Inferno Jr. is the BattleBots season 3.0 lightweight champ!
bots in BattleBots calendar & magazine, & Robot Riots
Hell on Wheels debuts
Inferno heavyweight debuts
& Scratchy compete at LEGO's booth at E3 trade show
Inferno on the cover of Design News
Movies For Guys Who Like Movies hosting
Mini Inferno in TLC's Robotica
update this time--I'm still recovering from the last event and have
shelved all bot activity for the time being (well, except I ordered
some new wheels for Hell on Wheels...). But I just got word that
is now selling a 2002 calendar & is taking subscriptions for
the new BattleBots magazine. The premiere issue debuted earlier
this month--get one before they run out! Visit the BattleBots
store and get your holiday shopping all done--they've also
got toys, videos, and cothes.
Phew! It's over! BattleBots
season 4.0 filming wrapped up on Sunday the 11th. As usual, I
can't reveal any match outcomes until after the show airs, but
there are a few things I can say:
had a great pit crew! Thanks so much to Nick, Dave, and
Jeffrey for working non-stop, taking my orders, and doing top-notch
work. My best pit crew ever.
event was amazing. Biggest, best, slickest event ever.
Lots of cool new bots, lots of familiar bots refreshed &
upgraded. The smoothest and most professional production ever.
Lots of friendly faces & helpful people, just like every
other event. Thanks especially to Jim
for lending me his fancy radio gear when I had a frequency conflict.
was some totally cool new merchandise on sale at the event and
about to hit stores. Look out for calendars, magazines, books,
remote control toys, t-shirts, etc. etc. My bots & I made
it into the BattleBots 2002 calendar & the premiere issue
of the BattleBots magazine. I believe they'll go on sale at
BattleBots' site shortly.
new media appearances to look out for:
Riots: new book by Alison Bing & Erin Conley, 2 gung-ho
fans whom I hung out with at the event. A fun read with more
than a few Infernolab bot pictures and some input from me here
& there! Pick it up at robotbooks.com.
Barbara News-Press: The 11/14/01 paper had a feature
on my great sponsor Machine
Arts. The story wraps up with a mention of their Infernolab
featured on whitetrashworld.com!
(yes, I'm flattered) I got picked for their "dirty dozen"
interview, right up there with an adult film star, some punk
rock bands, & Riki Rachtman. Heady company!
the last time I pre-announced a media appearance, I jinxed it
& it fell through. So, I'll just say that, next month, I'm
filming something for an extreme sports show that airs in Japan!
Less than 48 hours till I depart for BattleBots
and just one more thing I've got to fix up on Dr.
Inferno Jr. and I'm all set! Towering
Inferno's ready to roll, too. New pics of both upgraded
bots and action shots from the last event are up. Check out the
Dr. Inferno Jr.
gallery & the Towering
Inferno gallery. New pit crew for this time around includes
Jeffrey Sipress (owner of super-helpful sponsor Machine
Arts), and Nick Garcia & Dave van Lue (former students
of mine who are both Raytheon engineers now).
also did a phone interview with Pamela Valente from Radio
France Internationale. It will be included in her show,
Tendências ("Trends"), on Monday night (France
time), during their block of programming in Porteguese. If anybody
catches this or even records it, please let me know!
about it for now--I've got to hit the machine shop to trim up
Dr. Inferno Jr.'s saws for more secure mounting, then starting
packing up the new Infernomobile!
plugging away on Towering
Inferno and Dr.
Inferno Jr. . Only a few weeks till BattleBots--yikes!
Arts, local machine shop & Infernolab sponsor,
has been helping tons with cranking out parts for both
bots. Thanks, guys!
of BattleBots, tickets are on sale now! If you want to
see season 4.0 taped live in San Francisco from November 6-11,
up tickets ASAP--I bet they sell out fast.
Well, Hell on Wheels
competed at BotBash
last weekend in the lightweight division. Wow ,the quality of
bots in that class skyrocketed since the last event. I had no
chance of skewering lightly armored plastic bots, as planned.
To make matters worse, my bot relied on high acceleration &
high speed for ramming attacks, but the floor was just far
too slippery to drive well, let alone get any good rams in. Darn.
In my first fight, I tangled with Herbie's Tangled
Marionette, a solid pusher/poker bot. He had me pinned
at one point but let me go, and the judges gave me the win on
points despite that pin. Next was Neutrino, who got me hung up
in the same way in the same spot but left me for dead. Down to
the losers' bracket. Next fight was Sake. I knocked one of his
4 wheels off, but then we got hung up in the corner where I had
zero visibility, so the match was paused, the bots were
moved to the middle, and Sake managed to push Hell on Wheels into
a hole in the side of the unfinished arena, sending me into the
gunk under the arena. Oh well, Hell on Wheels worked great. Just
need more traction.
the big news is that I just got a new Infernomobile! Yes, the
need for carrying around large robots & toolboxes has prompted
me to move up. So, if anybody wants to buy a great Eagle Talon
sports car [SOLD!], I'm selling my old car off. Think of it as
a little piece of robot history that's carried me & bots to
6 robot competitions. :)
main update this time is the new pages for Hell
on Wheels, my nearly-done 12lb bot for BotBash
next month. Check out the Hell
on Wheels gallery. I've got about 3 more minor steps before
he's ready--not bad, considering I've got a whole 9 days till
French newspaper Le
Monde ("The World") did an article on robot
combat and BattleBots, including a little interview with me. If
you don't read French, I guess you could just skim through &
look for key words or something, or you could read the funny
I've got lots more parts for Towering
Inferno and Dr.
