Team Johto: a tale of Wobba's past & present

Hi everyone, it’s the end of the year and I thought it might be neat to document where things started beetle wise up to now.

I first learned about beetles through now defunct Bugglebots and seeing all the really cool builds people brought along but at the time it felt kind of out of reach for me as I didn’t have an engineering background or anyone nearby to help out with. Cut to a couple years later and the lockdowns when I’d started to get to know people in the community online via the Lego robots I’d built and I got the encouragement to finally build a beetle (there was an ant beforehand kindly sent to me by Anthony but antweights are too fiddly for me!). I had plans for a 4WD axe with a Ragnarök style wedge but quickly put those to one side for the moment and focused on just a simple 4WD box so I knew I could at least build a beetle.

Aggro Wobba 0.1

Aggro Wobba 0.1 was about as simple as beetles can be: full BBB beetleweight drive kit inside with a bog standard 10mm HDPE frame with 4mm top and bottom and a 10mm hinged “wedge” that wasn’t hinged well with some 2mm Ti. Everything was and has continued to be attached via woodscrews from B&Q which I can’t recommend enough for a simple solution. It did 1 event competing as a part of the lovely mess that was Lemmings in Bevs at Robonerd 2021 and it survived it’s fight for the win and had some fun playing in the open beetle arena. Definitely recommend to anyone the best way to learn how to drive beetles is just enter as many fights as you can as it’s the best way to learn!

Anyway since I knew I could build a robot now it was time to build something with an active weapon so we’ll move onto the boi people have probably seen the most.

Aggro Wobba: Smidders Edition

Aggro Wobba: Smidders Edition (why did you go for such a long name 2 years ago David!) Was my first real go at a robot that would compete on the beetle scene. Again it was build was a standard 10mm HDPE frame with 4mm HDPE lids and on the original pictured above a 2mm Ti lid that only saw a couple fights but I still look back on the derpy painted on Wobbuffet rather fondly. The weapon itself was powered by standard 30Kg servo with the linkage being a tent peg that was bent into shape for the job. The inspiration to go with a lifter as the first active weaponed build dates back to watching Buggle and being fond of Snappy and Lance-A-Frog for the ability to be tanky/pushy boys while the name Smidders dates back to a funny moment between Craig and Filo back when we were doing Big Bot Quizzes during lockdown.

Smidders first event was 2021 BBB Beetle Champs and it highlighted a really important thing everyone should do which is make sure your robot can’t get stuck on it’s side! Besides that glaring design error it was good to get a better idea at what I’d need from Smidders to be more competitive particularly against big KE verts and beaters and that was when I remembered back at Rapture 21 that Morgan had ran a block wedge as an attachment for a fight so if it could be done as a static wedge why not a moving one!

So enters Smidders block era with a 60mm solid block of HDPE cut 45 degrees with a circular saw. Now while I’ve thoroughly enjoyed strapping a solit block of HDPE to the front of a robot it is bloody heavy and if your after a ground scraping wedge TPU is a better solution. The options of block and Ti with forks though paved the way for some moderate success in Brawl 2022 (picking up your first combat win against Drizzle is a decent way to start!) Scouse 1 (collecting a best driver award for nearly beating Endboss) and Rapture 2022 where the block came in clutch against Zephurus & Ultra-violence before 7th circle wrote off the original frame off

Brawl 2022 was the beginning of the easter egg photos underneath the robot

The OG Ti wedge post Drizzle, worth the sacrifice

Smidders with it’s Rapture special shiny wedge

The post Zephyrus chewing

The frame damage that brought an end to frame 1

A second Smidders frame was built however the only event it ran besides a rumble at Robonerd 2022 was Rapture 2023 where it was upgraded to 4S (all previous beetles of mine had been 3S) but that was marred with a lot of personal stuff that led to a rushed build, the only ESC fires I’ve had to date and issues getting the linkage to match the original version combining for a very depressed and then emotional event. The highlight though was for now Smidders last fight against the 2 builders that helped inspire it’s creation as it fought Froggy and Craig’s fun new bot bop!

