By Bunny Sauriol, Captain, Team Malice
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!
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.
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!
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.
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
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.
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.
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.