Inferno Jr. They should be together in time for the next
which has just been announced to be November 6-11 in San Francisco.
season 3.0 of Comedy
Central's BattleBots has come to a close and our very
own Dr. Inferno Jr.
is the new lightweight champ! It was a tough road to the giant
nut and there's really not much of the Doc left, but he'll be
back in time for the next BattleBots,
but it'll be tough! Probably no updates for a while, what with
major work to be done on 3 bots in just a few weeks while still
working on my Ph.D. thesis. Phew--it's gonna get ugly around here!
I've got some new pics from the last event up in both the Dr.
Inferno Jr. gallery and the Towering
quick recap of the final fights: Dr. Inferno Jr. fought SALLAD
in the semi-finals. I figured I'd have no trouble getting my scoops
under SALLAD's high frame, and that was mostly true, but the flaps
were getting so beat that he had me scared a few times when he
did some scooping with his versatile arm. I managed to control
him for most of the match, pushing him into the spikes, then I
got him good & stuck under the spike strip & left him
for the last 20 seconds. I wanted to save myself for the finals.
the finals, once again I met up with Gamma
Raptor. I'd already fought Alpha Raptor in season 1.0
& Beta Raptor in a few parking lot fights. The match was extremely
tough--neither of us could get ahold of the other & do any
real damage or gain much control. After 3 minutes of dancing &
weaving, ducking & bobbing, it was over. I couldn't call the
match--it seemed to be dead even. I was shocked when the judges
gave me an overwhelming 32-13 victory, beating the dinosaur in
all 3 categories. Go figure.
am currently offering sponsorship
space on Dr. Inferno Jr. for his next appearances on BattleBots
season 4.0. Bringing back the champ should garner some good TV
coverage. If you're interested in getting in on the action, contact
week's episode of Comedy
Central's BattleBots covered the lightweight quarter-finals.
Dr. Inferno Jr.
took on Herr Gepoünden. During the actual match back in May,
I thought I had a pretty decisive win, but watching it from my
couch, wow! Herr Gepoünden's hammer had a lot of clout to
it & swatted me away on almost every attempt to get in and
beat him up. I did manage 1 flip & got his tail caught up
in my saw a for a full 30-second hold and a loooooong application
to the killsaws. You can catch repeats this weekend. Next up,
Inferno's got all-new lexan armor panels. Thanks to Industrial
Forming for supplying & drilling the lexan and to
new sponsor Machine
Arts in Santa Barbara for doing some milling. Machine
Arts is also currently working on the new sprockets, some shaft
collars, and the new triangular panels for Towering Inferno. The
aluminum for those new triangular panels was supplied by another
new sponsor, Alliance
Finishing & Manufacturing, who will also supply some
aluminum tubing & be doing all the fancy anodizing for the
new Towering Inferno. When I say "fancy anodizing",
you can check out this
example as reference of some of the work they do. Yes,
those are anodized aluminum fishing rod reels.
but not least, long-time sponsor PTC
mailed me a laptop
computer this week, loaded with the latest CAD software!
Woohoo! Now I can design bots even when I'm travelling. Thanks!
Hell on Wheels is coming together way faster than I expected.
2 Long days in the shop this past weekend & I've got the armor,
frame, chassis, & drivetrain about 90% done. The list of stuff
left to do is mercifully short: get batteries, install & wire
electronics, make a few more spikes. I'm definitely getting more
efficient at this bot-building thing!
megabusy so you get short sentence broken English update this
Power Systems sent first of Towering
Inferno's four new custom 24V 8Ah Hawker Cyclon Monoblock
batteries. They take 4 units & hot-melt them together. Will
replace the 5Ah versions I used last time, which worked adequately
for 3 minute fight but started winding down in 5 minute rumble.
Towering Inferno was 10lb underweight @ the last event & the
BattleBots rules upped the heavyweight class by another
10lb, so much room for added goodies! Next BattleBots event ought
be in 1st 1/2 of November in San Francisco.
provider of Dr. Inferno
Jr.'s sawblade, made custom blades for Towering Inferno,
to be used as chain
guards. Me have more future uses for these in mind--heh
Technology donating 2 Thin
Gap prototype motors for Hell on Wheels, new 12lb bot.
Yes, prototype motors. Not production. Amazing new motor technology
unlike any other motor used in a fighting robot. After I learn
what's proprietary & what's not, I'll release as many details
as I can. Hell on Wheels will compete in next BotBash,
just announced. Looks amazing: permanent arena, produced by SRL's
producer, added new weight class, 100 bots. Wow! Infernolab continuing
to support Bash with kickin' "Music
to Bash By" tunes & prizes (music CDs, Vantec
covers, batteries, chargers, etc.). October 5-7 in Phoenix--no
audience--invite/entry only, so build something & start now!
week's episode of Comedy
Central's BattleBots had small Bill Nye segment where
he picked most aggressive bots. Dr. Inferno Jr. was touted as
the most aggressive lightweight (something about "attacks
like a pack of killer bees wielding a circular saw"...) but
superhevy Judge took the cake. Look for repeats this weekend.
Running total: 7 out of 8 episodes so far have Infernolab bots
2 shows to go in season 3.0. The doc's on next week in the LW
1/4-finals against Herr Gepounden. Watch on Tuesday 9/4/01!
moly, look at website hits skyrocket!!!! Seems that German Spiegel
Online did story on LEGO movies today and linked to my
old Ministry stop-motion
music video I did back in '92!
selling some radio equipment on eBay. Bid enormously.
jinxed it! I jinxed it! I knew it! Darn it!
got notification that there was a last-minute change of cover
story for the September issue of the IEEE Spectrum magazine from
the LEGO Mindstorms story to something else. So, Tesseract
won't be on the cover or even in the print magazine story, just
in the on-line version. Dang. Oops! I probably just jinxed that
Inferno is on this week's episode of Comedy
Central's BattleBots in the recaps after the 1st fight.
