TORNADO - The Team with the Comedy Flying Cow


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1/4/02 - Third Day of the Debenham Robot Rumble. See our event report. In today's Stars competition we got to the semi-finals, beating Grim Reaper and Bigger Brother but loosing to Dominator 2.

5/4/02 - Rules and application forms arrived for Series 6 - in my inbox! It seems that Series 6 and the Third World championships will be filmed this summer - we need to be ready by mid June! This means we have to start working very soon... There are also some issues with the new rules, particularly section 6, that will need clarification.

7/4/02 - Started to investigate buying a TIG welder so we can work with Titanium.

8/4/02 - Thinking about more ideas for Series 6. We are looking at making use of the interchangable weapons rule, and lightening Tornado such that we have more weight available for weaponry and armour.

12/4/02 - Discussed our ideas for Series 6 and the work that will be required to realise them - and agreed a timescale to perform the work. We have realised that this year we have our best chance of winning the series, and so we are going to pull out all the stops... Prepared Tornado in the evening for the Raving Robots event tomorrow.

13/4/02 - Took Tornado to the Raving Robots static display event at the Bass Museum in Burton on Trent - see our event report.

14/4/02 - The first version of the Event Safety Document has now gone public.

17/4/02 - Dismantled Tornado and repaired the damage still left from Debenham - fixed the damaged motor and replaced the punctured tyre. Reassembled and packed ready for Worthing Robo Rumble at the weekend. Spent a lot of time in the evening answering questions about the safety document.

19/4/02 - Went down to Worthing in preparation for the Robo Rumble event at the Worthing leisure centre. See our event report.

20/4/02 - Spent the day at the Robo Rumble in Worthing.

21/4/02 - Returned to Huntingdon after the Worthing Robo Rumble. Stripped the chassis in the afternoon to start on our Series 6 modifications - we plan to make some fairly simple changes to the chassis to make it easier (quicker) to service the weapon while at the filming, and so that we can easily fit alternative weapons.

22/4/02 - Started designing the module frame for the main (normal) spinning disc weapon.

26/4/02 - Polycarbonate sourcing trip - a lot more sucessful this time. We have enough to keep us running for a while now - it took a while to sort it all out! Also Bryan took the chassis to his house to work on over the weekend.

27/4/02 - Started sorting through all the components on the robot to see what we can lighten - if we make things lighter then we can devote more weight to armour etc! Started work on lightening some of the parts, saved about 0.2kg with just a few parts worked on so far.

28/4/02 - I had an interesting phone call! We have the possibility of what could be a good (if a little odd) sponsorship deal... let's see what happens!

1/5/02 - Working on Tornado in the evening - discused lightening and weapon mounting options with Bryan, and cut a lot of metal out of the front of the chassis. Tested an air compressor that Bryan had rigged up - unfortunately the pump isn't excellent so we only get about 2 bar. Ed from Storm popped in towards the end of the evening.

2/5/02 - Titanium Sourcing trip with Ed from Storm - it was a sucessful trip this time, and we now have a lot of Ti to work with. Also popped in to see Ellis Components, where we all buy our Bosches from - unfortunately Richard Ellis was off ill, but we spoke to Bob who agreed that there has been a drop in quality of the motors, and this might be due to their production moving from Europe to Brazil. It's also acknowledged that the GPA motors are quite light for their power, which explains why they're such good motors for Robot Wars. Also confirmed where the part is used - it's an OEM part in an MAN truck, and as such Bosch have obligations to maintain supply for ten years after the part ceases to be used. Also it's used in silent refridgeration compressors for trucks and trailers - e.g. some of the big supermarkets have some solar powered electric refridgerated trailers, so they can park overnight in built up areas. Bosch themselves are not interested in the relatively small orders robots instigate, but Ellis are geared up to supply these, and are willing to supply to any country. In the USA, Ellis supply Dan Danknick from Team Delta, who keeps a few in stock and can offer a better deal than buying direct from Ellis. Also many are apparently being sold to Europe (Holland and Germany) as Robot Wars takes off there.
In the evening we went to a Machine Mart in Peterborough - and stocked up! Finally we've bought a TIG welder so we can weld Titanium, and also some air tools, a big pillar drill, and various little bits and pieces. Ed came along with us and bought a bandsaw to make cutting polycarbonate for Storm a lot easier.

3/5/02 - Went and bought Tungstens for the Tig welder - found a nice little welding supplies place, just down the road from us! Also went and got a big bottle of Argon. Our new kart parts for Series 6 arrived - spend the afternoon checking them over.
In the evening went to a meeting with the possible sponsor who contacted us last week. It sounds OK but there are things we need to discuss as a team, to decide if we want to go with it or not.

