Questions and Answers about Combat Robotics
from Team Run Amok

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Assisting the Elderly
Q: Here's a PNG version of the SVG file that I sent you back in March. I figured it would be easier to use in this file format. If you ever need someone to help with any web graphics, just put "I NEED HELP!" in giant text at the top of the Ask Aaron homepage and I'll get to it! I work free of charge, just getting to help is enough for me. : )

A: [Mark J.] How very kind of you, Icey -- offering to help a doddering septuagenarian find his way around the mysteries of modern web graphics. Are you working on your "Aiding the Elderly" merit badge?

Fun Fact Mark built his first computer - from discrete analog components - in 1963.
You told me when you first sent your SVG, "Feel free to use this image however you like!" and I really hadn't found a use for the cryptic graphic. Perhaps if I post it here (as a CSS-styled SVG text file insert, just to show off) someone will write in with a suggestion?

P.S. - I’ve already violated General Order #26, are there any other important General Orders I should be aware of?

A: Well, you're in danger of violating General Order #17, but if you give it a little thought I'm sure you can avoid it.

P.P.S. - I’m not working on a merit badge, I just like helping people! To be honest, I didn’t know what use the SVG for either. I just thought it looked cool!
-sincerely, Iceywave

A: I may have found the perfect use for the SVG. How about a T-shirt?

Reply: I love it! Just put the Ask Aaron logo on top and I think we have a bestselling product.

Virtual Robotica, Baby
Q: Hear me think:
Robotica is back in YouTube again and I was thinking on having a Robotica day/Robotica Night/Robotica Week

What would I need to prepare for a Robotica day/night/week and treat it like the NCAA tournament and NCAA championship and various other superbowl events and have you ever heard of Sling TV well Mech Plus is in Sling TV [Erskine, Scotland ☆]

A: [Mark J.] If you're going to have 'Robotica Week' you should have the whole experience. You need a week-long virtual tournament. Robotica, Baby! (audio)

Virtual Tournament Schedule

Day 1 Send me an application to be accepted to participate in Robotica Week. Include pictures of any mechanical devices you have made, any special dietary requirements you have, your blood type, your credit rating, and a 500 word essay on why you would make a good Robotica Week contestant. Wait around the rest of the day for my reply, which will arrive at 11:55 PM.

Day 2 Download the rules and construction requirements. Your robot design is due at midnight. Spend the day designing a robot to meet the challenges as described in the rule set. About 9:00 PM I will send you a revised rule set that will make your design unsuitable. Start a pot of strong coffee, revise your design, and send it in at 11:59 PM.

Day 3 Prepare a detailed parts list with prices and weights. Discover that two vital parts are no longer available and that your design is 40 pounds overweight. Your weapon for the 'Fight to the Finish' is changed from a hydraulic crusher to an electric screwdriver spinning a #11 X-ACTO blade. At 11:59 PM you send me the spreadsheet and PayPal me 10% of the total 'bot budget as your entry fee.

Day 4 Go to the airport and pretend to fly to a destination 1000 miles away. When enough time has passed, get a taxi and check in to a moderately priced hotel near an industrial area. Wander around in the industrial area and find an abandoned warehouse where you will spend Day 5 and Day 7.

Day 5 At 8:30 AM you may download the virtual version of your robot provided by a talented teenager in Texas. You have 30 minutes to learn how to drive it. At 9:00 AM qualifying starts on a previously unrevealed obstacle course. We didn't mention qualifying in the rule set? Really sorry. Top 24 qualifiers are paired off for the tournament. Everybody else goes home.

  • 12:00 PM - First virtual challenge: points are awarded and then we wait around for four-and-a-half hours for no apparent reason. You may not leave the abandoned warehouse.
  • 6:00 PM - Second virtual challenge: points are awarded and the lower score of each pair goes home. Winners advance. Then we wait around for four-and-a-half hours for no apparent reason. Winners still may not leave the abandoned warehouse.
  • Midnight - Virtual Fight to the Finish: Remaining robots are paired off for the sumo platform. Winners advance to Day Seven finals and get their entry fee refunded. Losers go home. You may now return to your hotel room.

Day 6 You have the day off. Watch "The Big Cheese" episode of Dexter's Laboratory on the hotel TV. Go to an amusement park and eat greasy fast food. Get on a roller coaster and wish you hadn't eaten the greasy fast food. Get some take-out Thai food for dinner and return to your hotel room.

Day 7 The six finalists are paired off in any way I feel like pairing them.

  • 10:00 AM - First virtual challenge: Winners advance to the Second Challenge and losers go home. We wait around for four-and-a-half hours. You know full well that you can't leave the abandoned warehouse, even though the rats are becoming less timid.
  • 4:00 PM - Second virtual challenge: Winners advance to the Fight to the Finish and the losers go home. We wait around for two-and-a-half hours. The warehouse rats are now quite bold; one of them steals the bag of crisps you were saving for dinner. You'd best be out of here before dark.
  • 8:00 PM - Virtual Fight to the Finish: Remaining robots are paired off for the sumo platform. It's getting dark in the warehouse and the rats are moving toward you. The winner gets the remaining entry fee pot, loser is devoured by the warehouse rats.
Several free streaming services in the US have a "live television" Mech+ channel -- Pluto and Plex come to mind.

Gotta Catch 'Em All
Q: Not a very important question, but would you like me to compile all of the 'Extreme Warriors' .bot files for Robot Arena 2 into one zip file? That way people can have the option of downloading all of them at once, or only specific bots.
- sincerely, Iceywave [West of San Antonio ☆]

A: [Mark J.] Woah! It's already too easy to get a complete set. How about I remove the individual download links and put up a random and unspecified "Mystery Bot" to download each day? I could make a couple of them 'holographic rare' and only have them crop up every month or two.

I'm surprised I didn't think of this earlier. This marketing strategy works great for collectable card games like Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh! I'll get to work on the code. Better hurry and download a set now if you want to do it the easy way!

Keep It To Yourself
Q: Do you like REDACTED? [West of San Antonio ☆]

A: [Mark J.] That's rather a personal question. I'm not sure that I want the general public to know if I like REDACTED or not. The answer is a qualified "yes", but don't spread it around.

It Almost Happened
Q: ROBOTICA IS BACK! Allright it's season 1 but it's back in YouTube at long last thanks to SomeRandomDude. I wonder what this really means? [Erskine, Scotland ☆]

A: [Mark J.] 'SomeRandomDude' has been very busy on YouTube. In addition to the playlist you found, there are additional playlists for:

  • Robotica seasons 2 and 3
  • Comedy Central BattleBots seasons 1 thru 5
  • Specific CC BattleBots team breakouts; and
  • Compilations of CC BattleBots special segments
I suspect that 'what this really means' is that YouTube hasn't gotten around to taking them down yet.

Q: And since I have seen the Run Away model sheet I might create two sheets of Run Away v1.0 the spinning rotor blades to add to my Run Amok model to create... Super Run Amok!

A: I've added the 'Run Away v1.0' paper model and weapon detail sheets to the Run Amok Paper Model page to make them easy to find.

'Super Run Amok' came very close to reality. As you know, Team Run Amok received a VERY late invitation to compete in Robotica season three. We would have needed an active weapon to meet the rules for that event and given the very short notice that weapon would have been Run Away's "side wheel" weapon strapped to the top of Run Amok. We just couldn't find a way to pack up, travel the 900 miles to Hollywood in 18 hours, and arrive ready to compete. We had to turn down the invitation.

Let the Good Times Roll
Q: I've decided to make my CRHoF ballot early! I thought I'd post it to Ask Aaron so others could be inspired.
I nominate…
  • ÆON 00
  • Baymax
  • Flamin'Yon
  • My toaster oven
  • R2-D2
  • Sir Killalot
  • WALL-E
  • Greg
- Iceywave : ) ☆

A: [Mark J.] Sorry, but all of your nominations are already in the "Completely Random Handbag of Favorites" (CRHoF). You really should check their website before you submit your ballot.

More Extreme Warriors for RA2
Update: Here are the last replicas of Extreme Warriors competitors, including husband and wife duo 'Black Widow' & 'Rocky-Bot-Boa', Team Raptor's 'Cyclone', undefeated loaner bot 'Tut-Tut', and Run Away's other tag team partner, 'General Chompsalot'!.

I may consider revisiting this one day, but I think 12 robots is a good place to stop for now. I hope everyone else has as much fun with these bots as I did!
- sincerely, Iceywave : )☆ [West of San Antonio ☆]

Reply: [Mark J.] Iceywave has been busy in the 'Extreme Warriors' arena. Icey's playable Robot Arena 2 'bot models for the following Robot Wars Extreme Warriors 'bots are now available for download from the Team Run Amok Virtual Robots page:

  • Tag Team Black Widow and Rocky-Bot-Boa
  • Big Vert Spinner Cyclone
  • Shufflebot Brick Drillzilla
  • Clampbot General Chompsalot
  • Annihilator Champ Hannibal
  • Slippery Spinner Manta
  • Square Spinner Ninjitsu
  • Grand Finalist Propeller-Head
  • Nickelodeon Champ Tyranabot
  • Loanerbots Tut Tut and Zanzara Team Run Amok's own Run Away!

Q: Are your robots ready for the solar eclipse?

A: Hacienda Run Amok was smack in the path of totality for the 2017 eclipse. I still have protective goggles for all the 'bots, so we'll be fine.

I Think I Know
Q: Why is Hypershock so good? Don't give me any of that "The robot is built by an experienced team" or whatever. I want to know exactly how it works!
- Kevin’s Bots & Stuff [West of San Antonio ☆]


Either Complex or Inaccurate
Q: Remember the Run Amok model sheet?
Well I was wondering, what about a 'Run Away' model Sheet so that it can be recognised by any Extreme Warrior fans? [Erskine, Scotland ☆]
Q: Coincidentally, I actually tried brainstorming ways to make a 'Run Away' paper model several weeks ago, but to no avail. I've been working on paper model designs for your team's other robots, so they should hopefully be ready to share with the world soon! The Gap was wwaaayyyy too complicated, so I'll make a "Bonus Bot" as a replacement.
-sincerely, Iceywave [West of San Antonio ☆]

A: All of a sudden my two most prolific contributors each have an interest in a paper 'Run Away' model.

Run Amok's design made it possible for me to create an accurate scale model in a simple cut-and-fold paper format. Run Away's top-mounted weapon for both the "long top" version from Robot Wars Extreme Warriors season 1 and the "bare top" version from season 2 creates a problem. I have to choose between "complex to construct" or "inaccurate".

The best I can do is to provide a detailed robot base 'bot that you might be able to set your own weapon mount (Lego?) on top to get an acceptable model: I've provided a short dashed line across the wide red stripe to indicate the correct position for the weapon axle.

That Side Wheel Weapon
Q: I like the paper model of 'Run Away' [post above] and I'd like to try to make a replica of the side-wheeler weapon to put on top. Do you have any drawings that might help? [Fort Collins, Colorado]

Two Days Hard Work Later...

A: [Mark J.] There never were design drawings for the version 1.0 weapon. My metal fabricator cut and welded the support cradle on the fly around my drive train and shaft. I went down to my workshop and found the weapon cradle from version 1.0 of Run Away and measured the components that had been scavenged for the version 2.0 weapon, which hangs intact on the workshop wall.

I gave the version 1.0 top armor to a local fan years ago, but the weapon mounting points were easy to estimate from photos. The weapon drive is a 4:1 sprocket and chain reduction with the lower portion of the large sprocket obtaining clearance from a cut-out in the top armor. Send me a photo when you're done.

A Different Surprise
Q: My April Fool's Day surprise has been put on hold for... reasons. In the meantime, I thought I’d give a different surprise! Do you like it?
-sincerely, Iceywave ☆

A: What's purple, fuzzy, Italian, and sucks blood? Is it a moldy vampire grape from Naples? No, it's a playable model of Robot Wars loanerbot 'Zanzara' for Robot Arena 2! Zanzara (Italian for 'mosquito') was Team Run Amok's tag team partner at Robot Wars Extreme Warriors season 2. The RA2 version could open up a whole new category of Robot Arena collectables. It's great! Download it here.

You correctly made the Italian mosquito very purple, but your RA2 version seems to be upside-down. Can you fix that? Maybe 'Diotoir' can help? I do wonder which of the current builds of RA2 are you using to create your replicas...

Response: The robot fighting Zanzara is meant to be 'Bigger Brother', not Diotoir... though I guess they do look a little similar now that you mention it.

The version of RA2 I use is '1.4' which is readily available for download here.

Comment: That explains why 'Diotoir' has no spots! It looked kinda orange and I took those white blobs as eyes. Maybe we should call it 'Brother Diotoir'?

Counterpoint: Those white blobs are actually the wheels! I made that build back in 2021, before I started using 'component freedom' which can be downloaded here.

Retort: Not the big white blobs; the little white blobs at the tops of the weapon arms look like eyes on short stalks to me. I must have been looking too long at Zanzara's eyes.

Epilogue: It’s been quite an eventful day, now time to get back to season 3.0 of IceyBots!
- HAPPY EASTER, Iceywave ☆

Three Designs and a Bowknot
Q: I was wondering if any of these designs were viable for a combat robot. [West of San Antonio ☆]

A: [Mark J.] Wow! Click Here for a full analysis of your designs.

Q: Will you also give me step by step instructions on how to bind my model airplane to its transmitter? Thank You!

A: Sure.

  1. Cut off about a yard of twine. If your airplane is large, you may need a little more. Cotton twine is good, but I prefer a good quality jute.
  2. Set your transmitter in top of your airplane, near the wing.
  3. Wrap the twine snugly around the airplane fuselage and the transmitter. Watch out for the propeller, if present.
  4. Tie the twine in a bowknot. Your airplane is now bound to the transmittter.
  5. Should you later wish to bind your airplane to a different transmitter just untie the knot.

Fifty-Six Megabytes
Q: I had a video planned to celebrate Run Amok's championship anniversary, but it said "only 8 megabytes may be sent at a time". The video file is 56 megabytes, and I can’t decrease the file size to the desired amount without a severe decrease in quality that I’m not willing to sacrifice. Hopefully I can post it to YouTube sometime.

Happy Anniversary! -sincerely, Iceywave☆ [West of San Antonio]

A: [Mark J.] Thanks, Icey! We can't let a few megabytes come between friends. Let's try this:

A Secret Portal Opens. A Large File Passes Thru. The Portal Fades Away.

There, that wasn't so hard. Let's see what we've got here... Whoa, thanks, Icey! I've embedded your video recreation of the Robotica 'Fight to the Finish' below, and tossed a copy onto my YouTube channel.

Reply: I'm happy to hear you enjoyed my video! Turns out the file I sent was actually 59 megabytes. The original recording was 56 mbs, but I had to put it through some editing software to add fade in/fade out on the video. The models of Juggerbot and Ram Force were built by myself, in case you were wondering. I also have a big surprise coming April 1st, so be prepared!
-sincerely, Iceywave

Crank Up the Noise!
Q: Hi Mark, it’s Iceywave here. I wanted to do something interesting this time around, so here’s the very first ever Ask Aaron audio question!

-see you April 1st, Iceywave☆ [West of San Antonio]

A: [Mark J.] For those who prefer to read:

Wow, our first audio question and our first 1.4 megabyte commercial for somebody's YouTube channel! It seems a shame to answer your early April Fool question in regular text, so I went with Morse code:

.. -. / - .... . / .--. .-. . -....- -... .-. ..- ... .... .-.. . ... ... / .-- . .- .--. --- -. / -- --- - --- .-. / -.. .- -.-- ... / .. - / .-- .- ... / ...- . .-. -.-- / -.-. --- -- -- --- -. / - --- / ..- ... . / -.. ..- -.-. - / - .- .--. . / .- -. -.. / -.-. .- .-. -.. -... --- .- .-. -.. / ..-. --- .-. / .- -. - .-- . .. --. .... - / .- .-. -- --- .-. .-.-.- / .. - / .-- .- ... / - .... . / ..- .... -- .-- / --- ..-. / - .... . / -.. .- -.-- .-.-.- / - . .- -- / .-. ..- -. / .- -- --- -.- / .-- .- ... / -. . ...- . .-. / .- / ..-. .- -. --..-- / .-- .... .. -.-. .... / .. ... / .-- .... -.-- / .. - / .-- .- ... / .. -. -.-. .-.. ..- -.. . -.. / .. -. / --- ..- .-. / .-- . .-.. .-.. -....- -.- -. --- .-- -. / .-.. .. ... - / --- ..-. / -.. --- -. .----. - ... ---... / -. --- / --. .-.. ..- . --..-- / -. --- / - .- .--. . --..-- / -. --- / --.. .. .--. / - .. . ... .-.-.-
For any non-telegraphers in the audience:
El Escarabajo Vibrante
Pregunta: ¡Hola!
Mi girador vertical de 3 libras tiembla violentamente cuando el arma gira. Ya leí "¡La hamburguesa es mala!", asì que aquì te dejo una foto para ilustrar mejor mi problema.
¡Àdios! [Al Oeste de San Antonio ☆]

Respuesta: [Mark J.] He examinado cuidadosamente tu fotografìa y no veo nada malo. Quita las ruedas y la Liga Nacional de Robots Havoc te darà una bonificaciòn de peso.


Fairies, Ants, and Beetles
Q: Will you do my homework for me? [West of San Antonio ☆]
If a=51, and b=rate divided by time, how many minutes would a Volkswagen traveling at 78 mph take to travel 37 miles if 24% of the distance traveled is up an incline of "o", if o=increase in property of (a + -0)?

A: [Mark J.] The last Volkswagen I owned was a 1964 Beetle that wouldn't do 78 MPH if you nailed the throttle pedal to the floor and pushed it off a cliff.

Seventy-Five Hundred
Q: With my next question, AskAaron will have made it to 3/4 of ten thousand questions! So I guess the 7500th question is, how does knowing the above information make you feel? [West of San Antonio ☆]

A: [Mark J.] It makes me wonder what else I might have done with all the time I've spent answering combat robot questions.

Q: Also, I seriously don't know when I’ll start my YouTube channel. Things have gotten really backed up on my video production pipeline, so that late-January channel creation date I mentioned a while back will definitely not happen.

Before I go, there’s one more thing that's been on my mind. What is the most successful multibot ever made (by 'most successful' I mean the greatest win/loss ratio)? -sincerely, Iceywave

A: Assuming that you're interested in traditional multi-bots and not a lopsided heavyweight/minibot combinations, UK clusterbots appear to have had the most overall success. Win/loss records for UK robots are complicated by their appearances in events other than two-bot battles, but I believe the title for "Most Successful" goes to the Robot Wars flipper twins 'Gemini'. Their 4 win, 5 loss record includes victories in the Series 4 Pinball Warrior Tournament and a three-bot quailifying fight. 'Gemini' also won Series 4 awards for Best Design and Most Original Entry.

There Aren't Many
Q: What do you do with all the questions that have nothing to do with combat robotics? [Vestal, New York]

A: [Mark J.] I usually put them in a purple box, from which there is no escape.

Date marker: January 2024
Q: I made this image last year, and thought you’d find some humor in it. : )

A: [Mark J.] Yes I did find humor in your credits for "BattleBots the Movie", but I had to scroll many pages down thru the VERY tall image to enjoy the funny. The image is longer than the credit rolls for the "Lord of the Rings" movies! Ask Aaron General Order #26 states:

"We shall post no image taller than one page height on a Commodore 64 computer in landscape mode."
To respect G.O. #26 I had to shrink your amusing image a bit. It appears at right.

Q: I want to ask a question, but I thought I might jump on the cockney bandwagon so...

Q: Oy me lad, You ain't got to shabby wisecracks don’t you? And blooming onions at Outback Steakhouse? For south, they reached troubles! A new turkey parliament fortified with eggs and lead paint, for example gargantuan ways?

A: I've grown tired of cockney, so I'll answer in Welch...

A: Rydych chi'n hollol wallgof. Dylech geisio cymorth proffesiynol ar unwaith. Rwy'n sicr y bydd ychydig ddegawdau o therapi yn eich dychwelyd i fod yn unigolyn sy'n gallu cyfrannu at gymdeithas. Efallai mai rhyw fath o ddiffyg dietegol ydyw.
P.S. could you change {something incomprehensibly random} on the Iceybots tournament bracket to '???'. I completely forgot they were the Desperado Tournament winner.
-sincerely, Iceywave ☆

Reply: Once again you suggest that I replace something in one of your posts with an uninteresting substitute. You should know me better by now. I'll replace {something incomprehensibly random}, but not with '???'.

Robotica, Baby
Q: Robotica Catchphrases:
  • "Robots Ready!"
  • "Start your motors!"
  • "Let's Robotica-Out!
  • "It's Time to put the pedal to your metal!"
  • "Let's do this! ROBOTICA!"
  • "Now it's time!"
  • "Let Your metal do the talking!"
  • "Get your gadgets in gear!"
  • "Get your micro switches in motion!"
  • "Start your servos!"
  • "The Robots are in position, The Gauntlet is ready, Let's Go!"
  • "Everyone's in position, It's Gauntlet Time!"
  • "Drivers Check, Robots Check, Labyrinth Check, The Game is on, Allright let's go!"
  • "It's Do Or Definitely Die!"
  • "Finalists are you ready? Allright it's do or definitely die time. Come on robots start your engines!"
- [Erskine, Scottland ☆]

A: [Mark J.] A good list, Erskine. I have a few audio files on my Robotica Sound Clips page, but I may need to add a some from your list to the collection. Here's my favorite:

Robots ready...
I also have full written transcripts for some of the Season 1 and Season 2 shows. I've never put them up on the web, but it occurs to me that you might be interested. Here's Season 1 Episode 1: ROBO101.pdf. Let me know if you'd like to see the the others.

Q: I like the transcript if someone has the Robotica episode with the subtitles and/or without the subtitles keep me posted and picture this: if Robotica the fan series does get released what do you think would happen if the fan series is a success?

A: I like you, Erskine. Your questions make my answers seem like they make sense.

Why wouldn't Robotica the Fan Series be released? You've already made a teaser video and you have the tournament brackets figured out. You've got the rest under control, right? I'm not sure how you define success, but if you make yourself happy by completing the Fan Series I'd consider that a success. Then you can carry that success forward to start another project.

Here is a link to download a zipped file with all nine of the Robotica transcripts I have in MS Word .doc format: Robotica Transcripts.

Q: Unusually I tried to get into the other Robotica transcripts and I keep getting a 404 message. Nuisances.

A: My fault. Rodger the Web Hamster had the night off and I miss-typed the link. Fixed now.

Don't Upset Your iPhone
Q: If you're reading this Erskine, I think your mini Robotica tournament is gonna be great. A few years back, I tried something similar with Lego models of Robot Wars 1998. Of course, I gave up after one season of filming because I was more interested in RA2 and came up with the idea for IceyBots.

Speaking of IceyBots, I'm just about to conclude the filming for the season 3.0 (yes, I decided to film 2 ADDITIONAL SEASONS before I finished editing season 1.0!) lightweight division! Here's the bracket for the season 3.0 lightweights. I would like to know who you think will win, Mark.

1) Ziggo vs. 16) Lemon Jello 8) Sisyphus vs. 9) Trilobot 5) Texas Stampede vs. 12) Sublime 4) Slap Pest vs. 13) Manic Aggressive 2) Shaft vs. 15) Whirl WepX25 7) Blood Dragon vs. 10) Fang 6) Gamma Raptor vs. 11) Whirligig 3) Wedge of DOOM vs. 14) Centipede

And sorry for taking so long to make those paper models. I want to maintain a consistent upload schedule once I get my channel started, so I've been really busy making sure I have enough content before hand.

But before I go, I was actually going to send one of my videos to you! It's a short about the history of autonomous combat robots. The problem? The .zip file containing the video is still 94 Megabytes! My iPad doesn't like when I try to upload large files, so I have to send it another time.

-sincerely, Iceywave [West of San Antonio ☆]

A: [Mark J.] I'm all in on 'Centipede', Icy. I like the way the bracket breaks for them. All they have to do is walk [on their tiny metal feet] by three of the four greatest lightweights of the period [where is Hall of Fame lightweight 'Dr. Inferno Jr.'?] and they have it made.

Maybe you could upload your video to YouTube as a private file and send me the link -- less danger of having your iPhone complaining?

Q: Please rename everything inside these symbols { } to "redacted" on the website, 'cause I don't want any readers to get the championship spoiled for them.

A: What fun is that? I'd much rather use Mad Libs to fill in the redacted spaces. Here we go...

Well, I'm happy to announce that {Romaine Lettuce} is our season 3.0 lightweight champion! He beat {Crash McCoy} and {Soggy Mushroom} in the qualifiers, then made a clean sweep of the entire {Upper West} side and narrowly defeated {The Star Spangled Banner} in the final! While I wanted {A Bag of Kittens} to win (for obvious reasons), I couldn't be happier with the end result.

Be ready for the middleweight bracket {When Pigs Fly}! The first Main Event? {The London Philharmonic} vs {The Mormon Tabernacle Choir}.

-sincerely, Iceywave ☆

A: Have you noticed that I found a sponsor for the "How to Troll Team Run Amok - Part 3" section of "The Iceywave Troll" page? You should have a look -- load the page and hit refresh.

I Know Who Has the Tape
Q: Any idea which person got the Robotica VHS episode 101? I have no idea to me it will always be a mystery until some time coz we do not want to wait until Easter 2096. And even though Run Amok is a father son team do you think the robot is a female's favourite? Again always a mystery. Now if you do not mind I am working on arena replicas of The Speedway, Labyrinth and Fight to the Finish of you're interested. [Erskine, Scottland ☆]

A: [Mark J.] Yes, I know the fellow who got the Robotica VHS tape. He lives in Oregon and runs a combat robot question and answer website. I believe he has some connection to Robotica. See more information four posts down the page.

After the final episode of Robotica Season 1 aired on TLC we received email congratulations from female fans, but I can't say if Run Amok had more or fewer women rooting for her than did the other teams. Not sure how we would know. The builder of 'Killer B' had his daughter with him at Robotica, so perhaps that carried some weight in the gender balance?

I'm always happy to see recreations of the Robotica arenas. I notice that your teaser video says "40 Robots" but the seeding list you sent separately (not published here) has 24 robots. I also wonder why you have the Robotica Season 3 champion seeded so low at #8. Keep me up to date on your progress!

Q: I take it you have the VHS tape first Roboti...

[Argues with himself] Quiet will you - do not let the cat out the bag! Why? Coz the rat/mouse might chase it and the dog gets scared? No it isn't you... [speaks back to Mark]
Sorry about that. Having a friendly arguement about genuinism of the Robotica genome. Any chance the episode of Robotica episode 101 will be converted to digi...
[Back to arguing with himself - AGAIN!] Pipe down will you or I'll shunt you into next week! Oh really. I'd like to see you try, Mr.Sgt.Bash. You want the Extreme Warriors? YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE EXTREME WARRIORS!!! Let alone your Battlebots Viacom fan! Why you... [Back to speaking to Mark - AGAIN!]
‘Scuse me a tick!

A: Take a deep breath, Erskine. There is nothing unique about the tape; it's the same tape sold by TLC back in 2001. VHS tapes degrade over time, so the video quality on a 20+ year-old VHS cassette is not going to be any better than currently available digital copies.

I didn't buy the eBay offering for the tape -- I bought it for the unique "For Your Consideration" cardboard tape box sent to members of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Besides, I don't even have a video to digital converter.

Q: Well I know you do not have one however since I am very nice too you and I am very warm-hearted I'd thought I would find you a video digital convert as a souvenir in honour of Aaron and of your Robotica voyage let me try and find one for your souvenir

A: That's very kind of you, Erskine -- but please do not bother. I'm not interested in digitizing a copyrighted video tape and uploading it. I realize that mine is an unpopular position, but I respect the rights of copyright holders.

Comment: Oh right you only have the box for the tape right you can always lend to me so i can privately convert to digi-allright where are those rats allright you 4 get back into the labyrinth these pesky vermins

What's the Prize?
Q: Guess who's back... In all seriousness, 2023 had been a rather taxing year for me (for reasons that I don't feel comfortable discussing here), but reading posts on Ask Aaron for hours had really helped me cope. 2024 has only been a few days long so far, and I'm already feeling the happiest I've been in weeks. I think it's gonna be a wonderful year! But I do have some questions and small suggestions...

1) You said before that I was in contention for an award early this year, and while I obviously want to know if I won, I'm more interested in what the award could be.

A: [Mark J.] I am pleased to announce that you have been recognized as theAsk Aaron 2023 Contributor of the Year! Your posts have convinced me that you have read every word of every combat robot page on the site, and your questions have been so diverse and far reaching that you are one of only two contributors in the history of Ask Aaron to earn their own sub-page. You had no serious competition, but I wanted to wait to the end of the year to make the announcement. The award itself has two parts:

  1. You now have a on the location tag at the end of your questions, and more importantly...
  2. You Get One Free Wish! Absolutely anything you ask for is yours. Fame - Wealth - Super Powers - A N Y T H I N G ! Just ask, and be sure to use the magic word 'please'.
2) Can you see how many people have visited pages on the website? If so, can you tell me how many visited my Iceywave page?

A: I do track total visitors to, but I only track views of individual pages within a moving horizon of about three days. I consider that information to be proprietary, but I suppose that if you wanted to use your wish I would be compelled to tell you.

And for suggestions...

  • On troll #35 there's a spelling error. It should say "they're" but instead says "they’re" or something like that.
A: That's actually a technical glitch rather than a typo. Your iPhone is using an extended character set with quotation marks and apostrophes that confuse my web server. Rodger the Web Hamster spots and recodes these before they get uploaded, but once in a while the furry little guy misses one. I'll fix it and take it out of Roger's pay.
  • Could you please provide a link to the Wikipedia page for 'Saving Me' when you click on the word on troll #35? It's an underrated show that deserves more attention!
A: The magic word! I thought you might use your free wish for something bigger, but Your Wish Is Granted!

