TORNADO - The Team with the Comedy Flying Cow


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8/9/01 - Bryan and I visited the LRO show at Stoneleigh - picked up a few tools and some more hearing defenders.

9/9/01 - Visited the kart track - managed to get our hands on some more tyres! It seems now there are regulations meaning that the karting guys can't just throw their old tyres away, which explains why recently we've had trouble finding them - however the owners of the track were very happy for us to take away the tyres we did find as in effect we are doing them a favour! Of course this means we can re-open our Free Kart Tyres offer.

17/9/01 - Spent the evening removing the spinning disc weapon and checking the robot over. There's quite a lot of damage, mainly from the last Challenge Belt fight against Pussycat.

18/9/01 - Dave and I finished preparing Tornado for the Brighton event - fitting the scoup and reparing the chassis damage. The damaged disc and belts weren't Pussycat as we thought, but Matilda - her disc must have hit ours as we pushed Pussycat, and bent our disc axle - that's solid 26mm silver steel!

19/9/01 - Patched up the front of the top armour. Sorted out the tools and spares for the Brighton event on Saturday.

20/9/01 - Final preparations for the Brighton event. We packed both Daves and Bryans cars, so we could leave early the next day.

21/9/01 - The day before the Bigger Brother event in Brighton. We left work early in order to get down to Brighton so we could pitch our tents while it was still light, and to try and avoid the traffic. We arrived early enough to help set up the arena, and after making camp we joined Ian and Cath of Bigger Brother, plus Sam from Tiberius and the Storm team in the pub.

22/9/01 - Attended the Robot Mania event in Brigton organised by Ian Watts from Bigger Brother - see our event report.

23/9/01 - Day after Ian's event in Brighton. Bryan and I woke fairly early, however Dave had to be woken by Mike and Brian from Plunderbird, who had come over to announce breakfast was being cooked... We broke camp after breakfast and playing Joe Watts at many games of Asteroids - Ian was looking rather rough from the party last night and was asleep again by the time we left for home!

27/8/01 - Meeting with Dave Knight of Knight Battery Sales. We are proud to announce that we are to be sponsored by Knight Battery Sales!

28/9/01 - Packing for the Kettering/Southfield School Robot Fayre event.

29/9/01 - Attended the Southfield Robot Fayre at Southfields School for Girls, Kettering. Take a look at our report from this event.

30/9/01 - Spent the day giving Dave's garage a major tidy up. We managed to take three and a half car loads of junk to the tip, and put in some new racking donated by Bryan. We decided to build ourselves another bench, to give us more room to work.

3/10/01 - Working on Daves garage again. Started building the new bench at the back of the garage, while Bryan cut down the shelves for the racking.

8/10/01 - More work on Daves garage. I continued building the bench while Bryan stripped Tornado down - it needs cleaning (to get all the straw and stones out) and the wheel and chain replacing, after the Southfields event. We even found one of the arena securing plates wedged into the bottom armour!

Also Robot Wars Extreme is starting to be shown on BBC Choice - we feature in 9 out of the 15 programmes!

9/10/01 - Finished welding the bench frame. Discussed the new team shirts, to be produced for us by Knight Batteries.

10/10/01 - Cleaned out the robot and replaced the damaged wheel. Reassembled and tested ready for the Stinger event at the weekend. There's a lot of work that needs to be done to the chassis now, but we'll wait until all the charity events are finished this year before we do it all.

12/10/01 - Watched the first four programmes of Robot Wars Extreme that Bryan had recorded from BBC Choice. Packing for the Stinger meet in Lincoln.

13/10/01 - Took Tornado to the Alstom open day in Lincoln, a small event organised by the Stinger team who work there. Take a look at our event report.

