TORNADO - The Team with the Comedy Flying Cow


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14/8/00 - Given the chain problem with Tornado, and the time left, we shall now not be able to attend the filming of the extra programmes (Sumo and Pinball) today and tomorrow. We shall take a few months break, and then start building for next year - we have some ideas for a better weapon and ways to stop the chain problem. Meanwhile we need the time to recover and tidy our lives!

15/8/00 - Got a call from Chris Middleton from the Daily Mail Weekend magazine, who proceeded to interview me there and then... The article will be timed to appear when the series starts. We will be contacted for a photo soon too... On top of that, we're getting wind of possible sponsor interest... does it all happen at once or what!?!

22/8/00 - Got another call from Chris Middleton, asking a few more questions about Tornado. The photo should happen shortly... In the evening had our first proper team get together after the Series 4 filming - to tidy and clear out Dave's garage! We have decided to get rid of most of our unwanted go-kart tyres - they are all front slicks, of different makes and widths. We don't want anything for them, you are welcome to as many as you want, but you must collect them! Also made the decision between the three of us that from now on, all robot costs will be divided equally - up till now we have been paying for our respective areas seperately (Bryan pneumatics, Dave electronics, Andrew mechanical).

23/8/00 - Mentorn rang, also wanting to know how much Tornado had cost us (that's what Chris asked yesterday!). Rung Stratos about 219 steel chains - apparently they can't get them... we will have to look elsewhere.

24/8/00 - Got a call from the photographers - they want to do the photos tomorrow! Also rang Stratos about steel chains - they say you can't get them... yet part of our chain is made from the old steel one we picked up at Kimbolton!

25/8/00 - Asked Paul at work about chains - he has suggested a few companies we might try. And it was our photo shoot in the evening... Lots of silly shots, Tornado propped up on some bits of wood, us three in team colours... and then we were asked if we could get it going! Unfortunately the photographer reckoned that the photos started getting good as we took a hacksaw to the jammed chain! Still, we were able to get drive on one side and have Tornado running on the road. The article will be in the Daily Mail Weekend, along with some other robots (including Mortis). On top of that, our possible sponsor has confirmed their interest! It never rains but it pours...

7/9/00 - Sold two of our spare Bosch magnets (from the motor we burnt out fighting WBC) to Alistair O'Neil, who is planning a robot for Series 5. Even though we are supposed to be on our break, we are still thinking about Tornado... Had an idea of how to sort out the wheels, at about 3 in the morning!

16/9/00 - Well, the Daily Mail Weekend article has finally appeared! We were the only newcomers featured; the Plunderstorm team, 101 and Mortis were the other three. Take a look, in Tornado in the Press... It's not totally accurate - the cost for instance is wrong as we didn't know how much the T-Shirts came to at the interview, they've used a little bit of artistic licence on what I said, and of course we haven't started yet on our Series 5 entry!

22/9/00 - The first show of Series 4 has been televised - and we were in it! It wasn't our heat, but there was a very short clip of us pushing Katerkiller, and we were in the background of the handover between Philippa Forrester and Julia Reed. See Tornado on TV.

29/9/00 - Finally found out that (subject to the BBC again putting sport on) that we are definately in heat F and our programme will go out on the 3rd November therefore.

8/10/00 - Took a trip to the kart track - came back with only one tyre, but we were being choosy and it was a small meeting. Also ordered some more chain. Spent the evening having our first team meeting for Series 5, regarding our problems and the solutions. The drivetrain needs work to make it reliable, and we have figured out easy ways to improve the wheels, chain, intermediate gear and idler! The weapon is useless, so we shall replace it, but only once we have done everything to the drivetrain such that we know how much weight we have available.

12/10/00 - Took a trip to Machine Mart as Bryan got an invite to a VAT free evening... I got some welding and grinding bits, but Bryan bought a bench grinder and combined lathe/milling machine! We should now be able to produce lots of our own parts, and not have to depend on the workshop at work.

14/10/00 - Scrapyard trip - obtained a motor that we might use for our new weapon.

16/10/00 - Dave had a huge motor donated to us. It's way too big, too heavy and not powerful enough to be any use!

18/10/00 - Chain arrived from Spellfame.

22/10/00 - Dismanted the robot properly for the first time since the Series 4 filming. Noticed a few more dents in the chassis, and a few more chipped teeth on the kart sprockets, but overall no major horrors. The axles were as much a pain as ever to get out, so we'll turn them down a bit before refitting. The bottom armour is in two pieces, which is a little unwelcome...

23/10/00 - Dismantled and rebuilt the wheels. We think we might have found another failure mechanism in the drivetrain, in that the driveblocks, as they twist on the wheels, bend the nylon webs that support them. As such the drive block and hence sprocket can go out of line, hence we loose the chain... Replaced the two worst wheels with our spares.

24/10/00 - Bryan borrowed some cutters from work and machined down the axles on his lathe. A couple are bent - we think from us hammering them in! Spent the rest of the evening reassembling, and managed to get a reasonable amount done.

25/10/00 - Went to Daves house to finish reassembly. As a test, I cooked for us all - shame Dave's cooker is so slow and it took an hour! We managed to rebuilt Tornado fairly quickly though, including making two new chain guides which hopefully will stop the chain coming off for a bit... Took it for a test run, and managed to get steam from the tyres (it was raining) in a stall test up against a wall!

