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The competition involves head-to-head combat between these radio controlled beasts. Entrants are sorted by weight class and subject to a set of rules that levels the playing field. Prohibited items include untethered projectiles, liquids, acids, explosives, electrical discharges and radio jamming. What's left you ask? Why, simply the best of all weapons: the ones that are creative and require real thought and design.
I've been asked "Why are you spending time on this?" My answer is simple: to have fun. I'm having fun building the Ag, hosting the webpage and I'll have fun competing against others. Contrary to the cultural norm my goal is not to win. However, winning would be nice.
The Ag firing as it exits a jump gate.
We have a 1000 psi bottle of compressed nitrogen riding onboard the Ag. It's regulated down to 150 psi and switched through two high-flow air valves to control the action of the pneumatic punch. The punch design originally started out as a spring loaded single-shot harpoon. The kinetic energy math said I would have to use garage door sized springs to get the harpoon to move fast enough. Two months later I was experimenting with an air cylinder hooked to the air compressor. It's a hot weapon, and jumped an order of magnitude when Mike added the titanium tip.
I chose off-the-shelf R/C gear to control the Ag. I figured it was a mature technology. Surprise! I had more trouble with the R/C link than when I tried to weld aluminum. To make control easier I interfaced an advanced C&H flight stick to the transmitter, with the help of the techs at Futaba. Now a single hand is all I need to use in order to (ideally) crush my opposition!
I use a Tekin R/C speed controller to switch the traction motors on the Ag. They work beautifully. But there were other requirements that led to the installation of onboard controllers. One of the most important functions is the proper air valve sequence timing for the pneumatic punch. Poor timing yields fewer shots from the storage tank and possible damage to the cylinder seals. Computers are cool.
I want you to have fun watching the Ag. Period. That's why it's not a fiberglass dome where no internals are visible. Early in the project I had the idea to watch a live video feed during competition. Well, here you see the UHF receiver and VR goggles I'm using to acomplish that. An onboard video transmitter relays a signal from a micro-sized CCD camera. The image is displayed through a pair of i-glasses! from Virtual i-O. And if you're going to the event this year, look forward to watching the Ag's video feed on the audience display monitors. At least, that's the current plan.
This is our target drone for driving proficiency tests. It's also a great stess reliever after a long day in the shop.