Above images courtesy of Neil Isherwood

14/10/01 - Found out on the forum about the tragic loss yesterday of David Gribble, driver of Pussycat. It's not the nicest of news, and it's even more poignant for us as we were probably the last robot to fight them, certainly the last at the Elstree filming. Our thoughts are with Alan and Ann Gribble at what cannot be an easy time.
Spent the afternoon and evening sorting out Daves garage - finished off the bench, welding in a middle shelf, and fitting all the MDF decking. Sorted out all the boxes that were in Dave's dining room, and found homes for everything. We now have enough space to work in properly!

17/10/01 - Cheque arrived from Mentorn, but with no letter - it's our 100 appearance fee from Series 5.

19/10/01 - Another Titanium sourcing trip with Ed and Tim from Storm. Not quite as sucessful as the last one in terms of quantity, but a lot of what we did get is really good stuff (the hardest TA10/grade 5) and made the trip worthwhile. Ed also showed us his new telemetry system, which he hopes to make into a roboteers kit, including all the software and probes required. Given how often Dave has moaned about wanting a system like this, I'm sure we will be one of the first customers!

20/10/01 - Watched the second lot of Extreme recorded by Bryan. Received an email inviting us to the first Dutch Robot Games, a charity event in Holland. It sounds like it could be really good fun and we're going to try and go along.

26/10/01 - Robot Wars Extreme started today on BBC2. Our fight against Stinger at the Earls Court filming is shown - and it's between Stinger and ourselves as to who are the hammiest actors! We win the fight on a judges decision. Also started thinking about what the Series 7 Tornado will look like (Series 7 is correct, we do not plan to rebuild for Series 6).

27/10/01 - Made a trip to Mackays in Cambridge to stock up on more steel and a few tools. Dave and I get recognised by another customer in the steel warehouse! Later in the evening, the owner of the Sawtry takeaway also says he's seen us on TV... We watch the rest of the Extreme programmes that Bryan recorded in the evening.

30/10/01 - It looks like I'm going to be helping organise transport for a group of UK roboteers to go over to the Dutch Robot Games.

2/11/01 - Packing for the "Kent Robot Wars" schools event at Buckmore Park. Left tonight and stayed at my parents house in Kent.

3-4/11/01 - Went to the "Kent Robot Wars" event as a house robot. See our event report for more details.

Bottom left image above courtesy of Mike Collins

11/11/01 - Went to Machine Mart for another VAT free day. Bought some more welding wire and a tungsten for the welder, while Bryan bought lots of bits for his lathe, and a compressor!

15/11/01 - New T-shirts and Sweatshirts arrived, many thanks to Knight Batteries for getting them done for us. They look excellent!

16/11/01 - Extreme programme 4 is shown on BBC2. It includes our first round All Stars fight against 3 Stegs to Heaven. We beat them convinvingly and immobilise them, but Jonathan Pierce has the cheek to say we couldn't finish them off!

17/11/01 - Preparations for our trip to the Dutch Robot Games event in Holland before Christmas are coming on apace. Get in contact if you want to go - but be quick!

20/11/01 - Started work on capturing stuff for the website - there's a lot to do!

21/11/01 - Continued on captures - managed to finish the rest of the tapes. Dave started work on testing more batteries - we have a few new ones of various makes from Dave Knight to test, along with a retest of the ones we have been using. Continued thinking about concepts and ideas for Series 7.

22/11/01 - Received a certificate of thanks from the girls of Scary Gadget!

23/11/01 - The coach and ferry are now booked for the trip to the Dutch Robot Games. There are still spaces for fans and supporters, if you are interested then get in touch.

24/11/01 - Peterborough Meet at Oundle, organised by Martin from Anthrax (sorry, Draven) and Mark from Executioner. Take a look at our event report.

25/11/01 - Repairing the damage done by Kan Opener yesterday and all the other minor things wrong with the chassis since we last stripped Tornado down (a few KingB holes, lots of cracked welds, and all the front spike mounts).

There was a huge amount of rubbish in the robot, lots of straw, stones and hardboard dust. Took out the bends with the large chassis spreader tool, and replaced the torn parts with new sections - couldn't finish it off however as we ran out of welding gas. Meanwhile Dave continued retesting the batteries, this time doing low current tests.