Lastly, I want to say thank you for your help with my videos. I'm planning to have my YouTube channel up by the end of the month (it'll be the one with the purple bird on a green background), and I finally finished my short video about the history of drones in robot combat! I'm also working on a BattleBots parody series in Robot Arena 2 called 'IceyBots' and also a video reviewing every episode of 'The Ghost and Molly McGee' (I'm not just a robot nerd, but an animation nerd as well)!

-sincerely, Icey [West of San Antonio ☆]

I'm very pleased to hear that you found reading thru the thousands of questions and answers here at Ask Aaron to be therapeutic, Icey. I will admit that researching and answering questions submitted to Ask Aaron provides me with a bit of therapy as well. I hope your 2024 continues to go as well as it has started.

Q: I feel honored to have won the 2023 contributor of the year award! I've wondered how Erskine got their star in front of their name, and now I know!

Now, I just had a thought. I was thinking of creating some files for paper models of Team Run Amok's other robots to go along with Run Amok! I just need to know whether you prefer raster or vector files. If raster files are better, what resolution would be best?

-sincerely, Iceywave [West of San Antonio ☆]

A: [Mark J.] I haven't seen a new paper combat robot model in years, Iceywave. I've found raster graphics to be better accepted by my readers. For our purposes 150 DPI is fine for a model to be printed in an 8.5" by 11" format.

P.S. Could you provide a Wikipedia link to 'The Ghost and Molly McGee' as well?

A: Yes I could. Just win the 2024 contributor of the year award and use that free wish for another link.

Q: P.S.S. I sent this message yesterday at around 8:30pm central time, but it appears you haven't received it. It's probably something weird on my end. : )

A: No, the problem is on my end. For future reference, my Friday evenings are pretty full. I have dinner at the country club, practice the bassoon for two hours, and then sharpen my figure skates before going to bed. On Saturday mornings I will typically split half a cord of firewood before sitting down to my breakfast of steel-cut oatmeal with brown sugar.

Today I had to set aside an additional portion of my morning to participate in an on-line panel discussion about the impact of the shower scene in Hitchcock's "Psycho" on 20th century film making. Did you know that there are fifty-two camera cuts in that one scene? Then I responded to questions from Erskine and yourself.

Gotta go... the pinsetter on lane eight at Firebird Bowl-a-Rama has broken again and they want me to fix it before the junior league tournament starts.

Date marker: January 2024
March, 2003 - Team Run Amok started 'Ask Aaron' to answer the robot combat questions sent to our team. Twenty years and 7200 questions later we're still fielding a very broad range of practical, theoretical, arcane, obscure, and sometimes just plain silly questions.

March, 2023 - We celebrated our 20th anniversary by giving away a stack of complete termite-weight robot kits in our 'Secret Identity Contest'. The contest is now closed, but you can still try to solve the puzzle. Think you know your combat robots? Give our anniversary puzzle a try:

Ask Aaron 20th Anniversary Contest Wrap-Up

Bleedin' Advert
Q: [Redacted: comments and link to eBay item] oh and eh by the way if you have something to say about this then please do it in a British accent [Erskine, Scottland]

A: [Mark J.] Take your pick:

Cockney: Cor blimey, mate! This 'ere collectable's a bit of a geezer, innit? But Ask Aaron ain't gonna chuck up no live eBay links for it, nah-uh. That's too much like a bleedin' advert, ain't it? And why'd I wanna stir up all the fuss for something I might fancy buyin', eh? Keep it on the down-low, savvy?

Scottish: Aye, ken, this collectable's a bit o' a guid find, nae doot. But Ask Aaron's no plasterin' live eBay links for it, ken? Too much like an advert, that. An' why bother stirrin' up interest for somethin' I might fancy buyin', aye? Stick to the workin' ways, nae need for a big fuss.

Now that the dust has settled... I can reveal the eBay item that Erskine was jumping out of his skin to tell me about.

Television networks will send out special For Your Consideration (FYC) copies of some of their programs to members of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in hopes that the members will nominate it for an Emmy Award. The Learning Channel sent out a set of these "screener" copies in hopes of having "Robotica" nominated in the Picture Editing and Sound Mixing categories for non-fiction programs "...and all other eligible categories."

In 2001 these "screener" copies were on VHS tape. Erskine stumbled upon one of the rare Robotica FYC tapes on eBay. There is nothing special about the recording of 'Season 1 Episode 1' itself, but the packaging is unique and collectable. The seller was a VHS dealer specializing in rare tapes and he wanted a bit more than I thought the item was worth.

I needed a little time to put in a reasonable offer before word got out and a ton of viewers and watchers showed up to give the seller the idea that he was going to get his full price. Time passed, I offered, he accepted, deal done.

The End Is Near
Q: Happy Thanksgiving Mark! I may be a week behind schedule, but here are the last Robot Arena ".bot" files: 'Mini Maxbot 2.0' and 'Zpatula'. I couldn’t think of any early 2000's beetleweights, so the screen grab is 'Zpatula' fighting NHRL competitor 'Filibuster' by 'Khaotic Robotics'.

A: [Mark J.] I've added the RA2 .bot files to the others on our Robot Arena: Design and Destroy page. Your screen grab has been added to the Iceywave Gallery. Thanks!

And in terms of questions, I have three...

Q-1: What comic book/graphic novel did the 'Read the FAQ' image originate from (unless you drew it yourself, in which case bravo!)?

A: I'm a 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' fan. The source is: Angel & Faith #11. Dark Horse Comics, 2012. View Here

Q-2: You’ve said all but #10 and #21 on "Battbotica Wars: True Stories from Robot Combat Events" have happened to Team Run Amok, could you elaborate more on both, or are they inside jokes that I don't get?

A: #10 happened to hundreds of BattleBots competitors, and I learned about #21 when I loaned out a spare radio...

10 You line up for lunch and are handed a white cardboard box. After examining the contents of the box, you decide to eat the box and use the contents for packing material.

Life in the pits during the 'Comedy Central' years of BattleBots was very different than life at the other televised robot shows. Hot catered food was served at Robotica and Robot Wars, but the lunch included with your entry fee at BattleBots was a white cardboard box containing a lunchmeat sandwich, a bag of off-brand chips, and a bottle of water. Some people claimed they got a cookie -- they must have been favored locals.

21 You build a new 'bot, crate it up, and send it and all your tools off. Twenty-four hours before you're set to board your international flight (non-refundable ticket) you get a call telling you that the event has been cancelled because they didn't sell enough tickets. You miss the next two regional events waiting for your 'bot to be shipped back.

Back about 2003, Team Plumb Crazy ('Stinger', 'Sewer Snake'...) signed on to compete in one of the independent combat events that sprang up in England after the original run of Robot Wars was over. The 75 MHz R/C radios used in the US weren't legal in England, so they asked to borrow one of our UK-legal 50 MHz Futaba R/C systems left over from our Robot Wars trips. When their trip was cancelled I got an email from them that became Battbotica #21.

Q-3: What do your robots eat for Thanksgiving?

A: The crushed dreams of our opponents, same as any other day.

Wait, I’m not done! I still have one more gallery entry to make, and it's a big one. Not to mention the absolute 100% super duper ultra mega final (and yes, you do have to call it that) question on The Iceywave Troll-igy Epilogue, so be on the lookout in a few days!

No Need To Wait
Q: Now Battlebots was released as a prototype for Nintendo GameCube I enjoyed playing as almost all of the robots in this game however there is one other robot that I would to play as that should have been added in the game and that robot is Tazbot I mean come on Battlebots really why I want to play as Tazbot do you mark if Tazbot was in the game here’s what I would do to have it’s weapon work

Now unlike other robots in this game except for Diesector here is the configuration on Tazbot the weapon the horizontal axe pick on a lifting arm mounted on a 360 degree turret

  • A Button: I am gonna lift my axe up and flip any opponent that doesn’t have a SRiMech (Self RIghting MECHanism).
  • B Button: I am gonna lower my axe and set my opponents free.
  • L Button: I am gonna swing my axe to the left.
  • R Button: I am gonna swing my axe to the right beware Vlad I am commin’ for you and I want revenge.
And if you had any ideas for Tazbot then please keep me posted. [Erskine, Scotland]

A: [Mark J.] I don't think anyone's going to hack into a twenty-year-old Gamecube prototype to patch in a Tazbot replica any time soon -- but you don't have to wait. Will you settle for playing Tazbot in Robot Arena 2 DSL 2.2?

Poke the Sleeping Bear
Q: Hello Mark, are you still in touch with Adam Wrigley? If you are, could you please ask him what happened to The website hasn't been updated since February, and for weeks the main page was just a blank screen (although it appears to be fixed now, but still very strange). -Sincerely, (you probably know who at this point) [West of San Antonio]

A: [Mark J.] The archives indicate that updates post only two or three times a year -- and generally in the winter months. For example, there were no updates between March '21 and January '22. At one point Adam's original Total Insanity Combat Robotics site went nine years without an update, so I wouldn't worry much about BotsFC being neglected for 9 months. I make it a point to avoid badgering webmasters about why their site hasn't been updated recently. When I do they usually write back with a list of my pages that I haven't touched in a few years and a reminder that my site design is stuck in the 90's. Serves me right for complaining. If you'd like to poke a sleeping bear you can send an email to BotsFC.

Q: In hindsight, I think I got a little paranoid over nothing. I would never want to poke a sleeping bear!

But I am wondering, were did you meet Rodger the Web Gerbil? I hope he's still doing well (gerbils only live for 1-2 years, so...)

And here's my latest RA2 build, Run Away! I used the Run Amok chassis and gave it a new paint job and some modifications (ignore the size difference, it's just the camera angle)

P.S. Did you receive my recreation of Propeller-Head vs The Gap? I can resend the image if needed. - sincerely, Iceywave

A: Rodger is no ordinary gerbil. I needed a little website help and found his resume on LinkedIn. He had a degree from Cal Tech and very reasonable salary demands: food, a water bottle, a little wheel to run in, and gig-speed internet. He's been living on the bottom shelf of my bookshelf for better than five years and he looks as healthy today as he did when I first picked him up at the bus station.

I did receive your Robot Arena 2 depiction of The Gap and Propeller-Head, thank you. I restrict the number of 'fan art' posts to the Ask Aaron main page, so I've made a special Iceywave gallery at the bottom of your RunAmok Iceywave page that has all three of your screen grabs.

People Will Argue
Q: Thank you for the info about MechWars. I'll probably have to make a separate video just to cover that event alone!

I have two more questions for today:

1. With Conquering Clown having fought at proving grounds (and winning apparently!) wouldn't that be the record for longest gap between two fights for a bot? (19 years, correct me if I'm wrong.)

A: [Mark J.] I think you'd have a rough time gaining consensus on what counts as "a bot" and what qualifies as "between fights".

  1. How much of a robot can be replaced before it is no longer the same robot? I'm confident that better than 99% of the 'Conquering Clown' that fought in 'The Proving Ground' never even met the original Clown. It shares only a name and general appearance with the original.
  2. If I roll original 'Run Amok' out of my workshop and challenge my neighbor to a driveway robot fight, I don't think I get to count that as an actual fight. Likewise, 'The Proving Ground' fights are all exhibitions. They aren't part of a tournament and they don't count as official fights on anyone's record. They're just showing off.
  3. If you're willing to count new robots that have only a name and general appearance in common with the original and if you want to count exhibition matches, I can build a case for either 'Tazbot' or 'Overkill' having the longest gap. Both originals last fought at Comedy Central Season 5 and have now returned with new versions to fight as 'showbots' at the 'BattleBots: Destruct-A-Thon'. That's twenty-one years by my calendar.
I think the 'gap record' has way too many subjective elements to be a thing.

2. Are there any serious contenders for the 'weirdest question of the year' so far?

A: For a while I was giving out a 'weird question' award for each month, but it has been quite some time since I've received a truely odd question that wasn't a deliberate troll. I'll have to take a look back at the end of the year to see if there is anything worth mentioning.

P.S. I'm an avid Robot Arena 2 player, and I thought you would like this image. (Credit to 'goose' on gametechmods for making the Fight to the Finish arena!) -Sincerely, Iceywave [West of San Antonio]

A: Whoa! Is that the tail of 'Killer Bee' disappearing over the edge of the platform? Hard for me to tell. We could actually feel the heat from the flames up in the driver balcony, and looking at that image makes me a little warm again. Thanks.

For any Robot Arena 2 fans out there, I have that RA2 model of Run Amok available for you to download and drop into the game -- just as Iceywave has done.

...and you do know about the Robotica mini video game in Metalmania, right?

Number Six Isn't True
Q: I think I remember a list of "Ten Things my Combat Robot Taught Me" that one of the Comedy Central BattleBots teams had printed on the back of their t-shirts. I can't find the list anywhere. Did I imagine it? [Kirkland, Washington]

A: [Mark J.] You're likely thinking of the Big Bang Robotics team shirts for their middleweight 'Heavy Metal Noise'. You have the list title just a bit off:

Top 10 Things
I've Learned From
My Combat Robot:
  1. You can NEVER have too many tools.
  2. Video games teach valuable skills.
  3. Energy is conserved. Money is not.
  4. If it can break, it will.
  5. Good. Fast. Cheap. Pick any two.
  6. Money CAN buy happiness.
  7. KISS - Keep It Simple, Stupid.
  8. When in doubt, add more POWER!
  9. It's the little things that get you.
  10. Losing SUCKS!

The Early Days
Q: I wasn't going to ask a question today, but something just came to mind. Since (I'm assuming) GoDaddy and SquareSpace didn't exist back then, how exactly did you make AskAaron and the other sites? - Sincerely, Iceywave [West of San Antonio]

A: [Mark J.] Well youngster, just set back and let this old-timer tell you what it was like out on the frontier of the early Internet...

In the late 90's I subscribed to home a Dial-up Internet access and email service thru my local library for a reasonable monthly fee. While reading the service documentation I discovered that my account included "five megabytes of internet accessible file storage." I wasn't entirely sure what that was, but I was paying for it and I was determined to use it.

The service start-up disk included simple file transfer software and I experimented with uploading and downloading .txt and .gif files. After some head scratching I figured out the URL of my file storage and I was able to access the uploaded files with a web browser. I taught myself how to code simple pages in HTML and joined a Webring so that search engines could find my pages. I went thru a few Internet Service Providers with increasing web storage until 2017 when I leased space on a private server and bought the URL.

The first Ask Aaron page was primitive, but it was fairly typical of hobby web pages at the time. Once in a while someone will try to troll me by saying that my current web pages "look like the 1990's." They obviously don't know what the 90's looked like.

I have a webpage dedicated to the history of Ask Aaron that has samples of the page from different eras, links to our anniversary contest pages, and a chart of questions answered over time.

Q: P.S. do you still own the chicken hat? Just curious.

A: The post says "I used to have a cowboy hat with a cartoonish foam plastic chicken...", but I do still have it and I wear it every year on International Respect for Chickens Day. I am not ashamed.

Q: Cassius [Guangdong, China]

A: [Mark J.] Probably

Serious Questions
Q: My own page on AskAaron, I'm so proud!

A: [Mark J.] It is a rare honor, Iceywave. The only other builder with their own page here is a fella from Beverly, Texas who had a whole lot of questions about a Tombstone-style bar spinner.

Here are my serious questions for today...

1. I found an image on google of a BuggleBots annihilator, but I can't find the actual fight anywhere online.

A: [Mark J.] Five beetles and heavyweight 'Two Headed Death Flamingo'? The poster was an April Fool's joke uploaded to Facebook by BuggleBots in 2020. I'll tell them they got you.

When I saw that poster I thought, "Wow, I didn't know they built a 3lb version of Two Headed Death Flamingo." [face palm]

2. Could you share some more information about that antweight you made out of duct tape? I'm sure others are interested as well.

A: The origin was an Ask Aaron post from 2015:

Q: If a Robotic Combat builder designed an iPhone, I wonder what it would be like? [Facebook]

A: [Mark J.] If it was designed by an 'average' robot combat builder:

  • It would be held together with duct tape and hose clamps,
  • The critical parts would come from a cut-rate warehouse in Hong Kong, and
  • The interface would be awful because they finished programming it in the car on the way to the release party.

3. Do you upload answers to questions when you first finish typing them out, or do you have them set to publish at a specific time?

A: Usually one, sometimes the other.

P.S. Thanks for the info about torsion springs and music wire. My HexBug model of P1 will be able to work perfectly (when I 3D print the parts, that is)!

- Sincerely, Iceywave [West of San Antonio]
How to Troll Team Run Amok
Q: It's cool to see someone from Scotland take inspiration from one of my HexBug projects, even though I haven't even started my YouTube channel yet. Thank you, person from Erskine!

Anyways, I thought I would ask you to grade my ideas for other antwieght robots. Please know that I'm just brainstorming and I'm not going to build them anytime soon, but I just wanted to know if any of these ideas are good. Some of these I thought of when I was very sleep deprived, BE WARNED.

  1. Overhead spinner with flails (essentially just a 1lb 'Mauler')
  2. A box with two omni wheels and ramming spikes on all four sides
  3. A linear actuator powered crusher (this is the only way I could see a crusher working without hydraulics or pneumatics)
  4. Two arms on servo motors (think 'Little Metal Friend' from Robot Arena 2) with vibrating razor blades on the end
  5. A multi bot consisting of two copies of Flamin'Yon but half the size and weight
  6. A three wheel drive sit-and-spin bot (a mini Y-Pout without meltybrain technology)
  7. A full body spinner with legs instead of wheels
  8. 37 HexBug nanos with tiny paper traffic cones on them (we'll market it as the first fully autonomous antweight robot)
If you need more information about one of my ideas listed, let me know and I'll send a drawing. - Sincerely, Iceywave : ) [West of San Antonio]

[Mark J.] Above is just the start of a truly epic troll of 'Ask Aaron' by Iceywave. The complete troll runs 25 questions which, with my answers, is just too large for me to keep on the 'Ask Aaron' homepage. I've decided to give this troll its own page -- take a deep breath and click:

Iceywave's Epic Troll

The Fans are Busy
Q: I began a working process (workprint) for my R/C Run Amok. Until it's ready here's a pic of my freewheeling 1/10th pullback scaled model of Run Amok that I created not that long ago using Legos. What do you think of the wheel sizes? [Erskine, Scotland ☆]

A: [Mark J.] There's a lot of mini Run Amok activity at the moment.

Your wheel sizes are very good . The rears are spot on, and the fronts are as close as you can get with Lego parts. The wheelbase looks just a bit long -- in correct scale Run Amok's tires do not extend rearward beyond the end of the top armor. Overall, very nice!

Q: Here is a workprint on Run Amok R/C however I have managed to pick up a Hexbug Fireant (the Red particularly) and will find the same Lego wheels that I used for the rear wheels for the freewheeling Run Amok and just for a modernization as much for its automotive steering the Run Amok I'll create using the Hexbug Fireant will have tank steering and/or 4 wheel drive and 4 wheel steering but other than that my Fireant should come either Monday or Tuesday even if coming during rainy days which I have just now in which you currently do not have and once I've create my first actual Hexbug Run Amok and Flexy Flyer using the Hexbug Whiplash which other Robotica competitor would you like to see me make a Hexbug model of next?

A: You've got a good start there, Erskine!

You're correct that the autumn rains have not really started here in Oregon's Willamette Valley, but they will soon. I have a few late summer projects still to get done, and I'm running short on time.

Next Hexbug Robotica model? I think you could make a good 'Ram Force' model from the Hexbug 'Duck!', don't you?

Red as The Sunrise
Q: I must say here but I wonder what colour of red of Run Amok (aka Red Arrow) is?

And if I am right the speed controller was from England and the motor from Germany. My R/C car you told me about for creating an R/C Run Amok will be with me tomorrow. I saw the Hexbug Run Amok image created using a Fire Ant, but even though my R/C Run Amok won't be a hexbug Run Amok It might be a Hexbug SCALE Run Amok (I wish Hexbug would create R/C Robots with 'Automotive Steering') so hopefully I can do well and wish me the best of luck. [Erskine, Scotland ☆]

A: [Mark J.] As it happens, I still have the can of paint (pictured) used for the red arrow on Run Amok's top armor. The paint is oil-based Rust-Oleum Sunrise Red gloss enamel.between them.

Bonus Trivia Because I know you like details I will mention that the red and white paint on Run Amok's top armor do not touch -- there is a 1/4" gap of unpainted wood.
You are correct about Run Amok's key components: I'm looking forward to seeing pictures of your Run Amok R/C -- best luck in the project.

A Portion of Torsion
Q: Remember that surprise I alluded to in my last post? Well… I made a Hexbug 'Run Amok' using a Hexbug fire ant, a 3D printer, card stock, some Lego pieces, and a whole lot of double sided tape. She will be fighting in my next HexBug series, Ultimate HexBug Tournament 2! Season one will release in early 2024, so expect to see her fight 'Tombstone', 'Disarray', and 'Spinning Mayhem' in summer/fall of next year (fight schedule subject to change based on multiple factors)!
My only question today is where can I find springs that look like the picture at left, or below, or wherever they show up on your email. The wire needs to be 24 gauge or less. I've looked at Lowe's, Home Depot, and on Amazon, but I can only find those 'slinky style' springs, which are good for trampolines, not so good for HexBug flippers.

- Sincerely, Iceywave [West of San Antonio]

A: [Mark J.] I'm honored, Iceywave. That's as nice a micro 'Run Amok' as I've seen. Thanks for the photo!

You're looking for a "torsion spring". Using that name you can find a bewildering selection of sizes, lengths, and number of coils on Amazon, like these 0.5mm wire 6-coil springs.

If you can't find the exact spring you need, you can start with some steel music wire in the diameter you need and wrap it tightly around a small diameter rod to make your own custom spring. The first few you make will be... a learning experience, but you'll get the knack pretty quickly. Your local hobby shop almost certainly has music wire in stock. A 24 gauge wire is 0.022" in diameter, and 0.020" music wire is a standard size.

Whipped Cream and Bandages
Q: I heard a rumor on social media, but I can't figure out if it's true or not:
'Ultraviolet' entered in BattleBots 2016 and lost to 'SOW' and 'Hypershock'. Depressed, he made his way to the Missouri Arch and leapt off, only to land on a U-Haul truck heading for Afghanistan. He worked in a roller rink as a whipped cream vendor, until he saved enough money to become a platypus farmer. He met a nice woman named Mausoleum, and they moved into an orange house, which gets burned down on November 4th and gets rebuilt on Nov. 5th. They had four children together, a boy, a girl, a hermaphrodite, and a welding mask. The family is doing well now.
Is this rumor true?

A: I can neither confirm or deny the rumor, Iceywave. Others interested in the source of this rumor mashup may wish to read this post and this post in "Aaron's Greatest Hits".

Q: P.S. I noticed that you put a space in between my eyes and mouth on my smiley faces, have I been typing emoticons incorrectly this whole time?

 - Sincerely, Iceywave [Chicago maybe?]

A: Just my personal preference. I think a text emoji with a space displays better on a web page. ; ^ )

How Bad Is It?
Q: P.S. - Is this hamburger bad? [West of San Antonio]

A: [Mark J.] I've seen worse -- but yes, it's bad. I give it four pickles on the bad hamburger scale.

Down At the Corner Pub
Q: Juggerbot's team captain Mike Morrow has the entire episodes of the 'Inside Robotica' series which are in queue at being digitised what words would you say to him if they were uploaded onto the internet archive along with the Robotica Series? [Erskine, Scotland ☆]

A: [Mark J.] Mike Morrow lives four blocks from Run Amok corporate headquarters. When he gives you the digitized videos I'll meet him at the corner pub and buy him a beer with your regards.

BotRank Has Names
Q: I'm trying to come up with a unique name for my robot. Is there a website or database I can check to see if someone else is using a certain name? [San Mateo, California]

A: [Mark J.] BotRank maintains a database of names of all the robots from all the event results that are sent to them. Not all events report their tournament results to BotRank, but it's the best single source of names available.

BotRank Unique Name DataBase

NOTE: BotRank's ranking and tournament records databases have been scrambled for about nine months now -- ignore them. The names data appears to be intact.

Mistakes Were Made
Q: Hey Mark, It's Iceywave here, I wanted to apologize for my CRHoF ballot... [West of San Antonio]

A: [Mark J.] No apology required, Iceywave. Things went a little sideways with the 2023 Combat Robot Hall of Fame balloting, and more than a few people submitted very large numbers of robots on their ballots. No harm was done. I'm already able to look back at the matter and have a good laugh.

Your ballot did set a record, and that record will stand. Future balloting will have a limit on the number of robots listed.

Try the Obvious
Q: where do I go to vote for the combat robot hall of fame?Someone asked this a while ago but I couldnt find out how to vote on any of the websites. [Vestal, New York]

A: [Mark J.] Have you tried looking on The Combat Robot Hall of Fame?

Follow-Up I see you found the ballot page, Vestal. In fact you found it twice. The rules say only one ballot per person: your first ballot will count, your second ballot will not.
Some Robots Can't Get In
Q: can i vote for a d2 in the combat robot hall of fame. [Vestal, New York]

A: [Mark J.] The Combat Robot Hall of Fame opens balloting for new members in August of odd-numbered years. During the open balloting period you may vote for any robots that you please, but the Hall has specific rules and guidelines that define what robots are actually eligible for membership -- and there is a special section in the rules devoted to BotKits and Kitbots:

Membership in The Hall is awarded to a specific, single robot as I have struggled to define above. Both the D2 and Weta kits have certainly met with success in competition, have had a strong influence in design, and have made a lasting impact on the sport -- but these attributes are spread over dozens of 'bots and nearly as many teams. As in the case for 'Juggerbot' and 'Logoseye' I laid out above, operating under different teams qualifies them as different robots, even if they are mechanically and conceptually identical.

I would consider a creating a special Award of Merit for one or both of these products should the ballots indicate that recognition is due, but I can't see regular membership for a commercial product.

So a specific robot made from a D2 kit may be elected to membership in the CRHoF but, because membership is restricted to a single robot or robot series campaigned by a single team, "D2 kits" taken as a group cannot be considered.
In 2023 the Hall will open for balloting from August 7th thru August 20th. Visit The Combat Robot Hall of Fame for details.

Who's on My List?
Q: The Robot Combat Hall of Fame opens for new members soon. Who's going to be on your ballot? [Prescott, Arizona]

A: [Mark J.] The Robot Combat Hall of Fame opens balloting for new members in August of odd-numbered years. This year, balloting will be open from August 7th thru August 20th. Given that Team Run Amok hosts 'The Hall' and counts the ballots, I don't think it's appropriate for me to share my list or campaign for specific robots.

If you'd like to hear some pros and cons for potential new members to the RCHoF, the July 28th Robot Combat Tonight video podcast from The Combot Collective has an extended section on the topic. I don't agree with all of their conclusions, but the discussion itself may give you some ideas and candidates.

It's Just a Jump to the Left
Q: Did any of your [robots] have a victory dance? [Vestal, New York]

A: [Mark J.] Our Robot Wars robot 'The Gap' can do a good dance. A full-force flipper activation while in special 'fast spin' transmitter mode can rock it back off the drive wheels and into a brief spin on the tail of the chassis. But... we don't do victory dances.

Although it's entertaining, a victory dance is a little too 'in your face' for Team Run Amok. We're more grateful for the competition than for the outcome. At the end of a match we shut down our 'bot and shake the hands of our opponents. If we win our smiles are just a little bigger than if we lose.

It Took a Long Time
Q: Not really a question, but you and your son helped me build my first combat robots when I was a kid forever ago. I'm not really in the sport anymore, but I still check on your site occasionally. I remember desperately wanting to see the clandestine street fights but being unable to convince my parents to pay for it. So, I just got the greatest kick out of seeing those fights uploaded. Thanks for maintaining such a great resource for such a long time. [Madison, Wisconsin]

A: [Mark J.] You're very welcome, Madison. Now I'm sorry it took me so long to get around to uploading the Oregon Clandestine Street Fight matches. If I'd known the videos had an audience waiting I would have done it sooner!

If an official Team Run Amok cap could complete your childhood dream send me your address and I'll mail one to you -- for the sake of forever ago.

Could Be Nobody Knows
Q: How many robots are in the "dark" series from Team Dark Forces. [Vestal, New York]

A: [Mark J.] Whoa... Team Dark Forces built a whole lot of robots in the last 20+ years. I came up with twenty fairly quickly but I knew I was missing some. I dropped an IM to builder Russ Barrow to see if he had a complete list of his own creations. He replied:

I can imagine at least 30 unique names, with some robots going through up to 10 versions (like 'Dark Pounder'). I know that in the last 7-8 years I have had all the bots entered in the Robot Combat Events website, but those are just the insect class bots of the past few years.

Back in the day, there were the heavier 'bots like 'Dark Shredder', 'Dark Steel', 'Dark Track/Lightening Tracks', 'Dark 44', 'Dark Ripper', and 'Dark Stryker'. Some old small bots included 'Dark Micro 44', 'Dark Micro Shredder', 'Dark Micro Steel', and many others I have actually forgotten. I do love building.

So, between my search of the Builder's Data Base, the Robot Combat Events site, and Russ's memory, I have a list of 40 'Dark' series robots. I'm sure there are more:

Team Dark Forces Combat Robots
FairyweightDark Bullit, Dark Scalpel
U.S. AntweightDark Blade, Dark Blade Classic, Dark Flounder, Dark Micro 44, Dark Micro Shredder, Dark Micro, Dark Steel, Dark Pounder, Dark Ring, Dark Siren, Dark Stinger, Dark Talon
Plastic AntBlack Plastic, Dark Biscuit, Dark Claw, Dark Skid Mark, Dark Speed, Dark Star, Dark Widow
BeetleweightDark Axe, Dark Blade, Dark Daggers, Dark Orb, Dark Pummeler, Dark Slayer, Dark Soldier
HobbyweightDark Blade, Dark Circle, Dark Disc, Dark Ness, Dark Sabre
LightweightDark Ripper, Dark Steel, Dark Steel (Stainless)
MiddleweightDark Shredder, Dark Striker
HeavyweightDark 44, Dark Track/Lightning Tracks

'Dark' robots NOT from Team Dark Forces
Dark Canuck, Dark Clyde, Dark Destroyr, Dark Fangs, Dark Lord, Dark Matter, Dark Moon Lollibot, Dark Omen, Dark Plastic Soldier, Dark Princess, Dark Prodigy, Dark Thunder II

You Can't Find What Isn't There
Q: what was nasty glass of waters weapon? and why cant i find it on botrank? [Vestal, New York]

A: [Mark J.] 'Nasty Glass of Water' was a hobbyweight robot we built for the September 2001 NERC Hobby Expo event in Chicago. It was a 'bottomless' dust pan controlbot design driven by a huge pair of automotive windshield wiper motors running at 24 volts. Think of it as a very early experiment in anti-wedge forks.

