Tornado - Robot Diary - Times Of Plague
TORNADO - The Team with the Comedy Flying Cow


23/1/99 - Finally decided I was going to do Robot Wars, even though I was still in my final year at university in Salford. I'm Andrew Marchant, and at the moment, I'm the only member of the team. Sent off for the Robot Wars Club pack. Started thinking seriously about how to do it.

8/2/99 - Meanwhile, somewhere in Cambridgeshire, future team member and electronics engineer Dave Gamble discusses ideas for a Robot Wars entry with workmate Ian Moody. How strange that both Andrew and Dave started thinking seriously about Robot Wars within about two weeks of each other. Dave and Ian came up with this...

18/2/99 - Not just one, but two club packs arrive at home in Kent. Got my parents to send the important bits up to Salford.

24/2/99 - Found Hawker batteries at Display Electronics (4 for 99+vat). Persuaded my friends from Kent, David Lewis and Gary Bowley to form a team with me.

26/2/99 - Emailed the Frumious Frog team about where they got their motors (Sinclair C5). Also emailed Mentorn about when the deadline for series 3 is; apparently it's the end of May, which we cannot make. Series 4 it is for us! Mentorn suggested we still apply, but tell them again at a later date that we can't make the deadline.

1/3/99 - Fruminous Frog team replied, giving me Adam Harper's phone number.

5/3/99 - Rung Adam Harper. If cost were no object, then the Sinclair C5 motors (actually made by Philips) would be the ones to go for, as supposedly they are by far the most powerful available. Also rung DMS Technologies (Hawker Distributor); the SBS15's are 78 each new! They recommended the Hawker Genesis batteries (as they are meant for repeated deep discharge) - but the Display offer is too good to miss, and the SBS15's are more than good enough. Also confirmed that my cheap charger idea would work OK; basically using a standard 2 amp IC regulator (78S12) and a zener.

8/3/99 - Got weapons motor from Adrian in the Motor Club, who's also doing Robot Wars.

9/3/99 - Put my money where my mouth is and bought the Hawker batteries from Display.

14/3/99 - Sent off our completed application form. Also told Mentorn about us probably not making the May deadline, so having to defer to series 4. Decided on the name Plague - thought of it after hearing that Adrian's robot will be called "Black Death". The sketch below is the design we submitted.

18/3/99 - Received our contracts and construction/contact pack.

20/3/99 - Sent the contracts to the other team members (David L and Gary) back home in Kent.

24/3/99 - Major brainwave occurred, as they always do, at 3 in the morning. Think I have figured out how to build speed controllers simply and cheaply!

31/3/99 - Returned contracts. Gary Bowley decided to drop out, and thus our video diary went down the drain!

1/4/99 - Rung round loads of potential motor suppliers - as soon as I mentioned Robot Wars many became a little hostile! Found secondhand motors and gearboxes at several places, but SCL Mobility have a complete scrap wheelchair (not including charger). This will give us motors, gearboxes and speed controller!

6/4/99 - Borrowed my parents car and went and spent some money. Bought a welder, the wheelchair from SCL, angle grinder, some electronic bits and the 40MHz radio gear.

19/4/99 - Another letter from Mentorn arrived. Mailed Derek Foxwell to report on our progress, and say again that we cannot meet the series 3 deadline.

30/4/99 - Audition forms arrived. Ignored them as Mentorn should already know that we can't make the deadline - audition dates are 29/30/31 May.

4/5/99 - Second set of audition forms arrived. E-mailed Mentorn to say we're on their mailing list twice!

18/5/99 - Creation of the website after looking round loads of other Robot Wars sites. Is our robot the only Plague?

29/5/99 - No, we are not the only Plague. It turns out that Team R.A.T. got there very much first, so we're changing our name. I'm too stressed with exams to think of a good replacement, so for the moment at least, we are Team RWNN, and the robot is also TRWNN - The Robot With No Name. On another note, we're also considering getting a starter motor instead of the one we have for the weapon - as we only need one direction, and they're a little bit powerful...

24/6/99 - Starting building cheap battery charger for the sealed lead acid batteries. We need something that will charge them quickly...

26/6/99 - Finished building charger. Charged the big old batteries I got with the wheelchair. Works OK (although doesn't yet charge at full power as it uses an old transformer I had lying around).

27/6/99 - Got the wheelchair going! It's speed is not brilliant but torque is pretty good - it takes all the effort from myself plus both of my friends to stop it moving. It will tow my Dad's van OK on the flat, but refused to pull my parents car up the drive (a bit of a hill). We suspect the controller is limiting what the chair can do, along with the rather worn out batteries. However, close inspection of the gearboxes revealed a major problem, in that they are way too tall for the original tracked design to work!

28/6/99 - We've redesigned using the wheelchair wheels (scrapping the tracks) and building electro-mechanical speed controllers (similar to the servo and mechanical switch in a toy RC car). Our new design now looks worryingly similar to another robot from series 2 that didn't get very far...

30/6/99 - Bought bits for speed controllers, large transformer (for the charger) and castor wheels from Maplin.

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