Hello! I’m Dom, my robot’s called Decalodon, and this is a Design Diary!
I fancy having a wee go at one of these threads and go all product design student on it - I think talking about my design inspirations/intent, feedback from testing, concept sketchy stuff etc is as equally fun as discussing the tech and engineering. This might end up being a bit of a messy/boring design thought dump (Hence the Doom)! But if writing stuff continues to be fun, then I will keep updating!
(Awesome photo by Stuart Camp!)
So! Context! This is Decalodon! I super love the grungy design language old of school Robot Wars - especially the evil house robots, which captured the imagination of fans and new audiences. So I wanted to attempt a design that was characterful and reminiscent of this vibe.
The weapon was chosen to be a grabbing arm, 'cos I thought the claws on Bash and Killalot looked mean as heck. I wanted the robot to be nimble and animated (Bots like Razer and Warhead are still iconic designs as they almost seem alive), so lots of floppy forks and a designated shrimech was implemented into the design. Whilst most of the bot is made with HDPE plastic - I wanted the jaws, fork tips and other key parts to be shiny aluminium for a more aggressive look.
(Video showing off how animated Warhead is - I dream to build robots as cool as this!)
(These guys need no introduction - but consider this a soft “mood board”)
For my design, I also wanted to keep the centre of gravity as low as possible considering the shape of the robot, and to achieve high manoeuvrability and drive torque - so it’s running two 2S packs (for a 4S equivalent), with four BBB 22mm motors on teeny weeny foam wheels and very low (but chonky) outer armour panels.
I experimented with a servo for the first time, to operate my shrimech. And for the jaws, this puny little linac from ebay, which was small and light enough to fit into the bot.
I don’t think the build phase itself is that interesting, except that fabricating these jaws was a bit of a nightmare - cut with a jigsaw from ali box section, I spent a very sweaty day in the shed and went through several failed attempts until I ended up with these. I also cut a slot so that when the jaw is hit from underneath by verts it flops back and reduces the shock sent to the linac assembly, but when it’s time to clamp and the linac engages, it stays rigid. Or at least that was the design intent - more on that later.
(Also wee shout out to the legends at University of Strathclyde DMEM for waterjet cutting the HDPE chassis !)
For once my robot was finished on time - ready for the BBB Brawl in February (just barely - Sorry, Joe!) ! The confusing name Decalodon was hastily made up on the night of the deadline (Sorry, commentary team!) - if it were translated it could mean “Ten Tooth”. Wasn’t fond of it at first, but I reckon it’s starting to stick!
How did Decalodon perform? Did I accidentally drive into the pit multiple times as I do every event? And what about that jaw design, I hear you ask? Tune in next time for Decalodon’s exciting adventures at the BBB Brawl.