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freethinker
03-18-2012, 01:31 AM
Hey guys,

This is my first post here. I've been a long time fan of mech warrior type games like Armored Core and as an EE this looks like the ultimate hobby for me!

Unfortunately I arrived a little too late for the 2012 games but hopefully I might have something ready for 2013.

I was thinking though; as fun as it is to build these things, from the spectators perspective it's not the most entertaining. I think the reason for this is because there's very little visual feedback for what's going on in the game. You really don't know who's ahead and what to expect other than a few pellets flying by. This could just be my impression from the video, but either way, having a little more variety and strategy couldn't hurt the game.

I saw in a another thread a commercial product that has destructible armor which I think could be a great addition to this game. On the downside it adds cost, complexity, and lowers the overall flexibility of the designer, but I think it could be worth it.

I believe that with more "eye candy", this will get more popular, and ultimately more fun!

What do you guys think?

Mongo
03-18-2012, 03:14 AM
I am not sure I can add anything to the armour side of things but you guys aught look at tracer units for your bbs, and lower light levels those things look great and all you have to do is a) buy glowing bbs, and B) put an led light in your ammo feeder... instant laser fire go you tube airsoft tracer units you'll see what i mean.

lnxfergy
03-18-2012, 03:23 AM
At the live event, there is a score board screen running (not seen in videos) and there is often an announcer relaying information during the more competitive rounds.

One thing to also consider is whether we really need to make it more "popular". During the more competitive matches, we already get about as big of a crowd as can fit around the arena. From the competitor side, we had 25 entries last year (of which I believe 16 qualified for actual competition). This is a LOT OF ROBOTS, a double-elimination ladder already pretty much takes all day Saturday and Sunday.

-Fergs

elaughlin
03-18-2012, 07:55 AM
As much as destructible armor would be amazing (and I totally would love to do something like that), putting even stationary armor is a large task in itself. Take a look at my robot (Chimera (http://forums.trossenrobotics.com/gallery/files/4/2/3/7/almostdone_original.jpg)) that I have been designing for a full year now, and the cost to be able to move and produce the armor is through the roof. So as of right now the destructible armor is a big visual aesthetic that I would love to see, and if you can do on your bot for 2013, do it, really, it'd be great for the hobby. As of right now though, I am happy we are getting competitors with working robots.

BTW we are also having improved scoring systems this year that have a visual acknowledgement of each hit on the robots directly. Everyone has to have a 4-Led board attached to the top of the board that lights up when there is a hit. So each year we are making improvements to the robots, technology used, aesthetics, and spectator interest.

Really, if you can be the one to introduce destructible armor on your robot, it would be awesome and we would all like to see it happen.

byi
03-18-2012, 11:38 AM
Regardless of whether it is universally adopted any time soon, i will definitely try to add tracer bbs to my bot. awesome idea. thanks.

freethinker
03-18-2012, 12:29 PM
I love the tracer idea, I'll definitely do something like that. Might look even cooler if we added a fog machine in the arena. As for the armor, I'll keep thinking about it.

gdubb2
03-18-2012, 12:37 PM
Something to keep in mind. We're operating the robots from just the camera view. This is tough enough without any added visual imparement. What might really appeal to the crowd might just make operation a nightmare. Kind of depends which side of the arena you're on.

Gary

Upgrayd
03-18-2012, 05:03 PM
I think the challenge of putting together a working robot is large enough already without trying to add flair for the sake of spectators.

Focusing on better more consistent robots has and will continue to make this competition grow and gain awareness.

Mongo
03-19-2012, 05:11 AM
ok tracer bbs will let you track your shots. (make you more accurate on followup shots).. you can get both red and green bbs so in any teams type game you can visually check who is firing what. As to making it harder to see ( with dimmed lighting) can you dump a 200 lumen cree type arrangement also coaxed to the gun and camera. think spot light on a tank> this I think would look awesome as to destructible armor how about tinfoilf stretched over a frame you would look quite ragged by the end of a fight.

parallax
03-19-2012, 08:35 AM
Mongo,

From what I understand, there are skylights in the building where the competition is held (I remember a post about Tybs thinking someone was shining a flashlight into his camera, but it turned out to be the sun). Unless the venue has changed, there isn't much control over the amount of lighting in the arena. I agree that a low level of light with tracers would be awesome, but I don't think it's possible to lower the lights; unfortunately that means you wouldn't even be able to see the glow of the tracers. As far as the tinfoil armor, it's a good suggestion for showing damage. I think most mechs would look pretty ragged after a fight- the main gun people are using is the Defender (a full auto weapon) and people are burning through 200-300 BBs a match. There might not be much tinfoil left after a match like that.

sthmck
03-19-2012, 10:45 AM
I think the challenge of putting together a working robot is large enough already without trying to add flair for the sake of spectators.

