Archive for the ‘Mech Warfare’ Category

Check out our new PhantomX Robotic Arms!

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

PhantomX Reactor ArmThe Arms are done!

We’re proud to unveil our new arms, the PhantomX Reactor Robot Arm and its little brother the PhantomX Pincher Robot Arm. These arms are based around the Dynamixel AX-12 Robot Servos and are controlled with the Arbotix RoboController, so you have an amazing amount of control over these arms. The Reactor Arm also has a ‘Wrist Rotate’ option, to add another level of functionality to your arm.

Stay tuned for more videos about the design of this arm, as well as examples of all of the amazing things it can do.

The Road to Mech Warfare: Score!

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

Last week Mech Warfare Veteran Upgrayd came to Trossen Robotics to solder a batch of the new Mech Warfare transponder boards (You can see a video of him soldering the first batch of boards here.) In no time flat he had the boards built and ready to get sent out.

This year Mech Warfare is using a new custom built score keeping system – the MWScore System. Designed by Upgrayd, the MWScore System is completely open source (the MWScore Server, the transponder PCB files, and the transponder firmware are available for download here.)

The transponder interfaces with several force sensing resistors to register hits against the mech. These hit are reported to the MWScore Server via an Xbee connection, and displayed on the central server. The hit also triggers the new LED sub-board, that will flash 4-ultarbirght LEDs whenever a hit is registered. More details about the system are available at the MWScore site and this TRC forum post

Here’s a video of the scoring system in action.

“Read More” for more build pictures and another test video!

Cross Dressing Robots!

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

Our old friend Che is a bit special. He has pet ducks, snakes, really ugly dogs, and a really hot wife. He wears his mom’s leather pants. He’s also into robo-masochism: meaning he lets his paintball-equipped robots shoot the crap out of him, all the while filming it for the internet’s enjoyment. We have weird friends.

He also has a great custom humanoid project that he has shared with the TRC, Hi No Hikari. This rather large humanoid robot is a kung-fu competitor and Mech-Warfare veteran. “It” also wears dresses, kimonos, and sometimes has flowers tucked into it’s mechanics. I don’t know, don’t ask me. We’re fully supportive of alternative robot lifestyles, but sometimes it’s better that we just not ask. Giger did not appreciate the dress at last year’s Mech-Warfare. He muttered something about “damn hippies” and proceeded to shoot Hi No Hikari in his/her flowery face.

With all that said, it’s been a great learning experience for Che, and one that he has shared with us every step of the way. This was his first attempt at a PLM design and he started off using AX-12+’s, eventually upgrading to the more powerful RX-28s.

Seeing this project progress from Hi No Hikari’s first steps to what he’s achieved now has been great! Check out his latest progress in the video below, we can’t wait to see even more come from this project!

Project Spotlight: Immortal, Quad Mech

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Cire came to our forums with a background in mechanical engineering and an insatiable urge to get involved with Mech Warfare. Inspired by Starcraft 2, he wanted to build a Mech that was based on the Protoss ranged support unit, the Immortal. He did his research, started with rough 3D CAD drawings, and ultimately decided to use AX-12+ Dynamixels & the Arbotix Robocontroller with it’s NUKE engine as a basis for his platform.

His project thread documents the progress he made, from someone with minimal previous electronics and programming knowledge, to someone with a highly competitive and fully functional Mech Warfare platform. Aesthetically this quad Mech hits the mark perfectly with its custom machined aluminum frame; Immortal is only very polished project that is sure to prove a fierce competitor at Robogames this April. Cire also went the extra mile and integrated a 4th degree of freedom in each leg; the position of the tip of each leg uses the angle values of the rest of the leg to maintain a perpendicular orientation to the ground. Be sure to check in with the competition results to see how he fares at Mech Warfare 2011!

Mech Warfare 2010 Highlights Video

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

So this video is SERIOUSLY long overdue, given that Mech Warfare 2010 happened back in April earlier this year at Robogames. We got crazy busy over the summer & fall and publishing this video sort of slipped under our radar. But- here it is in all it’s glory! If you don’t know what Mech Warfare is please do yourself a favor and check out the website or join our community for the latest Mech Warfare discussions!

Mech Warfare featured on WIRED Video!

