Dangerous Robots

Although it is possible to build a battlebot on a shoestring budget, building one that will win consistently takes a fair pile of cash. So before I launch into a description of my efforts, here are links to the wonderful sponsors who helped to underwrite our expenses.

A bit of History

NOTE: for a comprehensive look at the fates of various incarnations of fighting machinery I strongly recommend that gentle reader get hold of a book called "Gearheads", which chronicles the sordid legal history of the corporate entities, as well as a description of the characters involved. Long story short: not a single person at the top of any organization involved in the sport is without a tragic and fatal character flaw. Bummer...

The popular TV show Battlebots was the latest American iteration of a "sport" that has its roots in an older contest of robotic derring do, first in the USA, then in the UK where a show called Robot Wars remains somewhat popular, despite various unsavory allegations that plague the current owner of the franchise. Battlebots can no longer be seen in the US, as the Comedy Channel yanked the show when disputes arose between teams who objected to the humorous commentary and Battlebots management who responded to parents' complaints about Comedy Central's tendency to downplay the technical feats accomplished by competitors in order to push their sexual innuendo.

Battlebots still maintains an excellent website with detailed information about every bot that competed, with info on team members responsible for building them and with tutorials on how to build battlebots. There is also an excellent pile of links to a variety of sources.

Two more knock-off TV shows appeared in the USA, but they both quickly disappeared; obvious rip-offs and with their own set of problems. In descending order of value these were:

Robotica, which ran for three "seasons" on TLC. Robotica improved over Battlebots by requiring the machines to perform as more than just combatants: they had to be designed to deal with added challenges. However I'm told that between seasons 2 and 3 there were, basically, no new teams on the show (the old teams modified or built new machines). Apparently the risk/reward equation was just not that appealing: there was only one prize for one first place; there were no residual deals, the local accomodations provided by show producers were the worst of a sorry lot; the pit areas were dreadful, etc, etc. Robotica can sometimes be seen at odd hours and days on TLC (a once great independent channel, bought by ABC, who promptly switched content from useful-scientific to psychics-and-cops; look elsewhere for useful info). (Killer B was originally built to compete in Robotica. but one season of that was enough for us. Our heavyweight soldiered on through several contests at Battlebots before lawsuits and bad management shut them down.) In addition to information about the teams, the Robotica website had rather bad photos of all of the competing machines, plus some slightly better shots of the varied challenges.

At the bottom of this short heap sits Robot Wars. Originally the excellent uncut original UK-version of the show was imported by PBS, but they lost the bidding war for broadcast rights in 2002. The result was a bastard-Americanized version of the UK show orchestrated by TNN, the network infamous for low-brow wrestling contest and similar trash. This new version was designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator in an audience comprise entirely of low-IQ bumpkins. The less said about this show the better.

The Dynachrome Brigade

Being as robotic competition in the weight classes that interest me most are nonexistent, my team is, at the moment, quite small and consists of a Captain (me) and electronics guru Jim Gadd. Our driver has moved to another state and we're actively recruiting for someone to fill in this most valued position. As Dynachrome Brigade is a team within the KillerbotZ Federation winnings (ah, optimism!) must be divided up several ways, with one share apiece to team members and one share to the Federation. If you live anywhere in the vicinity of Santa Rosa, CA and you think you've got what it takes to join our team please contact me ASAP!!

Killerbotz Federation

The Federation exists so that a bunch of enthusiasts can exchange information and resources, but it was formed primarily as a way to get around various constraints within the rules at Battlebots. Each team is allowed only one bot in each weight class, or 4 bots per team. Each team is allowed one parking pass per bot, or 4 passes per team; this was a real problem when spousal units and offspring wanted to come join us in the pits. The Federation solved these problems. At the end of Season 5 we had three teams, with three Captains and an Admiral. For further details click on over to the KillerbotZ Federation homepage.

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