Smashbotz Backyard Brawl 5/28/22

This was a fantastic little event in a backyard. I was skeptical how well robot combat would work at someone's house but this was probably one of the easiest and most efficiently run robot combat events I've been to. Everyone was within earshot of the EOs and all the builders were ready on time. That's a good thing because I got ten whole fights between my two robots.

The two robots I'm competing

Speaking of, the robots I'm fighting in this event are Netsplit (150g fairyweight) and Pinout (1lb plastic antweight). Netsplit has no external changes, but I got a programming harness to upgrade the firmware on my Malenki-Nano from Turnabot. This totally eliminated the freezing behavior that got me eliminated in my last two events. I'm also going to try using the warped Nylon chassis I ordered, but the nylon lid and motor mounts were unuseable, so them and all my spares are PLA.

Pinout is an all new plastic ant lifter I put together to try out the class. It's basically made of spare parts for Netsplit; used n20 motors, spare wheels, the old receiver and BESC I used before I got Malenkis, with the addition of a 35kg servo and a hastily designed chassis. I don't expect much with this robot, I'm hoping to get a lift or two and be able to tape it back together well enough have my two fights.

After weigh-in and safety, things got going pretty quickly in the plastic ant bracket. My first fight was Pinout vs the modular robot Modbot in its vert configuration. The guy who runs Modbot also owns this arena, he and his family win a lot, and there are 3 or 4 modbots with different drivers running in this bracket. This'll be a trial by fire for the newcomer.

It might not look like it but this was a huge success. Pinout got a few squeaky clean lifts and even flipped modbot on its head a couple times. Then it goes on to tank truly massive damage and stay mobile, though it did lose the lifter faster than I would've hoped. The battery got exposed, but I was still having fun and the EOs didn't stop the fight, so I kept right on going. Eventually Modbot gently sniped my battery connector which ended the fight for Pinout.

The damage was severe but but totally fixable. The left lid piece didn't retain the battery, and the front mounting point was just gone, so I drilled some holes and zip tied the yoga-mat wrapped battery to the bottom of the frame and called that problem fixed. I replaced the broken zip tie and double-stick tape holding the servo down, and added some hot glue from the charging station for good measure. Then I taped the lid back on for no real reason.

The next fight was Netsplit vs the vertical drum Cross Hatch. A rare all-metal fairy, I was worried about what affect it would have on my AR500 weapon bar.

This was a long hard fight but both bots just kept on driving and taking huge hits. I think Cross Hatch won a couple of the early weapon on weapon hits, but I got a glancing blow on their weapon which put it totally out of balance. From there it was keeping my weapon spinning and delivering hits where I could. Since I ran upside down most of the fight, I often had to bump the walls or opponent to spin back up, but otherwise I think Netsplit performed perfectly. It took the judges decision.

Next up was Netsplit vs Steve. Sadly I don't have video of this because my wife was picking up lunch and the stream was cutting out, so this twitch highlight is all the footage I have. I do have some pics of the damage though.

I remember it being a good fight. He took off my wheel early on, but I can drive pretty good with one wheel. He nearly removed my weapon bar, busted the weapon motor up enough to keep it from spinning, and ultimately took the judges decision. Fixing it was a matter of slipping the wheel back on the shaft, replacing the weapon button, and bending the motor base back into shape to free up the can. The nylon chassis held up super well to some heavy hits which I'm very happy about, it'll definitely be worth it to try again and get the chassis printed correctly in nylon.

Next up was Pinout vs D-Raptor, a very cool looking all plastic drum complete with plastic bolt-teeth.

This was closer to the amount of damage I expected to get from a plastic spinner, and as a result Pinout did pretty damn well. I got great lifts and had plenty of pushing power to move them around. After the first time I got them stuck on their weapon the organizers decided not to count them out, so I unstuck them just to prove I could do it again. I'm so happy with this robot after this fight, this was everything I'd hoped for Pinout.

Then, of course, I had to fight another Modbot, this one called Lopper Bot fitted with a horizontal spinner.

