TORNADO - The Team with the Comedy Flying Cow

This two day event is the largest and best organised charity event we have yet been to, and provided us with some of the most fun and violent fights we have ever taken part in. As last year the event was organised by Eddy and Roy of the Prizephita team, in aid of their community centre in Debenham. For this event we built a bulldozer blade weapon, after retiring the pneumatic toothpick after the last Rumble, and to bring our weight up nearer to the new 100kg limit (we ran at about 88kg).

This event saw a huge attendance, and I'm certain this list will not be complete. Running heavyweights included Velocirippa, Chaos 2, Humphrey, Behemoth, Henry 3, Chip, Dominator 2, Stinger, Bigger Brother, Toecutter 2, Tornado, Edgehog, Dantomkia, M2, Onslaught, Axe Awe, Killertron, Wolverine, The Luggage, and Storm.


Also present were Skeltron from Technogames, Excecutioner, Prizephita, Prizephita Mach 2, Anthrax, Cassius 2, Savage Toaster, Scaramanga, Spam, Beef Cake, the Plunderbird boys and the Smith Brothers (no relation), Xno, Pain, Hard Cheese, and loads of antweights (which unfortunately I didn't get to see fighting). Rex again chaired the judging panel, which became very useful to us on Sunday!

Saturday Morning session

Due to the sheer size of this event, we only filmed our own battles. Our first battle was a three way melee against Edgehog, and our old adversary Dantomkia! We concentrated on Dantomkia, as Edgehog had a rather severe weight penalty at only 60kg. Edgehog's bodywork fouled one of its wheels, and one of Dantomkia's servo linkages got jolted round, so he only had full reverse, so we went through.

Our next battle was - gulp! - against Chaos 2! It was a chance for revenge after Series 4, and boy, did I take it! From the first impact, George didn't stand a chance. He mis-timed a flip, and I got behind Chaos, our blade pushed straight underneath him, turning him over. I pushed him into the wall, he then fell on top of us, and our wheels propelled him behind us as I reversed out. So I pushed him backwards into the opposite wall! I then went round to the side of Chaos, still upside down, and pushed him into the corner. One ram was all it took - George's flipper went through a gap in the arena fence, and his front flipper arms got pushed underneath him. The battle lasted a very short time (the video shows almost all of it), and we had won!

We were next up against Humphrey. We pushed him around a lot, but he kept on going, until one side of his drivetrain locked... The judges decision went to us. The organisers struggled to get the arena gate open, whoops...

The final was against Stinger. It was a bit of a scrappy fight, and about two thirds of the way through we stopped, failsafe on, for seemingly no reason. The hooter went, and at that absolute instant, the failsafe switched off and the robot became live again. We complained to the judges, as the only thing that could cause that would have been another transmitter on the same frequency (malicious or otherwise), and they let the fight continue. But the result became decisive when we lost drive on one side. What happened? One of our motors came unbolted! Doh! But even so, we had got to the final, and we had won a trophy!

Saturday Afternoon session

Our first fight of the afternoon was against Dantomkia again! You would think Mike Lambert would be getting fed up with us by now, but as always, he kept smiling! This was a long and hard battle, and was the first time ever that we have found the batteries starting to die. At least we think so, it may have been the same set that gave up later against Storm. And we broke the arena gate yet again!

We then fought Axe Awe, the follow up to Iron Awe. These guys got their flipper under us more often than Chaos 2 had! And yes, that is a fibreglass axe handle flexing in the picture... Once they can put it where they want it (they kept going round in circles!) they'll be a serious contender. We again had interference problems in this fight, but of a different kind this time, much more intermittent, and they didn't stop us going. Other people on similar channels (especially Onslaught on the same as us) were reporting interference too, so we assumed the source to be another transmitter.

The final was against Chaos 2 again! Our interference was getting worse, and we delayed the start a bit hoping it would go away. It didn't, and we only had about 50% control throught the fight. We were expecting to be the ones ducking out, but two of the high tensile bolts holding the front plate of Chaos 2's flipper in place broke (see picture right above), so George called a halt and we won!

It was another brilliant fight, and you might get the idea that I was a little relieved to win! We lapped up the applause, and then took a look at Chaos 2. Square hole with red paint in their polycarbonate? Wonder who that could've been then?

Chaos was in a real state by this point, also having been given a thorough bashing when they fought Velocirippa. George dashed off as soon as he could, to make repairs overnight, while the rest of the roboteers were treated to the talents and tales of Rex Garrod and his "Wacky World of Science" while we ate our evening meal.