KO'ed me without too much trouble. I broke a sprocket again (just
like in the previous fight against Bad Dog), losing power to one
side. Then FrenZy started pounding on Towering Inferno & pieces
of Lexan went a-flyin', skewing one of the 2 pods, causing the
sprockets to misalign, throwing the other chain. Dead in the water.
my sponsor who provided those parts goofed and gave me plexiglass
instead of Lexan. Dang. After beating me, Patrick came by &
taught me how to distinguish the two materials so it would never
happen again and gave me 2 replacement sprockets so I could run
in the losers' rumble. What a swell guy.
Towering Inferno made it to the top 32 bots out of about 120 heavyweights.
Not too shabby. I'd love to tell you more about the losers' rumble,
since it won't be aired, but I shouldn't reveal who was in it
yet-it'll spoil the outcome of some fights that haven't yet aired.
TV appearance count: 5 out of 6 episodes so far. No Infernolab
bots for the next 2 shows. Look for Dr.
Inferno Jr. to fight in the quarterfinals on show #9 on
more thing: wiith some more donated Lexan from Industrial
Forming, I made some terminal covers for Towering Inferno's
Vantec speed controllers. This will prevent any stray pieces of
metal from shorting the screw-down terminals while letting me
see that everything's still attached properly. Again, this is
something that I may consider marketing--please review them if
you're interesed & send me a mail that answers the questions
on that page.
this is week 5 out of 10 of season 3.0 of Comedy
Central's BattleBots. I was surprised to catch a rather
long update of the Dr.
Inferno Jr. vs. Bad
Habit fight. This was the 2nd time I had to fight my buddy
Ray, but this victory was definitely more decisive than the last
one. The highlights showing this week include me taking him to
the saws, to the piston which flipped him over, then to the hammers
which pounded him and sent him flying in a full 360 flip. This
means that the Doc is moving on to the quarter-finals! Top 8 lightweights!
His next full fight will be aired on show #9 on 9/4/01. You can
of the highlights of the Dr. Inferno Jr. / Bad Habit fight on
Friday at 3PM, Saturday at 2AM or 11:30PM, or Sunday at 10AM.
Hey, Infernolab bots have been on 4 out of the 5 episodes aired
so far in season 3.0--not bad!
week, I talked about some new Lexan protective covers for Towering
speed controllers, courtesy of Industrial
Forming. Progress on this project is moving along and
we're working on another small Lexan cover to protect the row
of electrical connectors on the case. BattleBots
safety rules require that any exposed electrical contacts be covered,
so this will work a little better than a piece of duct tape. Pics
will follow. Slight chance of marketing this product too.
stopping by Specialty
Tool & Bolt to get some standoffs & new screws
for this terminal cover, the nice folks there agreed to extend
their sponsorship of Towering
Inferno for another season, replenishing my tab to outfit the
bot with all the required nuts, bolts, fasteners, bearings, electrical
connectors, hand tools, tape, wire wraps, and all the other million
things these guys stock & sell.
the last bit of news, BattleBots has put up the rotating 360-degree
spin pictures of the bots from the last event. Check out: Dr.
Inferno Jr. spin, Towering
Inferno spin, other
few new news items to report in the way of sponsorship & media
got a handful of new sponsors
on board for Towering Inferno.
As soon as I get some parts in hand, I'll let you know some details.
For now, I'll share that Alliance Finishing & Manufacturing
will be supplying aluminum stock and anodizing, Check Yourself
Paintball & Machining is finishing up the Lexan panels that
Forming made for me and will be doing several other machining
operations, and Portable Power Systems will be providing some
Forming also made some sweet Lexan protective covers for Towering
speed controllers--I'm thinking of offering these for sale and
am trying to determine consumer interest--please let me know if
this is a product you might be interested in for your bots.
gingerly packed up & shipped off Tesseract
to the IEEE
magazine offices in New York for a photo shoot. The September
issue's cover story is on consumer robotics, with lots of coverage
of the awesome LEGO
Mindstorms kits. I've never mailed a 14lb LEGO combat
robot before--hope it survives shipping!
night on Comedy
Central's BattleBots, they gave a review of several fights,
including Towering Inferno's victory over Bad Dog. Since this
was Towering Inferno's 1st taped fight, it's now safe to discuss
it and his previous elimination round fight without violating
the NDA I signed.
luck would have it, the 1st Towering Inferno fight was against
Nerd Killer, built by some other UCSB
students, led by Casey Bennett. We'd spent many long nights in
the shop together in the weeks before BattleBots,
and we were disappointed that only 1 of us would make it on to
the TV rounds. What was even more of a coincidence was that both
of our bots were on the same frequency. Since they were still
scrambling to finish fine-tuning their bot, I agreed to change
my radio frequency by gutting Dr. Inferno Jr. to pull out his
radio receiver crystal (because I forgot to pack my other spare
crystals that I'd purchased for just such an occasion...). It
was a big pain and I had only a very short time to do the swap,
as I got very little advance notice. Many thanks to Team
Raptor for dropping their work to help me make the swap.
Killer (picture available at http://www.robotcombat.com/bbsf01heavy.html)
was a strong 4-wheel drive bot with a Biohazard-esque lifting
arm. Before the fight, Casey added an extra offset layer of thin
Lexan sheet to absorb my hammer blows and lose his ability to
drive upside down (since I wouldn't flip him & the arena hazards
were turned off for the prelims). We both came out strong, he
pushing me around, and I pounding his top. At one point, my hammer
got stuck in his on/off switch access hole and he dragged me around
for a bit. The refs stopped the match to separate us, but we managed
to remotely pull out bots apart before they could get in there.
