But I was like "Ah I know that! I started a fire because of that!"
And I had another fight with him, and 15 years later, we tore the back end of his robot out.
You held a grudge for 15 years. Oh I can hold a grudge a very very long time.
and I'm like "Argh! Come on! Hit something!" and then we just gowomp.
the electromagnets, they're so powerful,
if we leave up and leave them on for more than five seconds they'll catch fire.
Today we're talking with the brilliant builders of Beta, and the
revolutionary Rotator. On this episode of Behind The Battle, it's hammer time.
Hey everyone, we're here with Victor Soto from Team Revolution and Rotator! and we're here with
John and Gabriel from Team Beta!
How didyou, Victor Soto get started in robotics?
I went to a school that didn't really have like a STEM program or anything like that,
butmy sister did. I wasn't in that school but I was always like the little brother hanging along just
tagging annoying, just running around, and "hey what are you doing, what are you doing?" And before long
I became like the honorary team member. We were actually working off of a Makerspace from Nola
Garcia she's a big name here in the robotic scene in south Florida, because she had basically
the first Makerspace before Makerspaces became a thing. But not only that she was part of Team Loki,
and then after hours like after a lot of the teams would go home. I would see them driving around the
parking lot with their little 60-pound robot that had a little 60-pound robot, Thorn I remember.
And I would see this thing driving it was like 20-30 miles an hour in the parking lot I was like "aw, so cool!"
So then I got into BattleBots through that, because it was around the time period when Comedy Central
canceled the show. And then I don't know how, but Greg, and Trey, and Nola managed to somehow
organize these high school and college Battlebots events in Miami. We started with middleweight's 120lb
robots which is pretty hard to start with when you're in high school, and you don't
really know what you're doing. You really had therobotics from the start, like just being the tag-along brother.
I mean, that's so cool! It was fun because there were a lot of engineers from
different companies, they would actually mentor the kids, but the kids were the ones doing the work, so
they were the ones learning how to use the milling machine, the lathe, how to weld. That was a big thing
because it was this all-girl school and all these girls coming in their uniforms and then put
the hair up, put the welding gear on, and start welding. I started bythe time I got into certain classes in college
it's like "oh I already know why we're learning that, I already know what we're doing that" because
a lot of times you're taking these classes, and you don't really know what it's applying to and
you're like why am I learning this? But I was like, "I know that! I started a fire because of that!"
prior to 2016, I had only built middleweights 120lb robots. And the heavyweights for the TV show
now on Discovery are 250lb robots. So in my mind, I was like well I'll just
make everything twice as big like, make all this metal twice as thick, and that'll work out fineand...
I didn't think about simple things like reinforcing your wheels because now your
drivetrain has to support twice the weight. Until that point it was just all like "hm, what did I do in
my middleweight?" go pull up the old CAD "oh okay, I remember that little trick, let me copy that over.
Better not just "times 2" that. Wellthat's essentially what Rotator was.
A copy-paste of my middleweight robot I had Blue Flame which is an undercutter and they're like
"oh they want something quick but unique" I was like "well I had a really reliable
middleweight undercutter let me just copy-pasteit this way".
Gabriel, John, one at a time if you could guys
both just give me an insight into how you guys got started in robotics.
You're so polite!
I started an awfully long time ago in 1998, I think. I heard about Robot Wars on
television, well they were putting adverts for season two of Robot Wars I think. And I instantly knew
It's something I had to do. Getting inspired by some of the machines that were around then
Mortis and then Biohazard from the US. I had just moved into a new house, and the first thing I did was
clear out the garage and put a lathe, and a band saw, and put a drill in there and got to work.
Gabriel, what about you? So I started in 1999 I watched it on television when I want to do that,
like I didn't have, my dad was a special effects engineer in the film industry. So
there was all sorts of models going on and I helped him with bits and pieces, but I never really
made my own thing. I didn't have a workshop I just had so many sorts of like, I just cobbled
stuff together, but it was about getting there and building a robot for me, that was the thing.
Interestingly my first robot was in series five and then series six is actually when I met John,
and we had a fight. So it'd be like 2002 we had a fight and he smashed the top of my robot up, and
it was all the expensive bits and I was furious with him. He didn't really talk to me very much he
just beat us up. And I had another fight with him, and 15 years later we tore the back end of hisrobot out!
You held a grudge for 15 years.
Oh, I can hold a grudge a very very long time. And that's then
how we sort of became friends. We sort of you know, we leveled up the playing field
and then we joined together to go to China. And we said "well actually you know we've done
the spinner, we've done the hammer, what haven't we done?" and flipper was the uh flipper was the
choice. So we actually, our first robot that we built together was a flipper robot called
Tnsh.But we did very very well with our flipper robot in China. And that sort of cemented our idea
that we should come to BattleBots as a team. Come together as a team, and bring Betaback.
Rotator hasn't had the dual blade in a while. What kind of happened to that?
When we started in 2016 it was a 30lb blade for each blade was 30lbs. As I started armoring
up because we didn't have good wheel guards or anything like that, it went down to like
25 lbs per blade and it started getting to the point where it's like well now we have like
almost a 20lb blade, like is it even worth trying to hit something with that? Yeah...
