pictures of the Ag in his studio. I am very pleased with how it came out.
The side view of the Ag displaying the vast array of offensive weapons. If you look closely on the larger picture you can barely make out the black steel blades to the right. We special ordered them for "hardened targets" that had steel defenses. They worked beautifully.
A brief aside: on the right is the heavyweight robot Biohazard prying open La Machine in a face-off battle. Biohazard was a beautiful piece of work by Carlo Bertocchini. He ended up taking the trophy in the heavyweight face-off with Bio, as well as bagging the awards for best engineering and best design.

Special thanks to Rick Braumoeller at SGI for letting me display his pictures here.

I thought there was something funny about this robot. Carlo introduced himself to me on Friday and complimented me on this web page. Then he disappeared. Bio just sat on the table all day, unattended with a charger topping of its batteries. It wasn't until Sunday that I figured out why his pit area looked so wierd: no tools. Let me tell you: this guy was really ready. And boy did he perform. Awesome. I won't even try to describe it - you'll just have to buy the video.
This is Tony Buchignani, the 1996 Featherweight face-off champ displaying his robot, The Wedge Of Doom. All year I thought that as a software engineer I'd be the most out of my element at Robot Wars. Surprise: Tony is a corporate lawyer! And a really great guy to boot. Check out his web page to learn more about the WoD and what he's working on for '97.

Well, that's it for the Agamemnon project. Here are answers to common questions that I've been asked in the past week:

Are you going to enter Robot Wars next year?
Yes and in the middleweight category, too. But not with the Ag. I learned far too much in this past year to not put it into play.

What are you going to do with the Ag? Is it for sale?
I'm taking it on the road. I have two confirmed exhibitions right now as well as a couple of speaking opportunities. And there was some talk at the event about a trip to England to compete over there (which I am not holding my breath for.) You want to buy the Ag? Flow me $4500 and it's yours.

What did you think of Robot Wars 1996?
It was more fun than a barrel of monkeys at a sock hop. As to be expected with an event of this size, management was a bit disorganized but they got everything together. I do have one bitch though: I think we were overlooked for best engineering and design. Nobody ever approached our area and asked about the Ag; I'll bet $100 that not a single judge even knew we had an onboard video link.

When will you start on the next robot?
I promised my wife I'd wait until January before disappearing into the shop again. But I am actively investigating a number of interesting technologies. The current working name of next years robot is The Alexander.

Any hints of what you are looking into?
High beryllium/magnesium alloys of aluminum, ducted fan jet engines and an awesome telemetry system that will allow up to three guests to ride on board the Alexander next year during battle, made possible through i-glasses! from Virtual iO. Stay tuned to the web page for periodic sneak peeks at what I'm working on (as long as my wife doesn't catch me.)

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