TORNADO - The Team with the Comedy Flying Cow


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28/12/00 - Got some furniture foam for the wheels. No more punctures!

3/1/01 - Meeting at Daves. With the robot in his house, everything functions perfectly. It seems like it's a damp/temperature related problem - the trim drifts little from day to day when the controller is kept at a constant temperature - so Dave plans to redesign the controller so the problem is removed.

4/1/01 - Met again at Daves, this time with Bryan. Measured up for the new wheels and worked out each of our priorities.

5/1/01 - Bought metal for axles, charity events weapons and other misc bits from Smiths and Mackays.

10/1/01 - Finally Dave has found the problem with the controller. The chip he was using for the ramp generator was rather suscebtible to noise, and was going unstable. He's replaced the section of the circuit with something that works much better!

12/1/01 - Heat N shown on TV. Adrian, one of our supporters, was clearly shown in the crowd. However, he didn't actually attended the filming of this heat... Mentorn have got their wires crossed!

14/1/01 - Bryan displayed the robot at an athletics meet. Apparently he got more questions from the parents than the kids!

17/1/01 - Lent a 12V 400W Atco Qualcast DC motor by Robin at work - these are possibly the ones Rex first used.

18/1/01 - Dave has had a look at the Atco motor - it's a shunt wound motor, and the field coils are easy to get to. Apart from its size and weight, it might be quite useful...

19/1/01 - Letter arrived from Mentorn today - with a cheque to cover the cost of the Robot Wars club! (...if you build a qualifying robot, your membership fee will be refunded...) OK, it took them a while, but thanks Mentorn!

24/1/01 - Bryan removed some parts to start work on the drivetrain modifications. Also removing the old weapon was a pleasant surprise - we used a total of 10kg of pneumatics! This gives us a bit more scope for the new weapon than we thought we had. Bryan also is confident that the motor Robin lent us will fit in the chassis.

1/2/01 - Meeting at Daves. Bryan has come up trumps - the first example of the new wheel looks absolutely brilliant. Discussed the implications of the newly raised (100kg) weight limit. Also the Huntingdon Town Crier featured a short article.

2/2/01 - Live linkup on BBC Radio Cambridge before work. Myself and Peter Halloway from Dominator 2 were interviewed for a quick slot, in the Marriot hotel at 8am! Take a listen to the (edited) interview (565kb MP3).
The first semi-final was shown on TV in the evening. We won the fight against the 15th seed Wheely Big Cheese, but got knocked out by the number one seed Chaos 2. What you didn't see on TV was that we fought Chaos 2 three times (see 13/8/00)...

7/2/01 - Dave started writing up the text for the 7 channel radio hack - how to use a 3 channel Hi-Tec radio system to transmit and receive a full 7 channels!

8/2/01 - Short article in the Huntingdon Town Crier to say we were knocked out of the competition.

12/2/01 - Got a reply from work regarding using the facilities in the workshop - we have it in writing that we will have access! Thank You NXT! Rebuilt the robot in preperation for Peterborough Meet. Tested against an old video recorder, but we gained a big speed controller fault - 7 FETS blown! We were thinking about changing our speed controller strategy, and this has persuaded us. Spent a long time looking at possible weapon ideas.

13/2/01 - Started writing a spreadsheet to help with the weapon.

14/2/01 - We intended to fit the backup speed controller today, but Dave found that a relay in it had jammed open! Thus Dave spent the evening fixing it, while Bryan and I continued doing some weapon simulations.

15/2/01 - Fitted backup speed controller, and fortunately the thing seems to work fine! Finished re-assembly of the rest of the robot ready for Saturday. Bryan wrote another spreadsheet to help with the weapon design.

16/2/01 - The second semi-final is shown on TV - some of our supporters can again be seen in the crowd, and the motor that Mousetrap lend to us gets a toasting... Got the robot and all the spares and tools sorted for the Peterborough meet tomorrow. More work on the weapon design.

17/2/01 - Meeting at the Oundle Mill, Peterborough - see our event report. Having seen our performance against another selection of robots and having watched the Battlebots video that Martin (Anthrax) brought along, we have some thinking to do regarding our design...

18/2/01 - Crisis meeting regarding our design - sorry Dave and Bryan for occuping what was supposed to be a quiet Sunday! We went through a few possible design changes, some a little radical and requiring a lot of work, and others less so but still important. We decided due to cost, time and effort reasons to stick with our current chassis on the whole and just modify it for Series 5, rather than go for a complete new chassis. We agreed on some modifications that aren't that hard to do but will address a lot of the problems with the current chassis.

20/2/01 - Spare motors arrived from Ellis Components.

22/2/01 - Silver Steel for axles arrived from J&L.

23/2/01 - Ordered more chains (as spares). Grand Final of Series 4 shown on TV - Tornado won the Best Newcomer Award!!! Also nominated were Robochicken, Atilla the Drum, and Mousetrap. Chaos 2 again won the overall title - note that it took a two times champion to knock us out in only our first year!

Best Newcomer UK Robot Wars Series 4
Thus the results for Series 4 are:
Joint 5th
Chaos 2
Dominator 2
Wild Thing
Panic Attack

27/2/01 - Chains arrived from Dartford Karting.

