abandon all hope ye robots who enter


 DIsko Inferno

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  • Designed & built in early 2016
  • Featured a high-energy spinning disk weapon & an offensive/defensive tail weapon
  • Competed at BattleBots 2016, aired on ABC prime-time
  • Majority of robot is made up of only 4 enormous billet CNC-machined parts
  • Status: resting up after BattleBots, contemplating its future

STORY: When BattleBots returned to ABC in 2015, the builders were offered an extremely short build time, & I couldn't accommodate a design & build, what with not having a team, the event being far away, changing jobs twice, moving twice, & with the birth of my daughter around the corner. One short year later, after the first season was well received, when I got the call from BattleBots to apply, the logistical pieces of my life had fallen into place (or close enough to go for it...). I partnered with Richard Loehnig of NTMA, who wielded his employer's impressive facilities (a build area, a wide array of machining equipment, as well as a talented group of staff & students eager to help) & worked NTMA's extensive SoCal fabricators network to secure sponsors to provide materials, large-bed CNC milling, EDMing, heat treating, grinding, & even banners/stickers/audience signs. So, between my design efforts & Richard's fabrication efforts, we had our bases covered.

I always felt that, if I hadn't returned Disko Inferno to my sponsor ThinGap, who'd paid for it & provided all of its motors (2 of which I'd designed while working there), I'd have had a chance to work out the bugs from its first outing & refine it into something really fierce. Now my chance came along. I still think the design has tremendous potential, & the scaling up from 120lb to 250lb in & of itself led us to be able to select robust, heavy-duty components, as well as have room to repackage the internals better. Oh, & the goofball manipulated name, The Disk O' Inferno, was indeed to distance it from the copyrighted classic disco song "Disco Inferno".

Even though we had an impressive array of 19 generous sponsors for this effort, real life & Murphy's Law compressed our schedule alarmingly back, right up to the BattleBots 16 event itself. Those 4 very large, very fancy, very machining-intensive parts mentioned above ended up being the last parts to get into our hands, cutting short our build/test/tune/practice time. Fortunately, Richard & I brought on two hard-working fighting robot experts for the final build crunch; without Ross Hironaka & Mark Liu on the team, we would not have prevailed. But we did. We produced a creative, competitive, entertaining robot (& team theme) with flair (see the Infernolab presence at San Diego Comic-Con 2016). We drew a robust first opponent, Chomp, &, although we controlled the fight, the current judging guidelines weighed heavily against us for having our disk weapon break itself...but only just barely; we had one of only a few split decisions in the entire tournament. But, after a little repair, & some additional cosmetic flair, The Disk O' Inferno was back up to its full potential & ready to rumble.

SPECS: Because of the efficient design approach of using giant aluminum billet parts, we could make the chassis compact enough & light enough to incorporate 2 powerful, large, & heavy weapons into the bot. Most other bots had just 1 weapon. Most of the body & weapons parts were made of high-strength aerospace-grade aluminum, while all of the "business" parts were hardened tool steel: the disk assembly's disk, top teeth, & shaft; the tail assembly's shaft & leading edge tips.

Because of the impressive quantity & quality of sponsors that were supporting us, the impractical & expensive technique of making a bot out of fewer, larger, more complex parts allowed me to get creative in impractical & expensive ways that I had never before explored in bots past. The majority of the robot (exactly half of the 250 lb total bot weight) was made up of just 4 very very large aluminum & tool steel billets that underwent extensive, complex maching on large milling machines: 1) the 48 lb aluminum chassis frame, 2) the 13 lb aluminum chassis floorpan, 3) the 16 lb tail frame, & 4) the 48 lb tool steel disk.

TECH DETAILS : For drive, the Disk O' Inferno featured 4 Ampflow A28-150G brush motors with 8.3:1 chain/sprocket reductions, custom hubs & hubcaps that we designed/fabricated, & Colson 5" x 2" wide wheels from NPC. 2 VEX Victor BB speed controllers handled these 4 drive motors without a hitch. The disk weapon used an Ampflow A28-400 with a Team Whyachi M3R right-angle 2:1 gearbox; longitudinally banded belt & grooved pulleys transmitted torque to the disk, whose spinning mass weighed in at a formidable 66 lb. Based on the performance of this setup, we (& Amplfow) highly recommend retaining the rear end of the motor so that it can't deflect enough to become damaged during large impacts; let's just say that we wish we'd had the time & room & weight to fit in the Team Whyachi Long Support Kit. Another of the same VEX controller ran the disk weapon. On the rear end, an Amplfow A28-400G, plus an additional 3:1 chain/sprocket reduction was able to flip the 33 lb tail assembly to lift opponents, self-right, & even change the attitude of the bot by propping the rear wheels off the floor to drive on only the front wheels, thereby bringing the disk side tooth even closer to the ground when facing low-slung opponents. A pair of Ragebridge 2 speed controllers controlled the tail weapon. A bank of 4 LiPo batteries provided 29.6V & 10,000mAh to the weapon system, & another identical set was dedicated to the drive.

SPONSORS: Heat treating: Accurate Steel Treating. Machining: Axxis Corporation, Great Western Grinding, Q-Mark Manufacturing, Wire Cut Company, Wire-Tech EDM, Woodys Precision Grinding. Material: Bralco Metals, Griggs Steel, Hudson Tool Steel. Parts & 3D printing: IQ Corporation. Wheels & funds: NPC Robotics. Build facility & machining & materials & 3D printing: NTMA. Funds: Panasonic Avionics Corporation, Zane & Eric Hansen. Shirts & funds: Revelation Records. Parts: Servo City. Fasteners: Specialty Tool & Bolt. Stickers & signs & banners: The Card Master.

Zane & Eric Hansen

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