We continued the match, but we were both crippled: Towering Inferno
was dead on one side and could only spin in circles, while Nerd
Killer was almost out of battery power & could only go straight.
The judges gave me the win by one measly point, 23-22.
turns out that, in my haste to swap radios, I didn't plug the
speed controller in tightly and it came unplugged from all of
the jostling and vibration. A little bit of hot glue kept those
connections secure for the rest of the event. And it also turns
out that Casey forgot to charge or hook up half his batteries,
explaining his shortened run time. Double d'oh!
second fight, against Bad Dog, went a little better. I came out
pounding, landing many blows while getting shoved around. In our
scrap in the corner, I once again lost power to one side, but
Bad Dog got high-centered on the exit ramp at the same time. I
killed time, showing that Towering Inferno was still mobile, and
played it safe to take the weak K.O. It turns out that the small
sprocket on one motor shaft split in entirely half from the shock
of incessant pounding, disconnecting one side's hammer from its
motor. Good thing I had a spare sprocket in my toolkit! Thanks
to my pal Pete
for hand-shaping a brand new woodruff key to secure the replacement
can catch repeats
of the (short) highlights of the Towering Inferno / Bad Dog fight
on Friday at 3PM, Saturday at 2AM or 11:30PM, or Sunday at 10AM.
to round two of the TV rounds, I was pitted against another buddy,
Patrick and FrenZy,
who'd had a bye in round 1. This was going to be a tough fight,
especially since Patrick's been running his bot since 1996 &
upgrading it every year, turning it into a very solid, refined
Inferno Jr.'s been on the tube a lot lately. Last week,
Today Show did a
feature on BattleBots,
including some footage of the doctor beating on Toe
that evening, that full fight was shown on Comedy
Central's BattleBots, where the doc squeaked by with a
narrow 23-22 victory. Phew! He moved on to face Bad Habit (again).
I don't yet know if that fight will air, but it's a good one with
lots of action from the BattleBox pulverizer!
next day, ABC
World News did a great
segment on BattleBots. Not only did guests Trey, Christian,
& Greg discuss BattleBots, give a fun demo, but they were
seated in front a of a giant projection screen showing
Dr. Inferno Jr. flipping Toe Crusher.
2 news clips mentioned above have been captured by Jim at RobotCombat.com
and cataloged in InfernoTV.
He was also nice enough to finish capturing the remaining
6 Infernolab robot segments from Movies
for Guys Who Like Movies that aired in April. Thanks,
news: a major website revamp is in the works, and I received the
rest of Towering Inferno's
new rectangular polycarbonate panels from Industrial
the 13th! Traditionally an unlucky day, but a good day for the
I picked up the 1st of the batch of the new rectangular body panels
for Towering Inferno
from new sponsor Industrial
Forming. Check out the fancy things they can do with vacuum
forming, molding, bending, and other modes of shaping plastics
into cool shapes. They're making up some speed controller covers
& we're also figuring out how to make some snazzy clear electronics
you saw the 1st episode of BattleBots
season 3.0 on Comedy
Central, you may have seen Dr.
Inferno Jr. in 2 short segments, though none of his full
fights was aired. During the piece on the upgraded BattleBox,
they demonstrated the effectiveness of the upgraded killsaws with
a clip of the Doctor holding his opponent over them while they
sliced him up. Later, the Doc got in at the very end of the show
when they recapped some round 1 fights. Dr. Inferno Jr. beat Blood
Dragon in round 1 by slamming him against the spike strip, slicing
off most of his antenna (in a beautiful shower of white titanium
sparks) then taking him on a tour of pretty much every single
arena hazard. His bot held up to the severe beating dished out
by the arena and would've been still running strong at the end
had I not been lucky enough to snip his antenna, giving him minimal
radio control for most of the match. You can catch repeats of
this show over the next few days: Fri @ 3PM, Sat @ 2AM, and Sat
week, Dr. Inferno Jr. takes on Toe
Crusher. Tune in at 10PM on Tuesday the 17th.
I got a couple of beautiful huge prints of Towering Inferno's
by Steve Jacob. I replaced the polaroid scans in the Towering
Inferno gallery with scans of the real prints--the colors came
out quite different--very neat emerald green background.
Not a heck of a lot new, hence the long gap between news updates.
The biggest news, of course, is that BattleBots
season 3.0 on Comedy
Central starts tonight! Check your local
TV listings, but it seems to be on from 10PM-11PM in most
areas, and it will repeat several times during the week if you
miss it tonight. I know that Dr.
Inferno Jr. will be fighting Toe Crusher on the 2nd show,
on July 17, so make sure to tune in then. Other things to look
for somewhere in the first 4 episodes: a Bill Nye discussion on
wheels that I helped out with and a fashion segment (yes, fashion)
that will be featuring the fancy schmancy Infernolab outfits.
other news, I've got Towering
Inferno fully disassembled & have started the upgrades.
He'll be a bit leaner, a bit more robust, and look a heck of a
lot cooler. New & returning sponsors are getting parts &
materials together at this very moment.
added a simple mailing list
to the Infernolab. This list will only ever be seen by me.
It will remain private and confidential. I will not flood your
mailbox with spam or junk mail. This is simply a means of telling
interested readers when I update my site or when I will be in
the media. This is not a discussion mailing list where others
will see your name and be able to write to you. It's one-way only.
Simple. And I will remove your e-mail address from the list immediately,
almost forgot. I got a bunch of new Infernolab shirts
in stock. I now have sizes S, M, L, XL, and XXL. Now without sponsor
ads and with a bright orange "infernolab.com" URL across
the bottom of the back. Snazzy. Still a paltry $15, including
Put 450 or so robots in one building & fight for 5 days straight
& you've got yourself one heck of a BattleBots
show. Dr. Inferno Jr.
fought mightily in the lightweight & heavyweight classes.