Stupid sexy Craig…

Not a bit of ground game in sight!

An unused Smidders frame has had a new lease of life under the name Just Clod, borrowing another idea from Craig with a mixing bowl as a grabbing head. Just Clod ran at Robonerd 2023 in the football doing the job I wanted of consuming the ball and then driving headfirst into the goal. It was daft but I loved it!

Grabber Wobba

Grabber Wobba is a curious robot in the Wobba lineage. It first came to be as a challenge for myself really to build a different style of weapon and work on some of the lessons from Smidders and was kinda inspired by Shakey’s Boring Bot to be a hand build ‘Boring Bot at home’. Its frame is again 10mm but instead has 6mm on top and sides for better protection. It’s also significantly smaller than the Smidders frame as the internals all fit into a 150mm by 150mm square. Another offcut off of the 60mm block gave Grabber it’s big chonky front and had magnets embedded for some extra grip. The wheels were also cut from home from a £2 block of foam from Hobbycraft. For the weapon itself I’d found a 25Kg servo off of Aliexpress and along with some 6mm arms the boi should have been ready for it’s first event at 2022 Sub….

1 box built in a day while dealing with Covid


Block now attached and servo roughly where it should be

First go at vinyl wrapping before the servo problems began

This didn’t quite pan out as planned though as the servo that was meant to be used locked up when testing a servo extender so in order for Grabber Wobba to grab the original Smidders servo mount had to be mutilated in a last minute cut and shut job leading to the rather janky appearance of the arms below

The fact that Grabber Wobba won 3 fights in a row and got to the top 8 as Sub still amazes me but it was I won’t knock it! Magnets helped build more confidence in getting the robot to do what I wanted and the grabs were great!

Wrap now in ‘near mint’ condition

Grabber Wobba’s only other outing so far was 2023 Brawl where last minute bodged attempts at ground game led to some wall trouble. It did have the funniest moment I’ve had in a fight when after getting a decent run on Bonbonbonbon it bounced off the wall and down the pit leading to some far too early celebrations on my end and dropping the transmitter mid-fight! I was still able to stay in the fight and win the whiteboard but the whole thing was stupid and hilarious at the same time (will lanyard in the future).

The plan is to work on a better solution for ground game in the long run so watch this space for updates but for now let’s move onto the final Wobba….

The gift from Scott for helping get Attitude Adjuster back in the arena

Aggro Wobba

At last the hammery boi! While the goal was always there for axe Aggro Wobba it only really stepped up when Scott very kindly gave me the original axe arm from Attitude Adjuster along with the cad files for the mechanism. My only snag though was my pc doesn’t have enough space for Fusion and the editing software I’ve got for making Lego Wars so Sion and Boom Zoom Rob came to the rescue to decipher the files and between us work out what would need printing. Aggro Wobba would not have happened this year had it not been for that trio and I’m truly grateful for their help.

Frame wise it’s again a 10mm hand cut frame with 4mm lids but I wanted something more interesting to cut so it ended up with these 15 degree angle frame rails and then 10 degrees on the front achieveing part of the original Ragnarök wish from 2 years prior. To say there was issues with the build would be an understatement! Cutting angled sections perfectly 4 times was a hassle and to this day I’m still certain 1 of them is causing the frame to warp (cue calls about how simpler CNCing things is!). Weight was also a struggle on this frame so any hopes of a 3rd block was quickly dashed as cheese holing the rails became the quickest solution, such is the extent of this weight saving the inside of the rails looks like someone inverted an aero bar! The weapon itself was powered by 1500Kv Mega Sparks run off a belt with little Lego roller acting as the tensioner and was finished at 10PM the night before traveling to Bristol.

First attempt at building the frame, only the front stayed for the rest of the build

Trial run with a block before learning it would be 160g overweight!