28/2/01 - Finally sent the application form off! Donated some steel and Aluminium sheet by NXT, our employers.

10/3/01 - Cleared out Daves garage in preparation for restarting work.

11/3/01 - Measured the chassis as it stands from last year - at 16kg it is pretty much as expected. Weighed all our current parts and bits of the new wheels that Bryan has produced so far. Started our new weight budget.

12/3/01 - Worked on the weight budget. Dave continued work on the new electronics.

13/3/01 - Bryan made the PTFE wheel spacers during lunch at work. We have a complete new wheel assembly now! Continued on the weight budget. Matt, a friend of Bryan, who works with Ben (the electronics guy with Mortis) came to discuss speed controllers with Dave. It seems that Dave has been thinking along the right lines...

16/3/01 - Finally learnt that we are to get a proper trophy after all for winning Best Newcomer! Apparently it got send to the wrong address on finals day... More work on the weight budget - getting it to 98.2kg means we are now confident to start work.

17/3/01 - Massive progress on the chassis. Cut last years chassis into four parts - we removed the front and rear ends, and separated the two motor/wheel/drivetrain assemblies. This allows us to modify the back end to stop the tyres loosing contact with the ground as easily, widen the centre section (giving us more space and the ability to turn the batteries round), and increase the length of the front end slightly for the new weapon. By the end of the day we had welded the two sides back together, added most of the front extension bars, and got about halfway through the rear modifications.

18/3/01 - Ground down all the welding started yesterday, and finished off the chassis mods. Added all the remaining front bars (we had to sacrfice the trolley to get the right gauge steel!), and finished the modifications to the rear of the chassis. Amazing progress - we have done in two days what last year would have taken us two weeks! Also Bryan had an excellent idea for a decent replacement trolley - use the kart wheels we used on the robot last year! Made the decision to move the website from Geocities (15MB) to Tripod (50MB), as we are running out of web space.

19/3/01 - Our trophy for Best Newcomer finally arrived! It's a bit, er, industrial, and complete with an (illegal) TC tipped blade...! It's good to get something for all the effort we've put in though, so thanks Mentorn! Out of interest, it's not the same as the one shown on TV!

Best Newcomer UK Robot Wars Series 4

24,25/3/01 - Despite it being the weekend, there was no progress on the robot. Bryan and I spent both Saturday and Sunday welding up Chris Smythe (our number one fan)'s Fiesta! We ran out the big BOC welding gas cylinder, and we'll need to get some more welding wire, but hopefully it'll now pass the MOT.

27/3/01 - Got more welding gas from Team Plant.

28/3/01 - Bryan ordered more welding wire and tools from J&L. Ground down welding done last time, and started welding again. Dave got the speed controller working on the bench ready for Debenham at Easter - using the remaining half of the old controller and a prototype of the new controller. He's run it fairly hard and is happy it should survive OK.

29/3/01 - J&L order arrived. Talk about service!

30/3/01 - Took a trip to the kart track at Buckmore Park. Got a load more tyres, including a few wets. Also found we appear in this months Robot Wars magazine!

1/4/01 - Tried to get more kart tyres from the Buckmore Park kart track, but the guys working at the track stopped me. As they had no record of me coming to see them last year, they said I couldn't take any more tyres - no problem, the guys were only doing their job. Will have to speak to the owner of the circuit.

2/4/01 - Bryan has got the wheels and intermediate gear shaft all sorted out! The parts look fantastic, and everything lines up better and runs more smoothly. Spent the evening tidying up the welding we did last time, and making a modification to some of the chassis chain guides to stop the chain fouling and keep it even better in line.

3/4/01 - Got a call from Joe Shaw, the new associate producer at Robot Wars. We are one of 40 existing teams have been provisionally invited to take part in a second series of Robot Wars this year, to be called Robot Wars Extreme. It will feature more pinball, melees, tag teams, annihilators etc. The filming is due to be from Wednesday 27th June to Sunday 1st July. Also we found out that the filming of Series 5 is scheduled for the end of August. Spent the evening grinding and welding in the rest of the battery compartment.

4/4/01 - Spent the evening doing yet more captures...

5/4/01 - Built removable link mount. Built and ran the drivetrain - found a big problem with the new wheels in that the sprockets slip on the axles! They will need to be keyed (as on a kart) to solve this.

6/4/01 - Welded in link mount, built receiver mount, towing hook, temporary front chassis upright and battery securing bar. Worked on the link door and aerial mount.

7/4/01 - Went to Scottys and spent 50 on nuts and bolts - and Scottys are half the price of RS! In light of this, is it believable that people can build robots for 250 or less? Built the new fuseholder, finished the aerial and its mount, temporary electronics mounts for Debenham, and the battery packing. Dave wired all the electronics and we performed a late night test - but the robot was stuck in full forwards when the transmitter was turned on, so something is not right... Dave thinks that it is the controller box again.

9/4/01 - Dave fixed the controller box and we retested Tornado. The wheels do slip, and the foam in the tyres is not perfect, BUT we performed a proper burnout on dry ground, melting the edges of the tyres and producing lots of tyre smoke! Started work on our charity event weapon. Also performed a range test - it's not as good as last year, but still more than good enough.