Focusing on better more consistent robots has and will continue to make this competition grow and gain awareness.

I agree with Upgrayd 100% on this. Seasoned veterans will all encourage you to focus on building a solid mech, which is capable of performing on a consistent basis. While spectator support is important in order for this type of competition to grow, we cant afford to limit the creativity of builders by asking them to put additional event specific gear on their mech. I personally can't stand having to worry about sticking the current scoring system on my mech and it is the bare minimum needed to compete.

Just because I think it is a better idea to focus on building a mech that can be a solid performer under the current rule set doesnt mean that I am not interested in pushing the boundaries on what we hope to accomplish and where we want this to go with this competition. In fact the single biggest improvement we can hope to make at this time with regards to improving spectator experience is getting this new arena completed. While the current set up has served us fairly well over the years it is time to bump it up a notch so to speak. With a new arena we will be able to focus on suppporting the hard core class in ways we haven't been able to. Trust me nothing is going to draw a crowd like rockets and flame throwers and with a full size arena capable of handling the extra abuse I feel like this class has the potential to take off.

What I am saying is that there is already potential for this to be a major crowd pleasing event the guys that have been doing this for a while now do it because they like to build bots and compete though. Every year we see new improvements and innovations. The money we would spend developing destructable armor is much better served going into an arena that can support the hard core class. Start on a mech and be ready to compete next year and the year after that finish in the top five. The year after that throw together a hard core class mech and then draw a crowd.

I hope I dont sound harsh, but we hear this kind of discussion a lot. Usually people dont realize the things the are suggesting are a little far fetched until they actually go out and build there own mech. Hopefully we will see you out here competing soon.

Mongo
03-19-2012, 11:35 PM
as I haven't been there so I defer to your experience, but a thought (tracers) for advertising vids or club play mabe a possibility as to the tinfoil idea i was thinking of the armor upgrades the germans did on the Stug III 'S IN WW2 AGAIN HAVE A LOOK IF YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT I MEAN.oops sorry for shouting...heh caps lock won that battle..sheesh!or as in the above move and shoot first.. pretty lights 2nd.

freethinker
03-20-2012, 12:03 AM
I got an idea. What about adding an LED that illuminates the FSR acrylic when hit? That'd probably provide sufficient visual feedback for both the player and the spectators. I'll try and make one once I have a robot (heh).

lnxfergy
03-20-2012, 02:02 AM
I got an idea. What about adding an LED that illuminates the FSR acrylic when hit? That'd probably provide sufficient visual feedback for both the player and the spectators. I'll try and make one once I have a robot (heh).

New for this year is a high-power LED array that gets mounted on the top of each robot, it will blink when the robot is hit. As for lighting the lexan/acrylic plate, that'd be somewhat difficult since the FSRs are not transparent.

-Fergs

tician
03-20-2012, 08:35 AM
As for lighting the lexan/acrylic plate, that'd be somewhat difficult since the FSRs are not transparent.


I think freethinker meant edge lighting the front lexan and not trying to shine through the FSR's. My first though was making the target panels out of a PCB slightly larger than the four FSR's with right angle SMD LED's mounted around the perimeter pointing inward to illuminate the edge of the lexan covering the FSR's (stick the FSR's directly to the PCB with the lexan glued on top). Unfortunately that would leave the LED's exposed to potential damage, but that might be able to be mitigated with small cutouts in the lexan for the LED's (enough to allow the LED's to be somewhat protected from BB's by the lexan). Or instead of right angle LED's, use some of the freaky back-entry (http://search.digikey.com/us/en/products/LR P47F-U2AB-1-1-Z/475-1316-1-ND/1739287)/reverse-mount (http://search.digikey.com/us/en/products/597-6001-607F/350-2312-1-ND/2224786) SMD LED's (mounted on the back of the PCB and shine through a hole to the other side) which also makes a single sided board easier.