Much like the last modbot fight this one started strong with a few good lifts. The gyro of the horizontal spinner prevented me from flipping them all the way over though. Again like the last fight they chipped off my lifter and did more damage to that front corner, this time obliterating the motor and gearbox that left a really pretty scar along the bottom plate. Super fun fight, it's great to go the distance against such a destructive bot. I wish I'd had the presence of mind to bully them into the pit but I celebrated prematurely. Good lesson for next time.

Of course they won the judge's decision on the basis of sheer damage, but I'd like to think I got most of the control and aggression points. Especially with the pins I delivered on three wheels. This takes Pinout out of the tournament, but there's rumblings of a rumble later today.

My next fight is Netsplit vs Haladie, an undercutter saw-bot with a metal wedge on the back. I knew I could outreach the sawblade in the front and it didn't look like the blade could hit anything important in the back, but the metal wedge is a real concern because those can break my weapon mounts.

This was a perfect performance from Netsplit. I got one wheel tread off and then tried to get a precision shot to their other wheel. Took a couple tries but I did get it eventually and Haladie tapped. Good clean fight for Netsplit with no damage, just needed to be charged.

Next in the bracket was Red Rocket, a unique propeller-bot that I've wanted to fight for a long time. The top and bottom "armor" on Netsplit is 1.5mm thick, so not much to it at all. I've got no plan going into this besides try to hit the sticks and wheels and try not to get smacked.

But reader, I did get smacked. I think that might be the most damaged Netsplit has taken and still come out on top. Netsplit got a few good hits into the sticks but never really connected with the wheel. The stick that lets me drive upside down got chopped off early and then I not long after I was upside down. The good thing is Red Rocket's propeller bounced right off the nylon chassis, the bad part was the weapon was spinning while touching the floor making driving super difficult.

It actually got easier to control when the wheel was removed, because the weapon and the remaining wheel had perfect equilibrium to where I could charge straight forward at full throttle. The rocket got a bad bounce off me and ended up stuck against the wall, and since it was late in the elimination bracket I didn't try to help. There was a little countdown confusion but the judges ruled I won by KO.

Next up is Little Bite, one of the trio of 'Bite vertical spinners that often win this class (and who I've lost to many times before). I decided to finally swap in my spare robot here, because I wanted to run upside down and was out of lids for the nylon chassis. I also wanted to use the ring. It holds more kinetic energy, and because there's not much for my weapon to catch on this robot, I wanted my hits to count.

As usual when fighting this particular bot, this was a tough one for Netsplit. I can only hit the body when I'm upside down and even then, most blows are glancing. Their side peeled after a few hits but didn't affect them much. I lost a wheel because I didn't tighten them before the fight which is a total rookie mistake. The judges gave the close decision to me which was a little surprising, but I'll take it any time.

Next up is the fairyweight semifinals, Netsplit fighting a hard hitting vert called Mirage.

I ran the PLA chassis again for this one because it drove a bit better in the last fight, I hadn't realized how badly the warp in the nylon had affected the driving until I compared it to this bot. I'm not sure if this ended up being the right choice. I took out their magnet and hoped that'd make a difference, but they still hit surprisingly hard and took my weapon off. From there I just tried to control Mirage with the back of my robot to maybe get them into the pit when it opened. I didn't quite manage it, but I got lots of good pins. The judges went with the undamaged Mirage, putting Netsplit into 3rd place, my first podium since 2021!

To cap off the day we did a plastic ant rumble with mostly modbots and a minibot used in the sportsman beetles. I threw Pinout in without doing any repairs whatsoever from its previous fight.

This one really speaks for itself. I just kind of drove around and tried to feed Pinout into weapons. By some miracle I stayed mobile, stayed out of the pit, my battery stayed in, 2/3 wheels stayed on, and I ended up the last one standing!

Overall a great event and a great showing from both my bots! I'm feeling like Netsplit is really dialed in and with a proper Nylon chassis and a better way to hold the weapon on it could be a contender again. While Pinout is totally dead, I'm hoping to take what I've learned in this event and redesign it from the ground up to be more compact and better armored all around.