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The 1999 LEGO RoboGladiators Event at E3
by Dan Danknick
|Our face-off style events were scheduled every half an hour. So with only like five minutes to go, Peter gets an idea for a new weapon and starts throwing it together to mount on his robot Mafune. Amazing.|
|Here Clint holds a part for Rick as some type of spring loaded grappling hook is resurrected from Rick's bag-o-tricks. All of these guys showed up with tool boxes, bins and gear bags full of LEGO parts not to mention pre-built assemblies. (And yes, that's Darth Maul on the business end of the harpoon claw.)
To the right is the main weapon on Rick's robot - a 15 lb. hammer! It was made from lead pieces that came in some older LEGO crane kit, which of course these guys all kept the parts for future kinetic energy weapons. It was driven by eight motors and the world's largest LEGO rack-and-pinion system.
|Christian shows off his robot Dreadnaught with 32 motors and a very cool color scheme. I loved it.|
|Here are some of the internal subassemblies I built for my robot, below. On the left is the smallest LEGO gearmotor driving a high current polarity switch. The RCX receiver controlled two of these red motors to switch the high current drive motors in "tank style" steering.
To the right is my voltage converter module that gets around all the safety designed into the conductive bricks by hooking two 9v battery packs in series for 18v. Details on how I built it are here for your enjoyment.
|Here is my Thursday robot Time-Warp. It used one motor per wheel running 2x voltage and powered by 8 battery packs. I had a really weak lifting pitchfork-style mechanism up front but it kept breaking and tossing parts into the audience. One of the few fights I won was against Clint's tank.|
Later that day, It didn't take too long for Jason's robot 2A to flip me over!
|Here is my Friday robot, Half-Life. I was just so excited after the first day of the event that I went home an rebuilt the whole machine from scratch! It used two motors per wheel running 2x voltage and powered by 8 battery packs (also for weight.) It still got creamed and that's all I will say about it.|
|Jason and Luke Khanlian (right) go at it. Luke's smaller robot, Mule, had this fantastic arm on it that could not only lift things up but be used to right the whole robot when flipped over.|
|Mule was also pretty good at climbing up and into 2A's machinery. It would have been the perfect take-down for Mule to rip out a battery cable or something but it just didn't seem to happen.|
|Up to this point, the BattleBots robot was creaming everyone in their path. I noticed in this fight that most of the time Dreadnaught could hold it's own against BattleBots. But every so often Dread would loose power and get pushed around. Then it would start up again. Curiously, I spoke with Christian after he lost this round to BattleBots.|
|Turns out the stock LEGO battery packs contain a thermally resettable solid-state fuse. They kept going off in Dreadnaught during the shoving contest but cooled down in 40-50 seconds. I wondered how Carlo, the builder of BattleBots had gotten around that limitation with a robot that weighed 4 or 5 times as much. "Oh, I took those out." was his simple answer. "But Carlo, the rules were perfectly clear that you couldn't modify any LEGO part in any way." "Well, I couldn't have got that much power if I'd left them in." The unbeatability of BattleBots had been discovered!|
Everything worked out fine in the end; this short-cut was effectively handled when the entire battery set of BattleBots melted down under a short circuit during reassembly, forcing Carlo to use stock packs for the remainder of the event.
|This photo was featured online in the Associated Press daily archives showing Jason in action fighting Luke's Mule!|
To the right, Greg Munson cooly applauds.
|The remaining competitors on Saturday, L to R: Peter, Christian, Rick, Jason an myself.|