At the moment it's impossible to find much of anything on SPARC BotRank -- the database is badly corrupted and a great many records are missing.

Example - The index page claims to have a record of 4750 historic matches for the 12-pound class, but if you add up the fights column for all the listed 'bots you only get 854 individual fights. Since it takes two 'bots to make one match, that means 90% of the fights are missing.
The last intact version of BotRank I know of is the May 2022 archive from The Wayback Machine, but you won't find 'Nasty Glass of Water' there because NERC didn't start sending their event reports to BotRank until 2003.
UPDATE: I wrote to admin Rob Farrow to ask about the situation at BotRank. He responded:
Hey Mark, sorry I didn't reply earlier.

It's been busted for about 6 months and you are the 1st to notice. No one uses it anymore. It is going to be semi-retired from regular use. Everyone has switched over the the results/tracking and ranking system on the RobotCombatEvents site which has >90% of events submitting their results as opposed to the height of botrank which had ~50% of events.

[Name Redacted] wants to take it over and do some stuff with it, so it isn't going away but it may take some time to get it transferred.

I didn't even know about the RobotCombatEvents Ranking System. I'm happy that there's something tracking results, but it certainly isn't a substitute for the historic records that were available at BotRank.

You can drop a note to Rob to thank him for keeping BotRank going thru the years and let him know that you found it to be a valuable asset to combat robotics.

What Is That Thing?
Q: If you remove Run Amok's front wedge what is that thing that helps push the box in the maze and go under Killer B in the fight to the finish, is it another wedge or something and speaking of Run Amok's wedge what are these things on the sides of it i am guessing these are the iron weights.[Erskine, Scotland ☆]

A: [Mark J.] You can't just hang a sheet of metal off the front of your robot and call it a wedge -- a wedge requires structural support. With the wedge itself removed the tubular steel 'bumper' and support members are exposed. The top supports angle upward and are welded to the strong front chassis beam that also carries the steering bushings. The lower supports extend all the way back to the steel battery box. The widely separated anchorage locations spread impact forces across the chassis.


Early testing revealed too much flexing along the sides of the wedge. Before shipping out to Robotica we welded 1/4" thick aluminum angle stock along both edges to reinforce this potential weakness.

Frame by Frame
Q: Where and how on earth did you get those Run Amok swats Killer B and Run Amok tosses Ram Force off the edge gifs? I feel a bit unconcious after seeing them. [Erskine, Scotland ☆] A: [Mark J.] You're referencing the pair of animated gifs in the Run Amok Robotica Journal that step thru the final moments of our "Fight to the Finish" contests at Robotica season 1.

I originally had short video clips of the fights in the journal, but one day I was stepping thru the full video frame-by-frame and realized how much more detail and drama that type of replay gave. I grabbed four critical frames from each of the videos, individually enhanced them for sharpness and color, and spliced the results together into a pair of slow-motion gifs.

In the gif above you can see Killer Bee's rising wedge clip Run Amok's top armor and lift her front wheels off the arena surface as the Bee tips over the edge of the platform -- a detail that went unnoticed in the video.

This is Today's List
Q: What are your top ten favorite combat robots? Apart from ones you have built. [Vestal, New York]

A: [Mark J.] The iconic American pop artist Andy Warhol was frequently asked about his favorite movie. He seldom gave the same answer twice, and most of the films he mentioned were obscure.

I gave Vestal a list of my ten faorite 'bots at the time, but it was almost immediately outdated. This isn't the type of info I keep in the archives.

On Euro Standard Paper
Q: What size on A4 Paper would you need for micro run amok paper model to scale at 1/10? [Erskine, Scotland]

A: [Mark J.] 'Run Amok' is 44 inches in length, so a correct 1/10th scale finished model should be 4.4 inches long (11.2 cm). If you copy the image below and print it 7.33 inches wide (18.63 cm) it should cut out and fold up to scale correctly -- but feel free to print it any size you like.

I Don't Endorse
Q: [Name and URL deleted] is a streaming website where you can view and cast shows science, engineering, robot game shows, you name the rest, what do you think? [Erskine, Scottand]

A: [Mark J.] Sorry Erskine, I'm not comfortable endorsing or publicizing a commercial streaming service. It's too close to an advertisement.

I pay all the bills for and have never accepted advertising, product perks, or sponsorship of any sort. Builders submitting questions need to know that any recommendations I might make are my own and not tied to income.

There's a recent post on Reddit from a builder who's college combat robot team does not want him to say 'weapon' when talking about the part of the robot made to damage other robots. Ask Aaron avoids the culture wars, but I think it's acceptable to present this list of phrases that might be substituted for the 'W' word:

Super Slapper
Damage Inducer
Offensive Thingy
Kinetic Convincer
Opponent Crumpler
Rotary Doomslinger
Entropic Scrambler
Bad Thing Make Hurt
Whacking Mechanism
Deconstruction Enabler

Got any more?

Why Not Ask ChatGTP?
Q: You're a dinosaur. Why bother to 'Ask Aaron' if you can just ask an AI chatbot like ChatGPT? Do us all a favor: shuffle off to the old age home and get out of the way of progress. [The Beautiful Willamette Valley of Oregon]

A: [Mark J.] Yes, I did ask and am now answering my own existential question. AI chatbots are getting a lot of press coverage with speculation that they may replace a lot of human authorship. Maybe it's time to let a chatbot take over my duties here at Ask Aaron. Here's a recent simple question to Ask Aaron with my response:

Q: I just switched to full brushless and for the first time find myself running a setup where none of the speed controllers have a built in bec. How do I wire in an external bec? Thanks for the help. [Social Media]

A: [Mark J.] Wire the BEC in between the battery power buss and the receiver -- just like the ESCs. You may plug it into any available port on the receiver.

My response is brief, but between the diagram and the knowledge that the question comes from an experienced combat robot builder I think it was sufficient.

Let's give ChatGTP an audition:

I fed the same question - adding the context that it was about an R/C robot - into ChatGPT to see how well the chatbot might do in answering a combat robotics question. The result is too long to post here -- you can read all about it here: Why Not Ask ChatGPT?

March, 2003 - Team Run Amok started 'Ask Aaron' to answer the robot combat questions sent to our team. Twenty years and 7200 questions later we're still fielding a very broad range of practical, theoretical, arcane, obscure, and sometimes just plain silly questions.

March, 2023 - We celebrated our 20th anniversary by giving away a stack of complete termite-weight robot kits in our 'Secret Identity Contest'. The contest is now closed, but you can still try to solve the puzzle. Think you know your combat robots? Give our anniversary puzzle a try:

Ask Aaron 20th Anniversary Contest Wrap-Up

I Blame the Gerbil
Comment: It seems that the Bite Calculator is not working anymore. Not a question but I can't figure where the contact section is. [Quebec, Canada]

Reply: [Mark J.] Just yesterday I had Roger the Web Gerbil paste an upgraded version of the javascript 'Brushless Motor Torque Estimator' into the Ask Aaron Spinner Weapon FAQ. I'll bet the sloppy little rodent re-used a variable from the javascript 'Bite Calculator' on the same page and munged the code. I'd fire him, but he has a family to support and he literally works for peanuts.

I'll get in there and bang on the iron myself...

Update: The little furry guy assigned the same name to both script functions. I renamed one roger_is_a_talentless_hack and everything is fine. We'll see how long it takes him to notice the new name.

Jeff, Mark, and Dan
Q: You recently posted about an "Ask the Builders" question and answer page on the old TLC Robotica fansite. You mentioned that host Dan Danknick had a Q&A and I believe you had one as well. Did any other builders have a Q&A on that site? [Boise Idaho]

A: [Mark J.] You have a good memory. The official TLC/Discovery Robotica Fansite (archived) took questions from viewers as the seasons unfolded. Jeff Cesnik (Kritical Mass) Took the first shift for Season 1. I took over at the end of the first season to fill the gap 'til the start of Season 2 when Dan Danknick took over as technical advisor and host.

I've got a complete set of the questions and answers from all three volumes. Give me a sec and I'll wrap a webpage around them...

Four Hours Later...

There -- all done. It took a bit of squeezing to get all the links to work; I think I got most of them. Viewer Q & A from the TLC/Discovery Robotica Fansite

Date marker: January 2023
Wait... WHAAAT?
Q: Allright... I've won the Metal Warriors tournament in Robot Arena 2 as 'Run Amok', but I've also enjoyed playing as 'Run Amok' in a game you should check out called "MetalMania".

A: [Mark J.] Wait... There's a indie Robotica video game with 'Run Amok'? And it's been out since 2018? And finally a fan tells me about it? How did this slip by me? My palms get sweaty just watching the demo video -- Thank you!

Follow-Up I've exchanged messages with the developer of MetalMania. Development of the game has continued, but under another title: it has become Robot Rumble 2.0. There is a strong community of players on a Discord server who are developing replica 'bots from all parts of the sport using the in-game tools. Go take a look, but there is no longer a Run Amok or Maze.

Which Is It?
Q: On your Constructing Run Amok page Run Amok's weight is given as 172 lbs, but on the first and last episodes of Robotica Season 1 they say "Run Amok weighs in at 161 lbs". Any idea why that is?

A: [Mark J.] Robots change. At the official Robotica weigh-in Run Amok did weigh 161 pounds with the front wedge attached -- but without the ten-pound iron weight we bolted into her nose after discovering the steering problem she had on the polished concrete surface of 'The Speedway'. Add in a pound of hardware to secure the iron weight and you get Weight (ready for combat): 172 lbs. -- which is still well under the 210-pound Robotica limit. The show announcements were just being read from the official spec sheet.

It's a Quarter of a Tenth
Q: I could use some advice on what R/C car or vehicle I might use to put under my Micro Run Amok model. I tried 1/10th scale R/C but that's way too big. What would work?

A: [Mark J.] The Micro Run Amok model is a 1/10th scale version of Run Amok, but Run Amok is about 1/4th the length of a small sedan. That makes a suitable R/C car chassis someplace around 1/40th scale. Small R/C cars have a lot of speed and little pushing ability, but something like the WOWRC 1/32 Scale Mini R/C Car could be a start for something just to drive around. You can enlarge the paper model a bit in printing if required.

A Note From a Fan
Q: I know that 'Killer B' (Silver Team) was the first robot introduced in the first episode of Robotica season 1. However, in the other five preliminary episodes of that season the Red Team robot was the first to be introduced. In my heart I believe that Run Amok (Red Team) is rightfully the first ever robot not only to win Robotica but to appear on Robotica!

A: [Mark J.] Thank you for the nice note. I think I should do something in return: here is a link to a scan of the trading cards that four Robotica competitors published for their fans: Run Amok, JuggerBot, Silverback, and Death By Monkeys. Each card has a robot photo on the front and robot/team info on the back. I hope you like them.

Robotica Competitor Trading Cards (PDF)

I Just Can't Wait
Q: Ask Aaron answered its first question in 2003. You had a 10th anniversary Haiku contest in 2013, and a 15th anniversary Mad Lib contest in 2018. Are you gonna have a contest to celebrate Ask Aaron's 20th anniversary in 2023? What's it gonna be? [Petaluma, California]

A: [Mark J.] I'm mulling over several options to celebrate Ask Aaron's 20th anniversary, possibly including a contest like we had five and ten years ago. While I make up my mind, here's a fictional post based on one of the entries in 2018's Mad Lib Contest:

Q: I need a brushless speed controller for my hobbyweight robot 'Pork Chop Jr.' but I only have $300 to spend on the whole robot and can't waste it all on the electronics. What do you recommend?

A: Do what all the 'cool' builders do...

  1. Go to Hobby King and search for brushless speed controllers.
  2. Sniff suspiciously at the specifications, then order the cheapest one they have.
  3. Wait three weeks for it to arrive, or longer if it's the Lunar New Year.
  4. Open the box to see if what they shipped looks anything like what you ordered.
  5. Download a new user manual for this ESC because it was revised three times before it shipped.
  6. Throw the manual away because it's an indecipherable collection of poo that makes your head hurt.
  7. Flash the latest firmware onto the speed controller 'cause old firmware sucks.
  8. If flashing fails and bricks the controller, go back to step two and order a couple more.
  9. Flash the original firmware back onto the ESC because the new firmware turns it into a peizo gyro for a quadcopter.
  10. Post to reddit/battlebots to see if anyone knows how to get the bloody thing to stop beeping and calibrate.
Write back and let me know how this works out for you.

Variations on a Theme
I've been playing with multiple websites that use an artificial intelligence driven graphics engine to create an image based on text inputs and an optional starting image. Just for fun I fed an image of Team Run Amok's namesake robot into one of these engines and asked for variations on the theme. Thirty seconds later it spit back the images you see below: You can do the same with a render or sketch of your robot. More information on the process is at our Team Run Amok page.
How Massive Is It?
Q: Hey Mark, happy New Year!

I've been working on the idea of a full body drum spinner for a while now on and off and I keep getting stumped. No matter how I design this thing I can't seem to have enough weight to spare. I always seem to have about 250g left in weight whether I go short and large OD drum or wide and small OD, and I can't for the life of me figure out how to make a drum that keeps this darn thing under 1lb. Do you have any advice on building a massive drum that's still lightweight and easy to assemble/disassemble? Any advice on where I may be able to lose weight?

Thanks in advance! [Davenport, Iowa]

A: [Mark J.] A prosperous and fulfilling New Year to you, Davenport.

Given that your chassis design leaves more than half the weight allowance available, I don't quite understand what problem you're trying to solve. You didn't include dimensions, materials, or possible drum designs; are you fishing for a compliment on your clever spring-loaded friction drum drive cradle (it is very nice) or trying for the first "Bad Hamburger" of the year?

If you're really having trouble getting a full cylinder wrapped around the full chassis, how about a short cylinder just to pick up the friction drive? Attach that to a pair of long beater bars anchored to bearing carriers at each end? It's a little sketchy on torsional rigidity, but it's certainly easy to assemble.

One Note: Your 'massive drum' is going to produce a whole lot of gyroscopic lift in turning maneuvers. You may want to run some numbers thru the Total Insanity Gyro Force Calculator before you settle on a design. A full-body drum standing on end lacks intimidation.

A Series of Tubes
Q: How do you know everybody's location? Homing device? Google maps? Palantír? Thanks! [Amarillo, Texas]

A: I'm surprised it took so long for someone to ask about this.

Every document that travels the internet receives an IP address signature from each computer server it passes thru. These signatures are stored in a message 'header' that is usually not shown by the reader software. I dig out the first IP address signature in the chain and look up its registered location. The problem is that IP addresses are occasionally re-assigned and it takes the look-up services a while to catch up. Some sources told me your message came from Chicago and some said Amarillo.

There Can Be Only One
Q: With Halloween coming up, do you have any suggestions for a good robot combat themed costume? [Quincy, Mass.]

A: [Mark J.] Sure, be Will Bales' rake.

I'll Make Up a Couple
Q: Robot Wars had sooooooo many console games, Battlebots... only one -- well a battlebots game for Gamecube/PS2 was going to be planned BUT got cancelled. due to the cancellation of the Comedy Central Series and that MTV didn't take it from them (i would've loved that but would've been better if Nickelodeon took it rather than MTV) BUT that's not important, what's important is even though it can't be done due to legal issues infringes and so on but if Robotica had a console game based on Season 1 for Sega Dreamcast and Nintendo Gamecube and two based on Seasons 2 and 3 for Playstations 1 and 2 and i know you... There's a virtual Run Amok for Robot Arena 2, but i guess it's a bit hard to put Run Amok in the RA2 Game, eh?

By the way i like the Red Arrow Design on Run Amok, Red suits him. [Inchinnan, Scotland]

A: [Mark J.] I've carefully read your message and the only question I can find appears to be rhetorical. I'll just go ahead and make up a couple of questions and answer them:

Q: Is it in any way possible to play the never-released BattleBots game for the Gamecube console?

A: Yes. BattleBots Update has recently released an early prototype of the 2002 BattleBots game for the Nintendo Gamecube -- with the official approval of BattleBots creators Trey Roski and Greg Munson. A link to a Gamecube emulator for Windows is included in the article. Enjoy.

Q: Is it in any way possible to play a virtual version of 'Run Amok' in Robot Arena 2?

A: Yes. has a zipped Run file that can be extracted and imported directly into Robot Arena 2 as a user-created 'bot. Enjoy.

Glad to hear that you approve of Run Amok's red arrow top armor design. I've always viewed Run Amok as feminine, so I think red suits her.
A Robot Walks into a Bar...
Q: What's your best robot combat dad joke? [Belmont, California]

A: [Mark J.] One of several from Aaron's Greatest Hits:

Q: Can you tell me how to make a robot walk?

A: Take away its bus pass.

It Isn't Worth the Effort
Q: should i order pizza [Cardiff, Wales]

A: [Mark J.] I've had pizza in Wales. Don't bother. Go out for crempogau.

Why Would I Change?
Q: If you had your druthers, would you have preferred to run the S1 version of the Robotica gauntlet or the S2-3 version? [Cambridge, Massachusetts]

A: [Mark J.] We designed 'Run Amok' to meet the frequently changing specs for the Season 1 challenges. Those specs did not "finalize" until 3-weeks prior to the shipping date for our 'bot, and a few unexpected changes were waiting for us when we arrived on set. We believed that many of the competitors would have too narrow a design focus and encounter trouble in whatever the final versions of 'The Maze' and 'The Gauntlet' turned out to be, so our design mandate was to make 'Run Amok' capable of completing variations on each of those challenges. Our belief turned out to be correct. Although I think 'Run Amok' would be capable of scrambling thru the Season 2-3 version of The Gauntlet obstacle walls (with our wedge removed), the added challenge of the 'glass forest' at the end would have put us at a serious disadvantage to more conventional tank-steered robots. We would have designed a very different robot to compete in the later Robotica seasons.

On a 'just for fun' basis I would have liked to have had a shot at the Season 2-3 challenges, but 'Run Amok' was designed for Season 1 and that worked out just fine.

Open the Pod Bay Doors, HAL
Q: Are there any combat robot podcasts you might recommend? [Reno, Nevada]

A: [Mark J.] The Robot Report keeps a list of botcasts that represent a wide range of styles and focus. Some are labeled "Family Friendly" and some "Mature". You should be able to find something there that suits your interests.

I'm personally quite fond of Rise of the Robots -- a good-natured look back at televised combat robot shows from all eras and networks. More than 170 episodes available and a new cast each week. Their Facebook page says they're releasing a "super special" episode on Friday, September 2nd... I wonder what that might be?

Mea Culpa
Q: I was looking through the Combat Robot Hall of Fame and noticed that Killerhurtz was missing. Why is that? Is it an error, did someone hack into the website, or was it removed for some reason?

Also, I had never seen the robot Beauty on the list and then one day it just appeared out of nowhere saying it was inducted in 2009! What's up with that?

I'd really appreciate if you could answer these questions. [Direct Email]

A: [Mark J.] Someone has been paying attention! I did a reformat of the Combat Robot Hall of Fame a few months ago to make the page look more 'modern' and two unrelated things happened:

  1. I simply lost KillerHurtz in converting the CRHoF to the new format. I also lost Panic Attack in this same process. My error. Thanks for reporting this! I have properly restored the entries for 'KillerHurtz' and 'Panic Attack' to the webpage.
  2. Implementing the new format made me curious about changes in the number of votes cast in each ballot year. I went back thru the spreadsheets I use to tally the votes to gather this data and stumbled across an error in the 2009 balloting. I had incorrectly inserted a new row for a robot that had received its first votes in 2009 and threw off the vote count formula for robots in one section of the sheet. I corrected this error and found that the ballot count for two robots had been changed enough to effect their status:
  • Beauty had originally been given 'Honorable Mention' status in the 2009 ballot. Correcting the spreadsheet gave Beauty sufficient additional votes to move them into full membership. I created an entry for 'Beauty' that reflects their belated 2009 induction.
  • Envy had originally been awarded full CRHoF membership for 2009, but correcting the spreadsheet removed a handfull of votes and dropped them down to 'Honorable Mention' status. I removed the membership entry for 'Envy' and created an Honorable Mention entry for them under the 2009 ballot year.
I had intended to make a note in the CRHoF explaining the transposition of Beauty and Envy but got distracted by something and entirely forgot about it. I've now placed a note below Beauty's listing that explains what happened.

Date marker: January 2022
Risk and Reward
Q: Fish or Carne Asada in tacos? [Richmond, Virginia]

A: [Mark J.] How high is your risk tolerance?

  • The best tacos I've had were fish, but so were the worst. A lot of very different types of fish can go into a taco (wahoo, haddock, pollock, mahi mahi, grouper, flounder, halibut, cod, snapper, tilapia...) and there is a lot of variability based on preparation. It's a risky choice.
  • Carne asada is beef. It all comes from the same sort of animal and preparation is fairly standard. I've never had a really bad carne asada taco, and neither have I ever had a really great carne asada taco. It's a safer bet.
I'm gonna count this as a robot question -- the choices involved in choosing a taco are a lot like the choices in building a robot. That's life for ya.
Robotica on Paper
Q: I've been watching the Robotica series on YouTube and some of the robots are wild. Were there any toys or models of the Robotica competitors? [Sacramento, California]

A: [Mark J.] Yes, kinda...

"Cut and Fold" paper models of combat robots were a thing at the time. I know of three printable paper models from the Robotica series:

  • Robot Dojo has printable paper models of all six of their heavyweight robots -- Robotica Season 2 champion 'Flexy Flier' is pictured: Robot Dojo paper models.
  • Team Run Amok has an easy-to-make 1/10th scale paper model of Robotica Season 1 champion 'Run Amok' to print and assemble: Paper Model Run Amok.
  • An Infernolab fan made a very simple paper model of Jason Bardis' Robotica Season 1 competitor 'Mini Inferno': Paper Mini Inferno.
Paper models of robots from other competitions are also out there. Image searches for "robot wars paper models" and "battlebots paper models" will yield a surprising number of hits. Maybe I should make a list...
Rendered in Banjo-Kazooie?
Comment: Robotica Champion Run Amok... as rendered in Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts.

For those unfamiliar with the game, "Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts" was the progenitor to games like "Besiege" and "Robocraft". Released for the Xbox 360 in 2008 in celebration for 10 years of the release from the original Banjo-Kazooie game. The objective is to build various vehicles that solve puzzles and perform tasks in various environments. (Carry 'X' to 'Y', knock down this object, win this race, etc.)

I know Run Amok has four wheels, and this one technically does, but I intentionally put large wheels in the back and smaller ones up front so that the entire vehicle tilts forward and has near zero ground clearance. My biggest gripe with Nuts & Bolts is that nothing truly has a "wedge" unless you do something fancy with the wheels like this, so that was a trade off to have a wedge that literally scrapes the floor in the game. It was purpose-built to do a sumo challenge in the game against an AI opponent that doesn't know the HOT TIPS like I do.

Under the hood there's actually a row of three of those big wheels in a row, that's why there's wheel covers on the vehicle so you can't see the "creative liberties" I had to make under the hood. I filled in the sides of the robot too just for aesthetics because otherwise you'll see how it all works and in Nuts & Bolts that sometimes looks pretty ugly. Anyways I was building bots and I did this one and 'Bite Force' because they're two of my favorites that I was able to build.

The arrow should be just on top of the robot and not on the wedge, but since the robot isn't long enough to put the arrow on top the wedge is still a good secondary location. It is distinctly still "Run Amok". [Twilight Foundry Robotics]

Reply: [Mark J.] Yes, it is distinctly 'Run Amok'! Thank you for remembering the old girl. I will assume she won the sumo challenge -- she's good at that.

It's become a little quiet here at 'Ask Aaron'...

Team Run Amok
 20 Years in Combat Robotics
2021 marks Team Run Amok's 20th anniversary in combat robotics. We dove straight into the deep end of the competition pool, starting our career with a win at the nationally televised 'Robotica' tournament. In the years that followed we won more competitions, traveled to compete in England twice, and finished in the top three at more than half the events we entered.

I have several things planned to observe our anniversary year. For a start I've restored a few of our first-year web pages that have suffered from obsolete formats and outdated code. Check the Team Run Amok webpage for a full list, and check back for updates!

Ask Aaron is Live!
Q: I saw a link to Ask Aaron on a robot site in New Zealand that says you're not answering any new questions. They claim that everything here is old posts from years ago. Is that true? [Tacoma, Washington]

A: [Mark J.] Entirely not true. I'm here 'live' and answering as many questions as ever. I don't generally time stamp posts but I'll make an exception here: Wed 04-21-2021 T 19:32 UTC.

If I do re-post from the Ask Aaron Archives I will label the post to make that clear -- like this:

Flashback: an archived post from 2019
Q: Hi! I was working with the Team Tentacle Drivetrain Calculator to figure out an appropriate gear ratio for my new 'bot and I had a doubt. Shouldn't I double the 'Actual Robot Weight' input field in case my opponent ends up on top of my 'bot and weighs it down? I don't want to risk stalling the drive motors. [Combat Robot Forum]

A: [Mark J.] The Tentacle Drivetrain Calculator is a tremendously useful combat robot design tool, but you need to understand what it's actually telling you about the drive train design. Among other things, the calculator estimates the amount of torque needed to 'break traction' and spin the drive wheels of the robot based upon the weight pressing down on the wheels. If the drive train cannot provide at least that much torque the drive motors may 'stall' under heavy pushing loads, which will both reduce pushing power and risk damage to the motors. The calculator will warn you of this condition.

For calculation of pushing force and stall conditions you do not need to worry about your opponent weighing you down.

  • If only part of the weight of your opponent is pushing down on your robot, that weight is no longer on their drive wheels and their pushing force is proportionally reduced which makes it easier to push them.
  • If your opponent is entirely on top of your robot it cannot exert ANY lateral pushing force on your robot -- you won't have to 'push hard' against anything.
Carrying extra weight across a level surface is orders of magnitude easier than pushing against that weight while it is actively pushing against you. The only time stalling under this type of condition would be a problem would be if your opponent was entirely on top of your robot and you decided to push full-throttle against an immovable object like the arena wall. Why would you do that?

I Want Names!
Q: Hey just wondering is there a list of combat robotic teams? [South Dakota]

A: [Mark J.] Assuming that you're talking about recently active teams, the most complete information is maintained by The Builders Database.

If you're trying to contact teams in your area, I would suggest looking thru the well maintained list of upcoming robot combat events at Clicking on one of the events will open a page with information about the event, and from there you can click on one of the 'Bot Weightclasses' to get pictures of the registered robots and links to the teams.

My Lips are Sealed
Q: In your opinion, what could be some bots that might be future Robot Hall of Famers? [Fremont, Nebraska]

A: Given my position as administrator of the Combat Robot Hall of Fame I'm careful to avoid 'playing favorites'. I keep my ballot to myself and I avoid promoting specific robots for membership. That said:

  • Historically, robots from recently televised tournaments get a lot of votes. Sometimes this is merited, sometimes it is not. Some of these 'bots seem out of place a few years farther on. It takes more than one tournament to justify a Hall of Fame membership.
  • In spite of the great numbers of sub-lightweight robots competing around the globe, only 7% of full members in the Hall weigh less than 60 pounds. The growth in popularity of multiple live-streamed tournament series on the internet has lead to increased awareness of smaller robots, which translated to greater representation in the 2019 ballot. I expect voters will promote a few deserving sub-light robots from the 'Honorable Mention' roll to full membership in 2021.
Hall of Fame balloting opens in August of odd-numbered years. It's not too early to start planning your ballot -- be ready!
Special Robotica Anniversary Section
March 4th, 2021 was the twentieth anniversary of Team Run Amok's victory at the premiere 'Robotica' tournament. I've pulled together a few Q&A from this archive for a look back at that event...
Q: I watched the season 1 'Robotica' finals on YouTube last night. Is there any special way you celebrate the anniversary of your win? [Saint Charles, Illinois]

A: [Mark J.] Oddly enough, I make omelettes for my co-workers.

We had a day off between our preliminary round victory and the Robotica finals. When I woke up that morning I turned on the hotel room TV and 'The Big Cheese' episode of 'Dexter's Laboratory' was on. All thru that day and the next I had "omelette du fromage" running thru my head, so now I make about a dozen cheese omelettes on anniversary morning to banish that phrase from my mind for another year.

2021 My office is closed because of the COVID pandemic, so I was only able to make omelettes for my family this year. They came out well.

In the room where it happened.
Q: I always wondered, where was 'Robotica' filmed? [Syracuse, New York]

A: [Mark J.] RBI Productions filmed 'Robotica' at the historic Prospect Studios just east of Hollywood. The studios are owned and operated by the Walt Disney Company, and were formerly the west coast headquarters for ABC television.

I kept a journal of the filming that you may find interesting: Robotica Journal.

Q: If Robotica ever gets rebooted, would you create a new version of Run Amok and compete in honor of Aaron?

A: [Mark J.] Much though Aaron enjoyed competing, he had a greater love of helping people and sharing his knowledge. I believe that Team Run Amok has had a beneficial impact on combat robotics through our efforts to support combat robot builders, and I believe that continuing with those efforts is the best public way for us to honor Aaron.