4/5/02 - Bryan cleaned up the chassis, while Andrew worked with the TIG welder. It's quite hard to do compared to MIG! Built a welding tank to help with the Titanium welding, and repaired the damage to the charity event weapon from Debenham.

5/5/02 - More work on the chassis, grinding and lightening where possible. Ground down the welding on the charity event weapon from yesterday. Also drilled the battery bar. Bryan brought round the plumbing needed for the welding tank.

6/5/02 - Bryan machined down the idler bearing shafts. Started plumbing the welding tank. Finished the grinding and lightening on the chassis. Welded in about half of the new front chassis bars (including front weapon mounts), and repaired all the dodgy welds found when grinding. Started on the new control box mountings. Spent some time discussing the sponsorship offer.

7/5/02 - Welded in the remaining front chassis bars. Finished and fitted the new control box mountings. Finished the modifications to the idler bearings. Made the decision not to go with the sponsorship offer - it doesn't really fit with our team image, and it would commit us to a lot of work when we don't have a huge amount of time left.

8/5/02 - Sent off our application form for Series 6. Ground down a lot of the welding done yesterday, and made and fitted the rear weapon mounts. Fitted the new axle stops and ground down all the welding. Discussed the order of this weekends work, and what we will need to do.

9/5/02 - Bryan machined a load of parts - making lots of inserts for the weapon module.

10/5/02 - Bryan cut down the disc axle at work in the morning. Started work on the weapon module for the normal 7kg disc in the evening, cutting up and welding the original disc mounts. Made the front mounting bars for the module. Finished plumbing the titanium welding tank.

11/5/02 - Dave's away on holiday (Storm Chasing again) but work on Tornado continues nevertheless... Spent the day in Bryan's garage, making him a new bench, and a suds tray for the lathe so we can machine titanium. Drilled a hole in the disc axle, and made a new steerer tube for Andrews bike!

12/5/02 - Continued work on the main disc weapon module, back at Daves again today - finished work on the original disc mounts, and fitted them to the newly cut disc axle. Made and fitted the rear module mount bar, and fitted the disc mounts into the module. Started work on the motor mount, but found a problem - it fouls the disc belts!

13/5/02 - Moved the pivot point so the cradle mounts no longer foul the disc belts. Started fitting the upper bars of the module - space is tight but we should be able to fit everything. Ran out of welding gas (agroshield).

14/5/02 - Got more welding gas and hacksaw blades from Team Plant during lunch. Welded in the remaining top bars on the disc weapon module, and the motor/belt tensioner.

15/5/02 - Finished the grinding on the welding did yesterday. Painted the chassis and module ready for the weekend. Practiced a bit more with the titanium welding - still finding it very difficult!

16/5/02 - Issue 19 of the Real Robots magazine is published - and Tornado is featured!

17/5/02 - Spent the afternoon assembling Tornado ready for the weekend. We had a couple of problems - one of the intermediate gears didn't quite fit (the new intermediate axle tube placed the gear in the wrong place, so we had to use an old axle tube), and we had to cut the end off the motor shaft to make the weapon fit, but otherwise everything else goes together. Drove down to Kent in the evening.

18/5/02 - Took Tornado to the Medway Microbot event at the Fairview Junior school in Rainham, Kent - my home town! See the Microbot event report.

In the evening, headed up to ExCeL in London for the Sci-Fi show that many of the other heavyweights were at this weekend.

19/5/02 - Spent the day displaying Tornado at London Expo at ExCel.

21/5/02 - Continued work on the chassis - stripped and dismantled Tornado, added few more bars to disc weapon cradle. Repaired the axle stops that got damaged on Saturday.

22/5/02 - Realigned all the axle mounts in the chassis, and repaired some rather large damage to the rear of the chassis that we must have picked up on Saturday - only just spotted it! Finished off the last few bars on the disc weapon cradle, and added the bottoming feet - integral to the module this time to save weight and hassle!

23/5/02 - Added armour mounting holes to the main disc module. Worked on the carrying cradle in order to make it easier to use and stop Tornado sliding off of it.

24/5/02 - Dave arrived back from holiday today, unfortunately this years tour was one of the quietest he's been on and he saw nothing - no storms, let alone Tornadoes! We held a team meeting in the evening to discuss what we will do with the limited time we have left before the Series 6 filming (currently expected to be at the start of July). This included some ideas for Mk2 of the Anti Crusher weapon, and some ideas for some other new weapons - watch this space! Started to work out what materials we will need, and ordered some of the kart parts.