Friday, May 21st, 2010

When we were out at Robogames 2010, the multimedia crew from WIRED Magazine showed up and hung out with us for a bit. They loved the Mech Warfare competition and asked if they could do some interviews with the competitors. Here is the result!

Mech Warfare at Robogames 2010!

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

We came, we blew stuff up, we conquered! Mech Warfare at Robogames 2010 in San Mateo was an absolute blast! We had Fon Davis of Fonco Creative & MORAV show up with his crew and custom build us a fully destructible 1/24 scale urban arena! Needless to say, the arena looked AMAZING this year! We had a total of 14 teams registered and close to 30 people participating this year; the competition is growing leaps and bounds over its first year. We’re still recovering from a long weekend at Robogames but we’ll have plenty of more coverage of the event in short time. For now, here are the winners, some pictures, and a great post & video by BotJunkie that highlights the event very nicely. We had some really awesome and nail-biting matches that were down to the wire, and everyone involved had a TON of fun- we hope to see even more people getting involved for next year!

Giger v2.0 – Initial Walking Gait Progress

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

New upgrades! Giger now uses 10x EX-106+, 6x RX-64s, and 8x RX-28s for a total of 24 DOF.


Giger’s upgrades got finalized late Sunday night and I had a bit of time to sit down and start to work on the walking gaits (from scratch). The EX-106+ is roughly 4x more precise than all previous Dynamixels, so the positional values do not translate over well when upgrading from a previous model. What does that mean? It was far simpler to just start over rather than try to scale the values step by step. All new custom brackets used in the legs and feet, as well as new elbow/shoulder brackets and arm extensions. Brackets were designed in Autodesk Inventor 2008 and machined by Rapid Sheet Metal. It’s worth mentioning that all of the custom, as well as the stock, brackets and frames that are used in Giger’s arms and legs are available in our store on our Dynamixel Servo & Bracket page! Even his ankles/hip joints or his entire legs!

A lot of projects tend to only show updates after many dozens and/or hundreds of hours of progress, but I like to show the little steps as I feel it gives one a better view of the evolution of a project and what goes into making a robot work. Keep in mind; I have this gait tuned to a very slow rate so that I can work on the balance and COG shifting correctly, it can then be sped up to a more realistic, useful speed. Here’s a short video of my initial walking gait progress (about 2 hours of programming work so far) on Giger 2.0:

Giger: Humanoid Robot Overview

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

I’ve been busy at work with Giger installing some upgrades before Robogames (in the tune of 10x EX-106+ actuators, as well as brand new machined brackets from Rapid Sheet Metal). That said, we decided to use some of the random footage we had taken of Giger to give an overview of the robot in it’s first revision, when it only had RX-64s powering its legs. We’ll have a lot more information, pictures, and video on Giger v2.0 in the near future!

BTW- If anyone is looking for a solid place to get some sheet metal cut/bent or some parts machined, check out Rapid Sheet Metal and their sister company Rapid Machining. I’ll give a bit more in-depth review of them in the followup post where we’ll talk more about Giger 2.0, but I was absolutely blown away by their quality and customer service, so I’ll say it here as well. Check em out! Tell em we sent ya! =)

MINI Robocontroller now available!

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

Yet another great microcontroller from our friends over at Vanadium Labs; the MINI Robocontroller is now available for sale!

This is an extremely versatile Arduino-software compatible microcontroller that packs a lot of features in a very small footprint. It is also the board used for the target/scoring system in the Mech Warfare robotics competition. Read more below:

The MINI robocontroller is designed for small robots. It incorporates a powerful AVR microcontroller, XBEE wireless radio, dual motor drivers, and 3-pin servo-style headers for IO.

The board includes all circuitry needed to control a small differential drive robot. It can also easily control up to 4 servos.

See the user manual here.

RoboController Specifications

  • 16MHz AVR microcontroller (ATMEGA168).
  • 20 I/O, 6 of which can function as analog inputs
  • Servo style 3-pin headers (gnd, vcc, signal) on all 6 analog inputs, and 4 of the digital IO
  • Dual 1A motor drivers, with combined motor/encoder header.
  • XBEE radio sold separately. A typical setup will require 2 XBEE radios and an XBEE explorer to be able to wirelessly control your robot from your computer.
  • This board requires either an FTDI cable or ISP. We recommend the Sparkfun FTDI breakout.
  • 2.4”x2.4” with mounting holes in each corner.