Andso let's configure it because it's a good matchup for flippers or hammer bots;
but let's also focus on more modular armor. The other thing is that adding especially now the
the second spinner is like a separate module that I have to bolt. On producers or pit runners come
and they tell you "hey your next match is in an hour" like, we were basically still putting the
final screws on the robot as it's lining up into the arena. We're like "man this is stressful like
it takes us almost an hour to put this module on". Because after all those hits and multiple
fights everything moves around, now it's not going to fit anymore. This year we have our
heaviest blade yet. We have a 50lb AR500 disc.
and so now I'm like "okay well I want to hit
with a 50 lb blade, not a 25 lb blade! Heck yeah!
in my mind, it wasalways I'll have these two 30 pound blades looking
so nice I can just combine it like my original middle. It's so much easier to drive when it's a
single blade because we have less mass hanging out out of the wheels. So it tends to oversteer a lot.
Let's get back to Beta a little bit. That hammer is so powerful when it slams the ground the entire
body goes "boom" like off just because of all the force. The whole robot used to jump off the ground.
Yeah! Weirdly now, it doesn't!
Hmm? Because we've fittedhuge electromagnets in the base in the floor
And the BattleBots have just installed a new half-inch thick steel floor everywhere so we can
really use those electromagnets to keep us onto the ground, and it looks really strange now
It's about three or four times more powerful than the old Beta. There's two bangs now
first there's the bang of the electromagnets. That's like over half a ton going WALLOP! So it
pulls Beta to the ground, because Beta pulls its wheels up. Yeah...
it pulls it into the ground and then the hammer fires.
So there's actually a like a "Bang-bang" like that now.
Okay, we gotta unpack some of that because that was...oh that is insane.
In fact, the original Beta was designed to have
magnets. Back in those days that BattleBots floor wasn't up to we put it in the test box in 2002
and we just pulled the floor up. Before it wasn't strong, we did the floor just clamped to the
bottom of the robot and we couldn't move. It's not just the electromagnets because you need
ground clearance in the BattleBox. You can't be skating on the ground because you're gonna get
stuck, and beached, it's gonna be terrible. So it's got titanium torsion bar suspension, so to
get to the magnets first to engage them, it pulls its wheels up like that against the torsion bar
with pneumatics. So the actual firing mechanism is fire, wheels come up inside, robot clamps
down with electromagnets. So that's all happening instantaneously, and as they clamp the hammer comes
over and hits. The electromagnets that we have they're so powerful if we leave up and leave them
on for more than five seconds, they catch fire.
if you're watching BattleBots and you see
Beta's hammer fire you go, "it's just a hammer" behind the scenes under the shell of Beta all of this
is going on. The retraction of the wheels the electromagnets, that blows my mind!
And that's part of the attraction for us I think.
Is to make, is to create something new and challenging.
If you're just creating a boring machine, what's thepoint? But if you're doing something interesting,
and challenging, and new? That is a huge incentive to do something that's so much more fulfilling.
People say that old spinners you know an effective spinner is very tricky to make but they're not...
You don't have to have all of the control mechanisms that you've got in our robot.
It's just it's there's so much going on in the robot. But that's
for us, what makes building it enjoyable.
It'stime to talk about the Rotator/Beta fight.
Talk to me about your strategy going into this fight with Beta.
The onlyexperience I had with Beta was that in 2016, they were our pit neighbors. So I remember Beta
and I remember thinking like, "man like this guy's got a massive mechanism for his hammer".
He's not like one of these hammers that's just scoring points. It's a hammer to hurt you.
I decidedto start Rotator upside down blade high, which is something that we would do often with the double
disc, but now we're single disc we would just flip it over because that blade is also our armor so
if you want to hit us you have to hit the blade. Kind of our strategy that we
had against Blacksmith that we just weren't able to follow through on was, we're going to aim for
that pivot joint where the hammer comes out on Yeah.
Beta has a rack and pinion system.
He dida really smart design move where the hinge of the hammer is actually bigger than the pinion.
So that hinge is really thick aluminum, and you have to somehow get inside to get the gear so
it's going to be very hard to get there, but he's going to wait for a good hit. That's always the
thing. So let's just make it really hard for him to find a good hit so that was the strategy going in.
Make them hit the weapon if they were to fire their hammer, and try to dive off over
them and see what we can hit.
John, what was your strategy going into this fight against Rotator
with a horizontal, you don't want to witness the weapon too much. You want to get their
weapon to hit the arena, because the arena is not going to budge. That's a big hit for them so
you're constantly trying to get them into the wall to give them big hits on their weapon so hopefully
you're going to damage them. But yeah Victor's got a very nicely built machine that didn't stop it.
Even with Tombstone, we have to be very careful when we fire the weapon because that exposed bar.
As you say, as soon as you get in the way of that bar it's gone. But Victor's ten times worse
because it's got a completely exposed blade. Yeah.
There'sjust nowhere you can hit it
there's alwayssome weird funny gyroscopic forces going on when your blade goes angled so when we
rode up and we were kind of like, here it sometimes does this funny dance that does this and I'm like
"Argh! Come on! Hit something!" and then I would just go womp" into the ground. I wasn't scared about getting
slammed into the walls because I learned last season we definitely have the reliability.
It's about tactics, if we had fired when the blade was running we'd have lost our heads so it had to be...
it had to be at exactly the right time We had towait for a good hit.
Anotheraspect is a lot of UK roboteers question why so many American robots have exposed wheels.
They just don't understand "why would you have an exposed wheel on a robot? So vulnerable."
In fact,this demonstrates quite well. It's very difficult to stop a robot with exposed wheels because it can
always gain purchase on something. It can almost grab something. It never stops.
So Victor,again it has been a pleasure. Thank you so much and we'll see you very soon!
Thank you for your time.And thank you for this, and for everything, it'sawesome!
We'll talk to you guys very soon!
Thank youso much for this and see you soon! Thank you somuch for your time, and for the toys see you later!
Join us next time for more exclusive interviews on the VEX Robotics channel and make sure you
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