Sunday Morning session
Determined to overcome our interference problems, we arrived as early as we could on Sunday, in order to swap our crystals and test again. But despite finding a damaged aerial wire, the results were the same, and even more puzzling, the reception got worse the closer the receiver got to the chassis. It was Dave who found the solution, when he got a shock from the chassis while touching one of the battery terminals. The chassis was sitting at our speed controller switching frequency, i.e. +/-36V, 30kHz ac! This was not good in a "very" kind of way.

The problem was traced to the motor which had become dislodged against Stinger, one of the windings of which was slightly charred, and had worn through the paper insulation and was touching the armature, thus the body of the motor and then the chassis. Not having brought our brand new spare Bosches with us, we had to make our best repair, insulating the wires with a bit of glassfibre from the battery compartment, and gluing it up with epoxy.

The time it took to effect repairs meant that we missed the morning session completely. We watched a very violent fight between Dominator 2 and Chaos 2, in which Chaos 2's CO2 bottle got punctured! Dominator won the fight, but damaged itself so badly (their armour got split and their chassis broke into several pieces) that Chaos went through. The final was won by Bigger Brother, who beat Chaos 2.

Sunday Afternoon session

Our first battle was against newcomers Storm. Did we notice any similarities? Well, mimic is a form of flattery I suppose... They had asked us to go easy, not expecting to win, so we pushed them about a bit. For the hell of it, I kept the wheels spinning whilst holding them against the wall, trying to get a burnout. Well, something burned - the weak winding in that damaged motor! A cell in one of the batteries expired as well, and that was that... Storm had beaten us! Well done guys, once they get their problems sorted (in particular turning corners!) then they'll be one to watch.

That should have been it for us, out of the competition. But Eddy and Roy were in a dire situation, as they were very quickly running out of running robots to fight, and the audience could only be kept occupied with sideshows for so long. Dominator 2 had offered us a motor - but without the facilities to drill it, it was of little use to us. But Rex's workshop was only a short drive away, so we worked at double time to get the pinion off, and Bryan took Dominators motor with Rex to get the shaft drilled. We managed to get everything back together in record time, and were soon back in the arena against Wolverine, but it was a non starter as Wolverine malfunctioned. Gareth later traced his complete loss of control to his aerial being shorted to his chassis!

The first proper battle of our second chance was against Humphrey. As before we pushed them about a bit, getting them jammed on the arena wall several times, and even under the gate as shown above! We pushed them out each time though, to keep the battle going for the crowd.

It had to happen, we were up against Chaos 2 again. But we had to prepare Tornado almost instantly, and we had only two charged batteries, so Gareth Dean from Wolverine lent us one of his. This was an absolutely fantastic fight, both George and I were trying our hardest to out drive each other and bring our weapons to bear. For the first time in the weekend George managed to flip us over, and I let him flip us back again. He nearly propped us against the side of the arena, but out chassis modifications proved their worth and we got out of it. The judges awarded the fight to us, making it three times in the weekend that we had beaten Chaos!

Again we needed to be back in the arena almost instantly, for the final against Bigger Brother. But we had a bit problem - our motors were seriously hot, and to go back in like that risked burning them out. So much for 36V not overheating motors - in a situation where we needed to run again every few minutes, they don't get a chance to cool down! So one of the judges got a CO2 fire extinguisher, and blasted the motors with it. It helped to cool them, but we were afraid it might crack a magnet. So George suggested he use the low pressure piping in Chaos 2 to direct low pressure CO2 directly through our motors - Thanks George! - which worked, until George's gas ran out. So we borrowed another gas cylinder from... Bigger Brother! While all this went on, Ian Watts kept the crowd entertained, giving away postcards to kids who answered questions about Bigger Brother. Still we didn't have charged batteries, so kindly Gareth lent us three more of his to use in the final!

But we needn't have worried about the motors. The final was over very quickly indeed, as almost our first ram immobilised Bigger Brother - one of their battery connections had not been connected properly, and they stopped dead. So we had won another final!

At the very least we have to call the weekend sucessful. We beat the reigning champion every time we fought him - in fact George didn't have the best of weekends, and he must be a little worried that Chaos 2 is getting a little long in the tooth. We came away with a trophy from every session in which we fought. Despite it being such good fun, we were very tired by the end of it all.

The event acted as a proving ground for the new wheels, with which we had no problems at all, and the chassis modifications were already showing their worth. On another positive note, John "Lex" Wilkinson (Savage Toaster) proposed to his partner Tracy over the weekend - and even better, she said yes! Congratulations to the pair of them (and get that Toaster finished!).

Have a look at the official Robot Rumble site.

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