10/4/01 - Bryan obtained material for the keys, and began work on their construction.

11/4/01 - Bryan keyed the first two wheel axles. Spent the evening working on the charity event weapon - it's basically a big shovel with spikes. Found out about a meeting regarding RW Extreme to happen late next week - but it's likely that work are going to send me out of the country, so one of the other guys will have to go.

13/4/01 - Preperations for Robot Rumble at Debenham. Bryan keyed the remaining two axles and rebuilt all the wheels. We bolted (bodged!) on the armour, completed the link door, finished the charity event weapon, and assembled and tested Tornado. We were up until 2.30am getting everything ready!

14/4/01 - Day One of the Robot Rumble event at Debenham, near Stowmarket, again organised by Eddy and Roy of the Prizephita team. See our event report. We lost to Stinger in the morning session final (beating Chaos 2 to get there), and beat Chaos 2 in the afternoon session final.

15/4/01 - Day Two of Robot Rumble at Debenham. See our event report. We missed the morning session - we eventually found a problem with one of our motors. In the afternoon session, we went out to Storm (burning out the motor that had the problem and wrecking a battery) but we got a second chance due to a lack of running competitors. We borrowed a motor from the Dominator 2 team, then we beat Chaos 2 for the third time, and beat Bigger Brother to win the final!

18/4/01 - Bryan gave Peter of Dominator 2 one of our spare Bosch Motors, to replace the one we had borrowed from them at Debenham.

20/4/01 - Bryan attended the Robot Wars Extreme meeting in London.

22/4/01 - Had a phone call from Peter Halloway, from Dominator 2. He invited us to be their Tag Team partner - and assuming none of the other team members object, we agreed! We have a good complement of strengths in our two robots (indeed Dominator 2 is one robot we would not look forward to fighting) and they already have one serious weapon! We also were the two highest non-seeds in Series 4, and both teams come from Huntingdon.

23/4/01 - Team meeting in the evening. Went through our jobs list, reviewed our weight budget and watched the footage filmed at Debenham. For those that are interested, we were running at about 88kg at Debenham. Had an idea for a simple monitoring system to check for shorts to the chassis. Went through all what Bryan learnt about RW Extreme on Friday; the date was not chosen purposely to coincide with Wilsons Day but it is when Tomorrows World live will be filmed at Earls Court, and thus it was too good a venue for Mentorn to miss.

26/4/01 - Worked on captures from Diary and Debenham. Dave started the electronics parts order, and looked at our speed controller after its (ab)use at Debenham. We've blown yet another FET on the multiple small fets side, so it's now time to retire this controller. We won't be running again until we get the new ones built...

29/4/01 - Dave has been looking at our motors, and trying to build good ones out of all the parts. The motor lent to us by Dominator 2 has had a serious toasting at some point during its life, as all its windings have changed colour, and the brush plate is scrap, as it is twisted and the brushes have worn at an angle. The motor we burnt out at Debenham has a broken magnet (from where I dropped it), but its brushes are OK and can be used with the motor from Dominator 2. Gareth Dean from Wolverine has suggested a place that might be able to rewind our armatures, so Dave is looking into the possibility.

30/4/01 - Bryan got busy ordering all the materials required for the weapon. Yes, we have made our decision on what we are going to do, and so long as we can make it strong enough, it will be devestating!

2/5/01 - No Robot work - Chris Smythe's damn Fiesta failed its MOT, and needs a lot of welding! Team Tornado to the rescue...

3/5/01 - More welding on that Fiesta.

4/5/01 - Some of the steel arrived at work for the weapon in the morning. We had a major purchasing session in the afternoon! Dave went on a trip round some motor rewind places, Bryan went to Smiths in Biggleswade to get the aluminium for the weapon, and I went to Mackays in Cambridge to get some steel, and via Team Plant for more welding gas. Spent the evening continuing to weld Chris's Fiesta.

5/5/01 - More Fiesta welding... We're having difficulty finding good metal to weld to!

6/5/01 - VAT free day at Machine Mart. Went and purchased lots of tools! Spent the afternoon finishing the welding on Chris's Fiesta.

7/5/01 - Bit of a day off, other than I spent three hours uploading the latest update to the website to Tripod.

8/5/01 - Tripod deleted our website! One day after I performed a major upload and then advertised the new site on the forum, without any warning Tripod deleted us. This is totally out of order because as far as we can see, we are not breaking any of their Terms of Service. Robot wise, it became clear to us that we are a fair way behind our build schedule, so we are trying to get working again. Started work on the weapon motor cradle, worked out the weapon placement, how to fit the Kiels into the chassis, and where all the electronics will be fitted. We've got a lot to do before we will be finished, and there's less than 7 weeks until Extreme now. FETs arrived from IXYS today, thanks to them for their support.

9/5/01 - More work on the chassis in the evening. Continued work on the weapon motor cradle, and cut much of the temporary mounts and damage from Debenham out. We are getting a grip on all the jobs to be done, and as such we should get everything finished in time...

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