Because I signed a non-disclosure agreement, I can't reveal the
outcome of any fights, and I was too busy to take many pictures,
so I just wanted sit back & relax, get over my cold, get back
to work, and put together a quick "thank you" list.
Season 3.0 supposedly starts on July 10--look out for it! If you
dug the flamey shirt that I had Pete wear when helping load up
Towering Inferno into the BattleBox, I'm looking into selling
them on my site--there was a huge demand for these at the
show, and I brought it along just as an afterthought!
for being my main helper & Inferno-babe
for helping soooooooo much all-around on Towering Inferno
dropping everything to help me with a last-minute radio swap
for a fuse for a key fight & for their big 1/2"
& Rob for scoring me
some necessary Towering Inferno repair materials
for some more help disassembling & assembling Towering Inferno
& Jim for lending me
& Derek for helping to
assemble Dr. Inferno Jr. when I was too swamped
for the jigsaw & fuse
for the other jigsaw
for trading me his Jeep Cherokee for a week to save on car rental
and Bill for putting me up
for a week, saving me about $1,000 in hotels
pit neighbors for being friendly
& giving me room to spread out & be sloppy
whole BattleBots staff
Sponsors for their support
news. Little time.
LEGO robot collection
grows: Itchy &
Scratchy were a
hit at E3.
Both bots achieved the goals I set out for them: to toss ping
pong balls into the audience and to make a lot of noise and increase
the mayhem quotient by a factor of 6. To promote LEGO
Communications came up with another great trade show PR
idea: Mindstorms Mayhem, where remote-controlled LEGO bots
compete to harvest ping pong balls & deliver them to a goal.
A seemingly simple task with crazy results. It was a hit at the
trade show, drawing visitors away from video games to play with
something real and really 3-D, not just another
3-D rendered video game. Thanks to Randy for lendig me his PC
to use with the fancy new Mindstorms 2.0 software (my PC was too
wussy to handle it).
had its annual Chancellor's reception/fundraiser to thank people
who have donated tons of money to the university &
to rope in more people to donate even more. They like to show
their investors the results of their generous donations, so, to
represent the College
of Engineering, they called on me to display Towering
Inferno and Dr.
Inferno Jr. (even though the school didn't pay for the
bots...but I did use the school shop extensively...) I set up
Towering Inferno on a lavish table and set the doctor on the ground
(rewired to half voltage and with weapons disabled) for the guests
to play with. They loved it. I was disappointed that Julia Child
didn't show up this time--she really like Missing
Link a couple of years ago...
had 2 photography sessions for Towering Inferno recently. 1st
was a quickie
by me when I did the final assembly. 2nd was a professional
shoot by Steve Jacob, who also did the shots for the recent
of the current Infernos, Towering Inferno & Dr. Inferno Jr.,
are packed & ready to go to San Francisco for the next BattleBots.
Towering is ready to rumble with about 80 other new, unranked
heavyweights, while the doctor is ranked #14 out of the lightweights.
Try to catch the live show this weekend in San Francisco--it's
waaay better than watching on TV!
finally got a real live copy of the April 23 issue of Design
News magazine and scanned
made a few new parts for Dr.
Inferno Jr. He's now got some fancy
gearbox mounts to replace his old plexiglass/hoseclamp
motor mounts that have been taking a real beating over the last
year or so. As soon as I straighten or replace a slightly-bent
axle, all he needs is some reassembly & he's ready to roll.
Oh, and I seemed to have lost his poker at the TBS taping, so
I made a new one.
Sunday, I got Towering Inferno
all back together, with a new chain tensioning scheme and sporting
fancy anodized & spray-painted parts. He looks really sharp
and runs great--pictures very very soon.
of my entries for BattleBots,tickets
are on sale now. They're likely to sell out quickly, so don't
delay if you want to see the event live! Competition
almost finished building 2 new LEGO
Mindstorms robots for next week's trade show. I'm running
out of "Inferno" names, so I think these might go as
"Itchy & Scratchy". Or, if you can think of a better
duo of names for a robot with an overhead rectangular pounder
& one with a 1000 rpm spinning claw, let me know. Unfortunately,
no Vision Command camera after all--that's ok, I just added 3
new Mindstorms sets, bringing the grand total to seven.
If you go to E3,
look for me at the LEGO booth on Thursday May 17.
my friend Jim from Robotcombat.com
captured one of the clips from the TBS
For Guys Who Like Movies Judge Dredd show. Check
it out here--look for the other ones soon--Jim's pretty
busy completing several bots for BattleBots, which is mere days
the big night! Tune in to the TBS
Superstation from 7:30PM-9:40PM Pacific Time (10:30PM-12:40AM
Eastern Time) to watch Judge Dredd on Movies
For Guys Who Like Movies and check out the world premiere
appearance of Towering Inferno,
a couple of rumbles with Dr.
