Monsoon v Red Devil (Episode 4)
As everyone knows by now, we won our first fight, against Red Devil!
It was an incredible fight, and really shows both how tough Red Devil is and how destructive Monsoon can be!
What happened to our weapon though? When we were flipped, our weapon was spinning the wrong way. So when we hit Red Devil the wrong way, their plough was drawn into our weapon bulkheads, where it damaged the bottom part of the frame and jammed the weapon. The smoke you saw was from the belts slipping, as we couldn’t spin whilst the weapon was jammed. If you look closely you can see that Tim was trying to spin up the weapon and it moved slightly then jammed again.
It was great to see Monsoon’s pivot in action, and to be able to show how Monsoon can just carry on running without a break as soon as it's flipped over. Ideally we would have reversed the weapon, but in practice we quickly learned that during a fight it was more effective to hit the opponent and try to get flipped back over, or simply hit them with the weapon spinning the wrong way and try to inflict damage.
Slowing down the weapon enough to reverse it simply takes too long in a fight where every second is vital.
How can we stop this kind of self-inflicted damage from happening again? Well you’ll just have to see our next fight... see you then!
1 - 0 to Monsoon!
Monsoon v Petunia (Episode 6)
Oh no not again... Our second fight, against Team PCP and Petunia from Holland was another great fight with plenty of destruction and this time we caused a fire as well!
How come the weapon stopped? On the second hit that sent Petunia flying, we actually bent our weapon shaft, and warped the shape of the weapon bar slightly. This was all just enough to stop the weapon from spinning.
Luckily we had a couple of days between this fight and the next one. So the first thing we did was go out and get enough new titanium to make several new weapon shafts - thanks to the awesome guys at Tormach Inc., they made us a new one, plus a spare (just in case!) Even though we did lose the weapon in this fight too, we’re learning from each fight about what works, and what doesn’t work.
Monsoon hits hard, very hard - however we need to be able to sustain these hits.
Towards the end of the fight you might have spotted that we stopped moving. We actually lost traction due to the amount of hydraulic fluid now in the arena. Our drive motors are fine, but we did have do de-oil the entire robot after that fight, and the floor of the Battlebox took a long time to clean up as well!
See you soon in our next fight!
Monsoon v Son of Whyachi (Episode 10)
So there’s good new and there’s bad news. Good news is that we’ve all just witnessed nuclear fission. Bad news is that our bot got cremated. Fun times!
The original plan facing Son of Whyachi was to box rush and try to limit the amount of time they’d have to spin up. If we could stop them spinning and keep them vaguely still just long enough for us to turn slightly, we could spin up and turn into them - dealing potentially very significant damage. However we simply weren’t quick enough to get to the other side of the box (it certainly didn’t help that the forks slightly snagged the floor when we accelerated at them which slowed us down).
After several huge hits, one of which sent them flying, our weapon bulkheads were simply too damaged to allow the bar to spin freely. We continued to drive at them in the hopes that their weapon would break, but instead ripped off one of our armour panels. Note to self: DO NOT put giant glowing text cutouts in the front armour of Monsoon 2, no matter how cool they look! It’s a design flaw that whilst calculated (because it looks cool) it turned out to be more of a hindrance.
And then of course there was the final colossal hit that Cherub’d us off into the side of the arena, which was it for us. I actually did still have control of the bot (you can even see Monsoon twitching slightly as I test the controls), but decided to play dead. Odds are we’d not have gone on for much longer anyway! The smoke was coming from our LiPo batteries.
The bot was in the arena for at least an hour after the fight with the extractor fans going, by then all of our batteries and part of the wiring loom was a total loss.
There’s also another reason why the weapon stopped, and I’m not sure if this has ever happened before on the show. Incredibly, SOW also managed to bend our weapon bar. This is 35mm thick Hardox 500, pretty much the toughest steel there is - and it was now the shape of a banana. There was no way for us to straighten it at the filming, so this is the last time this weapon bar will ever spin.
But we weren't the only robot to take damage - we managed to break one of their titanium arms and break one of their hammers (I believe Team Whyachi said it was about $1000 worth of damage).
Fun fact: The first thing we did after getting the bot back inside was to go out for milkshakes. (It was late, we needed it). To get this repaired now would require all hands on deck - plus a bit of help from the other British teams. That's all I can really say for now though due to NDA...
Do we fight again? Is it even possible to repair the robot? You’ll just have to keep watching to find out! #NDA
Repairing Monsoon Post-Whyachi
By this point Monsoon was now 2-1, with our only loss being to a BattleBots champion, Son of Whyachi.
We honestly came out of this fight laughing (at just how cool the fight was) but also somewhat worried about the potential repair job to come.
Just after this fight (as we were looking on at the smouldering remains of Monsoon), production greeted us - and promptly asked if we could be ready to fight the next day… bear in mind that this was the last fight of the day (originally filmed as the main event), so we were pretty much out of time to do repairs that night. I insisted that we’d be ready, and we all went out for milkshakes.
In terms of damage, luckily the fire wasn’t too severe, and was largely kept to the right side of the robot. Externally, the armour and weapon bulkheads were a complete write-off (spot the twisted metal giveaway!), but luckily we’d brought one spare set of each. The entire chassis was warped though, and we didn’t have a spare.
There’s a running theme here with our team - as this robot was built on a budget in my parents garage, we simply didn’t have the spares/funds that most of the big name teams had. We did the best we could - that’s why we recruited Rory from Team Predator to help sledgehammer the chassis back into shape! I took the chassis outside for welding, along with Rory and his sledgehammer.
Meanwhile Tim was getting started at re-wiring the entire right side of the robot. Whilst this could have been worse, it was certainly no easy task. We were in the next day as soon as the pits opened, and spent the entire day before the Axe Backwards fight getting the robot running again.
Of course the original weapon bar was bent out of shape and could not be used anymore - so from here on out we decided to use the spare weapon bar, that came off a certain other robot (you’ll never guess which one). We finally got the robot together, tested and were good to go!
Monsoon v Axe Backwards (Episode 14)
Our final qualifying fight was against Axe Backwards, the full body drum spinner from KurTrox Robotix. Going into this fight we certainly had worries - the robot had just been put together, and when Axey B’s weapon is going, it's nasty.
The plan was to go for the wheels and see how Monsoon coped with the hits, because while this bar wouldn’t engage as hard as the single tooth bar, it should be far more reliable.
We managed to land several nice hits and as soon as we spotted that Axe Backwards wasn’t moving, I decided to back off to protect Monsoon from any potential self-inflicted damage (for some reason it’s got a bit of a reputation for doing that, no idea why!)
We came out of the fight relatively unscathed, and fairly confident that we’d make the final 16. Part of the criteria for making the 16 was that your team could repair your robot fast and under pressure, and BB production seemed impressed enough with our fights, and repair job after facing SOW.
The next day it was confirmed. We were in the final 16, ranked as #12, which put us against the #5 seed, Sawblaze!
To be continued...