I would be pleased to support the production of a Robotica reboot, but our team lost its competitive heart. We will not return to competition.

Water, water everywhere!
Q: Was it difficult to make your robot waterproof for the waterfall at Robotica? [Watertown, Massachusetts]

A: [Mark J.] We didn't waterproof 'Run Amok' -- it wasn't necessary. The top armor was a single, solid sheet that shed water to the edges like a roof. The only vulnerable components (steering servo, receiver, and speed controller) were all tucked up against the top armor and had their own cases that would resist any random splash. None of the 'bots at 'Robotica' had any trouble with the water.

The 'Mini' or the 'Bee'?
Q: Then another question about your team in Robotica. Who would be the bigger threat to 'Run Amok' in the Fight to The Finish: 'Mini Inferno' or 'Killer B'? From your previous answers it looks like Jason's bot would be much less dangerous, I think. [Chinese Forum]

A: [Mark J.] Jason Dante Bardis was building a 'bot from scratch to compete at Robotica, but he ran out of time and decided to substitute a very light 'bot that was essentially the chassis for 'Dr. Inferno Jr.' with a carbon fiber wedge added. Although the drivetrain was very powerful (four DeWalt 18v gearmotors running at 24 volts), the robot weighed weighed only 37 pounds. At the weigh-in, Jason walked onto the scale carrying 'Mini Inferno' and was still under-weight! Powerful though it was, Mini just didn't have enough pushing power to be a threat against any of the robotica finalists in a sumo match.

Jason did finish his original Robotica entry and fought with it at BattleBots seasons 3.0 thru 5.0 with limited success. He remarked on a forum post that after he finished 'Towering Inferno' he realized that it would not have been a successful Robotica competitor.

'Killer B', on the other hand, was a very dangerous sumo competitor. Had they put the blunt end of the robot into use instead of the wedge end, they could have used their powerful drivetrain to simply shove 'Run Amok' off the platform. Lucky for me, they didn't choose that option.

A tribute with Ahmet and Dweezil...
While I was looking for video to answer an 'Ask Aaron' question, I came across this tribute to our luckiest robot, 'Run Amok'. Turn up the volume...

Never had my own video tribute, and an Ahmet/Dweezil Zappa soundtrack is a big plus! Thanks Alexander...

Q: Can you possibly explain this? Ultimate Robot Archive Wikia - Changes: TriDent (BattleBots). [London, England]

A: [Mark J.] The page you linked shows a change in the Wikia article categorization for 'TriDent' from Danish Robots to Armenian Robots on 4 June, 2018. I generally stay out of Wikia editing disputes, but I know something about TriDent that might clear this up.

Middleweight 'TriDent' fought in seasons 4 and 5 of the original Comedy Central Battlebots as a member of Team Coolrobots, lead by Christian Carlberg. TriDent had been listed as a 'Danish' robot based on the nationality of the 'Carlberg' surname, but Wikia editor 'Okamifan1' relalized that the robot had been driven by Carlberg teammate Luke Khanlian. 'Okamifan1' changed the entry to 'Armenian' based on presumed origins of the 'Khanlian' surname.
Categorizing robots based on the origins of their driver's surnames seems pointless to me. Wikia editor 'Nononsensecapeesh' removed the Armenian association 17 hours ago - TriDent's origin is now categorized under California Robots.
Date marker: January 2021
Q: What do your combat robots think of the current COVID-19 pandemic? [Kansas City, Missouri]

A: [Mark J.] My robots don't care. My robots don't spread, suffer from, or die from Covid-19 -- but you can. Don't be selfish. Follow the science. Stay safe.

Q: Somebody made a comment about the "hamburger is bad" rule on [a combat robot social media site]. Can you tell me what that rule is? [Henderson, Nevada]

A: [Mark J.] You came to the right place.

'Ask Aaron' has a long history of receiving requests for very specific recommendations on materials or components that provide far too little information for us to give a useful answer. We needed a name for this type of question and a way to explain our problem in answering. In 2010 we published a webpage titled "The Hamburger is Bad" that uses a fictional exchange of questions and answers about whether a 1/4 pound hamburger is good to depict the problem. The name caught on in the combat robot community.

So, "the hamburger is bad" is not so much a rule as a shorthand request to provide adequate information when asking a question.

Q: What are the materials that are used to make weapons in combat robots? [Digital Ocean]

A: [Mark J.] Your question comes from a web server associated with web proxy services that mask user location. Please remove your VPN service and resubmit. If you have nothing to hide, don't try to hide it. No Proxies! I'm very serious about safety in combat robotics. I no longer answer 'Ask Aaron' questions from geographic regions that ask only about building more powerful robot combat weapons with little to no regard for building safer robot combat arenas. Builders from these regions often attempt to sneak questions thru by disguising their true locations with VPN and proxy services. Questions that arrive via known proxy servers are generally ignored because of the time it takes for me to determine the true origin of the question.

Q: Given that μ = 52, σ = 35 and n = 35, what is P(X ≤ 73) and P(X ≥ 73)? [Singapore]

A: [Mark J.] Not a robot question, but it's a slow morning and I do have a minor in math...

Calculate the Z-score:

Z = (x - μ) ÷ σ = (73 - 52) ÷ 35 = 0.6

Consult a Z-score table:

P(x ≤ 73) = P(z = 0.6) = 0.7257

P(x ≥ 73) = P(z = -0.6) = 0.2743

Q: What kind of robot would be most effective/useful in this era of COVID-19? (Preferably in the form of a haiku) [Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania]

A: [Mark J.] Who wants dibs on the name "Antisocial Distancing"?

Social distancing:
Ship bot, but no transmitter.
Control via Skype.

Q: what are calculation's that are must while making solidworks for your model [Telangana]

A:  What words must you speak while reciting a poem?

What notes must you play while performing a concerto?

What colors must you choose while painting a rainbow? Read the FAQ!

Bags of money Q: Do you have any suggestions for funding? I am in a group currently working to design and build a combat robot, but we are all poor college students. [California State University, Maritime]

A: [Mark J.] Cinch up your Mae Wests and read Frequently Asked Questions #3. Read the rest of the FAQ while you're there.

If you're still up for it, start with a small 'bot -- learning from your beginner's mistakes will cost a whole lot less in a lighter weight class.

Date marker: January 2020
Q: How to customise the starter motor of 3000 cc car? [Uttar Pradesh, India]

A: [Mark J.] I'd chrome it and add some pin stripes. मैं भारत के लड़ाकू रोबोटों के बारे में पूछे गए सवालों के जवाब नहीं देता.

Do not feed the troll Q: Who first discovered that wedglets/“Wolverine Claws” beat out a single hinged sheet in a wedge-war? [Mount Laurel, New Jersey]

A: [Mark J.] I'm pretty sure it was the same guy who discovered that anything beats out a flaming hammerbot.

Q: If your canoe gets stuck in a tree with the headlights still on, how many pancakes does it take to get to the moon? Very important, please respond as I need to know for my combat robot's weight class. [Kansas City, Missouri]

A: [Mark J.] None -- snakes don't have armpits.

Well, Art is Art, isn't it? Still, on the other hand, water is water. And east is east and west is west and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does. Now go finish your beetleweight. [Groucho Marx, 1930]

Q: What is it about [insert robot name here] that makes it so dominant? Is it the weapon? Is it the armor? Is it an ultra-sharp wedge? Is [insert driver name here] a super awesome driver? Is it some exotic radio control system? Are they cheating? Tell me! [Suddenly asked everywhere]

A: [Mark J.] Let's say that you're going to jump out of an airplane at 20,000 feet. Which of the following features do you want your parachute to have?

  • A backup system;
  • An easy to locate ripcord;
  • Human safety rated materials;
  • A secure harness buckle system;
  • Inspected and packed by a qualified technician;
  • Upgrades based on the experience of previous uses;
  • A canopy large enough to slow your descent to a safe speed;
  • Extensive modeling covering a wide range of uncommon conditions.
You'd better have them all; it will do you little good to have a really huge canopy if your harness buckle keeps popping open. A good parachute does everything it needs to do under all foreseeable conditions.

A robot like [insert robot name here] is built and maintained by a team with the talent, experience, dedication, and funding needed to cover all the bases. And no, they don't cheat.

Q: I saw that a D2 kit was mentioned in robots appearing on at least 10% of the ballots [in 2019 balloting for the Combat Robot Hall of Fame]. I didn't see a lot of recognition for that bot on forums. Did people vote for that bot specifically or did they just say "D2 Kit" on their ballots and you picked the one that is the best in your opinion, and/or having good combat records? [Winchester, Virginia]

A: [Mark J.] I do not take such liberties with ballots for the Hall. I simply count and report on all the verified ballots as submitted.

I've learned that forum chatter is a very poor predictor of Hall balloting. The 'D2 Kit' in question is 'Captain Doom', a 'bot popular in both UK and US balloting because of its success in the UK Bugglebots web-based mini-series and multiple US competitions. Several Bugglebots competitors showed up in the 2019 balloting.

As I dutifully reported, 'Captain Doom' appeared by name on more than 10% of the ballots received for 2019.

Q: This may be a dumb and frequently asked question, but how does one vote for the 2019 Hall of Fame opening? [Sunbury-on-Thames, England]

Q: Maybe Im just overlooking it, but Im not seeing the link to submit my Hall of Fame ballot anywhere? [Bergenfield, New Jersey]

A: [Mark J.] The link is deliberately not posted on 'Ask Aaron'. As noted at The Combat Robot Hall of Fame:

"Membership in the Hall is by ballot of the global combat robot community. Notification and balloting instructions appear in combat robot forums in the US, UK, and Australia in August of odd-numbered years."
Specifically, notices have been posted on: This approach is intended to keep the voting largely within the builder community and avoid hoards of casual fans from flooding the ballot box with every 'bot they saw on last week's episode of 'Battling Robots' -- we get a lot of those anyhow. If you'd like to cast a ballot, drop into one of the listed forums and do a search for 'Hall of Fame'. You've got 'til August 16th for the 2019 ballot.

Q: Voting for the Combat Robot Hall of Fame opens Thursday [August 1st, 2019], but when does it close?

A: [Mark J.] The voting site will open at 12:01 AM (PDT) on Thursday, August 1st and will remain open for a full 16 minutes. Please be ready with your ballot and keep the line moving.

WARNING This website is provided "as is" without warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied. In no event unless required by law will the author of this website be liable for general, special, incidental, or consequential damages arising from its use. This website is intended for educational purposes only. Avoid prolonged exposure to this website. Side effects of reading this website are not common but may include itching, redness and occasional fainting. Do not read this website if you are allergic to this website or any of its words. If condition persists, consult your physician. Do not read this website while operating a vehicle or heavy equipment. Any resemblance between this website and others, for better or for worse, is purely coincidental. Reading the website does not constitute legal advice. Should you require legal advice, seek a legal advisor. Contents of this website are under pressure. Shake well before using. Void where prohibited. Use only as directed. For external application only. Batteries not included. Objects in mirror are closer than they appear. May contain peanuts. Your mileage may vary.

Q: Sixteen minutes?

A: Did I say 16 minutes? Sorry... meant to say 16 days. Voting will close on Friday, August 16th at 11:59 PM (PDT). I plan to announce the voting results on Sunday, August 18th, 2019.

Q: Hey Mark. It's been almost 25 years since the first major combat robotics tournament (thanks for putting in so much work to recreate the brackets and everything from it and so many other tournaments) so I'm curious, what do you think of the journey combat robotics has had so far, and where do you see it going in the future? [Hackensack, New Jersey]

A: [Mark J.] To quote the Grateful Dead, "Lately it occurs to me what a long, strange trip it's been."

I could write a book on this topic, and anything less would not do the topic justice. Until my book comes out you should find and read a copy of "Gearheads -- The Tubulent Rise of Robotic Sports". Here's what I say about it in my book review page:

Gearheads -- The other 'must read' on robotic combat is a very different type of book: Gearheads, by Brad Stone. On the surface, this book is a history of the rise of combat robots from their early underground roots to international media phenomenon. It's also a story about what happens to people when large chunks of money become involved.

It's all here -- the early Robot Wars competitions in San Francisco, the clash between the creative and business aspects of robot combat, the legal turmoil, the personalities, the excitement... I locked myself in a quiet room and read the book cover-to-cover. Food crumbs on the pages mark where I grabbed a quick snack while continuing to read!

Anyone with an interest in the story behind combat robots needs to read this book. It is a fascinating read, and does a fine job of keeping all the parties involved very human. Highly recommended!

Q: I was looking through the Combat Robot Hall of Fame and I noticed that some of the robots have more than one name and that each of those names is tracked separately on Botrank. Doesn't changing the name make it a new robot? [Reddit comment]

A: [Mark J.] Botrank is a service to the robotics community that tracks the competition records of combat robots and attempts to rank them within their weight class. BotRank simply tracks robots by the name they register for at a tournament. Given the number of robots and fights that they have to track this is a reasonable approach for them to take; a new name starts a new combat tracking record.

The Combat Robot Hall of Fame has a greater interest in the true heritage of a robot nominated for recognition. An increase or decrease in the weight of a robot or a name change (on a whim or to meet television production requirements) does not by itself create a new robotic entity. The Hall believes that the identity of a robot lies in its design concept. That can be a challenge to sort out.

I've put together a fairly lengthy explanation of how The Hall sorts this out - with examples: When two robots are really one, and when one robot is really two.

Q: Hi Mark, question to unrelated to building a robot but more about the culture of the sport. I was wondering why there has never been a successful combat robotics game. I searched the archives and saw one series attempt but with mostly negative reviews. I can't imagine it would be difficult to create once the physics engine is sorted out.

"Brand Name" robots like the ones in the HoF would be nice, but knock offs can be done for free. Use a similar set up to a need for speed game: start with a small budget and build something from preset configurations, win matches to get better materials, decals, etc. Do you think fear of lawsuits is the issue? I imagine there's enough interest but am wondering if it is a difficulty issue, a monetary issue, a legal issue or something else in the community. At least I think it would be a good way to draw in new fans.

Look forward to hearing your insights. Thanks again for all you do for the community. [Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania]

A: [Mark J.] You mean something like this: Robot Rumble 2?

Q: I don't understand how the combat robot rankings at BotRank work. Some robots that have never won a match are ranked higher than robots that have won many matches. Does it make any sense to you? Can you explain it? [Ventura, California]

A: [Mark J.] I feel your pain. The BotRank scoring is a modified version of a system developed to rank chess players where a typical player has a history of hundreds of games. A typical combat robot might only fight a handfull of matches in its career and the ranking system is very poor at comparing competitors with low numbers of 'games'. It works like this:

A new robot is assigned a starting rank score of 1200 when it enters its first competition.

The robot gains points for each match win and loses points for each match loss.

  • Against a lower ranked robot: a win will add only a few points, a loss will subtract many points.
  • Against a higher ranked robot: a win will add many points, a loss will subtract only a few points.
The actual number of points won or lost depends on the relative scores of the competitors when they entered the match. Scores are updated after every match.

My BotRank Scoring Spreadsheet will calculate correct score changes. It also lists the differences between the BotRank and standard 'Elo' systems. Details of the math behind the Elo system are available at Metin's Media & Math.

A robot with a 0-1 win/loss record might have a score of 1190, while a robot with a 3-5 record might well be down around 1170. That is a clear misrepresentation. The robot with more matches and a proven capacity to win is giving a better representation of its true capability and its rank should reflect that clearer picture.

It doesn't make sense to me that a ranking is even given to a robot before it has won any matches, but builders like to see their robots ranked. A reasonable compromise might be to drop all robots with zero wins down below all robots with any wins and let them fight for ranking amongst themselves down there in the basement.

Now that I've aired my grievances, let me say that I greatly appreciate the efforts of BotRank in tracking and evaluating combat robotics in North America. Their work is important to the health of the sport and we all owe them our gratitude.

Q: Do you know if there is any truth to the claim that 'Spiny Norman' is actually a hyper advanced alien craft, and that is why our feeble Earth machines couldn't destroy it? [Irvine, California]

A: [Mark J.] Yes, I do. No, there isn't.

Q: I'm curious, which robots are you planning on voting for to enter the Hall of Fame this year, and why? [Hackensack, New Jersey]

A: [Mark J.] I make it a point to keep my ballot for the The Combat Robot Hall of Fame to myself. I don't want the appearance that I'm trying to influence the voting result. Several years ago I made a slightly negative comment about a specific robot on a robot forum and I'm still getting mail about how unfair it is that I'm actively blocking HOF membership for that 'bot. I'm doing no such thing -- I cast one ballot, I count all the votes, and I make sure there's no hanky-panky. If you'd like to hear arguments for and against various potential members for The Hall, there is usually a roaring discussion over at the BattleBots subReddit as soon as balloting opens.

I will give you some general insight into my ballot for 2019. Robots from the lighter weight classes are severely under-represented in the Hall of Fame; only 5% of the members of The Hall weigh less than 60 pounds. There are many sub-light combat robots worthy of membership and I hope the combat robot community shows the smaller 'bots some respect on their ballots.

The Hall re-opens for balloting in early August of odd-numbered years -- stay tuned for details.

Date marker: June 2019
Q: I've noticed that the Combat Robot Hall of Fame has a lot more heavyweight members than any of the other classes. There are a lot of really great sublight and insect robots. What do you have against them? [Tacoma, Washington]

A: [Mark J.] I feel your pain, but I don't pick the 'bots that get into the Combat Robot Hall of Fame. I get one ballot just like everybody else and I can assure you that my ballot is packed full of sub-lightweight and insect class 'bots. I suspect that the international television exposure of heavyweight 'bots simply makes them better known and better appreciated than the lighter robots.

I'm considering action for the upcoming 2019 ballot to focus voter attention on lighter robots, but I don't want to tip my hand just yet. The Combat Robot Hall of Fame opens for balloting in August of odd-numbered years. At that time the voting details are released to combat robot forums in the US, Europe, and Australia.

Keep your eye on the forums -- your next chance to vote will come in August of 2019.

Clickbait month at Ask Aaron!

Mid-February thru mid-March of 2019 was 'Clickbait Month' at 'Ask Aaron'. I'd fallen a little behind the curve on social media promotion, so I decided to roll out some hot 'clickbait' titles for questions. Was it pointless? Yes. Was it fun? I enjoyed it. Was it permanent? Absolutely not. Click a link to see how it went...


Q: I watched the season 1 'Robotica' finals on YouTube last night. Is there any special way you celebrate the anniversary of your win? [Saint Charles, Illinois]

A: [Mark J.] Oddly enough, I make omelettes for my co-workers.

We had a day off between our preliminary round victory and the Robotica finals. When I woke up that morning I turned on the hotel room TV and 'The Big Cheese' episode of 'Dexter's Laboratory' was on. All thru that day and the next I had "omelette du fromage" running thru my head, so now I make about a dozen cheese omelettes on anniversary morning to banish that phrase from my mind for another year.

Q: No question, just wanted to say have a very merry Christmas :D [Altoona, Pennsylvania]

A: [Mark J.] Thank you, Altoona -- you as well.

I've been hard at work on the whole '' website for several weeks. Toward the end of October the number of 'clicks' I was getting from Google searches abruptly dropped by nearly 2/3rds. Google has been placing great emphasis on 'responsive' web pages that adapt to display on screens of both large and small devices. I've been keeping up with responsive web techniques, but apparently not at the pace Google desired.

Most of the pages have now been re-structured. You may notice some format differences in specific pages -- particularly on phones and tablets -- but the page contents have not been modified. I can only hope that my efforts will please the Google deity.

Q: What is Run Amok's favorite hobby, and alcoholic beverage now that she is retired? [Richmond, Virginia]

A: [Mark J.] 'Run Amok' enjoys painting abstract road art (see photo). Her favorite beverage is a 'Northern Thwackbot' -- a shot of WD-40 with a squirt of blue Loctite.

Q: Hi, Mark. When and where was your first robot fight? How about Aaron's? Is there any video? [Carson City, Nevada]

A: [Mark J.] Aaron and I both jumped directly into the deep end of the heavyweight robot fighting pool -- something much easier to do in the early 2000's than now.

Aaron's first fight was at 'Nickelodeon Robot Wars', a special kids version of Robot Wars filmed for the Nickelodeon network. The event was filmed in Shepperton, England in January of 2002 after completion of filming for the second season of Robot Wars Extreme Warriors. Aaron drove a patched-together 'Run Amok', severely damaged from the earlier tournament. The differential had been destroyed and one rear wheel was badly mangled, but I had promised to get Aaron on the Nickelodeon show and worked long hours to beat the wheel back round and construct a solid axle replacement for the differential to get the poor old robot ready for the fight. It was Aaron's first fight, Run Amok's last, and although it wasn't Team Run Amok's best fight we were proud to have answered the bell. Aaron at Nick Robot Wars video.

My first fight was also on international television at the first season of 'Robotica' on the TLC/Discovery network. Filming of 'Robotica' took place in March of 2001 at the ABC/Disney Prospect Studios in Hollywood. I'd had ample driving practice with 'Run Amok', but the robot handled much differently on a polished concrete studio floor than it had on an asphalt parking lot. You can watch the series of our fights and see me struggle to adapt to the new environments of the Robotica challenges. Run Amok at Robotica video.

Q: Do you think that moist pony from [YouTube link redacted] is the best and most effective robot ever? [Omaha, Nebraska]

A: [Mark J.] By Grabthar's Hammer! Everybody knows who the best and most effective robot is. Now please, never mention 'Moist Pony' again.

Q: I asked '@the_guy_who_has_a_robot' and he recommended you to me. Can you design an antweight 18mm thick 50mm long 5mm shaft hole monotooth vertical spinner (just spinner) for me and send the stl to [email address redacted] please? [Camarillo, California]

A: [Mark J.] I don't know '@the_guy_who_has_a_robot' and he apparently does not know what we do here. From the Ask Aaron mission statement:

"The Ask Aaron site exists to support builders of combat robots with information, design tools, and advice based on our robot competition experience. We are not a free engineering service, and we won't do your homework for you."

Q: I am '@the_guy_who_has_a_robot' and I would like to apologize. I told the guy who had a question about the mono tooth spinner to go to you if with his question. I didn't know how to awnser it and I told him about you. I told him to give him lots of details. Not to ask you to make it. I apologize. Please accept my apology [Omaha, Nebraska]

A: Thanks for the explanation, Omaha. Getting caught in the middle requires no apology.

Q: Do you still go to fights as a spectator; if so, where? [Hagerstown, Maryland]

A: [Mark J.] I'm reluctant to discuss my travels. I don't even tell Google.

Q: So, My Favorite BattleBot is 'Chomp' (The newer one even though I also Like the older one from season 3.0). I was wondering if 'The Machine Corps' (AKA the team that built 'Chomp') made any other robots for smaller comps? Also I am a huge fan of 'Run Amok' in Robotica! [Lynn, Massachusetts]

A: [Mark J.] Thank you for the mention of Run Amok -- several fans from our team's early days have contacted me recently with kind comments, stories, and memories. I'm also glad to hear from a fan of 'Chomp'. The robot and team get a lot of flack on the forums and they deserve more respect.

Due to elevated acceptance standards and heightened expectations associated with the ABC BattleBots reboot, many of the current teams are 'super groups' whose members each bring expertise from earlier independent robot projects. Although 'The Machine Corps' was formed for Battlebots and had no previous combat experience as a team, their members bring serious credentials:

You might be interested in this podcast of "The F.A.N. Show" that features an interview with team captain Zoe Stephenson about her start in robotics and BattleBots. Zoe's segment comes about 30 minutes into the show.
Q: hi mark. i was watching season 1 of "robotica" recently. is it pure coincidence that the ram force and whyachi teams have the same uniforms? [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania]

A: [Mark J.] Yes, kinda. Team Force made their TV appearance on Robotica a few weeks before Team Whyachi appeared on BattleBots, but neither team had seen the other when the shirts were selected.

When you order embroidered hats and shirts you typically pick from a selection of 'stock' clothing on which to put your logo. The red/white/black 'Pit Crew' shirts were common stock items at the time, and both teams independently picked them out of the catalog. The Team Whyachi and Team Force hats, however, were quite different -- I have one of the 'Team Force' hats in my collection.

Q: Have you ever heard of a robot named 'Mr. Quacker"? I can't find a record of it in BotRank. [Columbus, Ohio]

A: [Mark J.] You won't find an official record, but there is a video: Robot Fight Club: Mr. Quacker vs. The Incinerator.

Q: So I heard from somewhere that 'Tombstone' had carbon armour but from somewhere else that he had metal armour. Which one is true? Thanks! [Turks and Caicos Islands]

A: [Mark J.] Builder Ray Billings doesn't much believe in armor. I'm not sure you should even call the thin panels that stretch over Tombstone's old-school tubular chassis 'armor'.

Non-BattleBots versions of his big spinners use thin aluminum or Lexan panels, but out of concern for arena hammers and saws the 250-pound version has titanium panels top and bottom. The black side panels are painted -- not carbon.

Q: Wjbfvhvgghb n n [Kilmarnock, Scotland]

A: [Mark J.]...

Translator On

Hout awa daft witless wives, I kenna what you're fltying about, I wad rather see the wean gin it be ony thing wally and like the warld.
Translator Off
Q: Hi. I think your site is so wonderful. Do you take donations to support it? I tried to search the archives, and can't find anything, but maybe I'm being dumb. I'd like to make a modest donation.
- Josh [West Jordan, Utah]

A: [Mark J.] Thanks, Josh! It's been a while since we received a fan letter. I'm very happy to hear that you're enjoying 'Ask Aaron'. It's really nice of you to offer a donation, but we cover our own expenses to avoid any conflict of interest. We want to be able to express our honest opinions and give fair advice without consideration for products or individuals that support the site.

If you'd like to do something to thank us for our efforts, Aaron's favorite charity was the Humane Society -- perhaps you could make a donation to your local chapter.

Q: In the Reddit Combat Robotics discord, this "trivia" came up from the Battlebots Wiki:
Death Ray is the only robot whose builder actually declined a spot in the Combat Robot Hall of Fame, stating: "We don't need to be in the Hall of Fame to show how good we are".
Is this at all true, or is this just some builder self-inflating? [Tipster]

A: [Mark J.] I don't recall either 'Death Ray' or its post-BattleBots incarnation 'Orca' ever receiving so much as a single vote for inclusion in the Combat Robot Hall of Fame. Further, teams aren't offered the chance to decline membership in the Hall.

I've corrected the entry in the BattleBots Wiki and asked the responsible editor to stop living a fantasy. Thanks for the tip.

Comment: We can always count on you, even if we don't want to hear the truth because it might prove our ludicrous designs are just that! [Internet Forum]


Q: If team hurtz made a featherweight would john ried have to wait twise as long or half as long for a good hit? [Southampton, England]

A: [Mark J.] If you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does. See also this archived post about knowing when to eat lunch.

Q: In your opinion who is the best active robot driver/driving team? [Southampton, England]

A: [Mark J.] I have too many friends (and enemies) in the sport to start an international flame war with a direct answer to your question. I'm going to side-step.

Q: Can I Use A Nuclear Powered battery in a 12 pound combat robot? If so what do you recommend. I'm looking to get MAXIMUM POWER out of my vertical spinner. Thanks :) [Mount Laurel, New Jersey]

A: [Mark J.] I'd recommend that you work on keeping the head on your flaming hammer, Astronaut.


Q: Am I allowed to ask as many questions as I want (That are robot combat related)? Thanks! :) [Lynn, Massachusetts]

A: [Mark J.] You may ask as many questions as you like, and I will answer as many as I please.

There are a few off-limits topics, identified on the page you see after submitting a question. There is more guidance in our mission statement:

Mission Statement
  • The Ask Aaron site exists to support builders of combat robots with information, design tools, and advice based on our robot competition experience. We are not a free engineering service, and we won't do your homework for you.
  • As a secondary service we are pleased to share our knowledge about what goes on 'behind the scenes' and 'in the pits' at competitions, our views on issues important to the sport, and information we have uncovered while researching the history of robot combat.
  • Questions on robot topics outside these areas will be answered on a lower priority basis.

Q: Is there a way to vote for Robot combat hall of fame robots? [Lynn, Massachusetts]

A: Yes, see this post farther down in this archive.

Q: So I'm only a kid and I love deigning combat robots but I don't have the time, parts, money, parents permission, etc. to make one. Is there any other way I can find my way into robot combat? [Lynn, Massachusetts]

A: [Mark J.] There are some options:

  • Consider joining the 'Combat Robotics' group on Facebook. I'd suggest just lurking and soaking up some of the information that flows thru the group. Don't believe everything you hear there. You may find out about upcoming events in your area.
  • If you can get to a robot tournament, do it! Being there is a whole different experience from watching the videos. You might like it a lot, or it might scare you off. Either way, you'll find out what combat robots are really like.
  • If you have access to a Windows computer (I think you're on a Mac) you can run Robot Arena. Design and build unique combat robots limited only by your imagination, then fight them against other robots in wild and imaginative arenas. Play against A.I. opponents, go on-line to challenge your friends, or compete in open tournaments.
Aaron and I played the older 'Robot Arena 2' for countless hours. I haven't tried the newer 'Robot Arena 3' that was released in 2016, but it seems to be at least as much fun. At about $20, it's a whole lot cheaper than having your real robot torn to bits.
Q: I found this in the BattleBots thread on Reddit. Thought you'd enjoy it. It's from 'InquisitorWarthIncom Technologes Robotics Division', giving advice to a potential new builder:

In general, there are a few resources I recommend:

Team Run Amok: Robotica Season 1 Champions. Lots of good insight into the sport, though admittedly Mark Joerger can be a little cold and unfriendly at times - usually when he's frustrated with someone.

A: [Mark J.] A little cold and unfriendly? I prefer to think of myself as quite warm... and unfriendly.

Date marker: January 2018
Q: Why would someone want an Arduino controlled melty-brain flail spinner? [Brackney, Pennsylvania]

A: [Mark J.] Maybe their parents didn't love them.

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.

- Henry David Thoreau

...but I'm not going to tell you to follow them.

