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5 Steps to a Fully Functioning Fingertech Viper Kit!

Viper kits make building your first robot fun and easy. It's a great way to get into the sport without a huge investment and find out what type of robot you really love to drive. They are wonderful for beginners, and people who need a platform to build upon!

1. Solder esc to drive motor

The esc (motor speed controller)  controls how fast and in what direction the motor spins. I really recommend a process called “tinning” in which you heat up the connectors and place a tiny bit of solder on them prior to attaching the wire to it. I normally “tin” the connectors of esc, and the wires of the motor, and then solder them together after that. The motors connectors are very delicate, so it’s important to not put too much pressure on the motor connection tabs when heating them. After you tin the wire and the connector, heat up the motor connector to the point that the solder appears glossy and put the wire in the pool of solder, adding extra if needed.Make sure the red wire goes to positive, and the black wire goes to negative. Gently tug on the wire to make sure you have a good connection on both wires when it’s finished! 

2. Mount motors to frame

The viper kit motors come with amazing face mounting screw holes built into the side of the robot, and are very easy to line up. Rotate the motors until you see the holes for the screws to go through, and then screw them in with the appropriate sized screws. 

3. Wire the switch 

One side to the positive side of the battery, one side to both of the drive motor speed controllers positive input. Use the tinning method to prep the switch connectors, the positive drive motor esc inputs and the wire. One length of wire will connect to the battery female plug, and one of the switch connectors. The other switch connector will use two wires connected to transfer power to the positive input on both motor speed controllers. 

4. Wire the negative side of the ESCS

Using the tinning method, prep the negative sides of the motor speed controllers, two wires and the negative side of the battery connector female plug. After you tin, heat up the motor speed controller connector to the point that the solder appears glossy and put the wire in the pool of solder, adding extra if needed, and repeat on the other speed controller. 

5. Plug components into Reciever and Bind!

When plugging in any item to a receiver, make sure any power source is disconnected, or at the very least  the power switch is set to the off position. Receivers are very easy to damage with “shorts”. Make sure the signal wire, usually white, is plugged into the signal plug, usually marked with a little S on the side. Follow the binding instructions on your controller.

Additional instructions For lifter kit 

  • Mount Servo to frame
  • Plug servo into receiver
  • Connect lifter Arm to Servo
  • Mount Lifter Arm

Additional instructions for spinner kit

  • Wire esc to weapon motor
  • Mount weapon motor
  • Wire weapon esc to receiver
  • Mount weapon
  • Bind Receiver to Controller
Bunny’s Antweight Tips and Tricks

By Bunny Sauriol, Captain, Team Malice

Antweight Winner

Little things make a huge difference

I've been competing since 2002, which puts me at 20 years in November! In that time, robots have changed dramatically. When I started we were pulling motors out of automatic doors and the dirtiest wheelchairs you can imagine. The batteries were the heaviest part for a lot of us. Now, you can order your motors custom made and your batteries are one of the lightest components. Even though the sport has evolved and gotten more powerful and harder hitting, there are some tips and tricks that haven’t changed and make each robot better. 

Tape your battery connectors before your match

There are so many fights I’ve seen where it’s a small thing that loses it for the builder, and of those, the most common is having the battery get pulled out from the force of the hits. Tape them up!

Tape the batteries

Cut weight off the connectors!

Cutting weight is one of the hardest things to do in the fairy/ant weight classes. The biggest way to save weight for me has been to cut off the bullet plug connectors and directly solder the wire from the motor to the esc.

Cut the weight off connectors

Practice driving

Finishing your robot before the event will give you time to learn if one motor is faster or slower than the other so you can adjust. Setup a small area and just drive with no weapon!

Support the motor can

I see face mounted motors a lot, and that puts a lot of pressure on the screws to hold. Print a support and glue it in place if you don’t have weight!

Support the motor can

Cut weight with 3d printed wheel hubs

One of the easiest ways to cut weight is to use 3d printed wheel hubs. Use a drop of hot glue to secure them. Make sure you have plenty of spares, they need to be replaced frequently.

3D printed wheel hubs

Adding grip with latex paint

One of the toughest things for lightweight foam tires is making them grip the floor well. Add 3 coats of latex paint, letting each coat dry fully for 24 hours before adding the next. The latex paint gives your tires the stickiness you need to grip the arena floor even after a long event has left a lot of debris in there

Add latex to wheels for grip

Hot glue the power switch

To save weight, I hot glue my power switch in place. This is not recommended by Fingertech, as it reduces the life of the power switch, but I need every gram I can get in my fairy as I put it all in my weapon. I have to redo the hot glue frequently, but the weight savings for me are worth it.

Hot glue the power switch

Get a battery voltage tester

This was worth the investment to know that the batteries I’m using are safe. I tend to run my batteries down to the very dangerous levels in 3 minute matches because my weapon likes to eat current. This tool gives me the information I need to make sure everything I’m doing is safe and won’t cause a toxic and dangerous lipo fire. It also helps me collect data on how to improve my robot. I know if I have too much voltage left after a fight, I’m using too large of a battery and can cut weight there. Highly Recommend.

