Have you ever wanted to build a fighting robot like the ones on TV? Now's your chance.
Under the guidance of Vector Space's seasoned engineers and makers, ten students will each design and build their own beetleweight (3lb) combat robots, then battle it out in the fourth Hill City Robot Combat event on November 9th.
It will be our biggest competition yet, taking place in the Barksdale Gymnasiam at Virginia Episcopal School.
The depth of engineering and physics that goes into building a combat robot is significant, and since you'll be making your bot from scratch, not a kit, there's a lot to learn.
A 3 pound robot may sound small, but these are seriously mean machines that have to be operated inside an enclosed arena. The force of their weapons can tear their opponents to pieces.
Getting the dimensions right so that everything fits together takes some effort. You'll need to design your bot first, which means we'll be using 3D CAD software. Then it's up to you to decide whether you'll be 3D printing the parts or building them from wood, polycarbonate, or aluminum. We'll teach you all you need to know when it comes to printing, shaping, cuting, and fastening these materials. You'll have the opportunity to use a bandsaw, drill press, and any other tools necessary to get the job done.
Let's be honest, we all love building robot weapons. The only problem is that there are so many options. Hammer, wedge, flipper, spinner, puller, spring-loaded pike...take your pick. You'll chose what weapon you want to build, but you'll need to understand the physics and the practical application of converting between different forms of mechanical energy. How will you lift the hammer or load the spring? Will your motor have the necessary torque? Will your weapon be light yet strong enough to sustain damage? These are the problems we'll have to solve during weapon design if you're going to stand up to the competition.
These bots need to receive digital signals, they need power, and they need to deliver your signals to their motors. Making this happen requires an understanding of electronics and radio communication. We'll start from the basics and design circuit boards that you'll solder together yourself.
We're going to control the motor speed with an Arduino so we'll be learning a bit of C programming. You'll need to understand how the receiver delivers signals to the Arduino as well as the circuitry of basic motor control if you want to send it the right signals and get your bot moving.
If you're feeling ambitious, you can add automation to your bot. How about a motion sensor that detects a nearby bot, then triggers your weapon. Silly humans won't even see it coming.
This is an eight week project, where students will meet twice a week. The project starts September 10th and goes through November 2nd. Meetings are Tuesday nights from 630-900 pm and Sunday afternoons from 1-330 pm.
Then we'll take a one week break before the big competition on November 9th at Virginia Episcopal School. This will give you time to practice or make last minute fixes.
This project is for high school and college age students. Understand that building a robot is not a simple task and it will take serious effort to be successful. Prior knowledge and experience is the least important criteria. It is students who are self-motivated, resourceful, and capable who will succeed and gain the most from this program.
Registration for this project is $250 until August 31st, after which the price will increase to $280. Registration covers all materials, registration for the Hill City Robot Combat event November 9th at VES, and more than 40 hours of instruction time with our best engineers and makers. Students get to keep their bots.
The price of a commercial, equivalent bot starts at $400. The only way we're able to offer this program at this price point is through the generous support of the Greater Lynchburg Community Foundation.
One needs-based scholarships is available by application.