'Ask Aaron' has recently received criticism in the combat robot forums for being unfriendly, downbeat, and overly discouraging toward builders with 'new ideas'. Our use of statistical analysis, mathematical modeling, and historical perspective to provide the best available guidance to new builders wishing to build successful robots is apparently ruining the sport by reducing the number of wacky and marginally competitive designs that appear at tournaments. It has been directly and seriously suggested that I encourage rookie competitors of all ages to build "melty-brain flail spinners with homemade Arduino-based control systems" because they're so awesome.

In response to this criticism I am pleased to unveil the new 'Ask Aaron' Cheerleader Mode:
  1. DO NOT search the archives for previous posts on your design idea -- those old posts might discourage you.
  2. Type your combat robot design idea into the usual question entry box at the bottom of the 'Ask Aaron' page.
  3. Ignore the depressing 'Send' button and click the perky new 'Cheerleader' button instead!
You will receive an immediate encouraging response. Hooray! Combat robotics is saved! Try it now:

Comment: mode is funny. [Wilmington, Delaware]

Reply: [Mark J.] Thanks. There's a team in England that isn't amused.

Q: i have an ev warrior . i need to locate part of friction drive train. i need the drive shaft than links the two motors together that turns the knurled roller which engages rear tire . do you know where i can find [El Monte, California]

A: [Mark J.] There are multiple EV Warrior bike parts suppliers on-line, but none of them list the drive shaft. Try asking in the Motorized Bicycle Forum.

Q: What's the weirdest location a robot has come from, in your opinion? I did some research and I found robots from Iran, Nepal, and Pakistan! [Champaign, Illinois]

A: My workshop. Ya oughta see it.

Q: Why do you take so long to answer stuff? [Wilmington, Delaware]

A: [Mark J.] I've got a life, but I almost always 'answer stuff' in less than a day. If that's not fast enough for you, just attach a $20 bill to your question.

Q: Where do you go to vote for the combat robot hall of fame? [Beckley, West Virginia]

A: [Mark J.] It's not so much 'where' as 'when'. The Combat Robot Hall of Fame opens for balloting in August of odd-numbered years. At that time the voting details are released to combat robot forums in the US, Europe, and Australia.

The hall has re-opened for membership in August of each odd-numbered year since. Members of the robot building community in North and South America, Europe, India, and Australia voted to induct a net total of fifteen new full members and add twenty-one robots to the honorable mention rolls in these years.

Q: Can you vote for 2 bots in the combat robot hall of fame? [Fairfax, Virginia]

A: You may list as many robots as you like on your ballot. When the Combat Robot Hall of Fame is open for nominations in August of odd-numbered years, the voting rules are listed on the balloting webpage. The current rules are as follows:

How to vote

  1. Scan the Combat Robot Hall of Fame to see who's already a full member of The Hall and who has 'Honorable Mention'. Robots with an honorable mention are eligible for promotion to full membership if they receive enough support.

  2. Prepare the list of any and all robots you believe are deserving of a place in the Hall. Robots appearing on at least 50% of cast ballots will be eligible for induction. Voting for multiple robots is encouraged and will not 'dilute' your vote.

  3. Balloting for the Hall is not a popularity contest; it is a poll of the combat robot community to identify robots worthy of recognition. Campaigning for a specific robot via social media or other avenues turns this into an egotistical mockery. Attempts to 'stuff' the ballot box will be quickly detected and delt with severely.

  4. You may nominate as many robots as you like on your ballot - but you may submit only one ballot.

Membership is open to any robot that ever fought in a combat tournament -- which leaves out 'HellaChopper' so don't even ask..

Q: The green FAQ button refers to '' instead of '', which is invalid. [Clifton, England]

A: [Mark J.] So many links to change since I moved to my new URL. I thought Roger the Web Gerbil had them all sorted, but I just now found him asleep in a pile of shredded Apache Web Server manual. I didn't have the heart to wake him, so I took care of it myself: 68 links in a dozen archive collections now corrected. Flush your cache.

Note Roger has been busy tweaking the site pages to make them more 'mobile friendly'. If you find a page that's a visual abomination on your phone or tablet, be so kind as to drop me a note.

I decided to re-open Ask Aaron to combat robot questions from India so long as they stayed away from weaponry questions. Let's see how it went...

Q: Hey, I am almost there to finish with my first drum type combat bot. The mass of drum is 13kg and using a ampflow f30-150 to drive it. But after spending everything on the current bot I need to get a last thing that is a controller for the weapon motor. The ampflow motors controller will cost too high and I have a budget of $50 for the last thing.

I don't need to control it's speed, I just need to switch it on and off so that it can turn at Max speed in least time and come to rest in least possible time. So please help me with a way just to turn it on and off by a rc mode. Also I have a flysky i6x remote and rx as well so I just need to know about the component which can help me making it on/off with a wireless remote. [Odisha, India]

A: [Mark J.] I do not offer specific advice about robot weapon systems to builders in India due to my concerns about arena safety in the region.

You are free to browse the Ask Aaron archives for posts on this topic. Simple on/off control of weapon motors has been discussed MANY times here at Ask Aaron. Start with our Solenoid and Relay Guide.

Q: Yes, thanks Mark. And actually i got something to contol it with simple on-off state. I will be using a suitable SPDT or DPDT to control it. But now its again on braking it. If i do dynamic braking by shorting the terminals , th kinetic energy will dissipate in terms of heat by the motor. So can it burn up the motor by appling brakes in this way? Any other simple way to apply brakes for the weapon so that it can stop within 60sec??

A: Perhaps you missed my earlier statement, or simply chose to ignore it. Let me restate:

I do not offer specific advice about robot weapon systems to builders in India due to my concerns about arena safety in the region.

I'm quite serious about this. It is only recently that I have returned to answering ANY questions from Indian builders. Do not make me rethink that decision.

Q: Rules for line follower??? [Maharashtra, India]

A: [Mark J.] Ask Aaron welcomes questions about Combat Robots -- not ribbon climbers, not obstacle jumpers, not maze runners, not soccerbots, and most certainly not line followers. Ask the event organizer.

Q: I am building my everfirst robot and i m a school student so can u help me regarding the advantages and disadvantages of hardening a weapon and how is it beneficial in a robotics event than an ordinary unhardened weapon
and what r the effects of hardening
and upto what extent do i harden a S-7 drum to have an optimal ratio between its brittleness and malleability
[i have ensured safety upto a suitable extent..........] [Maharashtra, India]

A: [Mark J.] By the numbers...

  1. I quote from the text directly above the entry box into which you typed your question:

    We welcome combat robot questions. Please search the Ask Aaron Archives first to see if we've already answered your question. Recent Q&A are posted above...

    There are MANY posts in the Ask Aaron archives related to hardening and optimum hardening levels. I am unwilling to search thru the archives for you, and it is a poor student who will ask another to read the book for him.

  2. Asking about the balance to be struck between brittleness and malleability indicates that you already understand the effects of hardening -- or perhaps that your questions are assignments from a mentor that you want me to answer for you.
  3. 'Ask Aaron' does not answer ANY questions from competitors at Indian combat events about robot weaponry. Click here to find out why. This is noted several times on this page and is NOT applied on a case-by-case basis based on the builders assurance that they have 'ensured safety to a suitable extent'.
I understand the desire of builders to create more and more powerful robot weapons, but until Indian combat arenas are universally capable of containing advanced spinner weaponry it would be morally irresponsible of me to assist in the weapons race.
Q: Hey Mark it's me again, sorry for the last time about ignoring your words. This time i don't have a question about weapon system. I got a 10A RC battle switch relay and i need to switch on a power solenoid or relay that's going to be a 24v 200-300A continuous, but i am totally confused about the comnections and wiring. Can you please help!! I am in a hurry. [Odisha, India]

A: [Mark J.] You're asking about powering a weapon system -- how is that not a weapon system question?

One of several reasons I stopped answering questions from Indian robot builders was that the great majority of the questions asked were already answered in the Ask Aaron archives and guides. The only help I was offering was to direct them to answers that already existed but for which they were unwilling to search.

If you had searched 'Ask Aaron' before the first time you asked for help you would have found a quick answer to your question in the 'Ask Aaron: Solenoid Control FAQ' -- to which I sent you when I found time to answer. Now you ask me again for help, and the answer (with a diagram) is the first entry in that very same source.

I'd say that went poorly. I suppose it was worth a try, but I won't be trying it again anytime soon.

My experimental re-opening of 'Ask Aaron' to questions from Indian robot builders is at an end. It's far too frustrating for me to continue.

Q: Hey! I'm back with a very different kind of question: Now, it's not really something to be thinking about, and I was actually torn on whether or not I should ask, but I'm going to: Who will take control of this website once you carry on? Will it be one of your relatives? A friend? Will you just let it be? I don't want to see this amazing website vanish! [Decatur, Illinois]

A: [Mark J.] Whatever may happen, 'Ask Aaron' will not vanish from the web. You can follow the history of the site from almost day one at 'The Wayback Machine':

Besides, I plan on outliving combat robotics.
Q: Yo heads up, your 'Robot Weapon' link in [an earlier post] 404s, and so does the big blue question mark in the top left corner. Keep up the good work though, AskAaron is admirable. [Seattle, Washington]

A: [Mark J.] Thank you! I appreciate 'broken link' and bug notices. I've had a hectic week and forgot that my new web server at is more sensitive to link capitalization than was the old server at All better now.

Q: I always wondered, where was 'Robotica' filmed? [Syracuse, New York]

A: [Mark J.] RBI Productions filmed 'Robotica' at the historic Prospect Studios just east of Hollywood. The studios are owned and operated by the Walt Disney Company, and were formerly the west coast headquarters for ABC television.

I kept a journal of the filming that you may find interesting: Robotica Journal.

Q: If Robotica ever gets rebooted, would you create a new version of Run Amok and compete in honor of Aaron?

A: [Mark J.] Much though Aaron enjoyed competing, he had a greater love of helping people and sharing his knowledge. I believe that Team Run Amok has had a beneficial impact on combat robotics through our efforts to support combat robot builders, and I believe that continuing with those efforts is the best public way for us to honor Aaron.

I would be pleased to support the production of a Robotica reboot, but our team lost its competitive heart. We will not return to competition.

Q: Is a 1/4 pound hamburger good [Arlington, Virginia]

A: [Mark J.] I suppose. Does it have a bun?

Q: I told you, it's a 1/4 pound hamburger. It has a bun.

A: That makes it easier. You can use my JavaScript Burger Goodness Calculator.

Fill in the blue boxes and click on 'Calculate':

Burger Goodness Calculator
Patty Weight: oz
# Patties: #
Sesame Seeds: on bun
Price: dollars
Goodness: %

Q: The burger calculator was bad. You should have told me it was bad. You suck.

A: Have a nice day.

See also: The Hamburger is Bad

Q: Chicken? [San Diego, California]

A: [Mark J.] You should know - San Diego Chicken.

Q: You know, someone should make a "San Diego Chicken" themed robot. [Asheville, North Carolina]

A: Go right ahead -- but I'd rather see you support your local team mascot.

Q: is axel a man or an adult (In other words is axel really who he says he says what if hes a spy from Russia that infiltrated the usa to gather information and also to [Dallas, Texas]

A: [Mark J.] Slow down there, Buckaroo. I read on the back of a soup can that Axel is just another of those androids from the future who travel back in time to buy jelly donuts for their depleted energy cells. Perfectly normal. Go back to your room now and take the nice pills the nurse brings you.

Date marker: January 2017
Q: what types of particles are represented by the crosses (x) [Ovenden, England]

A: [Mark J.] You might have included a link to the diagram. It took me a couple minutes to find it.

The section heading is "simple covalent bonding" and a covalent bond is defined as "a chemical bond that involves the sharing of electron pairs between atoms". It's not a great leap to infer that the crosses are electrons. I don't think you have a future in chemistry -- why don't you go build a robot?

Q: Is there any way to find archive for all questions in order? I am struggling to find my old questions. [Bristol, England]

A: [Mark J.] There is no single time-ordered archive of all 5793 questions at 'Ask Aaron'. When posts 'roll off' the bottom of the main page they are moved to the top of one of the topic archives.

There are search boxes both at the bottom of the main 'Ask Aaron' page and at the top of the Ask Aaron FAQ that allow you to search the archives. A search there for 'Bristol' shows recent archive entries by you in the Robot Design and Construction, Ants, Beetles, and Fairies, and Robot Weapons archives.

Once in one of the archives you can use your browser to search the page for 'Bristol' or any other phrase you like.

Preface: [Mark J.] I apologize in advance for the following set of three posts. They all have sort of a 'hater' theme and were all waiting in my inbox this morning. I considered trapping and releasing them to wander free over at reddit where the haters party all day, but I went ahead and answered them. I'm kinda sorry that I did.

Q: Should I be embarrassed for loosing to [name of furry antweight redacted]? [Arden, North Carolina]

A: [Mark J.] Why would you be? At its most recent outing [name of furry antweight redacted] marched thru the field and made it to the semi-finals. If you lost because you showed up with an unprepared robot then that's about you, not your opponent.

Q: Do you think all the hate towards 'Chomp' is kinda justified? I mean, I can think of arguements both ways... [Walnut Creek, California]

'Pussycat' Toy
A: [Mark J.] Some people are so narrow-minded as to have a visceral hatred of anything that does not match their concept of 'how things oughta be':
  • A woman shouldn't front a robot team...
  • Combat robots shouldn't be tall and narrow...
  • Robots that don't match my design ideas shouldn't win matches...
  • Stop doing things that challenge my world view 'cause that makes me feel inadequate!
I first traveled to England compete at Robot Wars in 2001. At the time the show had been shown on only a few PBS channels in the US and I was not at all familiar with the competitors. I was walking thru the pits when I came around a corner and saw something very odd sitting on a work table. It was tall with a small 4-wheel base, and it had a little sawblade-like spinner way up at the top where it couldn't possibly do any good. The whole thing looked like it would fall over as soon as it moved. How could this be a combat robot? The next day I saw 'Pussycat' fight and everything made perfect sense.

Judge on performance, not on paradigms. Stop the hate.

Q: Whatever happened to the robot Run Amok? He never appeared after a while. I heard that he got depressed and jumped off a the golden gate bridge, but except unlike all the other robots who jump off and instead land on a cruise ship and wind up starting a new life, he just fell into the water and died. [Walnut Creek, California]

A: [Mark J.] Unlike the many robots that fought once, lost, and were never heard from again - 'Run Amok' had a celebrated career and is now retired.

Q: I don't see how you interpreted my comment about [name of furry antweight redacted] as "hate", though I can definitely say that text doesn't really convey emotion much.

A: [Mark J.] Wondering if you should be embarrassed by losing to the specific robot mentioned implied that [name of furry antweight redacted] is itself an embarrassingly poor robot. Granted, the robot in question is a 'novelty' entrant, but I don't like picking on someone who may not be here to defend themself. I might normally have let it go, but your question suffered from arriving at the same time as the others in today's group -- which I do think are 'hateish'.

Q: I found this when visiting the combat robot hall of fame,here is the pic: [Malaysia]

A: [Mark J.] The Ask Aaron question form does not support attachments. If you want to send me pictures or files you need to put them someplace on the web and send me the link. Dropbox works nicely.

Update I've since added attachment support to the Ask Aaron question form. Feel free to attach photos, drawings, or other files that might clarify your questions.

Q: Hi,its me again,me and some other team members are creating our own Combat Robot Hall of Fame and one of our team members are considering adding Run Amok into it,can i k now Run Amok's win/loss? [Malaysia]

 8 minutes later

Q: Just ignore the question,we ran into some 'problems' and cant make the page.
What does "SFK" stands for? [Malaysia]

A: [Mark J.] According to Wikipedia, 'SFK' can refer to:

  • SoundForge peak audio file extension
  • Something for Kate, Australian rock band
  • Siófok-Kiliti Airport, Hungary (IATA code)
  • SFK Lyn, Norwegian sports club
  • SFK 2000, women's football club from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • SFK Varaviksne, Latvian football club
  • ŠFK Prenaks Jablonec, Slovak football team; or
  • SFK Nová Ves nad Váhom, Slovak football team
I considered that your request might be a typo, but then I remembered that I told my readers where to find what 'SKF' stands for just a few posts down the page. I'm certain you wouldn't be so impulsive as to ask about that.
Q: Can you show me a video of 'Cyclone Bot' that the bot used it self too full potential?
Thanks. [TCRM,Selangor] (Now i dont type our full team name cause im very busy,so yeah :P) [Malaysia]

A: No.

  1. I'm not running a video search service. You can search on-line videos as well as I can.
  2. If you scroll all the way down to the bottom of the BotRank history score for heavyweight robots you'll find two sad robots with scores under 1100: 'Pandemic' and 'CycloneBot'. Neither of them have anything that I could call combat 'potential'.
Pick successful 'bots to emulate.
Q: Why did't Combots Cup 'Electric Boogaloo' got a place in the Combat Robot Hall of Fame? Its bar spinner is over powered,thought. [TeamCombatRoboticsMalaysia,Selangor]

A: [Mark J.] I don't get to decide which 'bots get into The Combat Robot Hall of Fame -- I just count up the votes.

Membership in the Hall is by ballot of the global combat robot community. Notification and balloting instructions appear in combat robot forums in the US, UK, Australia, and India in August of odd-numbered years.

Votes are based on:

  • Dominating success in combat;
  • Pioneering or perfecting influential designs;
  • Having great fan or entertainment appeal; or
  • Otherwise making a lasting impact on the sport.
Many heavyweight robots have better competition records than Boogaloo's 9 wins / 5 losses / 0 championships. I can only guess that voters find other robots more worthy of membership.

Q: And last question: What happened to Team Insanity's website? How did it got dark?

A: "Going Dark' simply means that the website has closed. I assume that the team got tired of paying the bill for their web server and name registration.

The resource-packed website provided by Total insanity Combat Robotics shut down in October of 2015. Most of the content is still accessable from the Internet Archive: Archived T.i. Combat Robotics. However, the Archive does not have a copy of the popular T.i. Four Bar Lifter Simulator.

With the permission of the simulator's author Adam Wrigley, Team Run Amok has created a 'mirror' of the Four Bar page where you can download the simulator software.

Q: Will Run Amok ever come back into combat? [Massachusetts]

A: [Mark J.] 'Run Amok' has earned a graceful retirement. She won't be back.

Q: Mark, why can't I post question on Ask Aaron these days? Is there any problem in system? I'm not from India. [Jiangsu, China]

A: [Mark J.] No problems on this end, no other reports of problems from outside, and this post got thru. I don't have an explanation for your difficulty.

Winner: Strangest Question in the Last Year

Q: Would you consider [name redacted] to be an obscure robot that only entered one event and disappeared, or is it too soon for that since its first event was less than a month ago? [Illinois]

A: [Mark J.] The rule [see FAQ #32] applies to an "obscure old robot that fought only once and lost". The robot in question is a FingerTech 'Viper' kit with the spinner weapon add-on. Combat record: 1 win, 1 loss. So far pretty 'obscure' and mostly 'uninteresting', but not 'old'. Certainly failing to fight in the last couple weeks doesn't qualify as 'disappeared'.

Q: How do I build a robbort? [Rossford, Ohio]


Q: Mark what do you think about the new Robot Arena game? I've played it for a while and it seems to be worse than RA2. Didn't expect much due to the potential player base of the game being quite small, but this is not what I expected for a game in 2016. Still seems to be the only dedicated robot combat game right now. [Guangdong, China]

A: [Mark J.] The 'early access' version of 'Robot Arena 3: Create.Destruction' rushed out two weeks ago (May 26, 2016) is clearly a beta release: incomplete and bug-riddled. There have been two updates already. I suspect the developers were under pressure to get something out prior to the start of BattleBots season two on ABC.

Releasing the clearly unfinished game has led to really awful reviews and public doubts that the game will ever be playable. I can't recommend purchasing at this time, but I'll reserve judgement and wait for a 'final' version of the game before I comment further.

Q: Pestering you again.
We're trying to mount a pulley on a motor for simplicity, but the motor shafts we used last year for the drive system (1/4") had been bent from the belt strain. How should we mount the pulley: make some sort of adapter, or find a motor with a long shaft (these are hard to find in the specification we're looking for). [Leavenworth, Kansas]

A: [Mark J.] I used to have a cowboy hat with a cartoonish foam plastic chicken head, wings, and tail sticking out from the crown. A man once took out a camera and motioned to me to turn a bit so he could get his shot.

His wife scolded him, "Don't pester that man with your camera!"

He replied, "If he didn't want his picture taken, he wouldn't be wearing a chicken on his head."

The correct method to support a shaft bearing a heavy load is to support the shaft on each side of the load with a bearing. You've already seen the result of inadequate support -- a bent shaft.

It's effectively impossible to machine an adapter with sufficient precision to support the far end of a shaft without creating a binding issue. Knowing as little as I do about your drive, I can only recommend that you source a motor with a long enough shaft to use a bearing block for support on the far side of the pulley.

Q: does aaron like justin bieber? [Malta]

A: [Mark J.] Aaron's musical tastes were from an earlier time. He enjoyed Ray Charles, The Blues Brothers, Jimmy Hendrix, and Roy Orbison.

Q: Your team has built a machine with a drive system that uses a 36 tooth gear from the motor to a 12 tooth gear on the drive wheels. Why would your team choose this option? What problems could arise from this choice? [Broomfield, Colorado]

A: [Mark J.] Aaron wrote a haiku that covers this:

Robot haiku:

That's obviously
A question from your homework.
Do your own research.

The least you could do is re-word your assignment before you send it to me. Start your research here: Optimum Robot Drivetrain Gearing.

Q: What would be the best way to mount a flamethrower for that crowd-pleasing factor? On a wedge shooting upwards so that the flames engulf the other robot when you're already under them, or at the front to be able to gently warm the other robot as you charge forward like a bat out of hell? Or maybe a bit of both like with Ragin' Scotsman? I'm not actually considering building a robot with a flamethrower (well, not to any serious degree, anyway. I know my limits and I still need to finish my 60lb drum), I'm just curious as to what you think looks cooler. [Arden, North Carolina]

A: [Mark J.] So you want to play to the crowd, do you?

Top Five Ways to Mount a Flamethrower

5) Out the rear of the robot: Rocket Power!
4) Out the ends of your drum: Hot Tamale!!
3) Straight up out of the robot: Fire Fountain!!!
2) Straight up out of the transmitter: Flame Antenna!!!!
1) Straight out the rear of the driver: Burrito Night!!!!!

Q: Mark I am doing an argumentative research paper in my English class, and the teacher said we could do any topic we wanted. I was wondering if you had some good robot combat topics would be good to "argue" about. This seems childish but I think it will be very enjoyable. By the way, I love the work you have done for the robotics community.
-Sincerely, teen from [Huntsville] Alabama.

P.S not a "fanboy", just a person who enjoys discussing robots.

A: [Mark J.] You're gonna get me in trouble. The topics in robot combat that I believe are worth a good arguement are topics that the robot community doesn't like to discuss. Here are a few:

  1. Robot combat is growing increasingly popular in India, but the tournaments there are often held in terribly unsafe arenas where spectators can be (and have been) badly injured. Should the robot community support the growth of combat robotics in India and leave it to the locals to sort out the safety issues, or should we impose our ideas of proper safety upon their culture?

  2. The original BattleBots series on Comedy Central was largely responsible for the explosive popularity of combat robotics in the US largely because it was an open tournament that anyone was welcome to enter. Hundreds of people built robots and entered each of the tournaments. The new version of BattleBots on ABC is no longer an open tournament; a limited number of contestants are pre-selected to make for 'better television'. Is this in the best interests of the sport, or does it make it less appealing to new competitors?

  3. Combat robots are violent and destructive, and the level of violence continues to increase. Is this violence 'OK' because it's 'just machines', or does the violence feed into and fuel an unacceptable level of violence in American society?

Q: Hi mark. I am an upperclassman in highschool and often give guidance to the freshmen teams (usually groups of 3 or 4) trying to design, construct, and compete with beetle weight robots. I credit you and your amazing website for most of my knowledge. Thank you.

Because of your website and teachings and watching many competitions and participating i have a fair amount of knowledge at my disposal. I could complete any of the designs the teams come up with within 4 months start to finish and feel bad because there is so much the underclassmen do not know. Their lack of understanding and ability to focus on the important parts of the robot (proper belt tension, actually driving before the competition, etc) and inability to complete a design in a reasonable time saddens me as many good robots have never been built simply because of time management. You and google and myself, and my tech teacher can always offer knowledge but ability to properly budget time for the design process is needed. I don't know how to convey this.

First designs actually begin in October and competition is in April. Many groups get lost in the virtual engineering and never get around to ordering parts and actually building the robot. Do you have a suggestion how to fix this problem or can you offer a suggested time table given the club is strictly afterschool from 2 until 4? Your help is appreciated as I am just trying to help others. [Pennsylvania]

A: [Mark J.] It's relatively simple to tell someone how to do something, but infusing someone with lasting enthusiasm is a more difficult challenge. Although the best teachers can do this it seems to be more a talent than a skill. While I don't claim expertise in this area there are some well-known general guidelines for keeping groups moving forward:

  • Competing with a combat robot is a large undertaking that can overwhelm. Clearly break the path to the goal into small, manageable tasks. Each task should have a well defined achievement and end point.
  • Make a big chart of these tasks and track each team as they complete each task. Display this prominently at club meetings to drive competitiveness between the teams. Maybe something like:

Selection of General Robot TypeOctober 20
Draft of Robot LayoutNovember 12
Full Parts List with Prices and SourcesNovember 22
Order and Receive PartsJanuary 4 Ordered
Test ElectricalsJanuary 17 ......
And so on...............

  • Keep their eyes on the goal. Maybe a video of a particularly good robot fight at the start of each club meeting?
  • When a team is falling behind, step in early to help them with the obstacle that has them bogged down.
  • Hand out praise for good work accomplished.
I don't think I can help with a suggested timeline or even specific tasks. I know how I build a robot, but everybody does it in their own way and has their own motivators. Be ready to offer the support each team really needs, but remember that these are their robots and give them room to build them their way. A robot that fails can be at least as good a learning experience as a robot that wins.

Q: Hi Mark. Thanks for all the advice. You have some really good ideas that I hadn't even thought about and I consider myself to be an out of the box thinker. I totally agree, competition is helpful but I would also include overall teamwork as a club so groups help each other. This was absent in my freshman year and I have been striving to get that specific point across.

There is just one more specific question I have. The groups as previously mentioned always get caught up in the virtual design, not on ordering parts and problem solving in 3D. We utilize the software Inventor. The advice everyone gives the groups is to finalize their design then order parts. This is done in minute detail and then parts never get ordered and the got ultimately just becomes a box.

I am the only one that suggests to only make rough dimensions of your parts, do a rough layout in person, and readjust size and material accordingly. Not to shape the weapon at all, only as a square or circle maybe with a few holes, definitely not to make an assembly file, and to just utilize the software to give a rough weight estimate. Am I wrong in doing so?

Thanks again. I know your website is more directed to robot engineering and building not teaching others but I appreciate your feedback.

A: It sounds to me like your CAD software is more of a hindrance than a help. It isn't 'AutoCAD Club', so if the software is getting in the way of project completion you need to clamp down on it. You genuinely do not need software to build a successful beetleweight combat robot, and you certainly don't need a refined engineering drawing before you order parts. Give 'em ten days to come up with their plans anyway they want (pencil sketch, cardboard cutouts, CAD) and pull the plug on the design phase.

Q: Hello Aaron
The Interia Lab`s webside can not open, I want to know the structure about Toro , T-minus and Bronco , Can you show some pictures about them? thank you [Yunnan, China]

A: [Mark J.] See Frequently Asked Questions #30. Here's a link to the archived inertia-labs site: Inertia Labs.

Date marker: January 2016
Q: try to attach Bite Force forward Drills

How come that I so much like your machine

you have super [Prague, Czech Republic]

A: [Mark J.] Ummm... thanks. I'll pass on your comments to Paul Ventimiglia.

[Cross-posted from the Robot Weapons archive]

Q: Can you explain the gyroscopic effect on a bot??? [Pasadena, California]

A: Not if you put three question marks on it -- that makes it three times as hard. Let me try editing...

Q: Can you explain the gyroscopic effect on a bot?? [Pasadena, California]

A: Nope, still too hard...

Q: Can you explain the gyroscopic effect on a bot? [Pasadena, California]

A: Ahhh, that's got it! Much better.

[Mark J.] Now, are you asking for an explanation of:

  1. The gyroscopic effect that lifts one side of a vertical spinner robot when it turns; or

  2. The effect that gyroscopic precession robots like 'Gyrobot' and 'Wrecks' use to walk?

Technically it's the same effect, but the explanations and diagrams are different. I kinda hope it's the first choice because I had that diagram drawn and the answer largely complete before I considered the alternative question. I'll put that diagram in here just because it's kinda pretty and I'd hate to see it go to waste.

Write back and let me know which question you're asking.

['Pasadena' never wrote back -- anyone else curious about this?]

Q: Will the Combat Robot Hall of Fame go on? [Guangdong, China]

A: [Mark J.] It's August and it's an odd-numbered year [2015]. Yes, nominations for membership in The Combat Robot Hall of Fame are open. Notifications and instructions on voting have been posted to robot builder forums in the US, the UK, Australia, and India. Balloting will close on August 15th and the results will be announced on August 17th.

The Hall traditionally seeks votes from robot builders rather than robot fans, and I choose not to post voting information on Ask Aaron.

Q: in your own words describe your strengths and how they impact your success in school [Natchitoches, Louisiana]

A: [Mark J.] Well, I can't recommend that you mention your 'ability to use the internet effectively' or 'independent work ethic'. Maybe a few words on your 'talent in involving other people' would be appropriate?

Q: How do you make a vertical spider bot with connects? [Newark, New Jersey]

A: [Mark J.] You mean this K'nex Spider?