25/5/02 - Spent the morning on a trip to Mackays to buy materials. Worked on reassembling Tornado, ready for the afternoon's visit to the All Saints Junior school summer fayre, in March. Except reassembly spilled over into the afternoon, and we were late turning up!
We headed back to Daves in the evening to continue working on Tornado. We managed to weight and then dismantle the rolling chassis - it weighs 66.5kg, giving us 33.5kg for weapons and armour! We found a problem with the motor pin that secures the pinions coming loose (third time it's happened, not on the same motor, and it's getting more frequent) - and thought up a solution.

26/5/02 - Sorted jobs list. Finished work on chain guides. Did the remaining grinding on the main disc module, and started work on the ACW frame. Spent the evening working on computers, desigining the ACW Mk2 disc. Found some problems with our spreadsheets...

27/5/02 - Not much progress - had to work late. Bryan did some grinding and made up the motor mount for the ACW. When I finally arrived, all there was time to do was look at the design spreadsheets - we found the bug (a gear ratio in the wrong place) and now we're getting some really useful figures...

28/5/02 - Not much progress again - had to stay behind late at work! Bryan started work on the ACW disc axle however, and we got a lot of materials orders in.

29/5/02 - Lots of orders arrived! My new welding mask, Bryans Oxy-Acetylene kit, and the Farnell order all turned up. Managed to source some bearings for the ACW disc at lunchtime, they should be in tomorrow. Managed to weigh some of the old parts and armour to get an idea of what parts we can use in each configuration.

30/5/02 - Steel parts arrived from B+M - a day early! Also received a parcel of kart parts from Dartford Karting - but unfortunately the sprocket carriers and inner tubes are not correct. Collected the aluminium from Smiths and the bearings from Hooper for the anti crusher weapon disc in the afternoon. Bryan got hold of the oxygen and acetylene bottles for his Oxy-Acetylene kit as well. Rebuilt Tornado ready for our visit to Bowds in St Ives.
Also today, issue 20 of Real Robots is published, featuring another article about Tornado.

31/5/02 - Took Tornado to Bowd Engineering in St Ives. Had it running round their yard, but unfortunately the people who would have most liked to see it were on holiday! Gave them the drawings of the disc teeth and spikes for them to quote on. Started work on the Mini Wedge attachments in the evening.

1/6/02 - Bryan machined lots of items, mainly for the Anti Crusher weapon disc. Andrew looked up hydralics information on the web, and started work on another spreadsheet...

2/6/02 - Continued working on the Mini Wedge attachments. Built a hardening furnace for the spikes. Made a small frame to attach the old charity event pushing scoop to the chassis more solidly. Finally dismantled the old Anti Crusher weapon. Built up the base plate for the new receiver mount.

3/6/02 - Started work on the Anti Spinner weapon. Managed to get the kart tyres attached to the chassis (making plates and mounts to do so) but hit a snag when tried to fit the titanium - it's too difficult to bend with the facilities we have. Also had some discussions about what would be best to put with it - our current thoughts are edging towards a lifter. Dave fitted the receiver to its new mount.

4/6/02 - Started worked on the Anti Axe weapon - got the chassis mounts built. Measured up for the logo spray template. Looked at actuators for a lifter.

5/6/02 - Bryan has been looking into the possibility of getting the Titanium bent for us, but it looks like it'll be too expensive. Posted back the wrong kart parts from Dartford Karting... Bryan worked on the ACW disc in the afternoon at work. Spent the evening working on the Anti Axe weapon - managed to get the tyres mounted, and the top frame finished and attached.

6/6/02 - Started builing the oven for resining the motors. Finally our official Tornado merchandising is available - our sponsor Knight Batteries will be selling T-shirts and baseball caps via mail order, while we will be selling the shirts and caps ourselves at events - we received our events stock in the evening - they look really good! The shirts are to a very similar design as the shirts we wear on TV (essentially they are the same but without our names), while the baseball caps feature our full logo. Have a look at our Official Merchandise page. Also found out that (provisionally) we are seeded for Series 6 - excellent news!

7/6/02 - Bryan continued machining the new ACW disc. I didn't get much done - spent the evening fixing the brakes on my car!

8/6/02 - Continued working on the motors oven - finished most of the mechanical work, and Dave wired it all up. Fitted the ACW disc into the frame (at long last!) - Bryan cut the teeth with his Oxy kit. Spent the evening tidying the garage.

9/6/02 - Built up the Fixed Spike weapon into its mounting cradle. Started cutting the new Titanium side plates - these ones use proper Grade 5 Ti, and should make our side armour a lot stronger. Dave found that the problems we are having with the link are partly to do with the initial capacitor charge arcing the contacts - so we are going to include an extra charging plug with a resistor.