27/11/01 - Got more welding gas from Team Plant.

28/11/01 - Finished welding up the chassis, and welded on most of the replacement nuts that I took off on Sunday. It just needs grinding, drilling and painting now...

29/11/01 - Received the first copy of our article in Real Robots magazine via email. It's pretty good although there are a couple of glaring errors - at least we are being given the chance to correct it! It looks like we will feature in issues 19 and 20. Also sent out our Technogames biography to Mentorn... it seems the number of entries for Technogames have been so low that they need to use Robot Wars robots to make up the numbers!

30/11/01 - Finished grinding the chassis welding done earlier in the week. Dave cleaned up all the drivetrain and internal parts - the intermediate gears were a real mess, covered in gaffer tape glue from the Kent event! The sixth programme of Extreme 1 is shown on BBC2, in which we beat Behemoth in the Challenge Belt.

3/12/01 - Drilled the new holes in the chassis and welded on the remaining nuts to them. Annealed and cleaned the chassis. Repaired the pushing blade weapon (filled in some dents and covered a KingB hole in the side) and ground it flat again - it appears someone has left some Ti or similar in one of the dents, because a lot of the sparks coming off were not steel orange! Cleaned up the remaining parts, including the wheels (which were incredibly dirty), and all the armour.

4/12/01 - Finished cleaning the chassis, and painted all the new welding.

5/12/01 - Bought more paint in town to restock what we used yesterday. Got a call from Alex about Technogames, and after a bit of juggling with our holiday, we will be attending the filming later this month! Began reassembly of Tornado, although we didn't get a lot done as I had to stay behind late at work.

7/12/01 - Found out some more details about Technogames - we will have to change the appearance and name of the robot to prevent annoying the BBC - we will be "Storm Chaser", and we have some simply bodywork mods planned that should stop it being too obvious what's underneath! Finished reassembly of the robot in the afternoon and tested it without problems.
In the evening we went to the 2nd March Scouts to do a little demo. Justin Breckels from the scouts had arranged for a section of Sainsburys car park to be barriered off, and the local police were in attendance to control the crowds and direct the traffic.

We pulled a minibus with the usual lack of difficulty, and destroyed a washing machine by smashing it against some metal bollards in the middle of the barriered off section of car park! Unfortunately in between these bollards was the only working lamppost in the car park, and we managed to make one of the two lights go out twice... whoops! At least it came on again.

For a finale we tried a burnout but it was too cold and the batteries were dying, so Tornado didn't manage it. We took Tornado into the Scout Hut for the scouts to get some photos with us and the robot - we ended up staying nearly an hour past the normal scout closing time, chatting to the scouts and leaders and signing autographs. Many thanks to Justin, Sainsburys, March Police and the St Johns Ambulance for all their help and organisation - I think the kids enjoyed it!

9/12/01 - Weighed Tornado and various parts to establish what weight we have for the different setups Technogames will require - Football, Sumo and Tug of War. Worked out a weight budget and started building the Storm Chaser cover. It will be a simple Series 1 or 2 style steel box, with some Dave Gamble special strobe lights on top! Given the events we will be in it needs to be quite adaptable, so various parts will be made removable, and we shall make up some special paddles for the football event. Managed to get a lot of the top cover and two sides made up.

10/12/01 - Continued welding the Storm Chaser cover and making the football paddles, while Dave worked on the strobe lights. Dave was able to demonstrate the lights circuit working by the end of the night (it's very bright and makes use of our spare weapon speed controller to drive it!) while Bryan and I had got much of the top cover done and some of the rear covers too.

11/12/01 - Finished all the welding and much of the grinding for Stormchaser, including the covers, paddles, and scoup. Meanwhile Dave got a lot of the construction work on the strobes completed. Inner tubes arrived from Dartford Karting.