2nd go with the rails, much closer to the final product but cheese holing was still to come

The face of a happy boi now with forks from Boom Zoom V2

As events go for a new robot Sub 2023 was the best yet! The axe that I hadn’t had time to test beforehand worked and scored a KO on Bonkers albeit breaking the 1 arm I had in the process and then after a manic 20 minutes fabricating a new arm the axe worked again damaging Wet Lettuce’s top plate for the JD victory. From there it didn’t really matter that it ran out of steam although failing to self-right was now a thing to solve.

The wrap now mildly scratched after Bonkers

The very bent tanto head that delivered the KO

A very happy boi with his Full Send Award

Between Sub and Champs there was a new front end this time trialing 10mm UHMW for the first time along with a Icebreaker inspired TPU wedge bringing Wobba closer to the build I always wanted. There was more foam cutting fun as well as after an error buying thicker foam than planned ended up requiring some indenting giving Wobba a nice offroad kind of look.

The boi now rocking a blue and gold livery with Johto badges to boot

Champs went reasonably well, had fun in the rumble before an iffy driving moment and learned about brushless covers the hard way in the round of 32 when the motor ate the ESC wires. Self-righting has continued to be an issue that I’ve traced back to belt slip and a badly chewed pully but nevertheless I’m thrilled to continue working on and run Aggro Wobba for the long haul!

A few scrapes but still usable for next year

And that’s about it for beetles so far. Hope this has helped shed light on some of the dumb things that have been built on the east coast, there’s still plenty more ideas in the tank that I hope people will enjoy and find solace in the fact that you don’t need top of the range software to build a robot, it just takes some simple tools, some chunks of HDPE and a good amount of determination to have fun along the way :blush:.


… You have an antweight!?

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Grabber Wobba update!

With Smidders retired and axe Aggro in need of some attention before it fights again the middle child of the Wobba family Grabber Wobba has been called back into action for Scouse 3 and it’s given a chance to work on and test a few things I want to do with my beetles going forwards

First in order to get the frame tidied up it was necessary to strip off the OG blue livery and oh boy the livery adds a lot to the character! With the bare HDPE though the block was sanded down with the new power file from Christmas and swap out the the back rail for a fresh one sans the old bum link hole.

All cleaned up.

Next up was fixing the old janky servo mount with a cut from the old block and while bulkier I’m happy with the overall look of it.

The new mount minus the loop for the locking bar

Then it was time for some long overdue ground game. When Grabber Wobba was first build I’d foolishly thought I could get away with the edge of the block being enough to get underneath opponents but that wasn’t really the case so with some help from Rob Weston we got a 3 different forks cadded up and cut.

After the bodged first attempt at mounting forks in a block the power file came in handy once again to make a decent enough gap (maybe a little too big?) with some limits so the forks can do their job. Also a few sets of hardox teeth have been cut that I definitely won’t be tempted to feed into a vert…

The different forks all tested in the holes to see what we can run.

Giving away hints to the new livery with the painted teeth…

With all those jobs done I got on with the livery and since I’m on the fence about whether this is GW’s final event I wanted to copy the old shiny theming from the Rapture Smidders runs. The new metallic pink looks amazing but has trouble sticking to rougher HDPE so to give GW it’s mouth I’ve cut together some vanity 1mm polycarbe sheets to screw over the top of the block.

The new pinker Grabber Wobba sans mouth.

Finally a locking solution I’m happy with!

Lastly I wanted to try out casting wheels for the first time so again my cadding guardian angels Rob & Sion came to the rescue with advice and some hubs to pour the mix into and to be honest it was super easy to do! Only snag has been the added weight which along with the hardox had tipped GW over 50g overweight so off came the guards and some helpful speed holes in the arms and block so GW now sits juuuust below the weight limit.

Wheels do be cooking

1 set of fresh wheels!

And there we have it ahead of Scouse! I’m hopeful that the updates will give Grabber Wobba a more competitive showing but I’ve still got to drive the thing well so time will tell!