10/6/02 - Cut the 45degree front plates for the Fixed Spike, and welded these into place. Continued cutting the titanium side plates. Properly tested out the motor oven, and fitted the charging socket into the chassis.

11/6/02 - Bryan machined the Titanium axles at work. Put in a load of orders - RS, Farnell, J&L, Maplin and Screwfix!

12/6/02 - Finally got back to Dartford Karting - they too can't supply the inner tubes and sprocket carriers we need, so they are giving us a refund. All the orders arrived and they all seem OK. Worked on the wheels in the evening, replacing damaged bearings and trying out the new ally wheels - they're a bit lighter and a lot stronger, plus if we get a puncture we should still be able to drive. Cut the rest of the Ti side plates. Tested the motor oven again - wound it up to full temperature this time, and melted the thermocouple!

13/6/02 - Found out the dates for the Series 6 filming - the auditions are 1st-5th July, but as we are seeded we only have to go to the filming from 7th-17th July! Stayed behind at work finishing machining the new titanium axles while Bryan worked on the CNC machine making disc teeth! Spent the evening rebuilding Tornado ready for the Newark event at the weekend. Plus the 21st issue of Real Robots is published today - and it includes the "infamous" picture of Tornado fighting at Battlebots. Er...

14/6/02 - Started getting quotes back from various maching companies for having the spikes made - Bowds can't get them done in time for Series 6! Quite a busy afternoon - Bryan went and got the 101 ready to head up to Newark, while Dave bought a BBQ and some bits and pieces for the weekend. Made up our new pit board in the afternoon. We all met at Daves to finish assembling Tornado and get the stuff ready for Newark. Bryan headed up before Dave and I, to allow for our different travelling speeds - but we didn't work it out quite right and Bryan was waiting at the show for an hour for Dave and I to arrive!
We spent the evening helping set up the arena for Roaming Robots at the Newark Kit Car show.

15/6/02 - First day of Roaming Robots at the Newark Kit Car show. However, we didn't stay at the event, but went along to the Teslathon in Derby. Dave is thinking of building a Tesla Coil...

16/6/02 - Second day of the Newark Kit Car show.

Above photos courtesy of Tim Mann from Stinger.

Above image courtesy of Newark Promotions and Stinger.

17/6/02 - Got another quote for the spikes from Cambmac - this one is very good and it looks like we'll go with it. Spent the evening doing what we could on Tornado, although the weather was hot and it was hard work! Managed to get the Mini Wedge fitting details sorted out, and performed a range check - it appears to be better than we remember it ever being! Completely stripped the chassis down ready for final work for Series 6 and painting etc. Bryan worked on machining in his garage.

18/6/02 - Bryan continued work on the various machining tasks we have. Also it appears that Bryan may be asked to be an "expert" on Scraphead Challenge!!!

19/6/02 - Went to Scottys at lunchtime and bought the remaining bolts for the ACW disc. Bryan continued with the machining work while Dave and I worked on the Mini Wedges, pulley guard and bolts for the ACW disc.

20/6/02 - Finished the spikes oven. Finished Mini Wedges and most of the main disc pulley guard. Ground down the Fixed Spike weapon. Worked on ACW motor mounting and disc.

21/6/02 - Bryan finished the ACW disc off, and made up the spacers for the main disc in the afternoon. Spent the evening making more parts for the ACW motor mount, and worked on the spray template for the armour. Also Dave fixed the motors oven thermocouple and brought the backup control box up to current specification.

24/6/02 - At long last the International Championship is shown on TNN Extreme Warriors 2 in the USA, which was filmed back in January, and featured Tornado. It's notable because 1) we won it! and 2) in winning it we beat Razer for the first time, using mk1 of our Anti Crusher weapon. Finally we can talk about it! But we haven't actually seen the televised show, so if anyone reading this has a copy on tape, please get in contact! (We can cope with NTSC tapes, don't worry.)

25/6/02 - More work on the Anti Spinner weapon.

26/6/02 - Worked on the Anti Spinner weapon. Started work on the new side bars.

27/6/02 - Worked on the side bars. Dave helped with final assembly of the Anti Axe weapon and worked on the Anti Spinner weapon. Bryan continued annealing various items.

28/6/02 - Reassembled Tornado ready for our visit to INSPIRE this weekend.

29/6/02 - Our second visit to INSPIRE in Norwich - this time over two days, today was the first day.

30/6/02 - Second day of our visit to INSPIRE.

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