12/12/01 - Finished the grinding and cleaning of the Storm Chaser covers. Made up all the polycarbonate pieces and weighed the covers - everything is OK. Started work on the Tug of War ballast block, and Dave continued working on the strobe lights.

13/12/01 - Bought some more paint from JB's and bolts from Scottys.

14/12/01 - Spray painted the Storm Chaser covers. Dave finished work on the strobes. Continued work on the ballast block. A bit of a furore developed on the forum regarding the Technogames contract - it looks like Mentorn are trying to stop people going to live events.
Took Tornado to All Saints Junior School in March, for their Christmas Fair, just as a display. Helped raise some money by running a simple quiz for the children. Afterwards took Tornado to show to Nathan Beck, who had wanted to come along to the school but hadn't been able to through illness.

15/12/01 - Finished off the covers and mounted the strobes. Reworked all the tyres, replacing the foam with inner tubes and replacing all those with bad damage. Built up the Tug of War ballast block. Packed and prepared for the Technogames filming tomorrow. There's still more furore over the technogames contract - the discussion has been deleted from the official forum and it's now moved to a private one.

16/12/01 - First day of Technogames filming for us. We arrived at 11am to find that Mentorn had already backed down on the contracts, saying it had all been a mistake and that we would be given another contract after filming had been completed, with the parts we were not happy with removed. Well done Mentorn! It quickly became clear that this was going to be very different from Robot Wars - everything was much more relaxed, there were no formal pits and so we were stationed at the end of the walking/sprint straight on the floor after being weighted and photographed. Todays event was to be football, and present were 16 robots - "Storm Chaser" (Tornado), "The Wolf" (Wolverine), "Big Bro" (Bigger Brother), "Sprocket" (SMIDSY), "Technomoth" (Behemoth), "Snow Storm" (Firestorm), "Kat's Whiskers" (Kat 3), "Mighty Mouse" (Velocirippa), "A.A.T." (Arnold, Arnold Terminegger), "British Bulldog" (Bulldog Breed III), Ravioli, Break Out (from the Tantrum guys - good to see them again!), "Bugs Buggy" (Hydra), Savage Toaster, Terror Turtle, and Celestial Terror. Also about were Si and Ian from Razer (Si dressed in a really natty Technogames jumpsuit doing technical bits on all the robots), Philippa presenting from the booth, Professor Martin Smith and Professor Noel Sharkey as Judges, with Andy Collins presenting on the studio floor.
We prepared Storm Chaser for our first match, but our strobe lights failed on our technical check - Dave had not taken into account how the regen voltage would affect the strobes, and it blew the fuse (and two of the strobe tubes) very quickly. We didn't have time to fix it, hence the strobe pattern was a bit naff for our first match...
We were to be teamed up with Sprocket (SMIDSY in drag!). Our first match was against Technomoth and Ravioli. Very early on Sprocket lost drive on one side (shearing two of their drive pins) and had to defend the goal as best they could. We still won by 7-2 though...
Our second match was our semi final against Big Bro and British Bulldog. It was quite an even match, Storm Chaser and Sprocket were just ahead until one of our paddles got broken off (too much driving into the wall) - and then dissapeared! We continued and the goals piled in - and we won the semi. It turned out that Big Bro had driven on top of our paddle and had been dragging it round underneath themselves!
Our third match for the final was against Snow Storm and Kat's Whiskers. Snow Storm had won their previous match in quite a rough way, clouting into AAT quite hard after chipping the ball over them, so as we said in our interview, if they got rough so would we... Sprocket took the first ball, hitting Snow Storm hard head on - we took the ball with Storm Chaser and scored - but Snow Storm's gearbox had failed, and they were out of the match. Kat's Whiskers fought on bravely, but it was rather one sided, so the final was a bit of a foregone conclusion - we won with quite a few goals! Sprocket and ourselves were presented with Gold medals, Snow Storm and Kat's Whiskers with Silver, and A.A.T. and Savage Toaster with Bronze. But the medals were just props and we had to hand them back again! We are told ours will be in the post...
Dave and I spent the evening at a pub with a big group of roboteers, pondering life and robots... Bryan had to go back to Huntingdon for work tomorrow. We retired to the hotel late.