26/10/00 - Got a phone call from the local paper, the Hunts Post. They want to come and see us on Monday to feature us in next weeks paper...

27/10/00 - Heat E is shown on TV, one filmed on the same day as ours. You can see us in the background again, and some of our supporters (including my Mum!) in the crowd! Bizarrely we are not included in the next weeks roundup at the end though...

28/10/00 - Took the robot home to test the new chain and demo to friends and family. Suffice to say that there were no problems with the new chain, and the people that saw it were impressed!

30/10/00 - Got a call from the Town Crier - they want to feature us too! Interview and photoshoot with Hunts Post in the evening.

1/11/00 - Our article appears in the Hunts Post. Most of it is OK, but as always there are a few mistakes...

2/11/00 - ...And today we appear in the Huntingdon Town Crier! It's not a dramatic appearance (tagged on the end of another Dominator 2 article), but it's more coverage...

3/11/00 - Heat F shown on BBC2 - Won by Tornado!!! We are very pleased that Mentorn showed some of us pushing Shunt around - you can see the holes we put in his sides and bucket in most of the following shows! According to the official viewing figures, this show was watched by 3.45 million people...

8/11/00 - A follow up article appears in the Hunts Post.

9/11/00 - Went and bought a proper cylinder of Argoshield for the welding! The regulator is expensive, but it'll still cost less than all those little cylinders we used for series 4. Also ordered yet more kart chain from Spellfame. Plus again we appear in the Huntingdon Town Crier!

10/11/00 - Kart chain arrived. Heat G shown today, our supporters Chris, Anna, James and Will could be seen clearly in a crowd shot. We also have a bit of good news on the sponsorship front - Ciba (the makers of Araldite) are willing to help produce some rather special armour for us - it's appreciated and anything helps!

11/11/00 - Took a visit to Stratos karts and Hanningfield metals. Bought kart wheels, hubs, sprockets, and sprocket carriers. At Hanningfield, bought some pressure gauges, and some Titanium sheet for the new armour. On the way back, looked at a new testing area found by Dave. It's perfect, very few stones, nice and flat, and it seems like it'll be deserted most of the time - it's a Department of Transport weighbridge, and it's the closest place to Dave's house we've yet found.

12/11/00 - Made another visit to the kart track - only found one pair of slicks. Bryans 101 Land Rover broke down on the way back too. Not a very sucessful day.

14/11/00 - Measured up for the new weapon - it will all fit! And we have been able to work out how to build most of it. Decided that we shall concentrate on the drivetrain first, and then work on the weapon after Christmas.

17/11/00 - Heat H shown today, the last of the four heats that we saw filmed. It ended with a highly controversial judges decision in which Wheely Big Cheese beat Suicidal Tendencies. We were among those in the crowd who were booing, because we feel that the judges made the wrong decision.

25/11/00 - Added the second new chain, rebuilt the pneumatics charging system and tested the pneumatics. All seems to be working very well! Took Tornado to the weighbridge for some testing, tried to pull Bryans 101, but the ground was wet and on its own therefore, it had no chance! With a little help (my 90kg standing on top!) it managed though. Also tried the pneumatics out on an old video recorder - managed to make some good holes in it - at last the system seems to work well!

26/11/00 - Attended the Robot Rumble event in Debenham, near Stowmarket, organised by Eddy and Roy of the Prizephita team. See our event report.

6/12/00 - Spent the evening copying videos and editing others. Removed the speed controller from the robot. Tidied the garage after Robot Rumble.

7/12/00 - More video editing and copying. Dave swapped the backup speed controller into the robot so that it could finally be tested.

8/12/00 - Took Tornado to the test area to run the backup speed controller that Dave built way back in July. It has no current limit (except indirectly when regenerating), so the robot starts, stops and turns very quickly! It still uses a pair of H bridges, but one side is made from relays rather than FETs, so there's a slight delay in changing direction. In practice this doesn't cause much of a problem, especially with the lack of current limit, but it's the first time I've felt the motors properly warm, and the batteries appeared to die a lot quicker. Spent the evening editing yet more video...

11/12/00 - More video editing.

12/12/00 - Yet more time spent on the video.

13/12/00 - Video editing takes a while. Another evening spent working on it...

14/12/00 - More work on the video.

15/12/00 - Another afternoon and evening spent working on the video. Progress is slow... Also we appear in issue 9 of the Robot Wars Magazine.

16/12/00 - Spent the morning preparing Tornado and then in the afternoon attended the Oundle Mill Social meet.

17/12/00 - Yet more work on the video. In the time we have left before Christmas, we now intend to get a working version done and leave some of the complicated bits until later!

18/12/00 - Stayed up till 4am working on the Tornado CD. Ouch!

19/12/00 - More work on the video - finished the end titles at last - there's very little to do now. Dave looked at the controller, and he's fairly sure that the problems we had at the meet on Saturday are due to temperature. We put the controller in the freezer for half an hour and then tested it in the robot, and it was totally non-functional! At least we know what the problem is. Dave plans to redesign the system for next year to make it more reliable.

20/12/00 - Dave still can't find the problem with the controller - we're going to leave it until after Christmas now. Spent the afternoon rendering and copying the video. There's still a few errors to deal with...

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