That really doesn't qualify as a combat robot question, but the link above may help. Good luck!

Q: I was looking through your archives and stumbled across a post where someone had asked several satirical humorous questions. Questions like:

"How do I stop my robot's paint job from getting dirty or scratched?"

...and that sort of stuff. In his reply, Aaron said they would've been funnier had he not received at least one serious version of every question except the pleo one. This, I absolutely have to see. Could you give an example of the "serious versions" of those questions Aaron got asked? It seems too funny to be true.

P.S. Whatever its flaws, I'm super happy that Battlebots is back on air and did well in the ratings on its first show. [Oakland, California]

A: [Mark J.] Almost any question can be re-phrased to sound ridiculous. For example, your request can be reworded as:

"I'm bored and lazy. Why don't you go thru your 5100 robot questions and pick out the stupid ones so I can laugh at them?"

That would qualify it as a prime example of the type of question you're asking about. It's much funnier when it's not your own question. I don't know which specific posts Aaron was referencing, and if I did I'd prefer to not further embarrass the original question submitters.

If you'd like to search for yourself, I suspect that many of the questions that inspired the satire might be found in this archive. You'll also want to read the entirety of Aaron's Greatest Hits.

P.S. -- Aaron was a much nicer human being than I am. I'm trying to follow his kind example, but I do better some days than others. I'm sorry if you find my response 'cheeky'.

Q: When was Googlw invented? [Waterville, Maine]

A: [Mark J.] Googlw?? I think you just invented it.

Q: Am I cool [Pennsylvania]

A: [Mark J.] If you have to ask me, no.

Q: are you going to watch robogames 2015 !!!!!!!??????? [India]

A: [Mark J.] No - not without Aaron.

Hi Mark, hope you are doing well. Today, I visited the website after quite a long long time! Reading so much questions from my fellow Indians put a smile on my face. I must admit, the number of questions from Indians nowadays are quite large compared to back in those days (I assume, we were the only ones asking from India back then). Although we are not in the combat robotics scene anymore, someday we hope to start again from where we stopped.

Anyways, I just wanted to let you know Mark, that your website is one of the most valuable resources available to Indian Combat Roboteers. I highly respect and admire your decision to continue this website even though you were devastated because of Aaron's demise. I'm sure that's what Aaron wanted, and he's smiling from the Heavens to see "Ask Aaron" growing bigger and popular day by day. Regards, Las Vegas. [Niedersachsen, Germany]

[Mark J.] Thank you, Las Vegas. There were people kind enough to answer some of our questions when we got our start in combat robotics, and we put 'Ask Aaron' together to pay that favor forward. I'm very pleased that you and others have found our information and advice to be helpful.

Note: 'Las Vegas' earned his nickname here because even though he was in India his internet service went thru a server in Nevada. For quite a while we labeled his location as 'Las Vegas' until he cleared up the situation for us. Now his emails are being routed thru Germany. He claims to actually be in Niedersachsen, but I've given up on trying to figure out where he really is.

A few reflections on 'Ask Aaron' as we approach our 5000th question.

  • The first archived copy of 'Ask Aaron' from 2003 was a very simple page with only seven questions plus Aaron's first robot haiku. Today the site consists of twenty interlinked 'Ask Aaron' pages with a custom keyword search and more than 450 graphics.

  • In the last week 'Ask Aaron' has hosted visitors from Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, Vietnam, and at least 37 of the United States.

  • I've been running 'Ask Aaron' by myself for almost a year and a half now. It's not as much fun as it was when Aaron and I worked thru the questions together. Sometimes it's comforting; sometimes it's frustrating; sometimes it hurts. I'd considered calling it quits at 5000, but Aaron wouldn't approve of throwing in the towel. I've made a few cosmetic changes to the site to prepare for the start of our next thousand questions. Onward!

Q: Did "Original Sin" the first time inside mechanical failure disabled(lost all tires are not included) in CC2012 by "Electric Boogaloo"?
By the way,happy Chinese New Year! in chinese,it called "Chunjie" (Spring Festival) [China]

A: [Mark J.] 'Original Sin' has proven itself to be a very durable competitor. I don't have a record of reason for loss in each individual match, but I wrote to Original Sin's builder Gary Gin to ask if the Combots Cup loss to 'Electric Boogaloo' was the first due to internal failure:

[Gary Gin]: "The loss to EB was a tap out due to excessive external damage. At RG 2011 I had a loss due to receiver failure."
Q: How long is a piece of string? [Internet Node TCA]

A: [Mark J.] Just long enough - if you're lucky.

I'd like to offer my sincere thanks to all who read and contributed to 'Ask Aaron' in 2014. It was a difficult year for me, and keeping busy with the website was a greatly appreciated distraction. Best wishes to you all in 2015.

 - Mark Joerger

Q: Did you and your son ever hope that there would be a third season of Robot Wars: Extreme Warriors to enter? [Unidentified location, North America]

A: [Mark J.] We were looking forward to it! We had two heavyweight robots, twin European frequency R/C radios, a pair of shipping crates, and plans for upgrades. All we were waiting for was the word.

There were many rumors about a third televised season of Robot Wars: Extreme Warriors. Robot combat icon Dan Danknick was told by the Robot Wars production crew to get ready to organize the American competitors for a new series. There were also reports of a robot arena being built at Universal Studios for filming the future series. We thought it was a sure thing, but it didn't come to pass.

Our heavyweight lifter 'The Gap' still sits on a raised platform in a corner of the workshop, right next to our retired champion 'Run Amok'. 'The Gap' only needs a new set of batteries and a full tank of CO2 and it's ready to go -- but it wouldn't be any fun without Aaron.

Two in one day. Must be a phase of the moon -- are the grunion running?

Q: how many people in iraq [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania]

A: [Mark J.] combat robots? Not any, that I know of.

Q: 5. In what sense did the "Sixties" begin before 1960 and continue beyond 1970? What events might one choose to define the beginning and the end of a "long Sixties," and why? [San Francisco, California]

A: [Mark J.] I've got an uncle who took a bad fall on an icy sidewalk. He believes to this day that Nixon is still the President. It'll be 1969 for him until our robot overlords arrive to set us free. Does that help?

Q: hi mark is there any tutorial or blog which could guide us about driving of our bot means any tips or guidelines that can we follow or from u as well? [Maharashtra, India]

A: [Mark J.] Aaron listed his favored driving exercises in this archived post.

Equally important to getting your driving practice is to tweak the transmitter settings to make the radio interface comfortable for the driver. In combat your nerves will be on edge and a too-responsive robot will become impossible to control. See our transmitter set-up tips in the Run Amok R/C Transmitter Programming Guide.


I would first like to thank you for this wonderful website that you and Aaron were able to create. It has been an invaluable resource to builders all across the world. I am sorry to hear about Aaron's passing and I will keep your family in thoughts and prayers. [Maryland]

[Mark J.] Thank you for your kind compliments and compassion. Aaron would be pleased to hear that our work here is appreciated.

Q: If a Robotic Combat builder designed an iPhone, I wonder what it would be like? [Facebook]

A: [Mark J.] If it was designed by an 'average' robot combat builder:

  • it would be held together with duct tape and hose clamps,
  • the critical parts would come from a cut-rate warehouse in Hong Kong, and
  • the interface would be awful because they finished programming it in the car on the way to the release party.

Q: The point (6,a) and (b,8) lie in the line y=3x-7, find the value of a and b [Glasgow, United Kingdom]

A: [Mark J.] Algebra homework? No robots? Sigh... just for fun:

If the two points are on the line described by the equation, they must both satisfy that equation. We'll substitute the given x and y and solve the equation to get a and b:

  • For the point (6,a): x=6, and we plug that into the equation to get

    y=3(6)-7 = 18-7 = 11, a = 11.

  • For the point (b,8): y=8, and we plug that into the equation to get


    ...add 7 to each side of the equation to get


    ...and divide each side of the equation by 3 to get

    5=x, b = 5.

You're welcome.
Q: VestedMadScientist here again. I recently noticed that there is a robot in the lightweight class known as 'GLaDOS'. Do you know if that team affiliated with VALVe Software, or are they just using the name? [North Carolina]

A: [Mark J.] Lightweight 'GLaDOS' is the most recent robot from the very successful Team Adrenaline -- a group of students from Olathe Northwest High School in Olathe, Kansas. They have no connection to VALVe.

Q: Dear Mark,I think most US robot can't sustain the hit 'Touro Maximus' gave to 'Tanto',Maybe 'Tanto'just too bad luck.'Tanto''s Hardox fork wedge just bent a little bits,that's too much energy release in one little places.Maybe that's 'Tanto''s design problem,the design is bad at against a drum spinner.'Touro Maximus' also caused fire by that hit.Though 'Tanto''s battery dropped on it,I don't think battery outside can cause fire inside.The hit may also out of 'Touro Maximus''s design. [Guangdong, China]

A: [Mark J.] Many opinions, but no question.

Q: Mark, is there any real poor sportsmanship in robot combat? I mean like the Battlerat team's reaction after the decision of their fight against Nightmare announced in Battlebots 4.0. Did they really disrespected judges or was that just the magic of editing? [Chinese Forum]

A: [Mark J.] The level of sportsmanship at combat robot events is generally quite high, but I don't believe that any competitive activity is completely free of poor sportsmanship. I wasn't present at the Battlerat vs. Nightmare match and so cannot comment on any editing of the post-match comments, but I have personally seen much worse behavior at combat events. On one noteworthy occasion police had to be called in to calm things down.

One event actually encouraged a bit of poor sportsmanship. Competitors at Robot Wars Extreme Warriors were asked to 'talk trash' and be openly confrontational with their opponents during interviews. The network (TNN) was trying for a tie-in with professional wrestling and had a well-known wrestler as the host. Some teams played along, some didn't, and a few actually got kinda nasty. It really didn't work, and the trash talk was toned down for the second season.

Q: Was it difficult to make your robot waterproof for the waterfall at Robotica? [Watertown, Massachusetts]

A: [Mark J.] We didn't waterproof 'Run Amok' -- it wasn't necessary. The top armor was a single, solid sheet that shed water to the edges like a roof. The only vulnerable components (steering servo, receiver, and speed controller) were all tucked up against the top armor and had their own cases that would resist any random splash. None of the 'bots at 'Robotica' had any trouble with the water.

Q: Hey Mark, I made a documentary about robot combat for my videography class a month ago, and I wanted to know what you think: Robot Combat: A Documentary [Havertown, Pennsylvania]

A: [Mark J.] You couldn't put in a clip of one of my 'bots, Nate?

I'm always happy to see outreach that may generate some interest from the public. I like your selection of combat clips, and the editing is quite professional. I also like the breakout of the video into sections on history, people, and robots. The only thing I might have wished was that your interview subjects had been a bit more animated -- you needed to interview Stephen Felk!

While I was looking for video to answer an 'Ask Aaron' question, I came across this video:

Never had my own video tribute, and an Ahmet/Dweezil Zappa soundtrack is a big plus! Thanks Alexander...

Q: Then another question about your team in Robotica. Who would be the bigger threat to 'Run Amok' in the Fight to The Finish: 'Mini Inferno' or 'Killer B'? From your previous answers it looks like Jason's bot would be much less dangerous, I think. [Chinese Forum]

A: [Mark J.] Jason Dante Bardis was building a 'bot from scratch to compete at Robotica, but he ran out of time and decided to substitute a very light 'bot that was essentially the chassis for 'Dr. Inferno Jr.' with a carbon fiber wedge added. Although the drivetrain was very powerful (four DeWalt 18v gearmotors running at 24 volts), the robot weighed weighed only 37 pounds. At the weigh-in, Jason walked onto the scale carrying 'Mini Inferno' and was still under-weight! Powerful though it was, Mini just didn't have enough pushing power to be a threat against any of the robotica finalists in a sumo match.

Jason did finish his original Robotica entry and fought with it at BattleBots seasons 3.0 thru 5.0 with limited success. He remarked on a forum post that after he finished 'Towering Inferno' he realized that it would not have been a successful Robotica competitor.

'Killer B', on the other hand, was a very dangerous sumo competitor. Had they put the blunt end of the robot into use instead of the wedge end, they could have used their powerful drivetrain to simply shove 'Run Amok' off the platform. Lucky for me, they didn't choose that option.

Q: From your point as a Robotica reigning champion, do you think 'The Killa Gorilla' (aka 'Silverback' in Battlebots) built by Rob Farrow is a good design to compete in Robotica, Mark? Because from the only episode in the net including it (2.0 Final) it seems like it's very hard to drive,and will fall off platform by mistake very easily. And which kind of stage layout is more challenging - the new format in later seasons or the 1.0 format in which your team competed? [Chinese Forum]

A: 'Robotica' called on competitors to answer several differing performance challenges, making it difficult to put together a single optimal design. Rob chose a short wheelbase and a responsive, torquey drivetrain to overcome the 'Gauntlet' and 'Labyrinth' challenges. Although those design choices made the 'bot difficult to control, its maneuverability and power made it a strong competitor in the non-sumo parts of the competition.

I didn't have the opportunity to drive the courses for Robotica 2.0 and 3.0, but given the success of competitors returning from Season 1.0 I'd have to guess that the level of challenge was similar.

Q: A lot of people talk about Battlebots, but it seems like so few talk about its founder's machines. What do you think about Greg Munson and Trey Roski's bots, Mark? I think they are simple but extremely efficient. [Chinese Forum]

A: [Mark J.] Well... one of them was simple and efficient. The original 'La Machine' was a remarkable robot that won the middleweight crown at the 1995 Robot Wars as well as the middlewieght and heavyweight rumbles. It was also the most hated robot in the history of robot combat. As efficient as the pioneering wedge design was, audiences at the early combat events were looking for robotic entertainment from machines with rotating saws, swinging hammers, and flame throwers. The crowd would literally 'boo' every appearance. La Machine holds a place in the Combat Robot Hall of Fame for its pioneering design.

The only other Munson/Roski robot worth mention is 'Ginsu'. There were several quite different versions of Ginsu with the sole unifying design element being the use of circular saw blades for wheels. Although none of the Ginsu versions ever won a match in open competition, they are well remembered for their exhibition matches against Jay Leno's 'Chin-Killa'.

Q: And about Overkill -- I always think one of the main reasons why it could beat a lot of powerful spinning blades is that its structure could absorb the high energy of spinning weapons well and being able to survive those deadly blows. Am I right? [Chinese Forum]

A: [Mark J.] If you watch the fights 'Overkill' had against powerful spinners (Mechavore, Warhead, M.O.E.) you'll see that Overkill never actually takes a big hit from a spinner weapon. Christian Carlberg was a good strategic driver, and he new how to stay away from a dangerous weapon and wait for the right time to attack. Often, he was able to stay away from a spinner long enough for a battle-weakened weapon to fail and then move in for a victory.

'Overkill' was well built and very maneuverable, but I think Christian's driving was the the strength.

Q: A question about the famous moment when 'Mechavore' tore BioHazard's lifting arm completely off in the BattleBots 5.0 quarter final. Some say the reason was that BioHazard's lifting mechanism wasn't strong enough, but I think it was just an unlucky hit. Mechavore's blade hit the exposed arm of BioHazard at the worst time and in the worst spot. No lifting mechanism can survive that kind of blow. What's your opinion, Mark? [Chinese Forum]

A: [Mark J.] I'll agree with you on this question. It simply isn't possible to make every component of your robot strong enough to survive every possible attack and still make the weight limit. The more vulnerable pieces of the lifting arm are usually tucked safely away under protective armor, but they must be exposed in operation. Mechavore got in a 'lucky punch', but BioHazard went on to win the match and the championship.

Wacky Question of the Month!

Q: can i eat [Los Angeles, California]

A: [Mark J.] You typed 'Robot That Answers Your Questions' into Bing and blindly accepted the link that popped up, ignoring all the signs on this site that this is where I answer your questions about combat robots, and that I am not a robot that answers your questions.

Does no one in California know how to conduct a proper web search?

Q: Use the substitution method to solve the system of equations. Choose the correct ordered pair.

2x + y = 10
y = x - 5

[San Francisco, California]

A: [Mark J.] I guess that answers my question about Californians and web searches. Pro bono publico:

Since y = x - 5, we can substitute x - 5 for the y in the first equation:

2x + x - 5 = 10

Combining like terms:

3x - 5 = 10

Add 5 to each side of the equation:

3x = 15

And divide both sides by 3:

x = 5

Now substitute 5 for x in the second equation:

y = 5 - 5

y = 0

Which gives the simultaneous solution to both equations, expressed as an ordered pair:

(5, 0)

Now, go build a robot.

Q: Is a robot a computer? [United Arab Emirates]

A: [Mark J.] Many robots have computer processors that control at least some of their actions, but modern automobiles also have on-board computers that control many of their systems. Like an automobile, a robot not a computer - it is a machine that may be controlled by computers.

Q: Which bot is the most flat bot - Biohazard, Panic Attack 24K, Brutality or Original Sin 2? [Guangdong, China]

A: [Mark J.] Tough question.

  • We can rule out 'Panic Attack Gold' (24K). The photo you've probably seen has been 'color filled' and is misleading; the 'bot actually has has a large gap between the apparent front edge of the body and the arena floor. It's at least twice as tall as the photo leads you to believe.

  • 'Biohazard' is just a bit over 3" tall with the lifter retracted. This is verified from photos and text on the official website.

  • Comparing videos of 'Megabyte vs. Biohazard' with 'Megabyte vs. Original Sin 2' shows that OS2 is close to the same height as Biohazard. I've written to builder Gary Gin to see if he can provide a measurement.

  • 'Brutality' has a lower body height than 'Biohazard', but photographic analysis of stills from their fight clearly shows that Brutality's overhead spinner weapon sticks up to a greater height than the top of Biohazard.
That's the best I can do. If Gary Gin writes back with a measurement I'll update this post.

UPDATE: Gary Gin wrote back with some info on 'Original Sin 2'. OS2 was based on a Heavyweight BattleKit chassis. Although the BattleKits were based on the chassis used by BioHazard, they are a bit taller and use 4" diameter wheels. That places the height of OS2 about 1" taller than BioHazard.

The height order - tallest to shortest: Panic Attack Gold, Original Sin 2, Brutality, BioHazard.

NEW FEATURE: Clueless Question!

[Mark J.] I think it's very clear that 'Ask Aaron' answers questions about combat robots, but I get a steady flow of questions from web-stumblers who miss all the clues and ask an off-base question that any search engine could handle nicely. I kinda enjoy them, but usually don't post answers. I'm gonna pick one from time to time to feature.

Q: what types of plants live in the freshwater marsh in louisiana? [Monroe, Louisiana]

A: Mostly Cajun Crabgrass, Bayou Begonias, and Zydeco Weeds. See also: Louisiana Wetland Plantlife.

Congratulations to 'Rust n Peace' on their combat victory at IIT Techfest - 2014 in India. Their current combat record: 38 wins, 0 losses, and 11 consecutive tournament victories. I'd say that makes them a strong contender for the Combat Robot Hall of Fame.

'Rust in Peace' Facebook page

Q: Hi Mark Las Vegas here. Thanks a lot for mentioning our victory at the "IIT techfest-2014". We sincerely don't think that our bot is eligible for the hall of fame. We are still kinda amature. Our bot is nowhere close to the bots which are in the hall of fame. There's still a long way for us to reach the international level. Once again thanks a lot for answering our questions patiently and accurately time after time :) [India]

A: [Mark J.] I don't give out compliments lightly. Membership in the Combat Robot Hall of Fame is based on four judging factors:

1) Dominating success in combat

I'd call 38 wins, 0 losses, and 11 consecutive tournament victories 'dominating'.

2) Pioneering or perfecting influential designs

Most of the questions I get from India are either asking how to build a drumbot or how to defeat a drumbot. I'd say that's major influence.

3) Having great fan or entertainment appeal

Tell me that Indian robot fans don't run for a good view of the arena when one of your matches is announced.

4) Otherwise making a lasting impact on the sport

India is the hottest growth market in combat robotics, and your success is driving that expansion. Your team is also a driving member of the effort to improve spectator and competitor safety at events in your country.

Voting doesn't open for another 18 months, and I get only one vote -- but if 'Rust in Peace' isn't a strong contender for the Hall I don't know who is.

Q: how old am I?

A: [Mark J.] Apparently not old enough to be trusted out on the internet by yourself.

It greatly saddens me to announce that my son, Aaron Joerger, died very suddenly on the afternoon of October 18th, 2013 of an apparent pulmonary embolism. He was 22 years old. Aaron's obituary.

The 'Ask Aaron' project was important to Aaron, and I have decided to continue the site in his memory. Thank you for the many kind messages of sympathy and support that have found their way to me.

- Mark Joerger, Team Run Amok

Q: My sincere condolences to you and your family. Here is the essay I wrote in 8th grade for my high school application. Aaron was one of the reasons combat robotics is still a part of my life today. [Santa Clara, California]

Ask Aaron: An Unlikely Ally in the Digital Age

Aaron Joerger and I have exchanged ideas and questions for the past four years. Aaron is currently a freshman in college who runs a website called “Ask Aaron”, which answers all sorts of questions about combat robots. He has responded to more than 3,000 questions ever since he was 11 years old. Aaron has inspired me by being a positive role model and a treasure trove of information to the combat robot community. He is also a person I have never met.

When I was in the fifth grade, my family went to a robotics competition called Robogames. There I saw bots ranging from miniscule 5-ounce fairyweights to 340- pound super heavyweight behemoths– custom built radio-controlled machines designed to battle each other in a bulletproof arena. Each robot could have weapons ranging from flippers to spinning blades. I was fascinated by the creativity of the builders and of course the action and sparks, so the next day I ordered parts for a small one -pound robot. One problem though: I had no idea where to start!

It was at that time I found Ask Aaron. Emails were sent to experienced builders on the subject of what parts to buy with no avail. So I submitted a pressing question of mine on Aaron's site and the next day– Voilà, an answer! Over the next couple of weeks, Aaron unknowingly received almost 20 questions from me, all answered with an insightful and very helpful response or tip such as “cheap and combat robotics don't mix.” After school every day, I went straight to Aaron's website to check if he responded to any new questions. Each of his replies increased my knowledge about building and helped develop my thought process and researching skills. Reading questions from others and the responses Aaron gave even helped me to write more concise and easy to understand questions.

With all that I have learned, I've been able to advise other battlebot enthusiasts with their questions ranging from naïve to unconventional. On the Robot Fighting League online forum, a fellow builder needed help choosing brushless motors for his bot. With the understanding of these motors Aaron helped me to comprehend, I recommended the Turnigy 1900kv Outrunner, a combat proven and inexpensive motor, as well as tips on products to avoid.

My battlebot fleet has become a force to be reckoned with, thanks in part to Aaron. He is an inspiration, taking precious time out of his busy life to respond to the countless questions people have submitted from all over the world. It almost makes me guilty; I've probably asked nearly 100 questions. But I have also been able to take the knowledge I have received and share it with others. I enjoy helping people and having my opinions respected by others, especially since all my robot colleagues are much older than me! I am passing on the information and even getting my friends and teachers interested with all that Aaron has taught me -- my ally in the digital age.

A: [Mark J.] Thank you. It's very good to hear that Aaron's efforts were appreciated and that they had a positive effect on others. I've got something to send to you -- watch your mailbox.

Date marker: January 2014
Q: Mg+O2=mgo [Suwanee, Georgia]

A: Congratulations, you've made magnesium oxide.

Q: 16ft diameter by a 1ft drop how much sand would you need to make level

A: I've read thru your question several times and can't find anything in it that relates to combat robots. Maybe you can find a website called 'Ask Some Guy About Sand'?

Robot haiku:

Where do they come from?
Search: Robot Answers Questions
Will bring you right here.

Q: Dear Aaron, I know that Team Velocity has a robot called Velocity. Do you have any information about it? Are there any videos? [China]

A: I don't know of any Team Velocity robot named simply 'Velocity'.

Robot haiku:

They have a 'bot named
'Terminal Velocity'.
Middleweight spinner.

Q: Dear Aaron, I know that Team Velocity has a robot called Trilocity. Do you have any information about it? Are there any videos? [China]

A:This time you got it right! We know 'Trilocity' -- we fought it at one of the DaVinci Days events (we won!). 'Trilocity' is a beetleweight thwackbot with an overall record of 9 wins / 5 losses. It's very difficult to get a twackbot to work in a small insect arena, but 'Trilocity' was quite successful due to a well thought-out design and a great deal of drive power.

I don't know of any available videos.

Robot haiku:

Spinning a thwackbot
In a tiny arena?
Very hard to do!

Q: I noticed Preda Raptor is registered for this month's [April, 2013] Robogames. Do you know if Chris Harriman still attends events or is it just Chuck Pitzer?

A: Chris still drives for Team Raptor. He drove 'Preda Raptor' for its recent TV appearance on 'Lab Rats', and I believe he is tagged to drive at the 2013 Robogames.

Robot haiku:

Team Raptor robots
Always look terrifying.
Overdue to win.

Q: Dear Aaron, did Team Hurtz have any Featherweight robots? [China]

A: Not that I know of -- but there is a featherweght from Team Toon named 'TinyHurtz' that is an almost perfect miniature version of 'TerrorHurtz' from Team Hurtz.

Robot haiku:

A tribute robot,
'TinyHurtz' wields a big axe
On a smaller scale.

Q: If you burned episodes of Robotica seasons 2 and 3 onto a dvd, would you sell them to me? I would buy them.

A: No. We don't have rights to sell or distribute copyrighted television material. See #13.

Robot haiku:

Recorded TV
for personal use only.
It cannot be sold.

Q: when will the Haiku results be posted?

A: Impatient? The contest just closed 12 hours ago!

Well, the judges have spoken and results are now up on the haiku contest page, where you can also read the entries.

Robot haiku:

Contest closed midnight.
The judges didn't wait up.
A little patience.

Q: Aaron Joerger hates HobbyKing
The Orange Receiver is very good
But he does not care

A: Sorry, but I can't accept your verse in the [March, 2013] Combat Robot Haiku contest -- you got the syllable count way wrong, so it isn't haiku. You're welcome to try again.

Q: Aaron hates HK
The Orange RX is fine
But he doesn't care

A: Much better. Next time remember to include your contact info and I'll add it to the entries.

Q: Castle ESC
With Turnigy Batteries.
Which of them fails first?

A: Proves that you can pay
a lot or just a little
for gear you can't trust.

Q: Cheap is always junk!
High cost means high quality!
Hobbyking is bad!

A: As I said above:
'cheap' and 'inexpensive' are
two different things.

Q: the only difference
between hobbyking and axi
is number of spares

A: Even granting poetic license, that makes zero sense.

Many robot builders use cheap parts from HK. Feel free to use them if you like. I think they're probably fine for a little R/C project you're going to play with in the local park, but not for combat competition. Quality control is awful, shafts aren't hardened, weak magnets aren't glued in securely, specifications are questionable, documentation is unintelligible, and customer support doesn't exist. I'll pass.

Robot haiku:

I can't recommend
A six-dollar receiver.
Use at your own risk.

Q: When was the last time you competed, and with which bot?

A: Previously answered. We consider ourselves 'active' even though there has not been an official Team Run Amok entry in a competition for some time. For reasons of confidentiality we will not confirm or deny our involvement with any specific robots fielded by any specific teams, but we will admit to still being 'out there'.

Robot haiku:

Confirm or deny?
What secret are they hiding?
Some consipiracy?

Q: how many robots are there in the uk?

A: If you're asking about combat robots, I'd estimate somewhere close to 200 currently active robots of all weight classes combined based on recent event reports.

The International Federation of Robotics estimates that there were more than 14,000 multipurpose industrial robots in the UK in 2012.

I can't even guess at how many household and hobby robots there might be.

Robot haiku:

How many robots?
Look around and count them all.
I can see fourteen.

Q: How would you have prepared 'Run Amok' to face 'Mini Inferno' in the final fight of Robotica season 1 show 1, if 'Mini Inferno' had beaten 'Killer B'?

A: Mark J. here: Team Inferno did not complete the robot they were building for Robotica in time an had to 'punt'. Jason showed up with 'Mini Inferno', which was essentially the base from their lightweight champion 'Dr. Inferno Jr.'. Mini had plenty of horsepower, supplied by four overvolted DeWalt drill motors, but it weighed only 37 pounds and was therefore incapable of generating a whole lot of pushing power.

It would have been an elephant vs. mouse battle. With 'Run Amok's wedge off, I wouldn't have been able to touch Mini with anything but my tires -- so the wedge would have had to stay on. I would have needed to scrounge a strip of scrap metal to add to the front of the wedge to lower it enough to be effective against Mini. It certainly wouldn't have been an easy fight, since Mini was much more maneuverable than 'Run Amok'.

Robot haiku:

Mini Inferno.
Too small to be a real threat,
But still dangerous

Q: what is the best name for a male cattle dog Tramp, Bandit, Taz, Ace, Duke or Hawk?

A: Taz is good, but consider Hazard, Blendo, Mauler, Panzer, Ziggo, or Mechadon.

Q: hello Have you ever seen a green AMOK robot that's a vending machine?

A: Green, no -- yellow, yes: AMOK vending robot video.

COMBAT robot questions, please.

Q: what can you tell me about electromechanical engineering?

A: More than I have time or inclination to write here. Would you care to narrow your question?

Q: Hey Aaron, what is your opinion on the 'Battlebot' that Microsoft unveiled in 2005? Looks to me like they focused too much time on high tech electronics and not enough time on designing something combat worthy!

A: 'The Finalizer' was built by BattleBots veteran Zack Bieber ('El Diablo', 'El Diablo Grande') of The Machine Lab for a Florida software consulting company called APSOFT that implemented their own custom control system. Microsoft kicked in some of the funding.

In spite of what the article says about competing in robot combat (it never did), the robot was not intended to be 'combat worthy'. It was a show 'bot, built purely as a demonstration platform for the mechanical control applications of the Microsoft .NET Compact Framework software. I think it served that function rather well, getting a good deal of press coverage.