Inferno Jr., some fun interviews with me, and some big
metal-cutting machines in action at Paradise Machining.
latest issue (4/23/01) of Design
News magazine is out and the cover shot of Towering Inferno
chasing me down came out awesome! The article is also big fun,
with some good info on heavy-hitters Biohazard & Vlad the
Impaler too. Here's a copy
of the article. As soon as I get the actual mag in my
grubby little hands, I'll do a high-res scan of the cover.
be putting together a new LEGO
Mindstorms robot for the LEGO booth at the E3
trade show again this year! This year, the competition
is non-violent :( Well, less violent, at least. This will be a
3-way contest between remote-control bots who try to collect ping
pong balls and return them to a base. Fortunately, interference
with the other bots is allowed. The bots will be much smaller
than the behemoths from RoboGladiators
in 1999, but I'll bring along Tesseract
and the Towering
Inferno Prototype for demos anyway. Rick Gallinson, a
worthy competitor from 1999's RoboGladiators, will whip up a bot,
as well as some official LEGO designers, who will make some modular
pre-packaged robots so trade show attendees can click something
together to take us on. This year, I'll be incorporating the fancy
Command camera setup. I'll be there on May 17 or 18.
competition has changed venues because of an overwhelming 652
registered bot entries! Way too many for Fort
Mason Center, the event is now scheduled to be held on
Island. Contestants show up on Tuesday May 22 to start
registration, preliminary competition of new & low-ranked
bots starts on Thursday May 24, and the Comedy
Central-taped fights will be from Saturday the 26th to
Monday the 28th.
you ask, how can I take time to do a trade show just a few days
before BattleBots? Things are looking good for Towering Inferno
& Dr. Inferno Jr. I tore Towering Inferno down to his base
components, cleaned him up, and am just about ready to reassemble.
I just got back lots of red anodized aluminum parts from Bell-Everman
today (fenders, outer triangles, shoulder clamps, and shaft collars).
And Urethane Rubber
just finished pouring new wheel tread into the custom
mold I made up. Just got them in the mail--they look great!
Tool & Warren at Paradise Machining helped me out
with the replacement of the badly-bent chromoly rectangular tube
hammer arms with some solid Titanium 6Al-4V arms. Titanium's amazing--the
arms are only 0.5lb heavier each, but they're soooo much more
durable. I'll keep the old, bent arms as spares. All that's really
left is to trim the urethane tread, bend some bolts, reassemble,
and practice my driving.
Inferno Jr.'s got a fresh replacement set of motors & gearboxes
(I burnt out 3 of the 4 motors on the TBS shoot--I guess I really
worked that set of motors in Mini
Inferno at Robotica!),
and I'm partially done making some new gearbox mounts to replace
the cheesy motor mounts. These should be much more reliable and
easy to service. Then, he too will get rewired & reassembled
& he's ready! It's nice to be on the ball & ahead of the
curve for once!
last bit of news is that Eric Simons, campus editor for the UCSB
Daily Nexus placed 3rd at the California Intercollegiate
Press Awards with the article
he wrote about me! He says it's roughly the equivalent of a college-level
Pulitzer prize. Happy to oblige!
the big cable TV taping went down as planned & will be aired
very soon! A crew from the TBS
Superstation came up to Santa Barbara and met me at Warren
Johnson's Paradise Machining shop. They taped for the Movies
For Guys Who Like Movies airing of Stallone's sci-fi stinker
Judge Dredd. Because there's a killer bot in the flick, they wanted
to host from a location with heavy machinery & killer bots.
I was happy to oblige. Towering
Inferno gave an ultra-messy
demo and Dr. Inferno
Jr. scrapped with some toys & some real bots. The
filming went great & should make for a super show. Tune in
to TBS on Thursday 4/26/01, at 7:30PM Pacific Time, 7:30PM Eastern
Time for big big fun.
getting Towering Inferno thoroughly messy with mayonnaise and
other goo, I did a complete teardown & am making several upgrades.
I removed the bonded-on & screwed-on urethane tread and created
to have some custom tread poured & molded directly to the
wheels by Urethane Rubber Inc. And I started mounting up
the aluminum sheet metal fenders
Manufacturing that will reinforce the wheel sections,
add protection, and stiffen up the bot in general.
Towering Inferno upgrades include replacing the choromoly rectangular
tubing arms with solid Titanium arms, being machined by Paradise
Machining, and I'm taking in almost every single piece of
aluminum for red anodization via Bell-Everman.
hit the local news again when Robotica
aired. The Independent
ran a semi-accurate semi-article
way up in the corner of the April 5 paper. Photographer Steve
Jacob took some sweet photos for the paper & was kind enough
to supply me with huge prints.
little update for today:
night was the premiere of the new TLC
Mini Inferno put
in a good performance but got edged out by the impressive Killer
B. Tune in for the next 3 weeks to see the other bots.
added a plethora of videos to their site, with clips from nearly
every single fight at the Novemeber 2000 Vegas event. So, if you
want to see what Comedy
Central skipped over, go to battlebots.com.
I put direct links to the videos for Dr.
Inferno Jr.'s fights in InfernoTV
and grabbed a few still images in the Dr.
Inferno Jr. gallery. Thanks to BattleBots for posting
these & allowing me to link.
good press for the Infernolab lately!
updated the Towering
Inferno gallery with some new pictures from a photo
shoot by Kim Kulish for the cover of Design
News magazine. Make sure to check out the cover story
of the April 20 issue for a fun technical article on BattleBots.
Also new to the Towering Inferno gallery are a few nicer
pictures of the assembled bot.
days to go till Mini Inferno
makes his TV debut (not counting the many commercials showing
Mini Inferno catching serious air by launching off of his opponent,
Killer B). The
Learning Channel has put up their Robotica
pages, where you can learn more about the competition and the
other competitors. Mini Inferno will be in the premiere episode!
Tune in to TLC on Wed April 4 from 9PM-10PM, and stay glued to
your set for another Robotica episode right after.
all goes as planned, a scant 20 days after the TLC show, Dr.
Inferno Jr., Towering
Inferno, and I will be hitting another cable channel.
We're scheduled to film all day (aaaallll day) Monday the 9th.