Of course my input is worthless since I still haven't made a mech. Or a reprap (incomplete pile of parts). Or a complete coil-gun. Or an omni-wheel omni-directional robot vacuum. Or any one of a disturbingly large number of projects to pique my interest.

lnxfergy
03-20-2012, 11:26 AM
I think freethinker meant edge lighting the front lexan and not trying to shine through the FSR's. My first though was making the target panels out of a PCB slightly larger than the four FSR's with right angle SMD LED's mounted around the perimeter pointing inward to illuminate the edge of the lexan covering the FSR's (stick the FSR's directly to the PCB with the lexan glued on top). Unfortunately that would leave the LED's exposed to potential damage, but that might be able to be mitigated with small cutouts in the lexan for the LED's (enough to allow the LED's to be somewhat protected from BB's by the lexan).

Yeah, I had basically already written off the idea of edge lighting due to exposed LEDs... and the fact that the PCB would go from 1.5"x1.5" to >3.5"x3.5", and would likely therefore cost 5x as much (and people already complain about the cost of scoring panels, which also have a finite life)

-Fergs

DresnerRobotics
03-20-2012, 05:12 PM
I think freethinker meant edge lighting the front lexan and not trying to shine through the FSR's. My first though was making the target panels out of a PCB slightly larger than the four FSR's with right angle SMD LED's mounted around the perimeter pointing inward to illuminate the edge of the lexan covering the FSR's (stick the FSR's directly to the PCB with the lexan glued on top). Unfortunately that would leave the LED's exposed to potential damage, but that might be able to be mitigated with small cutouts in the lexan for the LED's (enough to allow the LED's to be somewhat protected from BB's by the lexan). Or instead of right angle LED's, use some of the freaky back-entry (http://search.digikey.com/us/en/products/LR P47F-U2AB-1-1-Z/475-1316-1-ND/1739287)/reverse-mount (http://search.digikey.com/us/en/products/597-6001-607F/350-2312-1-ND/2224786) SMD LED's (mounted on the back of the PCB and shine through a hole to the other side) which also makes a single sided board easier.

Of course my input is worthless since I still haven't made a mech. Or a reprap (incomplete pile of parts). Or a complete coil-gun. Or an omni-wheel omni-directional robot vacuum. Or any one of a disturbingly large number of projects to pique my interest.

I actually REALLY like this idea, but I'm not sure it'd be financially feasible. I lost my proverbial ass on PCB costs this year because I have to buy in such high bulk (needed a dozen FSR PCBs more than I had, had to purchase 100 more units, etc). I wonder if the SMD ones would be bright enough to even be visible though.

tician
03-20-2012, 05:35 PM
...and people already complain about the cost of scoring panels...

Guilty as charged... with one of my very first posts no less. Still have not done squat with the piezo sensors, even though I have plenty of solid surfaces on which to attempt multilateration position calculations (I should buy some decent op-amps and a few more breadboards while I'm still thinking about it).

On the topic of actual destructible armor, the extruder for my reprap was originally going to use granulated sugar and/or wax (due partly to me being a cheap * and partly for the possibility of doing lost wax metal casting). I think sugar, if successfully extruded/cast thin enough, should make for a very destructible and delicious** armor. Although it would probably easier to just use a thin sheet of stiff/fragile plastic in a vacuum mold.

**Unfortunately the extruder barrel and tip I bought are a lead bearing brass, and I already have enough mental problems...

Th232
03-20-2012, 05:54 PM
I think sugar, if successfully extruded/cast thin enough, should make for a very destructible and delicious** armor.

Indeed. Sugar glass anyone? Used in stunts when people need to smash things without shredding themselves. Here's a quick recipe:

http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Sugar-Glass

Just flat plates would be neat enough (to me at least), but with a mould some interesting things could be done...

cire
03-20-2012, 08:51 PM
Feel free to implement it in your own robots, but i don't think its something that belongs in the requirements for a robot :)

I designed my "armor" to be thin enough that it dents from the higher powered guns on my robot.

squeak83uk
03-30-2012, 05:59 PM
hey guys i am completley new to this. but the mech warfare idea sound soo coool, anyway about destructible armour, im not totally sure about weights of completed machines and stuff, but would some dort of soft wood be suitable for the task. like balsawood?

or even have mid points on the framework that are " weakspots "

i have seen a few videos on T/t of a group of people who do battlehships, they cut holes in model ship hulls and line them with balsa, then they use BB guns that shoot just below the waterline to try and sink each other,

of course, all the radio gear is heavily sheilded and floats when the ship sinks, but it sounds cool if it could be applied to this

heck if i had the knowhow and money id build one completley out of balsa just to put on a good show lol,

DresnerRobotics
04-10-2012, 10:25 AM
On the topic of destructible armor, honestly a pretty inexpensive way to go about it is to use thin acrylic panels. Godless Endeavor is using neon green 'highlight' armor panels that shatter and break when hit by BBs. They're small/cheap enough to cut out a bunch of them as spares, and they go on in seconds.

