abandon all hope ye robots who enter



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  • Designed & built Spring 1999
  • 3rd place in LEGO Mindstorms RoboGladiators at E3 1999
  • Viewed by E3 attendees and featured on AP Newswire
  • Status: dismantled and parts used for other project

[photo: AP Newswire]

STORY: 2A was designed and constructed in 1999 as a part of the LEGO Mindstorms RoboGladiators promotion. Switzer Communications, the public relations firm promoting LEGO Mindstorms, contacted me and 7 other robot designers and asked us to make remote-control LEGO combat robots. The robots competed over 2 days of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). 2A took home the 3rd place trophy, was taped for a LEGO promotional video, and was featured in an AP Newswire photograph. Dan Danknick, another competitor, created an excellent web page that describes the event and the robots. Christian Carlberg & I put together a video to demo our bots--click here to see a 2A demonstration video.

SPECS: Armed with boxloads of LEGO parts, I put together the 15lb 2A (pronounced like the French verb "tuer" which means, "to kill"). It featured a pneumatically-operated ramp designed to squeeze under the other robots and flip them over. The ramp housed 8 rubber conveyer belt treads, all running upward, which would assist 2A in scooping. The entire ramp assembly was attached to the drivetrain chassis with a hinge, keeping the scoop flush to the ground. The chassis ran on 4-wheel-drive skid steering and was powerful enough to carry a 20lb trash can without slowing down. The robot and the hand-held transmitter each used 2 LEGO RCX computer bricks which communicated with each other to make an infrared remote-control system.

TECH DETAILS : Through worm reductions, a pair of 9V gearhead motors powered each of the 4 wheels in a skid steering arrangement. A total of 8 more gearhead motors drove the 8 upward-pulling rubber belts on the scooper. A set of 4 pneumatic tanks were pumped up by hand before each match & held at a relatively high pressure by a pair of 9V motor-driven air compressors. On command, a micromotor would actuate the pneumatic switch that pumped air into 8 pneumatic cylinders, raising the entire front end scoop. The scoop was designed to get under the other robots with its long, flexible old baseplates, drag the other bots up with the rubber belts, then flip them over with the pneumatics. A total of 8 battery packs (6 AAs in each pack) sent power to the drive wheels & the scoop's treads. The hand-held remote control unit had 6 pushbutton sensors hooked up to 2 RCX computer bricks. When the RCXs detected button pushes, they would send a coded number out of their IR ports. This number was read by the 2 RCXs on the robot, and the appropriate motor was actuated to activate a rotary polarity switch, letting the major current flow from the battery packs to the robot's drive & weapon motors.

SPONSORS : Sponsored by Switzer Communications, LEGO Mindstorms, and my LEGO habit.

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