Q: A lift system in 40 story build is to be driven using steel rope wrapped round a drum (diameter equals 50cm). the maximum load to be transported is 1000kg at a time. the motor is coupled to the drum through some gear reduction system.
1. select a gear of your choice
2. justify why you choose the design
3. implement your design.
remember that acceleration and deceleration must be smooth and less intrustive on the passengers inside the lift.

A: Replace the passengers with robots. Robots are very patient and will not complain about a slow trip, and robots are also able to resist high acceleration. Lift gearing is no longer critical, which is fortunate since you gave me no motor data.

ROBOT questions, please!

Q: Dear Aaron, the British spinner called NST is the winner of UK Featherweight Champs 2012. Do you have some information about it?

A: I can tell you that 'NST' is a two-wheeled horizontal bar spinner built by Sam Smith, formerly of Team Tiberius. Construction details can be found at the NST topic section of the FRA Forum. There are also many videos of 'NST' at the 2010, 2011, and 2012 Featherweight Championships available on YouTube.

Q: Do you have any photographs or information on the RW 1995 autonomous entry "Spike?"

A: The best I can do is a photo of Andrew Lindsey's 'Spike' as it appeared at the 1996 Robot Wars as a non-autonomous featherweight. Although autonomous classes were planned for the 1995 Robot Wars event, the number and quality of entries were insufficient and no autonomous classes competed.

You can see 'Spike' being pummeled by 'KMM' in this video of the 1996 Robot Wars Featherweight Melee. It appears to have a wedge on one end and a lifter on the other.

Andrew didn't share much info about his 'bots, so I don't have any construction details for either the autonomous or conventional versions of 'Spike'.

Q: Dear Aaron, Are there any differences between Panzer Mk1,Panzer Mk2 ,Panzer Mk3 and Panzer Mk4?

A: All the 'Panzer' series robots shared the same six-wheel chassis and overvolted 'Black Max' drive motors. The major differences appeared to be in weapon configuration, with versions Mk 2 thru Mk 4 having variations of a positionable front plow. You can see the differences in this slideshow of the Mk 1 thru Mk 4 versions of 'Panzer'.

Note: 'Panzer' also fought as 'Wrath' at Season 5.0 of BattleBots (May 2002 - 3 wins, 1 loss), and as 'Panzer Mk 4.5' at RoboJoust IV (November 2002 - heavyweight champion) - no photos available.

Q: How can I survive the inevitable rebellion of the robots?

A: Keep plenty of snack food and energy drinks on hand and watch this video:

Q: How to build a 2 wheeled mouse trap car?

A: Why ask us? Try Doc Fizzix Mousetrap Car Basics.

Q: In the Builders Data Base you claim that Zpatula's strategy is classified. Now that Zpatula is inactive would you be willing to share with us exactly what your strategy was?

A: Our strategy was never really a secret, but 'classified' sounded better than 'wait for the other guy to make a mistake' so we wrote that down.

I visited some of the coaches at my old high school today. They had a couple of questions for 'Ask Aaron' that deserve special attention:

Q: If I have the arms and legs of a robot, how do I put them in the same place? IE form the body?

A: Bodies are over-rated -- just go with the arms and legs.

Q: Where do I go to fight my combat robot?

A: Try one of those tough robot bars on the wrong side of the tracks. Make a remark about the batteries on the waitress.

Q: Is Zpatula outdated?

A: Zpatula would need more than a few updates, but the design is sound.

Q: How much did 'Nasty Glass of Water' cost to make?

A: Hard to say. Batteries and motors were surplus, custom hubs made by a friend, some aluminum we already had in the shop, radio gear borrowed from 'Run Amok', Colson wheels, and a few bucks for wire and connectors. It may have been the least expensive 'bot we ever built.

Q: Have you guys ever fought Mission Control?

A: We've played Bot Hockey against Adam Conus and 'Mission Control'. My advice: do not play Bot Hockey against 'Mission Control' -- MC just grabs the puck and leaves.

Q: Could you tell me a bit more about MC? They competed recently right by me so I think I will be faceing them in an upcoming tournament.

A: Most of what I can tell you about MC can be better seen in a video. The lifting clamp is servo-powered and is most effective when it can get in 'deep'. It can't lift effectively if it just gets a grip near the edge of your 'bot.

Q: Would you consider building a Roboxer? Do you think they could be the future of robot combat?

A: No, and no.

Q: Why do you only tag where some peoples comments come from?

A: Mark J. here: sometimes people include their location with their questions. Other times something about the question interests me and I take a minute to look up the source location. If I think that location is relevant I may tag the question. It's kinda random.

Q: I would just like to thank you, I'm the Traxxas guy from a while back [see archive] and I just finished my wiring. You where a huge help! Like so huge I almost puked out my sandwich when you helped me! Seriously! Seriously, Serious!

A: I'll put that on my résumé. You're welcome.

Q: What parts of Battbotica Wars were from personal exprience?

A: All except #10 (BattleBots competitors) and #21 (Team Plumb Crazy) happened to us. There is very little exaggeration.

Q: So then what was that expensive and hard to locate part you didn't need anymore for your bot in Battbotica Wars?

A: It was a pressure relief valve for the pneumatic system on our heavyweight 'The Gap' that would blow off pressure above 800 PSI; supposedly required for UK industrial safety regulations. Very nice machine work. It's still on a shelf in our shop.

Q: Dear Aaron,can you give me some information about the robot called Electric Boogaloo ?

A: 'Electric Boogaloo' (video) is a new heavyweight vertical spinner from Offbeat Robotics. EB did very well at Robogames 2012, finishing second.

Q: So Aaron, are robots just going to stay a hobby or will there be a future of robotics for you?

A: I'm told that the best way to screw up a perfectly nice hobby is to try to turn it into a career. My future lies elsewhere.

Q: In your armor guide you said you built two championship robots with wood armor. I know 'Run Amok' was one of them but who was the other?

A: 'Rat Amok' - champion of the 2002 Da Vinci Games - was almost all wood. All of our robots have a small bit of wood somewhere, as a salute to 'Run Amok'.

Q: You mentioned some driving practice tips, I was wondering what of those you use. I know you build good robots and I just want to copy the pros!

A: No need to flatter us -- we give our best advice to anyone who asks.

I use all of those practice exercises, and if I'm having trouble with a specific maneuver I'll stop and tweak the transmitter settings to make the control feel more natural. This process takes time, and every robot has different driving challenges.

Practice until you don't even have to think about what you're doing.

Q: why do you have a banana on your shirt?

A: Ummm... 'cause a banana would look stupid on my hat?

Q: Are there any American cluster-bots?

A: I can think of a few.

  • 'Pinky and The Brain' comprise a two-part featherweight multibot that fought at the 2011 Robogames;
  • 'Beavis and Butthead' were two lightweight spinners that joined to fight as a middleweight multibot at Combots Cup V; and
  • 'The Swarm' was a three-part superheavyweight multibot that fought at three BattleBots events and at Steel Conflict 3.
There are likely others. US rulesets do not require the parts of a multibot to be connected in any way at the start of the match, as may be required for UK events. As a result, two or more robots that have survived the matches in their own weight class may band together as an impromptu multibot entry in a higher weight class just to get in some additional arena time. Such entries are often poorly documented and are just as often unsuccessful.

There are a few posts about multibots in the archive.

Q: Could we have a prettiest robot poll again?

A: The last time we tried this poll (search this archive for 'prettiest') we learned that there is no agreement on this topic. I don't see any reason to try it again.

Q: I think the 'prettiest bot' poll might work because it could be held differently, use ten robots on a ballot, give it a week, give it two weeks, first robot to have 10 votes win. That might work, a little trial and error in designing this poll might be helpful.

A: Mark J. here: given the results of the previous poll, we wouldn't even get agreement on the ten robots to go on the ballot. Instead of votes we'd get:

You didn't put my favorite 'bot on the ballot -- you suck!

Figuring out who has the prettiest 'bot doesn't appear on our Mission Statement and it doesn't help builders make more successful combat machines. We've spent enough time on it already.

Q: I noticed in Robotica that the robot named 'De Claw' looks somewhat similar to 'The Robot That Never Was'. Is there any relationship between the two?

A: No relation -- except that neither of their claw weapons worked.

David Hall's 'De Claw' (photo at right) was a complex and very expensive heavyweight entry for Robotica series 3. The exotic claw weapon never worked at the event, but the powerful 'shufflebot' drive train still made it a formidable competitor.

Team Run Amok's 'The Robot That Never Was' was built for a design concept photo as part of the team's application to Robotica series 1. Its claw weapon was never wired into the robot control system, and it never competed anywhere. To the best of my knowledge, David Hall ever saw our design concept.

Q: Who is 'Max' that you talk about in the Robotica Journal, and why is Aaron never mentioned?

A: Mark J. here: that would be Aaron Maxwell Joerger, who at the time preferred to be called 'Max'.

Q: If you could state your philosophy for building robots in one statement what would it be?

A: A combat robot is a tool for defeating other robots. The best tools are simple, reliable, and easy to use.

Q: what are your top 10 bot fights ever? so i can look them up at work (on youtube)

A: I'll give you four classic fights I really like and save you the trouble of looking them up:

Q: Why don't you guys fight bots any more???

A: Previously answered -- search this archive for "Why don't you guys".

Q: how long have you studied robots for

A: Team Run Amok built its first combat robot in 2001. Our history with non-combat robotics goes back several more years, and our experience with electric motors and control systems goes back much farther.

Q: Sorry for asking something worthless,but How Nasty Glass Of Water VS Apollyon goes? (i know NGOW will win)

A: Sorry, we don't run fantasy matches here at Ask Aaron: see #33.

Q: How come there are so many 'Fiasco's? How come they look the same? Isn't that a complete copy? Which is the original?

A: The multiple references to hobbyweight robot 'Fiasco' in the Builders Database are confusing, but I think I can clear it up:

  • There is only one 'Fiasco'.
  • Several teams have owned 'Fiasco'.
  • None of them are copies.
  • All are the original.
'Fiasco' was built by Team Velocity in Washington in 2005 who campaigned the fearsome spinner thru early 2009. The 'bot was sold to a buyer in New Jersey where it has competed under several team names (Team Kinetic, Team Gyroscopic, Team Disaster Area) but it's still the same robot.

Q: How many run amok hard were ever sold?

A: Hard? If you're asking about our Team Run Amok hats -- a few dozen. We ordered five dozen and there's one box of 12 still on the shelf.

Q: How big is A Nasty Glass Of Water?

A: Team Run Amok's retired hobbyweight 'Nasty Glass of Water' [picture at right] measured in at 17 inches long by 17 inches wide by 5 inches tall.

Q: Do you think that eventually there will be a debate over 'Sewer Snake' and 'Last Rites' like the one over 'Razer' and 'Tornado'?

A: The Razer / Tornado debate came about from a combination of a gimmicky arena and an unforeseen event allowed by the rules. Rabid fans tossed about accusations of 'cheating' without bothering to read the rules and the whole thing got out of control. I don't see that happening under current conditions.

Q: What [locale] do you get the most q's from, and is it one person or multiple. Just wondering...
Thanks, New York

A: Well, New York, you've put in a good share in the recent past. More generally, our readers and questions come from around the globe -- see the map at the bottom of the Ask Aaron homepage.

I don't generally track question sources unless I'm particularly curious. A quick look at our recent questions shows a lot of activity from Indonesia and west coast USA, but that varies wildly.

Q: I cannot find the question where you said the name of the website that gives links to the websites of combat robot builders. Can you give me the name of the website? Thank you.

A: See #30. Note that the list is no longer updated and is useful only for 'classic' teams. For current teams, just use your favorite search engine.

Q: Where do you go to college and what are you majoring in?

A: Sorry, I don't share personal details here at Ask Aaron.

Q: Is Phoenix a good flipper robot? I saw it last week at the Franklin Institute.

A: 'Phoenix' is a sportsman pneumatic flipper. I can only comment on what I've seen in the videos. It appears to be difficult to drive [poor radio mixing set-up] and the flipping power is only just adequate. I'd rate it average.

Q: I saw Phoenix as well at the Franklin, and it seemed good, but what would consitute as an amazing 30lb flipper bot?

A: A top-flight flipper has:

  • the ability to charge in and attack in one motion;
  • enough flipper power to damage - not just toss the opponent over; and
  • toughness to survive a good hit without spilling parts out and dying.

Q: Do you have a picture of Phoenix?

A: How about videos? Here's 'Phoenix' looking pretty good and wining, and here's 'Phoenix' looking poor in a loss.

Q: A rectangular sheet of aluminum foil is 50 centimeters long and 20 centimeters wide, and weighs 5.4 grams. Find the thickness of the aluminum foil in centimeters.

A: I'm not doing your homework assignment for you, but I'll get you started. Aluminum has a density of 2.7 g/cm3, so you've got 2 cubic centimeters of metal spread out over 1000 square centimeters of area. The remaining math is trivial.

Q: Thanks for your help. Sorry about the lack of punctuation, but Formbuddy says i cannot have HTML characters like commas or periods or questionmarks in my post.

A: Commas, periods, and question marks are not HTML characters. You're probably trying to cut-and-paste from a document created by a word processor. Just type your question directly into the entry box and you'll have no trouble.

Q: Do you have a robot girlfriend?

A: Do you have any siblings that show normal social development, or is your entire family a waste of air?

Q: Is the Cool Robots site down?

A: The coolrobots site is down and gone for good. You can still access an archive of the old site. Christian Carlberg has a new site, but without any combat robot content.

Q: Dear Aaron, why did they shut cool robots down? Thanks

A: Christian Carlberg has always been focused on making money from his robot skills. He gathered some serious sponsorships when robots were big with the media and worked hard to keep his image marketable. His new website is focused on commercial robotics applications, and I assume that he does not want the old website around to distract from his new 'corporate' image.

Q: A) Does Christian Calberg still do any combat robots? B) What does he do with the other robots that he has now? C) Is he no longer accepting any questions about combat robots?

A: A) Not since 2003, unless you count this. B) He builds them to order and sells them. C) Try asking him - contact email is on his current website.

Q: Regarding the Combat Robot Hall of fame, how did "The Master" garner so many votes all of a sudden? It's been at least a year since I last heard anyone talk about it.

A: Mark J. here: I don't know what motivates people to support a specific robot -- I just count the votes. I can tell you that 'The Master' received good support from US voters and a big chunk of votes from the UK to push it over the top.

I can also tell you that a lot of forum 'chatter' does not translate into votes. It does no good to talk about it if you don't get around to actually voting, and a lot of the forum posters simply don't vote.

Finally, a lot of votes come in from people who do not actively post on the forums. The lurkers have power!

Q: What has happened recently that has stirred the trolls? Just curious.

A: Mark J. here: they may have just grown restless waiting for the new season of 'Beavis and Butt-head', but I suspect that somebody changed their medication.

Q: What do you think about the recent attack against you on [site name deleted]? [United Kingdom, attempting to hide behind a masking account in Leicester]

A: Mark J. here: don't waste your time trying to troll me, wanker.

Q: why should we be taking advice from someone who built such a piece of shit as Runaway? honestly, [deleted] you. [New Jersey]

Q: I am building a robot similar to your bot, 'Runaway'. What can I do to keep it from failing like 'Runaway' did?

A: Mark J. here: a hearty traditional New Jersey greeting to you as well!

'Run Away' was built on short notice to get us to England and put on a good show. It earned $4000 in appearance money, and got us free transport to England with hotel, meals, and pocket money -- twice. It appeared on international television, fought in the 'Tag Team' finals, and lived to tell the tale. I consider 'Run Away' to be a complete success, but I would not recommend that it be used as a model for a 'real' combat robot.

Our combat record speaks for itself: We have finished on the podium at more than half the events we have entered. Few teams can make that statement. We answer questions about combat robots to the best of our ability -- you my take our advice or not, as you like.

Q: When and where can I see you participate in a competition? -Matt Cox

A: Hey, Saxon -- good to hear from you! How's life in Tacoma?

I'm sorry to say that organized robot competitions in the Pacific Northwest are few and far between -- particularly for the big robots I like to fight. But stop by my place and we can have a robot sumo match on the dining room table.

Q: Hey Aaron, when will the Hall of Fame reopen for nominations? It was [last] opened on August 8th in 2009.

A: The Combat Robot Hall of Fame opens for nominations in August of odd-numbered years. Announcements of open nomination with instructions for sending in a ballot for 2011 can be found in the Robot Fighting League and Fighting Robot Association forums.

We don't give voting information here on 'Ask Aaron' because this site gets a lot of general-public exposure and we're looking for input from the robot builder community. If you're interested in voting, I suggest you hurry to the forums -- time is very short.

[Voting is now closed for 2011]

Q: how do you ask a robot a question?

A: Use a loud voice and hold a big hammer in one hand. If you don't get an answer, strike the robot with the hammer and ask again.

Q: Do you have any information on Battlebots' Double Agent, Sabotage, Bad Attitude, and/or Kill-O-Amp?

What are the differences and similarities of Bad Attitude and Double Agent?

A: Mark J. here: we don't answer 'tell me all about my favorite old BattleBot' questions. We aren't fanboys.

Q: Dear Aaron, I saw that 'breaker box' fought in the heavyweight division at [RoboGames], but I thought that it was a middleweight? At least that is what it says on team nightmares website... Thanks!

A: It's been a while since Jim updated the robot descriptions on his site. 'Breaker Box' did start out as a middleweight, but it has obviously beefed up to take on the heavyweight division. Given that it finished 3rd at RoboGames (the TV show lied), it's doing a very good job!

Q: Dear Aaron,

I was reading up on the flipper section and I came across the robot by the name of 'Matadore.' Do you have any videos of this bot? I thought it looked so cool.

Thank you

A: Heavyweight flipper 'The Matador' from Inertia Labs was pretty cool. The builders claimed 20,000 pounds of force from the twin pneumatic rams. Record: 4 wins, 2 losses. A quick search on YouTube for 'Matador robot' turned up a couple videos.

Q: Why don't you guys enter any more competitions?

A: The last combat event we entered was a 1200 mile road trip that soaked up six days. The competitors were treated poorly by the event organizers, the atmosphere was chaotic, and the whole vibe was off. There are a lot of other things we would rather have done with the time and money involved.

We would be pleased to support a local event, but those have all dried up. We have battle-ready robots just waiting for the right circumstances to blow the dust off and kick some butt, but we aren't going to drag ourselves cross-country for a couple of robot matches in some shabby warehouse.

Q: What is Nasty Glass of Water and what does it look like?

A: 'Nasty Glass of Water' was a hobbyweight robot we built for the September 2001 NERC Hobby Expo event in Chicago. A photo and short description is in this archive -- search for "hobby expo".

Q: I think i know the answer, but have you been or are going to be at Motorama?

A: It's a very long drive to Pennsylvania from Oregon - we have no plans to attend the next NERC Motorama Robot Conflict.

We did compete at the September 2001 NERC Hobby Expo event in Chicago with our hobbyweight 'Nasty Glass of Water'. We had flown a lot that year and had a couple of free 'flight miles' tickets to use up. Fun event! Search this archive for "hobby expo" for a short write-up.

Q: Will you ever take Run Amok out of retirement?

A: No. 'Run Amok' is too fragile to face the current mega-weapons. She was built for a very different style of combat.

Q: Will The Gap ever compete at Robogames?

A: That's a long drive for a robot fight. We have no current plans to compete at RoboGames.

Q: Is Run Amok competing in combots? I will see it on the science channel. Thanks

A: 'Run Amok' retired in 2002 after Robot Wars Extreme Warriors season 2 -- see the Run Amok retirement webpage. Our current heavyweight 'The Gap' did not compete at Combots or RoboGames.

Q: I actually have robot Arena 2... What do you think are the best DSLs and extensions for the game? I want to make gravity and other flipper bots... Thanks A lot!

A: Hidden away down at the very bottom of the this archive page is the secret 'Robot Arena 2' Q&A section. Links to RA2 resources can be found there. We are no longer current on RA2 extensions; it would be best to visit the RA2 forum.

Q: do you still run antbotica?

A: Mark J. here: it has been quite some time since we've put on an Antbotica. We always staged Antbotica in conjunction with a traditional combat event, and the lack of nearby combat events has forced Antbotica into hiatus. We still have the arenas and props, and would welcome a chance to put on another Antbotica event.

Q: hey aaron! hope you're doin ok buddy. you've known me since like 1st grade hahaha, really impressed with you're work and proud to see what you're becoming! wanna a little hint as to who i am?? here ya go...

-little dude.

A: Brandon! Good to hear from you. Drop me your email and we can catch up.

Q: Do you have team site links for wedge of doom, and viscous?

A: See #30

Q: Hey do you have any good ideas for painting easter eggs? happy Easter!!

A: Krylon gives a nice, shiny result. Don't eat them, and don't try to feed them to your robot.

Q: What do you think of RoboGladiators?

A: Mark J. here: quite a few attempts have been made to commercialize robot combat: The Lazy Toad Robot Club and Grill, SlamBot, and 'Battle Ratz' come to mind. None have been particularly successful. If it was still 2001 this could be 'hot', but I'm pretty sure that there isn't enough interest in 'fighting robot birthday parties' for 7 to 11 year-old boys to make any money these days. There's a lot of time, work, and overhead for the price they charge - but I'm glad they're doing it.

Date marker: May 2011
Q: Can you help me find info. about afganistan

A: Sure. Afganistan is a french speaking country in South America, just north of Botswana. Everyone there is left-handed and walks with a limp. Their economy is based on the production of roller skates, whipped cream, and bandages. The great national holiday is 'Platypus Day' (November 4th) when everything orange is set on fire and thrown into the closest river, of which there are none. November 5th is 'Rebuild the Country Day'. If you move there, do not paint your house orange.

Q: Are there any magazines that are geared towards combat robotics? If not, are what magazines would you say are the most relevant / have an article about the topic here or there? And if there aren't any robotic combat dedicated magazines, why is that the case?

A: Servo is a well-written 'personal robotics' magazine that has some coverage of combat robot events and construction in their 'Combat Zone' section. Robot magazine also has some articles on combat design and events.

Scott McCarty published a few issues of 'Combat Robot' magazine back around 2003, but there just wasn't enough content, advertiser support, or reader interest to keep a combat monthly publication afloat. I'd say there's even less interest now.

Q: Are robots real?

A: Yes, but they don't think you are.

Q: I've heard that the builder of Punjar now owns a machine shop, is this true?

A: I don't know what Ramiro Mallari is doing these days.

Q: Did you know that Flexi-Fly and Pro-AM have both been donated to collages for autonomous tests?

A: You've got part of the story right. Mike Konshak donated Robotica 2 champion 'Flexy Flyer' and MechWars IV HW champion 'Kumite' (Coo-mitt-tay) to the University of Colorado school of computer science. To the best of my knowledge, superheavyweight 'Pro-Am' was dismantled. Most of Robot Dojo's other 'bots were sold to fight another day.

Q: Where and how do you vote for the combat robot hall of fame?

A: Voting for the Combat Robot Hall of Fame opens in August of odd-numbered years. An announcement of voting with details of how to vote will be published in the Robot Fighting League and Fighting Robot Association forums early in that month.

Q: I think a robot to be put in the [combat robot] hall of fame would be Surgical Strike. Do you agree? Why not have Run Amok in the hall of fame?

A: Team Run Amok doesn't get to pick the robots in the Combat Robot Hall of Fame. The votes come in from the robot builder community -- all we do is count them. I'm not going to campaign for (or against) the inclusion of any robot this close to balloting.

Q: How do you prounounce Run Amok?

A: Click here.

Q: Did you ever ride Run Amok?

A: Yes, on national television - Robotica finals, The Learning Channel, 2001.

Q: I just went to Motorama and saw robot combat. What's your opinion on 'Surgical Strike'?

A: Team Rolling Thunder has had time to develop 'Surgical Strike' into a potent hobbyweight since it first fought in 2006. The design is based heavily on featherweight 'Totally Offensive' from Team Mad Overlord, but assorted refinements and add-on bits have given the hobbyweight its own style -- it looks like a toy train that ran into a covered wagon.

With a footprint much larger than most hobbyweights, the robot appears to be easy to control and effective in operation. The attack strategy is simple: point the big weapon at your opponent and move toward them.

Pieces to build your own version of the 'bot are available thru Team Rolling Thunder.

Q: What is your opinion on Near Chaos Robotics' Apollyon and Moros?

A: No, we're not going to play "What's Your Opinion" for every 'bot at Motorama.

Q: Do you plan to build a new robot?

A: If a competition comes along that catches our interest, we'll be there. If it requires a new robot, we'll build one.

Q: To expand on your latest question, what would it take to interest you? Another Robotica style event? Something which doesn't revolve around damage?

A: Pretty much anything that doesn't involve locking two robots in a flat bottomed plastic box and having them beat on each other would be a good start. Damage is an integral part of combat robotics, but it doesn't need to be the sole focus.

Q: Have your views on robot combat changed since you first started this website?

A: Mark J. here: when we started this website nine years ago robot combat was very different than it is today. The robots have evolved, the event organizers have come and gone, and the types of people building robots are different than they were 'back in the day'. All that makes for a new mix of questions and a new slant on our answers. I don't think our basic views have changed, but robot combat certainly has.

Q: What do you think of the 30lbs sportsman robot, Upheaval?

A: 'Upheaval' has proven to be a dominating competitor with a reliable flipper weapon and a sturdy drive train. The extreme forward location of the drive wheels makes it difficult to control -- a gyro might help.

Q: What is your opinion on 'Pennbots'?

A: All I know about PennBots comes from a video I saw on YouTube. It looked like they were having a good time. Their website needs a lot of work.

Q: whats my name?

A: Try asking your mother.

Q: When this year will the hall of fame open?

A: The Combat Robot Hall of Fame voting opens in August of odd-numbered years. Watch the popular builders' forums for the announcement.

Q: Thanks for answering. Do either 'Thor' or 'The Master' have websites?

A: Sorry, 'Thor' never had a website and the Team Sinister website has no info on 'The Master'. See #30 for tips on finding combat robot websites.

Q: When your team fought in the US & UK tag team championship it looked like Run Away ran into the arena wall then shut down. What do you think happened to it?

A: You're talking about the Tag Team event in the Nickelodeon Robot Wars? I know exactly what happened to our robot -- but we no longer answer questions about UK Robot Wars.

Q: If you used Run Amok against it, how well do you think you would have done against 'Razer'? 'Ultra-Violence'?

A: See #33.

Q: what is the real name for your bottom? [Liverpool, England]

A: Liverpool.

Q: What was your favorite question?

A: That's easy. It was when she asked, "Would you like to come back to my place?"

Q: Out of the robots you built which is your favorite?

A: Run Amok.

Q: Can you give me a link to your video libary?

A: See #13.

Q: Do you still compete?

A: We consider ourselves 'active' even though there has not been an official Team Run Amok entry in a competition for some time. For reasons of confidentiality we will not confirm or deny our involvement with any specific robots fielded by any specific teams, but we will admit to still being 'out there'.

Q: Hi Aaron. Firstly a very happy new year [2011].

What's your opinion about middleweight 'HAZARD'?

Is it during that period no one was able to out-think/counter a spinner like by attaching a scoop etc.. or was the design and preparation of HAZARD was (& perhaps is) still the best?

A: There is no question that Tony Buchignani designed, built, prepared, and drove the finest middleweight of its era -- nothing can take that away. Speculating on how 'Hazard' might perform against the current competition and if it is still 'the best' is a game I don't care to play.

Q: What is the stupidest thing a robot builder could possibly do?

A: Decide to build a robot. It's stupid, but it's fun.

Q: Are Bucky The Beaverbot and [Ill] Tempered Mut the same robot?

A: No. Ken Benner's 'Ill Tempered Mutt' was an approximate middleweight built for Robotica season 2. Jimmy Myers built the much larger superheavyweight 'Bucky the Beaverbot' and fought in BattleBots 4.0 and 5.0. Some similarity in design, but no relationship.

Q: I have heard about a robot called Malavio do you [know] who he is? [N.I.Person]

A: I know a robot named 'Malvolio', after the character in 'Twelfth Night' written by some guy named Shakespeare. I would have liked Shakespeare better if he had written about robots. Ray Ebert's 'Malvolio' fought at Robotica season 1 and went on to a fairly long career as a combat middleweight.

Q: What is the difference between the Raptors (as in Omega and Beta)? [N.I.Person]

A: Team Raptor built a whole series of various 'Raptor' robots: 'Alpha' (BB 1.0), 'Beta' (BB 2.0), 'Carnage' (BB 3.0, 4.0), 'Gamma' (BB 3.0, 4.0, 5.0), 'Pack' (BB 3.0, 4.0, 5.0), 'Rippa' (RWEW 1), 'Tripulta' (BB 3.0, 4.0), and the recent 'Preda' (RoboGames 2010). I don't know of an 'Omega Raptor' built by the team, and I'm not prepared to discuss the differences between each of the versions.

Q: Hello Aaron N.I person Here for the 4th or 5th time. Sorry that I am asking a lot of questions because I have a feeling that you are getting a bit annoyed at me. It is just I am very, very interested in robotic combat. Please And Thank you.

A: Not annoyed, but some of your questions drift dangerously close to being 'fanboy' material. This isn't a fanboy site -- we exist to support builders, to discuss topics important to the future of the sport, and to preserve the history of robot combat. Other robot topics hold much less interest for us. See our mission statement at the bottom of the .

Q: Hi Aaron.. I was wondering if you could train my battle star gallictica robot with a g4500 ram hardrive to make eggplant parmesian....

A: Sure, but when I'm done it won't give up the eggplant without a fight.

Q: What's your opinion on Drillzilla?

A: We no longer answer questions about Robot Wars competitors. There is an earlier post about our opinion of 'Drillzilla' further down in this archive.

Q: Hi Aaron & Mark! I have posted few questions here before but it is hard to know when i got the answers/feedback since there is no notification method in place. Therefore, i would like to suggest that the feedback is also given through e-mail (if provided)

To make it easy, add another form below for Asker to fill up their e-mail address (optional) if they want to be notified & got their reply in the mail as well.