3954

I'll likely do something similar on Insanity Wolf. Only catch with this method is that it requires a laser CNC, but services like those offered at Pololu are pretty affordable- I'd imagine an few sets of armor would only cost $50-100.

tons0phun
04-10-2012, 04:32 PM
I'm actually working on something like this right now as a personal project.
[M.E. Grad student @ CSUS]

While the electronic hit-sensors are neat, I'm not keen on them drawing battery power, and that they require a minimal amount of surface area to mount. The larger problem being what I like to dub the "Cowboys and Indians" situation, where two children shoot their fingers at each other saying "I hit you I hit you!" Mostly that, mechs experience no performance issues from being shot repeatedly.

I'd really like to see mechs which can be shot up and torn apart from combat, dragging limbs and toppling from buckled legs, so I'm playing with the idea of a material that is strong enough to offer sufficient support as a frame/chassis for the components but weak enough to be shot apart by the airsoft BBs.

I don't have a complete bot of any sort yet just putting together the leg-platform this week], but I am extremely interested in developing this concept.
My campus' robotics club is going to buy me a ticket to the event [Saturday, 20th], and I would be very interested in discussing this topic with anybody interested [looking at you Mr.Tyberius!]. :veryhappy:

grenadapult
07-27-2012, 10:02 AM
As near as i can tell, there is nothing in the regulations that says you CAN'T have destructible armor, or breakaway legs or any of that stuff. You have to follow the guidelines reguarding lost/broken pieces, but it looks like you could already do foil or sugar, or legs that shear off. You might need a safety cable to keep it attached to the...er... "carcass", to stay within guidelines, but heck, go for it if its within the rules, yes?

ArduTank
07-29-2012, 06:10 PM
One thing you could try for armor is Foam-Cor board. if you get the 1/4 in thick boards, they are about 1.00 apeice and will stop even metal bb's but not without taking damage. each board is usually about 3'x3'.

jwatte
07-30-2012, 12:42 PM
During the more competitive matches, we already get about as big of a crowd as can fit around the arena.

That's great! Use raised stadium seating for next year, then, to compete with the main RoboGames event ;-)

Also, as a spectator I found the BBs super hard to see, and there were often robots hidden behind the buildings where I couldn't see anything anyway. Perhaps a camera above the arena looking down, with a screen visible to the spectators, would help?
Also, it would be extra super cool if the camera video feed from each robot was shown to the spectators in real time!

I like the airsoft tracer idea -- is that something that could be made a requirement?

sthmck
07-30-2012, 03:35 PM
As near as i can tell, there is nothing in the regulations that says you CAN'T have destructible armor, or breakaway legs or any of that stuff. You have to follow the guidelines reguarding lost/broken pieces, but it looks like you could already do foil or sugar, or legs that shear off. You might need a safety cable to keep it attached to the...er... "carcass", to stay within guidelines, but heck, go for it if its within the rules, yes?

There is in fact nothing in the rules to prevent you from doing this and I don't anticipate us eliminating this option anytime in the near future. By all means please explore this option if you would like. Do keep in mind however that if you have any interest in competing your first priority should be having a mech capable of passing the new qualification guidelines that will be in place for all events from here on out.

Tyberius was able to design armor that was fairly destructible and it caused no problems for the competition from the end of us event organizers. Any design you come up with should be well documented and a demo video should be available no less than a month before the event you intend on attending.

Do understand that destructable armor will not take the place of the current scoring system. If you want the full on affect of complete destruction I would love to have see people join me in the hardcore division next year assuming that the arena will be able to support multiple hardcore matches.

sthmck
07-30-2012, 03:42 PM
That's great! Use raised stadium seating for next year, then, to compete with the main RoboGames event ;-)

Also, as a spectator I found the BBs super hard to see, and there were often robots hidden behind the buildings where I couldn't see anything anyway. Perhaps a camera above the arena looking down, with a screen visible to the spectators, would help?
Also, it would be extra super cool if the camera video feed from each robot was shown to the spectators in real time!

I like the airsoft tracer idea -- is that something that could be made a requirement?

We are working on getting camera and monitors mounted so that spectators have more fun watching matches. This stuff cost money though so it can take time. The event organizers invest a great deal of time and money into MW and while adding new features to the competition are goals of ours for each year it doesn't all happen at once. If you have an interest in seeing video feed become a reality and want to donate feel free to pm andrew ryan or myself about donating.