Get a battery voltage tester

Stay Organized

I often go a long time between designing my robot and repairing it, and forget which size screws I use. This makes it really hard to reorder when I need more spares. It’s even harder when I’m at the event, with 3 minutes until my next fight searching through a bunch of screws to find the correct sized one I need. Keep organized and save yourself a ton of headache. Write down what kind of screw, metric or standard, the size and the length on a piece of paper and tape it to your screw organizer lid. Or, be fancy like me and vinyl cut it.

Stay Organized

Getting ready for your first event

By Bunny Sauriol, Captain, Team Malice

Watching a fight

You’ve built a robot! Now what?

My first event I got so excited I got physically sick the night before, and I still had a ton of fun. Though there isn’t a thing I would change about my first experience, there are a few things I could’ve done to make it go more smoothly.

Getting Organized

If there’s one thing I recommend that will make the most difference in how frantic and stressful the event can be, it’s getting an organization system that works for you in place before the event. Nothing is worse than having the pit runner telling you to be in the arena now and not being able to find the tool that turns the switch on, or your top plate because you set it under your robot and you can’t find it. Sit down at a small table at your house and set out everything you’ll need at the event, and make sure it works pretty well for your needs.

Getting organized

One of my favorite tips is to make sure you label your hardware (nuts, bolts, washers) storage. This can be done by just ripping a piece of paper and writing the size and type of hardware and taping it to the storage area or being fancy like me and vinyl cutting them! If there is only one organization tip I can pass on to everyone else though, it’s to bring a magnetic bowl. It keeps all the bits organized while you’re frantically ripping your robot apart to change out the motor that just got blown up but you still managed to pull a win out though. They cost $2 at harbor freight, and save you thousands in medical costs from reducing your stress. 

Planning ahead for food/drinks

One of the things I think is often overlooked by first timers is the lack of time to get snacks or lunch during the event. You’re going to be busy charging and looking at all the other amazing things. If you tend to need snacks throughout the day normally, pack a few of your favorite easy to eat items. Budget for dinner with your friends if you can, because often a few builders will go out for dinner when the event ends if they have time, and some of my most enjoyable memories have been chatting about how to improve your robot at a Denny’s across the street from the event. Always pack a big water bottle if you can. There’s not always access to water, and often these events are held outside. No one wants to be rushing around dehydrated and trying to solder a tiny motor. 

Important things that may not be available at the event

Many events don’t provide extension cables or power strips, so make sure you’re bringing a good power strip  as you’re going to need to plug in your charger and everything you need to get your robot ready for it’s match. If you have room in your car, you can bring chairs and a table. Most events usually have tables available, but chairs are often in short supply. There’s nothing worse than the stiffness you get from sitting on your toolbox for 12 hours because you didn’t get a chair! Often, small robot events are held outdoors, so you need to make sure you have sunscreen and water readily available.

What I bring to the Fairy/Ant Events

For small robot events I overpack, so take my list with a grain of salt. If you asked my fiance, David, loading up my tools is the worst part of going to events with me. David would go to the robot events with a pair of robogrips, a soldering iron, his robot and a battery charger. I can’t rock that lifestyle, but there’s nothing wrong with it either, you’ll figure out what works best for you. In the meantime, I think bringing more at the beginning is helpful, because you won’t have a ton of time to run around asking to borrow tools. Make a list of what you use at your first event, and try to bring those items at the next event. With time, you’ll figure out your optimal setup!

Things I bring to events

Here’s a general list of what I bring to the events:

  • Folding table - I get the small 5 ft ones that can fold in half for easy storage
  • Folding Chair - a regular small camping chair is fine
  • Octopus power strip, because I like more flexibility than the standard straight ones  
  • Spare robot parts
    • I always have a full spare frame, but most people only bring the parts they think they’ll go through first like the wedge or the lifter arm. 
    • 2 full spare sets of batteries. The biggest consumer at the event is charging your batteries. If you only bring spares of one thing to lower your stress, make it your batteries. One set in the robot, one set charging, and one set charged and ready to go.
    • Spare drive & weapon escs 
    • Spare drive & weapon motors
    • Spare switch
    • Spare tires
    • Spare hardware
  • Tools
  • Battery charger
  • Soldering Iron/Solder
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • WEAPON SAFETY - This is in caps, because it’s probably the most obvious one on this list that always gets forgotten. It’s so easy to get caught up building your robot and forget that these can be and are very dangerous machines. 
  • Dremel/Rotary tool
  • Battery Tester - this is super helpful when you have multiple spare batteries for your robot
  • Electrical Tape
  • Scissors - Because ripping electrical tape is annoying. 
  • Sharpie/Pen - because it’s super helpful to be able to write things on your robot 
  • Team Stickers!

Remember to have fun

Have fun

The events can be a bit overwhelming so please remember to take a breath, look around, enjoy the community. There's nowhere I’d rather be, and I hope you can love it as much as I do!

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