Amys little Beetle = 'Grab-bee' 'Steve Bee-dall'

We got lucky and managed to get a place in the Subterranean Showdown in August. Yey :star_struck:

Our first little bot 'Muhammad Al-Bee was put together very quickly and wasn’t planned too well.

Some of you may remember young Amy was a tad trigger happy and managed to drive him straight into the wall :laughing: but that’s okay, it’s all a learning curve.

She decided to retire Muhammad (he’s currently keeping Snappy company on display) and do a complete redesign and rebuild for the next bot. This time she was keen on making a grabber style beetle…

So carrying on from the boxing theme the new beetle is ‘Grab-bee Steve Bee-dall’ named after a local boxer here Steve Bendall a middleweight who is working hard to regenerate the boxing community here in sunny sunny Bournemouth. But I digress…

Amy has been a lot more involved with the build this time…last time she designed the bot and only really decorated him. This time she’s been involved with the electronics and build as well as the full design.

Also rather than getting my dad to mill the chassis etc at work, we brought Amy a little CNC router to have a go herself.

She’s quite chuffed that she’s been able to do some of the programming and bring her design more to life. Here are the ‘grabbers, complete with kick arse muscles’ she programmed and ready to go on the bot…

At the moment the machine is set to drill the bulk of the way through the HDPE so that she can just ‘cut’ the pieces out at the end very easily.

We took our poorly wired circuit to Crewkerne where Harry was super kind and looked at it and offered the best advice (lead based solder is definitely easier and more effective!) as well as doing some tinkering to get it more reliable.

This brings us pretty much up to date - the base of the chassis is complete and the bot drives :partying_face:

Hopefully tomorrow we will get the ‘grabbers’ on and working so we can do some ‘proper’ test drives before Amy finishes school for the summer and goes off on her jollies.

For Amy I don’t think she’s too bothered about how far she progresses in any events, but she definitely wants to improve her bots and knowledge. So we welcome any feedback/advice.

One thing we did struggle with last time was the bot working intermittently, which I guess was down to our poor circuit and poor traction on the wheels. If anyone has any ideas on improving either of these, that would be fab.

I’ll update again when there is more progress. Sorry it’s not as thorough as other build logs, time is always against us :nerd_face:

(and for those of you who we haven’t pestered at various events {sorry} and have no idea what I’m on about, my daughter Amy is 9 years old and a massive RWs fan {she’s old school} but fell in love with beetle weights after watching Bugglebots and wanted to have a go at building her own after we went to BBB as spectators October 2022. Al-Bee was her first build and had metal prongs on the front and a step drill on the back, which made his debut at the inter uni comp earlier this year).


Looking great! Looking forward to seeing the end result, looks very fun.

Re wiring - I’d definitely cable tie or make internal chassis sections or motor protectors your wires near the drive motors - stuff could definitely be getting tangled / rubbing against the motors when they spin. I think I saw you’ve been exploring 3D printing before? This would be a good use case in beetles :slight_smile:

More boxing bees! Fantastic!

Be aware that you may have significantly more speed in that drive system than you need or want. Those brushless motors are pretty beansy, so you end up with your wheels spinning in place and sliding around the arena. I’d turn it down to 50% or so on the transmitter, then play with it until it feels right. Probably turn the steering down even further.

For traction, a few layers of latex help. Some people also use layers of liquid rubber, but I’ve never tried.

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Hi Joe

Thank you :slight_smile: we’ve cable tied the wiring in today actually. The only point that’s being a bit awkward is the servo, it still has too much wiggle room. So will definitely be exploring securing that better!

Yes, we’ve been thinking of getting a little 3d printer, but actually can pinch the use of one so can do some 3d prints for smaller parts.

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Hi Jed

Good shout, it’s a very nippy little bot. I didn’t think that this could be causing an issue, but makes sense that the wheels could be a bit too spinney. Will have a play around with the transmitter - thank you, great advice :slight_smile:

We have bot latex and liquid rubber so will give them a go as well.

Thanks for the reply, much appreciated :nerd_face:

Today we managed to get the grabber on and another test drive.

All seems to be working okay. As we have some more time we’re going to have a bit of tinkering before Amy practices the driving. Amy designed his arms to have muscles on the inside (cracks me up)

Here’s how he’s looking:

***incidentally, no robots were harmed being that close to my dad’s feet :laughing:


Thanks Joe! Stu here (Amy’s dad) we only taped everything down while we tested everything was working. Muhammed al-Bee had motor protectors, so we will look to do the same once the wiring and internal layout is finalized.

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Fantastic progress all. The step up in quality for this robot is outstanding.

While the muscles are a great aesthetic choice you may find they come in handy for secondary hooking and bothering other robots - some thin plastic over the top to add a bit of a barb too them might work pretty well without ruining the look. You could also look at adding some soft rubber or foam (like door stoppers etc) to add a bit of squish and grip to the arms and give it a big more holding ability.

Glad you’ve found the wonders of leaded solder - so long as you aren’t planning to eat the stuff it is great!

I think I mentioned these wago blocks before - you can pick up a mixed box of them from places like screwfix or just individually online. They’re great for test beds and trials - some people even use them in their robots which works so long as you’re not having the wires yanked on.


That’s brilliant! Look forward to seeing it in August. :slight_smile:

@hhills boxing gloves it is then and thank you for the excuse to go down Screwfix :money_with_wings:

@McMullet thanks :slight_smile:

I’ve had really good luck with aluminium servo mounts on Amazon or eBay. Paws uses them for the drive servo and weapon servos. I haven’t had one fail yet.
But I’m really excited to watch Grab-bee compete!

Thanks for the suggestion on turning the speed down @TBExtent, we have now done this!

It was a little bit more complicated than expected, as we were running ‘tank drive’ on two sticks, so the changing the throttle curve only affected the throttle stick and we could only alter the speed on one wheel.

We have set up ‘elevon mixing’ on the FS-16 controller to get single stick control, and now adjustments to the throttle curve applies to both wheels.

Almost there with ‘Grab-bee’ now. Amy beefed up his muscles and we managed to get lucky at the local scrap store and find this weird rubber type material which seems quite grippy so added to the muscles and gloves (although this resulted in loosing the knuckle effect).

Driving is much improved now that the controls have been reconfigured to be easier to use and the throttle slowed down.

Amy is very much looking forward to August and seeing all the bots again, and sends her thanks for all the feedback and suggestions with the bot building :slight_smile:


That was a great showing at the last event! Grab-bee is one of my favorite bots and I was rooting for you from New York!


Thank you :slight_smile:

Sorry late to the party, been out of the loop over the summer.

We’re (the royal we that is Amy) in the process of tweaking a little ready for our next event. Not too many changes planned, just an increase in the muscles and hopefully some decent grip on the wheels.

For us it’s more about the community and having the best time rather than being ultra competitive.

Looking forward to November be it competing or spectating, always a super day out and we’re planning on bunking off work/school to make a weekend of it this time around.