Whirligig - 30 lb Robot for BotBash 2000

Whirligig - My fastest robot build yet- took me only 2 days to build him!

updated 7/13/00

Name of robot: Whirligig
Weight: 30 pounds
Power Source: One 12V 12ah sealed gel cel battery
Drive system: Two surplus DC motors, geared down ~3:1 to sprocket on hub of wheel
Wheels: 8" Pneumatic wheelchair wheels (same wheels used on Junior and Hercules '97
Armor: not much
Speed Control: 2 Vantec RET-512 single channel speed controls
Radio/Receiver: Futaba (borrowed from Nightmare)
Weapon: Huh?
Speed of robot: Warp
Main purpose: Go real fast
Time to build: 2 days
Reason for building: There were only 4 other robots in the BotBash 2000 30 pound class, so I thought "What the heck"
Meaning behind name: whirligig (hwrl-gg, wr-) n.
Something that continuously whirls.

In May, 2000, BotBash was held in Mesa, Arizona. I was planning on attending with my 55 pound robot, Backlash. A few days before the event, I noticed that there were only a few entries into the 30 pound weight class, so silly me, I decided to start a whole new robot- only a couple of days before heading to the event.

What, am I nuts? Yeah, mostly, but heck, I have all kinds of leftover parts from old robots in my shop, and control systems from robots that were too big for this event, so I kludged together Whirligig in about 2 days.

Whirligig started off mostly made up of old parts from Junior, who has been totally disassembled. However, I found that a lot of these parts were far too heavy to use on this tiny robot, so I swapped many of them for custom made parts and a few new parts, including some powerful drive motors that I purchased surplus. These motors were WAY too much for a 30 pound robot, but they sure made him move FAST!

I used one of Junior's old batteries, and since I didn't have an extra dual channel speed control, I used two single-channel Vantecs that I had leftover from Junior and Hercules II's lifting arms. This control system was not as reliable, but as long as it made him move, that was OK with me. The rest of the components came from bins in my shop, and I only had to buy a couple new parts.

Click the image to see a 528K Quicktime movie of some highlights of Whirligig's match vs. Spike

After Whirligig was all put together, I basically had NO weight left over to add on the intended weapon. "Oh well, he's so fast he doesn't need a weapon", I figured.

His main ability was to be able to spin VERY fast in place. Very VERY fast. Well, he did this so well, it wasn't a big deal that he basically couldn't do ANYTHING else. He could not drive straight at all (the obstacle course was a riot), and he couldn't attack an opponent. I could barely steer him because of his speed and flakey control system.

He could, however drive upside down, and flip himself back and forth fast, slamming his frame and the pointy 'stabilizer tail' I added to him, against the ground, making some neat hammering noises (a la Christian Carlberg's lightweight robot, Toe Crusher).

Oh well, he wasn't meant to win, heck, what do you expect for a bot thrown together in 2 days? He lost all his matches. BUT, the miracle came at the end of the competition when all the 30 pounders (and one 10 pounder built by Jerome Miles who just wanted to fight) were thrown together for the all-out middleweight melee.

Whirligig, not being able to drive toward any enemy, did his best to hit anything that came near him anyway, spinning like mad. Jerome's little robot came close and got torn apart by Whirligig's wheels, but that was the only casualty that Whirligig caused, in the meantime, the other robots had incapacitated each other, and at the end of the match, Whirligig was the only robot left, so he won! Woo hoo! How did that happen?

What a fun robot. I'll probably keep this little guy together, dunno if I'll make any improvements to him, but he sure was fun to watch, as clumsy as he was. It was a total BLAST to throw together a robot so quickly that was actually capable of fighting in the BattleBox!

Click the image to see a 984K QuickTime movie of some of the highlights of the 30 pound weight class melee at BotBash 2000.