17/12/01 - Second day of Technogames filming. We arrived at the required 8.30am to find almost nobody else there! Our third team member for the day, our "number one fan" Chris Smythe (who works with us at NXT), had been there since 7.30am though... We got Chris a pass, and prepared Storm Chaser for our first event of the day, the Tug of War, by ballasting right up to the maximum 100kg weight limit. Present today were Big Bro, Sprocket, British Bulldog, Storm Chaser, and Mighty Mouse as yesterday, plus Chip, "Razerback" (Scorpion), and Hell Bound. The Tug of War ramps were similar to what has been used on Robot Wars, with a very strong wire rope between the robots and a pit lined with car tyres in the centre of the ramps. We were first up against Razerback, who managed to pull up a lot of blue paint and spin their wheels in the process, but they were well underweight and unfortunately for them it was not hard for us to pull them into the pit between the two ramps.
Next up were British Bulldog. We expected them to be tougher opposition than what they were - straight in the pit they went! The final was against Sprocket. As SMIDSY they have beaten us in tug of war before, but when we had significantly less weight on board, and foam in the tyres rather than inner tubes. Again, it turned out to be easier than we expected - even though Storm Chaser bounced about all over the shop! Again we won the Gold, Sprocket won Silver and British Bulldog Bronze (they won the 3rd place play off against Big Bro - but only just!). But we had to give the medals back again after they were presented...
The next event was the high jump, and we had a pleasant break while it was filmed - although we had to shunt around the studio and lost our hammer in the process (thanks to the SMIDSY, sorry Sprocket guys for finding it). There were some interesting machines there, some spring powered, one pneumatic, but most by good old elastic or rubber bands!
The next event, and our last event for technogames, was the Sumo. The old Robot Wars Dojo was brought back out of retirement, and its joins were as uneven as ever... We were first up against British Bulldog, who we beat without too much effort - we got stuck on a hinge on the floor, and only managed to get moving once they were over our side of the arena. They seemed to just bounce off our scoop... We were next up against Chip who had fitted a very low cold chisel to their front, which was scraping up the surface of the dojo. They managed to get underneath us but I was very lucky to reverse off them quickly and push them sideways off the edge. We were against Big Bro in the final - and as I said in the interview, it was a matter of who got underneath who first. Big Bro had made a special scoop for the event, and they got underneath us - that was it, we were off the edge! Big Bro got Gold, we were awarded Silver, and Bronze went to Chip (who won the third place play off). Again we had to hand the medals back though...
We headed off home towards the end of the filming, ready for work the next day. Unfortunately we couldn't be around for the assault course filming on the Wednesday due to a lack of holiday...

18/12/01 - Sent out the last update for the Dutch Robot Games trip. Went to Daves late in the evening; Bryan had restored Tornado to it's combat trim and removed the Storm Chaser covers, and riveted some Bosch motors for the Storm team - I then welded up the casings of those motors.

19/12/01 - Sorted out all the stuff to take to Holland and finished reassembling Tornado - there were quite a few bits and pieces to do in preperation for the trip on Saturday, and it was a fairly late night for us.

20/12/01 - Packed Daves and Bryans cars and headed over to the Travelodge at Beacon Hill near Ipswich, in preperation for tomorrow's trip to the Dutch Robot Games.

21/12/01 - First day of our trip to the Dutch Robot Games - everyone traveled out to Holland. See our event report.

22/12/01 - Second day of the first Dutch Robot Games.

23/12/01 - Final day of the Dutch Robot Games - and we all returned to the UK. See our event report. Today was the first day that we started talking about a proper Event Safety Document - we had plenty of time to talk on the way back home!

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