abandon all hope ye robots who enter


 The Missing Link

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  • Designed & built Fall 1997-Summer 1999
  • 3rd place in BotBash 1999, competed in BattleBots 1999
  • Modular design with 6 weapons systems
  • Demoed at LEGO Mindstorms RoboGladiators booth at E3
  • Part of art performances at Burning Man 1999
  • Appeared on UPN sitcom Grown-Ups, Mar & May 2000
  • Demonstrated live on KCAL 9 News, Hollywood, Feb 2000
  • 4th place in BotBash 2000 (tied for 3rd in points)
  • Fought in BattleBots season 1.0
  • Appeared in premiere show of Comedy Central's BattleBots
  • Status: disassembled & retired for good

STORY: The Missing Link was designed in 1997 and 1998 for the 50lb weight class of Robot Wars and Robotica (both of which were canceled). In lieu of these events, he was demoed at the first Society of Robotic Combat (SORC) meeting. The Missing Link was also used in a University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) promotional video, in two engineering demonstrations for university investors, and in an alternative art show at UCSB. It was also demonstrated at the LEGO Mindstorms RoboGladiators booth at the 1999 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). The Missing Link entered an arena for the first time at BotBash 1999, where it was undefeated in the sumo event and took home the 3rd place trophy in the 23kg (51lb) weight class (see a TV news clip on BotBash). The Missing Link's second event was at BattleBots 1999. A video clip of the robot appears in a promotional video for the event. His new circular saw was formidable, chopping and gouging the competition, but niggling failures prevented him from taking home a trophy. He did, however, beat the heck out of some metal barrels, pipes, and a TV in an art performance at Burning Man 1999. Later, I was asked to bring Missing Link to the UPN studios in LA to have him appear in two episode of Grown-Ups, a prime-time sit-com (see the video clips). The producers wanted a BattleBot to chase another character around the set. I was happy to oblige! The episodes aired in March and May 2000. KCAL 9 in Hollywood ran a story on combat robots and their builders. I demoed Missing Link in a pre-recorded segment and in a live demonstration at the studio parking lot (see the video clips). Missing Link re-appeared at BotBash 2000, with a few little upgrades. Even against brand new robots, the Missing Link managed to tie for 3rd place in the points standings. Missing Link made its final appearance at BattleBots in San Francisco in June 2000, where his exploits caught the eye of the San Francisco Examiner newspaper & the Sunday morning news on Channel 7. I guess the fight vs. Ziggo must've been pretty good, since it made the premiere episode of Comedy Central's BattleBots show.

SPECS: The Missing Link's drivetrain and modular weapons systems are based on titanium and carbon fiber/kevlar prototype aerospace materials. Its customizable modular design allowed it to sport any 2 of the following 6 weapons: gas-powered chainsaw with carbide chain, gas-powered 14" circular saw with carbide blade, pair of tethered scuba spear guns with custom tips, 2 case-hardened steel ramming pokers, hinged shovel scoop, and 3' weighted spiky whacking stick.

TECH DETAILS : I happened upon a big titanium wiener in the titanium recycling dumpster at Boeing in Long Beach, CA. It was part of a defunct project of "superplastically formed" structures. It started as 2 titanium sheets that were welded together in an oval-shaped pattern, then, under high temperature & pressure, blown up like a balloon. I hacksawed the ends off & stuffed in the motors from BWEI, coupled to neat in-line ball speed reducers from the Carlyle-Johnson Machine Company, which drove a pair of steel floats as wheels. All of the electronics were housed in an aluminum project box up top, with carbon fiber armor. Any 2 of 6 available weapons could be bolted on, making the robot modular & flexible. I started with a Craftsman 18" chainsaw, outfitted with a special carbide-tipped chain (used by firemen in emergency situations), and a pair of scuba spear guns, which I modified to be triggered by remote control with servos pulling the triggers (see a video clip of the chainsaw in action). I then added a pair of stubby, yet pointy, case-hardened steel ramming pokers that could also be used as a sort of scoop, if they were adjusted to be skimming the ground. Next was another Craftsman chainsaw engine that was modified to act as a cutoff saw. I removed the chain & bar assembly & made an adapter that was welded to the centrifugal clutch. This adapter allowed me to bolt on circular saw blades. Because BotBash 99 included a sumo event, I quickly made an aluminum snow shovel-style scoop and a 3' long thick-walled aluminum tube, with some heavy steel inserts pounded in and some case-hardened pointy pokers screwed in.

SPONSORS: Shop facilities made available by UCSB Mechanical & Environmental Engineering. Some electronics and tools donated by Mouser Electronics. Ball speed reducers donated by Carlyle-Johnson Machine Company. Funds to go towards maintainance and transportation costs donated by Worldmachine Technologies.

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All content © Jason Dante Bardis and the Infernolab, 1999-2016