This is going to be a fun appearance. I won't say more till the
filming's gone down & things are a little more concrete (don't
want to jinx it!). Check back in a couple of weeks for the details.
few new updates to share:
put up a quick little Mini
Inferno gallery with Robotica event pictures from my pit
crew buddy Christian & my non-pit crew buddy Donald. TLC
will be airing my episode of Robotica on Wednesday April 4, from
9-10PM, followed directly by another Robotica episode. Check your
listings for details. The show will continue to air on
Wednesdays from 9-11PM for the 4 weeks of April.
should be the inaugural running of Towering
Inferno, if all goes as planned. Gotta get him running
for a special TV appearance next week, and get some good pictures
together for an upcoming magazine article. Details to follow.
much new news! It's been an ultra-busy month, hence the lack of
updates. Where to start?
is looking nearly done, he didn't quite come together in time
for The Learning Channel's Robotica, so I decided to put him on
hold. He'll be fighting in the next BattleBots
in San Francisco at the end of May. I didn't want to compete with
a barely-finished robot whose bugs hadn't yet been ironed out,
so I decided to save him for BattleBots so that I'll have plenty
of time to finish, test, refine, and upgrade. Check out his current
build status in the Towering
I put together a new robot for Robotica: Mini
Inferno. Weighing in at a svelte 37lb and topping out
at a scant 4" tall, he threw the competition and the event
staff for a loop, being by far the smallest bot in a field of
beasts, most of which weighed in at about 200lb. He did great
in the event & he definitely won the heart of the audience
and everybody else, who grossly underestimated his mighty powers.
Thanks again to my great pit crew, Christian Carlberg & Lauren
Herold, who helped out with repairs, strategy, & general support.
Look for the show to start airing on TLC on April 4 at 9PM and
continue for the next 6 Wednesdays. The event itself was typical
of a first-time event: slow, disorganized, confusing, behind schedule,
etc. But the staff tried hard & went all out on the set and
the lighting and visuals (this was after all, a TV show that had
competing robots, not a robot competition that was being filmed
for a TV show--there's a huge difference) and I know it's going
to be a really slick knock-out show once it's all edited together.
I can definitely say that going with Mini Inferno turned out to
be an excellent decision. Phew!
of Towering Inferno, there's a new sponsor
on board. Urethane
Rubber (714-731-1325) provided excellent tread made of
urethane rubber (surprise!). Rodney Sewell poured up some special
tread that I bonded and screwed down to Towering Inferno's wheels
for Robotica. But, since Towering Inferno didn't compete &
since I have a couple of months to get him together for BattleBots,
we'll remove that tread, machine a custom mold, and mold some
tread directly onto the wheels themselves for a super duper strong
updated the Dr.
Inferno Jr. gallery with some long overdue pictures. Fist,
I put up several sketchy screen grabs from a night-time parking
between Dr. Inferno Jr.
Raptor on my birthday in December 2000. That was probably
one of the more fun birthday presents I got--thanks, Chuck! We
dueled again a while later, behind a KFC in LA. Footage should
show up here sometime...Also, there are some shots of the Infernolab's
at BattleBots Las Vegas in November 2000.
of BattleBots in Vegas, this week Comedy
Central is airing the lightweight rumble. Look for Dr.
Inferno Jr. zipping back & forth across the screen a few times.
An added bonus was, after this season 2.0 wrap-up show, they aired
the old season 1.0 show with the Missing
Link vs. Ziggo slaughter.
Check out your local
TV listings--mine says that these shows are repeating
at 5PM & 11PM on Saturday 3/10/01 and again at 10AM Sunday
I've got a fan named Marc who put together a LEGO
model of Missing Link. Check out "Mini
Link". And here's a picture of Backlash
that he sent to Jim
Smentowski. What a coincidence!
few new parts that I made for Towering
Inferno are in the
gallery. The deadline for TLC's Robotica is looming ever
closer. It'll be a pretty tight squeeze to finish up in time.
I also spent some time this weekend putting noise-suppression
capacitors on my motors & doing some preparation work on the
speed controllers. On the Vantecs, I did some wiring and constructed
some lightweight styrene covers (with some material donated by
the nice folks at Industrial
Forming) in preparation for the waterfall portion
of the maze contest.
got more parts for Towering
Inferno in hand, and thanks to Mike
for help in the machine shop, things are moving along. Initial
assembly should be by this weekend. Here are some of the funky
in progress, courtesy of Bell-Everman
and their sweet CNC equipment.
also made a new & improved working LEGO prototype of Towering
Inferno. Pictures are in the
gallery and some video clips are on InfernoTV.
biggest new news is an awesome field trip I took through
chapter of ASME
(American Society of Mechanical Engineers). We flew out on a helicopter
to an offshore oil rig, stayed there the whole day, then flew
back. Here's my Platform
Irene trip report. Man, flying on a helicopter is fun.
Inferno's still coming along nicely. I just spent some
time in the machine shop removing handles from hammers, shortening
some vibration mounts (from Specialty
Tool & Bolt), and refining the Pro/Engineer
drawing of the shoulder part that will attach the hammer arms
to the bot. I also did a few repairs on Dr.
Inferno Jr. after a scuffle with Beta Raptor behind
an Arby's in Santa Monica. This round went to the doctor, but
he needed to have his poker re-sharpened & re-hardened, and
I cut some new hinge skirts, which got pretty bent up.
also been invited to teach
a class next quarter here at UCSB. A class about LEGO
robots. What a perfect match, eh? I'm still debating whether or
not I can afford the time--if I teach the class, I'll probably
have to put my robots on hold from April to June...
Inferno is taking shape rapidly (well, at least on the
computer, it is). I've got several new CAD drawings in the Towering
Inferno gallery. Speaking of CAD drawings, I now have
producers of Pro/Engineer,
as a new sponsor. They were supplying BattleBots
Vegas competitors with licenses of their engineering software.