Thanks! [email address removed]

A: Mark J. here: a reasonable suggestion, but given that we generally answer submitted questions within 24 hours and that we provide our service without charge, I don't think it's too much to ask that people check the website to find their answer. Adding an additional step to our process is only going to slow down our reply.

We have always offered a 'confidential' email reply option for answers you don't want published on our website -- see #11. If you have special circumstances that require an email response, we will do our best to accommodate you.

Q: I must admit, I find it very tempting to ask you about what happened to every obscure robot. The reason? I want to see what your template response from #32 will spit out. For some reason, I find it hilarious. [Oakland, CA]

A: Maybe you should hope for a few Mad Libs books for the holidays. Drop some hints.

Q: Hello Again Aaron yes it the N.Ireland person again I want to ask you 2 questions. First on your opinion do you think robotic combat will be like its glory days (1996-2004 I think) again?

A: I believe that robot combat will recover from its current low ebb, but I don't think it will ever return to the high interest and exposure it had in the early years.

Q: ...and is it true that super chiabot had little minibots? and if yes what was there weight and weapons?

A: Yes, the Robot Action League's middleweight 'Super Chiabot' did release two minibots in combat. You can see them in a YouTube video of Super Chiabot vs. Complete Control. The minibots were essentially wedges -- they had some lifting capability but it wasn't enough to influence a middleweight match. As a guess I'd say they each weighed a couple of pounds.

The Robot Action League made several multibots. You can read about their robots and design philosophy at the Will Wright Fansite.

Q: Oh sorry Aaron I have possibly 1 last question did panzer mk 4 ever used it lifter?
yours truly N.Ireland person

A: Sorry, but we no longer answer questions about UK Robot Wars competitors -- even competitors from American teams.

Q: Hi Aaron.
Where do you put the oldest questions after a long time? Are all the questions stored on the forum itself?

A: All the old questions are stored in the archives by category -- newest questions at the top. Click on the green buttons near the top of this page to jump to the various archives.

Q: What's your opinion on Last Rites?

A: See our comments on 'Last Rites' in the archive.

Q: Remember how you once referred to some members of the audience as "Beavis and Butthead wannabes"? Well, in the last RoboGames, there was a middleweight multi-bot that consisted of two Full Body Spinners. Their names? You guessed it: Beavis & Butthead. Like their namesakes, they did not perform well.

A: Mark J. here: for the record, the quote you reference was in response to a post suggesting that smaller robots be destroyed by larger ones at the end of a tournament to 'spice up' robot combat. I mean no offense to the great majority of the robot combat audience, but I have a low opinion of the small sector of the audience that is entertained only by senseless destruction. We certainly should not cater to them. My quote:

"Most people who build robots wouldn't think it's 'spicy' to have their expensive, carefully designed and built competition machines pointlessly destroyed by bigger robots to entertain the drooling Beavis and Butthead wannabes who blow up stuff with firecrackers and giggle. What does it prove?"

The full post appears in the archive.

Q: Is team cool robots still active? what ever happened to them?

A: The last I heard of Team Cool Robots was at Steel Conflict 4 in 2003 - just about the same time their website was last updated. Team leader Christian Carlberg has now founded C2 robotics and still works on an occasional combat robot.

Q: Chinese Forum: It Seems Like Team Hurtz's "Beta Fly Through" page has been updated. It looks like Beta has been redesigned, doesn't it?

A: There is no chatter on the Fighting Robot Association forum, and I can't imagine why Team Hurtz would rebuild their unsuccessful BattleBots competitor 'Beta'. I think we can call the updated fly-through just a design study.

Both versions of the fly-through are available on their site: the old fly-through and the updated version.

Q: What exactly WAS Wacky Compass's weapon?

A: Enthusiasm.

Q: Did you see that Sonny_Resetti made a replica of your robot 'The Gap' [for the 'Robot Arena 2' game]?

A: No - I haven't been browsing the Gametechmods site for a while. A little searching turned up a photo in the Gametechmods forum.

Q: Is wedge of doom from team hazard a successful robot? What is your opinion?

A: You're kidding me, right? You don't need my 'opinion' about the success of 'Wedge of Doom': 43 wins, 5 losses, and 5 tournament victories gives WoD the best record of any lightweight combat robot.

Q: what was the last match of wedge of doom? Is there any photo of the last version of it? What is the purpose of the extension on top of its wedge?

A: You can research the combat record for any robot, match-by-match, at Look up the name in their Unique Name DataBase and click on it.

'Wedge of Doom' last fought at RoboGames 2005 under the name 'Smashbox'. It had several different wedge configurations available at that event. One of those configurations had wedge-top extensions to prevent an opponent from driving over the top of the robot - keeping it in location for the lifter to be effective.

I can't find any good still photos of the RoboGames 'Smashbox' version, but there are videos. Start with: Hexy Jr. vs. Smashbox - RG05.

Q: What's your opinion on Ziggy?

A: The current 'Ziggy' has an awesome flipper, but the name is recycled. I wish the team had found an un-used name.

Q: how old r u

A: See the introductory paragraph - top of the main page.

Q: Thanks for your help Aaron! Keep up the good work.

A: You're welcome. I don't know which question was yours, but I'm happy to have been of some help!

Q: Whats your opinion on Nightmare/Backlash?

A: Too much weapon, not enough 'bot.

Q: what happened to biohazard??

A: 'BioHazard' last fought at the 2005 ComBots Cup event and has not competed since. I don't know BioHazard's current status - you can always ask Carlo.

Q: Whats with that hamburger questions?? how does it relate to combat robot??

A: Mark J here: it's an analogy. We substituted 'hamburger' for all the robot components builders write to ask about in order to make our situation more understandable. People might appreciate the difficulty in trying to answer a question about a hamburger when they are given too little information. We hope to get people to provide enough detail with their question for us to have some reasonable chance of providing a decent answer.

Don't feel bad -- I've never met an engineer that could understand an analogy.

Q: I have noticed that several of the things you say are not universally accepted in the combat robotics community. In the future, could you let us know whenever this is the case? Regardless of how certain you are that you are right, it would be courteous to both the asker and the builder whom you disagree with, and it also helps create a better sense of perspective.

A: [Mark J.] I cannot think of == ANYTHING == that is "universally accepted" in the combat robotics community. If you ask a substantial question in the forums you will get half-a-dozen different answers from as many people.

If you want a cloud of un-vetted answers, ask your question in one of the forums. If you want our answer, ask us.

Q: Two questions:
  1. What's Your opinion on 'Rambot'?
  2. Who would win: Rambot or Run Amok?

A: Tom Sweeney's 'Rambot' bears a distinct resemblance to Robotica season 1 winner 'Run Amok'. It certainly isn't a bad idea to emulate designs that have proven their worth! 'Rambot' was entirely capable in all of the Robotica challenges and Tom was the only non-returning competitor to make the finals at season 3. A fine robot, and well driven.

Like it says in #33:

"We don't predict fantasy matches not involving our own robots. In fantasy matches involving our robots, we always win."

Q: A series of questions I felt you would 'appreciate':
  • What is a good motor? Don't get into all that technical babble, just tell me if its good.
  • I bought a motor, and when I connected it to the little circuit board thing, little sparks appeared. You should have warned me. You suck.
  • Why hasn't any builder just simply mounted a shotgun on their bot? Ya, I researched - the weapon rules.
  • I just did an elaborate paint job on my combat robot. How can I stop the paint from getting dirty or scratched?
  • Why do people say that you should test your robot's strength by stepping on it? When I stepped on my antweight, it broke.
  • This has nothing to do with combat robotics, but what is Hillary Duff's favorite flavor of ice cream?
  • I speak on behalf of the entire Pleo community. When I saw that video of 'Vicious Verdict' cruelly slaughter that innocent Pleo, I realized that your sport is a cruel and evil one. Be warned: Next time you sickos hold another robot bloodfest, the Pleo community shall come and avenge the lost Pleo!
  • I just ordered a whole bunch of parts, but I just realized I have no freakin clue what any of them are. Quickly: what does the weird box with the green circuit board inside do?

A: I'd think this was a lot funnier if I hadn't received at least one serious version of each of these questions (except the Pleo avenger, that's new). Sometimes the hamburger is very bad. The answers I'd like to give, in order:

  • They're all pretty much the same. Pick one that's a pretty color.
  • I feel really bad about that. Don't do it again.
  • Great idea - go for it.
  • Throw a sheet over it and store it in your basement.
  • It's an antweight - you should have had an ant step on it.
  • Don't know, but mine is WD-40.
  • I'm so ashamed...
  • Green? You got green? Send it back, you need purple.

Q: i like your robots simplicity

A: Thank you! Simplicity is a major design consideration at Team Run Amok. Our motto: 'Complicated design is easy - simple takes work.'

Q: what are robots i have no idea help!!!

A: See Wikipedia: Robot and #1.

Q: how many days until 29th of november 2010

A: BEEP - I am a robot that will answer any question - BEEP - Type your question and I will answer it - BEEP

I get a lot of these questions. It seems there's a rumor about an omniscient robot out on the internet that can answer any question. A lot of the phrases people Google to search for this fictitious robot land them here at 'Ask Aaron'. Excited, they stumble blindly into the first text box they see and start typing. Do they ask for a way to end human suffering? Do they attempt to unravel the philosophical mysteries of the ages? Do they seek the holy grail? No. The popular questions are:

  • "who is sitting next to me",
  • "what is my cat's name", and
  • "does [insert name] love me".
If you want to be loved, get rid of 'Mister Mittens', go to the animal shelter, and rescue a dog. A cat hangs around because you feed it - a dog will love you forever. Your dog should be the one sitting next to you. Name him Jeff. Now go take Jeff for a walk. Beep.
Q: I know you don't answer "what happened to?"s anymore, but what ever happened to frenZy? he was one of my fave bots and I really miss him.

A: I'll make an exception - I miss frenZy as well.

First appearing at the 1997 US Robot Wars, 'FrenZy' was one of only five robots to compete at all of the BattleBots tournaments. FrenZy made an appearance in the UK for their Robot Wars, and earned an 'Honorable Mention' in the Combat Robot Hall of Fame. The final fight was a loss against 'Bull It' at Steel Conflict 3 in 2003. The Team Minus Zero website still lists frenZy's status as 'battle ready'.

Q: Some guys that make bots have degrees in or take electrical engineering, like Grant Imihara. But other guys take mechanical engineering. I'm not going to be in college for 5 years, but I was wanting to minor in one to know how to better build a robot. Which would be more beneficial?

A: Mark J here: we could start a big argument here! More important than your minor is the program at the school you choose. Discuss your interests with counselors at several schools before you make a choice. See if you can find a mentor who shares your interests on faculty. As for myself, I have two degrees in the biological sciences with minors in math and chemistry; there's more than one way to skin a robot.

Q: Do you has pickle bot? [norwaycon]

A: What if I do?

Q: Can yu show picle bot?

A: No, you'll have to find your own picklebot.

Q: Do you has burger bot? [Fort Wayne, Indiana]

A: Don't mess with me, Fort Wayne. See photo.

Q: DO "the toy" and "Andy Roid" have any relation?

A: Both were built from toy tricycles, but years apart and by completely different teams. 'Andy Roid' was built for the 1994 US Robot Wars by Bob Cooper and Scott McNamara from California, and 'The Toy' was built for BattleBots 5.0 (2002) by team 'Sunami' from Illinois.

Q: Did'nt team tsuanami build another bot? and what happened to the old bot AGSMA?

A: I know of a 'Team Tsumani' from California, a 'Team Tsunami' from Nevada, and a 'Sunami' from Illinois. 'Sunami' built both lightweight 'The Toy' and heavyweight 'Dredge' for BattleBots 5.0. Neither of their robots won a match. I believe the robots jumped off the Golden Gate bridge together.

There is a previous post about the long history of 'AGSMA' in the archive. 'AGSMA' competed as recently as 2009, although the current version has little in common with the original. You can research the combat record for any North American robot at - see #31.

Q: What happned to [US Robot Wars creator] Marc Thorpe? What happend to Jess Jackson and Boy howdy?

A: See

Middleweight 'Boy Howdy' fought one match at the '95 US Robot Wars and lost to 'La Machine'. Depressed, 'Boy Howdy' made its way to the center of the Golden Gate Bridge and leapt off - only to land on the deck of a freighter bound for Myanmar. After hitching a ride into Rangoon, 'Boy Howdy' worked as a juice squeezer at a roadside drink stand for several years and saved every penny until he had enough money to open a small barber shop. He married a lovely girl named Mintaya and had four children: a girl, two boys, and a master cylinder. The family is doing well.

See also FAQ #32

Q: I mean is there any CURREnt info on mark?

A: I have no more current info than his own website. His email is on the splash page -- you could write and ask him what he had for breakfast if you like.

Q: Can you send me a link to Team Inetias site? do they still compete? what happened to Her groupoden?

A: Inertia Labs (website) last competed in 2005, AFAIK.

'Herr Gepounden' still competes -- see its current record at

Q: do you do good robot?

A: Yes, I do great robot.


A: If you're having trouble finding a website for a recent competitor, try looking up the team or robot at Builders DB -- there's often a link. For archives of 'classic' robot websites, see #30. In this particular case, I don't know of a website for the 'Late Night Racing' team, builders of 'The Big B' and 'Original Sin'.


A: I just gave you my tips for finding websites. Follow them, and you can find any website I can.

Q: Is there a video anywhere of 'Rat Amok' fighting or being tested?

A: I have video, but there really isn't much to see. There's a 'snap' noise when the trap is triggered and the other robot goes flying. Use the search box to find previous posts about 'Rat Amok'.

Q: I have a question, would you be willing to sell any of your non-active robots? If so at what price?

A: Mark J here: the only robot I would consider selling would be our heavyweight 'The Gap' and only because it takes up so much space in the workshop. I once offered to sell it to an interested party for the replacement cost of the motors, ESCs, and pneumatics -- batteries and radio not included. I don't recall what that added up to. Convince me you're a serious buyer and I'll look up the prices for you.

Q: How fast was center punch, was he really 52 MPH? and how fast was kill-o-amp? and was'nt pumpkin bot built by the builder of last rights? do you have any pics of older Kill-o-amps and center punch?

A: The standard method of reporting speed for combat robots has always been to simply calculate the theoretical speed based on no-load motor RPM:

Theoretical MPH = (No-Load Motor RPM ÷ Drive Gear Ratio) × Tire Circumference (inches) × 0.000947

This is nothing more than a 'brag number' and has no relationship to actual attainable speed, let alone the speed possible within the confines of a small arena. I have no information on actual speeds for any combat robots -- not even my own.

Lightweight 'The Great Pumpkin' entered the 2009 RoboGames representing Ray Billings' Hardcore Robotics team -- the same team that entered heavyweight 'Last Rites', middleweight 'Mortician', and featherweight 'Mitch'.

I have no photos of either 'Kill-O-Amp>' or 'Center Punch' -- try Team Nightmare's event report gallery

Q: and can I have some info on robot redford junior and scrap daddy?

A: We've said many times that we have little interest in robots that fought once, lost, and were never heard of again -- like 'Robot Redford Junior'. If you have some interest, #30 has instructions for researching archives of old team websites and sources for robot fight histories.

A quick check of the Name Database shows eight different 'Scrap Daddy' robots in four weight classes. All were built by Mark Bradford and friends. None had a winning record, and half never won a single match. If you'd like more information you'll have to go dig it up for yourself.

Q: IS sj still owned byt his old team?

A: 'SJ' (formerly 'Slam Job') is still under the control of Team Blackroot -- no change in ownership.

Q: ...and can I pweese have some info on Thumper?

A: Which 'Thumper'?

  • Middleweight 'Thumper' lost it's only fight at BattleBots 4.0, lost it's only fight at BattleBots 5.0, and lost four fights in quick succession at Mechwars 5. If it hasn't already jumped off a bridge, it ought to. The official Thumper webpage tells you pretty much everything you need to know.

  • The autonomous 1997 U.S. Robot Wars champion 'Thumper' has a very nice archived website that will give you plenty of information.

Q: how did topbot work?

A: 'Topbot' was a UK Robot Wars competitor that never won a match. As stated in the box into which you typed your question, we are not currently answering questions about UK Robot Wars competitors -- that goes double for those that never won a match.

Q: ...and what happened to Clephrechon?

A: 'Cleprechaun' lost two out of three matches it fought at RoboGames 2006. Depressed, 'Cleprechaun' made its way to the center of the San Mateo Bridge and leapt off - only to land on the deck of a freighter bound for Alaska. After hitching a ride into Anchorage, 'Cleprechaun' worked as a fish gutter in a cannery for several years and saved every penny until it had enough money to open a small Ski-Doo repair shop. It married a lovely girl named Taliriktug and had four children: a girl, two boys, and a stapler. The family is doing well.

See also #32.

Q: clephrocon faught in 08 two

A: Not according to Cleprechaun's record at or Builders DataBase. Must have been some bar fight in Alaska.

Q: What happened to El diablo and his team? same with mauler?

A: Teams rarely give notice, either in person or on their websites, of their reasons for departure from the sport. They just stop showing up at events. Both of the teams you mention were strongly associated with BattleBots. When those competitions ended, it is safe to assume that they just lost interest and moved on. A lot of teams did.

Q: can I have some info on Last rites and Bender?

A: Check #30 for information on how to locate and access both current and archived team websites. It's best to get general information straight from the source.

Date marker: May 2010
Q: Can you give me a wayback machine link to the robot wars US team "team spike" site? I can't seem to find it.

A: Andrew Lindsey was very... 'protective' of the contents of his 'Team Spike' site. I'm told he made specific requests that it not be archived and had it withdrawn from the Wayback Machine. He took the site itself down about a decade ago and I know of no existing copy.

Q: Have you ever considered entering a Robot Arena 2 tournament?

A: Not seriously. I play video games for fun, but I don't want to get competitive.

Q: can I have some info on Satans revenge?

A: I don't have much. Ken Swenson's middleweight 'Satan's Revenge' fought only at the 1997 U.S. Robot Wars. It lost both of its fights, versus 'Hyena' and eventual champion 'Vicious 1'. There is a short video of the fight against 'Vicious 1' on YouTube.

Q: can I have info on hyena?

A: There is very little information available on most of the robots that competed in the early US Robot Wars. You can find their combat records by looking them up at the BotRank Unique Name Database. We have builder names (and some photo links) at the Combat Robotics Tournament Tree site. With luck, you may find a video at YouTube.

Q: what happened to 'Test Toaster One'?

A: See post on 'Test Toaster One' (with photo) farther down in this archive.

Q: Is Carlo Bertocchini still involved in combat robot? Did he build a new robot?

A: Yes and no. Carlo is still involved in many areas of robotics, but has not competed in full combat events for quite a few years. He operates, produces BattleKits, markets Roboxers (photo at right), and makes regular appearances at robot themed events.

Q: Then what about Carlo's involvement in sumo? Is he still active in that?

A: We don't follow sumo. I can tell you that there is no mention of current sumo activity on any of Carlo Bertocchini's web pages and I can not find his name listed in event reports from recent sumo tournaments.

Q: What do you think about the Roboplow?

A: No comment.

Q: Hi aaron. What makes ziggy the best flipper in the buisness? How to tackle such a robot because he is inverible too?

A: Superheavyweight 'Ziggy' has a well designed 4-bar flipper powered by a big high-pressure pneumatic system. There is a lot of design and fabrication work needed to get such a weapon to be effective and reliable. However, as we are quick to point out, the weapon is perhaps the least important system on a combat robot. All the other systems have to work well or the robot cannot be successful. Ziggy's weapon is well integrated into an efficient and durable chassis/drivetrain and is driven well. Get the basics down pat, then play with a big weapon.

How do you beat 'Ziggy'? In the immortal words of our friends at Team Jawbreaker: "Hit 'em 'til they break." Good luck with that.

Q: How fast is [BattleBots heavyweight] 'Overkill'?

A: I could only estimate. Try asking builder Christian Carlberg:

Q: Do you have team Whyachi's e-mail?

A: For general inquiries:

Q: hi aaron. I dont know whether this is the right place to ask this but I'm confused. When a spring balance measures weight or mass, is it in newtons or kg?

A: Physics homework? Weight and mass are different things. A spring scale cannot directly measure mass -- it measures the weight (force) an object exerts on the scale platform. Properly, force is measured in newtons (metric) or pounds (english) and that is what a spring scale measures. On the surface of the Earth a mass of 1 kg exerts a downward force of about 9.8 newtons, so a simple conversion approximation is usually applied by scales.

Q: IS la machine a 2 wheel or 4 wheel drive robot?

A: 'La Machine' was a two wheeled robot. See YouTube video.

Q: Then what about the second version of la machine? Is it 2-wheel or 4-wheel drive?

A: The video link above is from 1997 and shows the second (heavyweight) version of 'La Machine'. Both the middleweight and heavyweight versions were two-wheeled.

Q: Hi aaron!! Who do you think will win between
  1. Ziggy Vs Son of whyachi
  2. Super Megabyte Vs Son of whyachi &
  3. Last Rites Vs Megabyte ?

A: We don't predict fantasy matches not involving our own team. In fantasy matches that do involve our team, we always win.

Q: Can you tell me your opinion: which is better, 'Razer' or 'Warhead'?

A: This exact question, word-for-word, has been previously answered: search this archive.

Comment: Hi Aaron thanks for helping budding combat robotists like us. Every bit of information and guidance you provided on this site is worthwhile. Hope you continue to do your job and help many more people like us. Thanks!!!!
Comment: Thanks for the help Aaron, I built my first bot succcesfully. THANKS!!

Always happy to hear we were of some help.

Q: do you have any vids of, or info on the old bot Potter's wheel? and what was he spinning - a potters wheel?

A: 'Potter's Wheel' was one of a great many robots that fought once, lost, and were never seen again. In this case it lost its only fight to 'Son of Bob' in the middleweight division at BattleBots 4.0. Its spinning weapon appears too small to be an actual potters wheel. I have no other information. If there was anything interesting or educational about 'Potter's Wheel' you would not have trouble finding it.

Q: are you sure the disk on Potter's wheel, is not actually a mounting disk? 'cause if you get the DSL mod for Robot Arena 2, there is a replica and it is spinning a potters wheel, and you can use the wheel, to :S and do you know what happed to the LW flame thrower bot, Bob?

A: No, I'm not sure. Like I said, it looks small for a pottery disk - but I don't have a good enough picture to tell for sure. Either way, it was not successful.

With 30 wins, 10 losses, and five class championships in the MechWars and WBX series', 'Bob' was a very successful robot! 'Bob' was from a Minnesota-based team and has not competed since the Minnesota MechWars series folded in 2007.

Q: Is Thor's weapon,from the 1995 [US Robot Wars] heavyweight division, pneumatic?

A: 'Thor' had a hydraulic overhead club weapon powered by an on-board internal combustion engine.

Q: Who is allowed to vote in the 2011 Combat Robot Hall of Fame?

A: Voting for the Combat Robot Hall of Fame is open to all members of the combat robot community. The 2011 vote will be announced in prominent combat robot forums in the US and UK sometime in August of that year.

Q: Hi Aaron. I remember about a year ago the question counter thing said there was 2200. Now its at 2358. Has there been an error or something?

A: I think not - perhaps your memory is in error? We broke 1000 questions in late spring of 2008 and it seems unlikely that we pushed to 2200 by January 2009. You're welcome to go thru the archives and do your own count if you like

Q: How come you don't compete anymore? You could just bring Zpatula to Robogames while you vacation in San Francisco or something.

A: Browsing our site will uncover a few of those reasons we are not currently competing, but most importantly we just didn't have any fun at the last few competitions we attended. San Francisco is a long way to travel to fight a beetle and not have any fun.

Q: Have you got a picture of 3pd?

A: Mark J. here: you'll have to go find your own pictures.

Q: Was the builder of W.L.O.W. [also] the builder of carnage raptor and others?

A: Yes, both 'W.L.O.W.' and the 'Raptor' series of robots were built by Team Raptor lead by Bob Pitzer. I have no idea what W.L.O.W. stands for.

Q: Can Root Canal's four lifting arms act independently each other?

A: I'm not leaking, confirming, or denying any info on the 2009 BattleBots competitors.

Q: What happened to Son of Whyachi and Team Whyachi?

A: Team Whyachi is still active and they maintain a very complete website that will answer your questions about their robots. Additionally, there are multiple posts about 'Son of Whyachi' and other Whyachi robots in our archives.

There were several versions of SoW -- the controversial shufflebot version that won the heavyweight division at BattleBots 3.0 was sold to the Lazy Toad Robot Club to hang on the wall as a decoration.

Q: What was the first version of gray matters weapon? I don't see a blade

A: At BattleBots 1.0 'Gray Matter' had only a large spike. I recall an active spinner weapon added for season 5.0.

Q: does the team that built ronin still compete with other bots?

A: The last record I have of one of their combat robots fighting was 2002.

Q: Would you consider gray matter a sucsesfull bot?

A: With 3 wins and 4 losses, 'Gray Matter's record is not great -- but it did get good air time on the BattleBots broadcasts. I guess it depends on how you measure success.

Q: Was Gyrax a full body drum or a thwackbot?

A: Hard to describe - see for yourself: 'Gyrax' at The Builders Database (click on the small photo).

Q: was Vladiator sold or Vlad The Impaler 2?

A: Both were sold. You can track them at The Builders Database.

Q: Was MK02 the old mauler 2000 with bigger weapons?

A: I have no information on 'MK02'.

Q: Do you think Mutantrobots' new robot competed in new Battlebots is better than their former one Karcus2?

A: Previously answered - search for 'Karcas' in the archive.

Q: Was Marauder Mirah from Battlebots?

A: You can use the BotRank Unique Name DataBase to find the complete combat records of the more than 4000 robots who fought in north and south America. There is no listing for 'Marauder Mirah', but there are listings for middleweight 'Miriah' and superheavyweight 'Marauder' - both from BattleBots.

Q: [Chinese Forum] I know Mer Madd is a very successful flipper but I want to know, can it self-right? I don't think he can.

A: I don't think so either.

Q: gamacide was a rebuild of gamatron, right?

A: Heavyweight 'Gammatron' and superheavy 'Gammacide' are from the same team, but were very different robots.

Q: What happens when you get tested for a.d.d.?

A: You start asking inappropriate questions at a robot Q&A site.

Q: waht was RACCs weapon?

Unless presented with a very good reason we no longer discuss obscure combat robots that had one match, lost, and never returned.

Q: What caused Blunt Force Trauma to do bad?

A: Ineffective slow spinner. Fought twice, lost twice - no interest in discussing.

Q: what was malichious mischifs weapon?

A: 'Malicious Mischief' had a spring-loaded sledgehammer/spike. Your version attacked with atrocious spelling.

Q: were ricon and odin the same bots?

A: Same team - I believe 'Odin' was a rebuild on the 'Ricon' chassis.

Q: wy did the builders of serial box killer or the owners of battlebots not get in trouble for him looking like a frostead flakes box?

A: Fair use for artistic purposes. It's not like Kelloggs didn't want the free publicity.

Q: they made a toy of sooooo, what?

A: Care to ask that again?

Q: What was the reason why useless onetime loser Cobra could only fire about 5 shots with his spike?

A: Hey! A little respect is due anyone who built a robot and got out there to compete. That said, I'm implementing a new rule:

Unless presented with a very good reason we no longer discuss obscure combat robots that had one match, lost, and never returned.

Q: Please can you give me a reason why you're not allowing me to talk about one-time losers? Lightening Tracks was.

A: Mark J. here: you can talk about them all you want - just don't expect us to join in. There have been an inordinately large number of questions in recent weeks on two topics:

  1. Obscure, unsuccessful robots fielded by teams that competed once and were never heard from again; and

  2. Trivia about the Robot Wars House Robots.

This isn't a fanboy site. Our main focus is to support builders of combat robots with information, design tools, and opinions based on our competition experience. As a secondary service we are pleased to share our knowledge about what goes on 'behind the scenes' and 'in the pits' at competitions, our views on issues important to the sport, and topics of broad interest we have uncovered while researching the history of robot combat.

Those 'one-time loser' robots have very limited use within our focus. There is usually little or no information available about the builders, construction details of the robot, or why the robot failed. Once in a while the cause of the failure is both obvious and sufficiently unique to be used as an example of why certain construction techniques or design principles should not be used -- but that example would be used in answering a design or construction question rather than in a question targeted at a specific obscure robot.

Regarding 'Lightning Tracks': the robot competed at both Robot Wars and at Robotica (as 'Dark Track'). Builder Russ Barrow built more than half a dozen robots, competed at all three major televised events, maintained a robot webpage, and earned an honorable mention in the Combat Robot Hall of Fame. We'll discuss Russ' robots any day.

Q: Why did storm 2 change the hinging on their flipper.

A: I have no idea. I'd suggest asking Ed Hoppitt.

Q: A few questions about Frenzy: do you know its weight and/or team members besides Pat Campbell during the Series 4 War of Independence in UK Robot Wars?

A: No information. Suggest you ask Patrick.

Q: You told me to ask Patrick [Campbell] about Frenzy, but how can I do that, especially if your rules are not to answer that sort of thing?

A: Mark J. here: what rule would that be? The information in #30 may help you to contact Patrick.

Q: Was the Snookums (RWEW2] driver really a sword swallower?

A: Ed Robinson is a circus performer. His list of talents includes sword swallowing and juggling.

Q: Can I ask which states the following robots came from? Medusa Oblongata, Brawler, Coffin-Bot, Diskotek, Dragbot, Ninjitsu, and Phantasm. Cheers Aaron.

A: Sorry, I don't keep this type of information - I don't think it's of general interest. I do happen to know where 'Diskotec' was from: see next question.

Q: Were Propeller-head and Diskothek teammates in a similar means to Run away and the Gap?

A: Not exactly. The two builders were friends, but 'Propeller-Head' was from Colorado and 'