TORNADO - The Team with the Comedy Flying Cow

This event was the first competitive outing for Tornado. We decided to go along to get an idea of how competitive we will be at Series 4, and to find any faults in Tornado. The robot was not yet finished - the regulator arrived only the day before, and so we had no pneumatic system, while we looked a bit drab due to the lack of being painted!


We arrived fairly early, and decided to do a test run to check everything was working OK.

Completely intentionally, we drove into the arena barrier... and broke it! The organisiers asked us to check the other corners too...

...and we promptly took them all out! Grip was a lot higher than expected on the warm smooth tarmac surface, so the robot didn't turn as quickly as we might have hoped - we'll need to up that current limit again! This was probably the first event using a tethering system, which seemed to work well through the day.

(Left) Tornado on the trolley after testing, spike guards in place and (Right) Stinger being tested.

Gareth Dean's very well made robot Wolverine (Team Lancaster Bombers) uses 2 Sinclair C5/Philips motors, the first time we have seen them.

Also in attendance were Velocirippa, Razer, Chaos 2, KillerHurtz, Raizerblade, Toecutter 2, Splinter, Typhoon, plus Hard Cheese, Zippy, 101, Onslaught, Oblivion, Orac's Revenge, Miss Struts, Behemoth, Wild Thing, the Savage Toaster, Mortis and Dantomkia. Below left is Daisy Chopper.

Cars have cupholders... Tornado has a brolly holder! The weather was OK, but we did have a few light showers... Honourary roboteer Alex can be seen guarding the brolly.

Our first battle was against Mike Lamberts robot, Dantomkia, named after his kids Daniel, Thomas and Kiara... we promply had a quick spy... The top and front of the shell are lined with thick plastic, and the rest is a strong welded box section steel frame with steel sheet welded in between. We were to be third up.

The first heat was between Splinter and Orac's Revenge. We hadn't tested this arena, and it really wasn't up to the job, the fences getting pushed towards the crowd. Splinter won it on a crowd decision. The second heat was between Onslaught and Chaos 2. Onslaught got flipped almost instantly, and it's self righting mechanism failed, meaning Chaos 2 had gone through. It was re-righted and the battle continued for the crowd however.

We were up next...

When we got the chance, we pushed Dantomkia into the tyres or rammed him, and when he got the chance, he scouped us off the ground... The video above is us pushing him sideways, and we moved the arena barrier about 6 inches as well...

The turning point was when I pinned him in the corner. And then repeatedly rammed him. Maybe I rammed him a few too many times... Mike was still smiling though. He got free when eventually I let him, leading to our only properly airbourne moment...

As the ending countdown began, I pinned Dantomkia to the side, and kept the throttle on, squealing the tyres... The crowd decided the winner, and we got the loudest cheer. After our battle the organisers wisely abandoned the other arena, and used its parts to re-inforce the main one.

Now for the damage... Dantomkia was covered in more than a few holes, some in the supposedly strong box section, and countless dents. According to his website, that's all 1.5mm steel that we've made holes in... We learnt later that all our pushing him around had bend both his drive axles!

Tornado didn't look as bad to the crowd - but was certainly as badly damaged. The box section along the front of the chassis was mangled, and the lower armour was split at both ends, having popped over a bolthead at the rear. All our spikes were rounded off, most were bent (some seriously) and we had a puncture. We still had it ready for the next round though (it took about 45 minutes to fix), although it did mean we worked through our TV interview... We thought we took a big hammer with us, but given how much work it took to bend that front bar back again, we think we should buy a bigger one...!

Our next bout was against Stinger, who beat Miss Struts while we were busy repairing Tornado. For the first minute or so we were commanding the battle, pushing them pretty much where we wanted.

That was until Tornado died completely. Our removable link had been knocked out, and even though Bryan replaced it, it got knocked straight out again. So we withdrew and let Stinger have it. Why are there so few pictures? Because Alex was filiming, and forgot to hit record until after the link got knocked out the first time...

Stinger didn't get away scott free though - we put a big dent in their bumper tube, and a nice dent in one of their wheel rims!

We had a great day and did what we set out to do - prove/fault find Tornado. Dave was modestly playing it down, but nothing electronic failed, so Bryan and I did our best to laud his praises. Mechanically however... well, the chassis needs to be stronger... and we've gotta sort that removable link! If you're building a robot, make sure you crash test yours, full speed into something soild several times, to check your link stays put...

To top it all off, I found out the next day that my mum had won the bag of cash raffle...

Have a look at the official Robots@War site.

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