Since I've been working with Bell-Everman
and their CNC equipment, I've had to really get immersed in Pro/Engineer
& the final product will be much influenced by this product.
Very powerful software, also used extensively on those slick bots
on the Infernolab bandwagon is Specialty
Tool & Bolt, a local supplier of nuts, bolts, washers,
hand tools, power tools, materials, electrical connectors, and
so much more. I got a tour of their store today & was shocked
by the sheer volume of stuff they have. They'll be supplying the
fasteners, vibration isolation mounts, electrical connectors,
shaft collars, etc. that will hold Towering Inferno together.
Check them out for all your fastener needs.
the BattleBots site has been updated, with all of the new robots
from the Vegas event in November. Here's the entry
for Dr. Inferno Jr. Check out my mean game face!
on Towering Inferno
has been moving along rapidly. I've got most of the Pro/Engineer
drawings done. Bell-Everman
has delivered the first set of parts, the 12 brackets
that hold the bot together. I've started assembling the bot on
the computer and it's looking pretty sweet. Check out the Towering
Inferno gallery for the latest pictures.
this week's episode of
Comedy Central's BattleBots revealed the results of the
Vegas fights in all weight classes, to bring the field to 8 bots
per class. Alas, Dr. Inferno
Jr. made it to the top 16. So, it's safe to reveal his
Vegas fights now.
Friday, night, since he was a returning bot, Dr. Inferno Jr. got
a bye. The next day, he faced off against Ray Alderman's solid
wedge, Bad Habit, which had a drivetrain nearly identical to the
doctor's, so they were closely matched. Bad Habit was in charge
for the first portion of the match, and I noticed the doc's maneuverability
was starting to suffer. In a lucky break, I out-pushed my opponent
& got him hung up on the spike strip curb. At this point,
Dr. Inferno Jr. wasn't very mobile, so I decided to leave him
hung up--not very sportsmanlike perhaps, but strategically a wise
move. The doctor broke a few of his cotter pins that held the
axles onto the gearboxes, so the axles started to unscrew and
bind. Ray, the very guy I beat, was nice enough to give me some
super hardened roll pins to do the job. They held perfectly &
are still holding. What a nice guy.
next fight was against the veteran wedge The Crusher (the very
bot that beat Missing Link
a year and a half ago), piloted by Thomas Petruccelli instead
of his young grandson. The fight started well and Dr. Inferno
Jr. was outwedging The Crusher more often than not, but then The
Crusher got a good long scoop & rammed Inferno into the wall,
where the spike strip impaled one of the side flaps, and he flipped
over onto his head. I was yelling over to Thomas to continue battering
my bot, in hopes of getting him back on his wheels, but he played
it safe and did one token ram at the buzzer. So, my karma was
been balanced out. Thomas was very nice & apologetic afterward--he
felt really guilty, but he was totally justified, so no problem.
let's hope that Comedy Central shows the lightweight rumble. Dr.
Inferno Jr. got some good action in on that fight.
couple of new goodies for the Infernolab media
and video pages.
article by Thomas
Kreczmar appeared in the December 2000 issue of Odkrywca
magazine. There are lots of pictures from BattleBots
and LEGO Mindstorms RoboGladiators,
but I can't really tell you much more. It's written in Polish.
I'm working on getting a translation to English. Then I can figure
out what the heck the article's about--I'm pretty clueless when
it comes to Polish.
noticed on Jim's extensive media
page a link to BreakTV.com,
where you can watch a video
clip of the BattleBots
Comedy Central TV show, including some of the Missing
Link vs. Ziggo fight.
Comedy Central camera crews were filming lots of competitors doing
play-by-play of fights as they happened. These seem to be just
starting to make it to the official web site. Mike & I called
the play-by-play shots for the Toro vs. Tripulta Raptor
fight. Think we can replace Bil Dwyer & Sean Salisbury?
but not least, work on Towering
Inferno has been accelerated to a superfast pace to make
the March 1 deadline for The
Learning Channel Robot Challenge. Shouldn't be too terribly
tough to finish on time. I can always fall back on good ol' reliable
Dr. Inferno Jr.
if I don't finish the new bot. I've got some sneak preview CAD
drawings on the Towering Inferno page, made with PTC's
software that they gave out at BattleBots in Vegas last year.
I've been sending drawings and files over to Bell-Everman
for them to crank out parts for me. Score!
of Infernolab news for the new year:
the interest of brilliant marketing, all Infernolab robots will
now have Inferno-ish names. Armed Forces has been redubbed Towering
Inferno (at about 3ft tall, it should tower over most
heavyweights). Temper Tantrum, a 12lb ramming bot for BotBash,
has been renamed Hell on Wheels. And in the works are middleweight
Disco Inferno and heavyweight Ream-O Inferno.
been invited to participate in The
Learning Channel's Robot Challenge show, which should
be filming in March in LA. I'll be hustling the remaining work
on Towering Inferno to have him done in time--shouldn't be too
BattleBots show on Comedy
Central continues to be a huge hit. Jim Smentowski at
has been archiving the commercials on his
video page. Here are a few links to some his commercial
captures--see his site for many more.
season 2, here's
a commercial with a few shots of my radio transmitter.
season 1 commercial has a snippet from the Missing Link/Ziggo
super duper short snippet from the same fight is in this
shot of Missing Link before his Ziggo battle is in this
you catch the solar eclipse on Christmas? We had a great view
of it in Toledo, OH, where the moon covered about half of the
sun. We put together an impromptu pinhole camera, and, fortunately,
we had a window facing the right direction so we didn't have to
go outside in the 5 degree cold to see it. Look here for the bunches
of little crescent-shaped suns (the moon was eclipsing the bottom
of the sun): eclipse1.jpg,