Nottinghack Workshop - Report

Evening all! Last Saturday the 6th of May we held an antweight building workshop, the second time we’ve tried this and on this occasion opening up to non-Hackspace members. This was a bit more of a challenge since we were expecting a more varied skill level than last time.

The day’s activities consisted of…

  • A thrilling (possibly) and informative (maybe) presentation about robots, accompanied by actually interesting feather and beetle robots on display
  • Building an antweight robot (we provided a kit of parts and materials to help with this)
  • A series of gauntlet-style challenges
  • A knockout competition
  • An inevitable barney with everyone in the arena

A slightly blurry picture of me explaining how “Hold My Beer” works

We’re currently processing and uploading videos, and so the competition report will follow later, but for now I’ll write a bit about the kits we supplied and the wondrous creations that arose from the attendees imaginations.

We wanted to strike a balance with the parts we provided, between ease of assembly and allowing some room for learning, creativity and flexibility (and of course not blowing the budget). To that end we put together the following:

  • BBB dual ESCs and safety switches
  • Homebrewed wifi receiver (controlled with a smartphone - designed by moop)
  • N20 motors (various gear ratios)
  • NiMH batteries (thanks to Baker Bots for the advice on these!)
  • Bespoke laser cut and 3D printed chassis
  • A big pile of random bits like googly eyes, colourful plastic, pipe cleaners, googly eyes, nuts and bolts, and of course googly eyes
  • Wheels (various sizes)
  • Googly eyes

Crucial building materials

Comparatively trivial building materials

To make the day more child friendly, we also offered a simpler kit with less soldering (thanks to a variation on the wifi receiver that is also an ESC) and a base that happens to be compatible with snap-together building brick type toys.

We started out by offering a choice of motors and wheels, which in retrospect may have been a bit too much flexibility. However it did result in some really cool and creative designs! The basic chassis was designed around a laser-cut MDF base and two motor mounts, that clip together in various configurations:

There were a range of choices like the sensible “small wheels, fast motors” and “big wheels, slow motors”, but here and there a “BIGGEST WHEELS FASTEST MOTORS AHAHAA VROOOM”. The idea behind all the holes and slots, as well as providing various locations for motor mounting, is to allow components (and the motor mounts) to be secured in place using cable ties. We got through a few cable ties.

One of the more challenging parts, and something we’ll likely change in future, was providing soldering irons for participants in the workshop to use. Although it’s a good part of the learning experience to do some of the wiring, this did result in a few short circuits and was generally a bit frustrating for some folks. Given that soldering is trivial for those who are good at it and annoying for those who aren’t, there’s not much mileage in making anyone do it (other than probably moop and I next time…).

Aside from that, the high-intensity bodging was exemplary and all of the participants’ creations were visually striking and in some cases actually effective. Here are a few:

Dog House


To Be Determined

To Be Determined (but upside down, as clearly indicated by pipe cleaner emotional state)

Pan, Lord of Dust and Eyes

In total we had 18 attendees which was a great turnout. At some point soon we’ll be spinner-proofing our arena and we’ll hope to run some competitions at the space as well.

Cheers for reading and stay tuned for a competition report! :slight_smile:


Looks like a great session!

Amazing work


Thanks so much for taking the time to share this as well as the masses of time I’m sure it took to prepare! I’m sure you’ve helped give plenty of people their first taste of building.

Really excited see more stuff coming from Nottingham Hackspace squad, full combat arena sounds great.

Also nice idea with the wifi receivers to keep the costs down for these intro style events! Sheffield uni do similar.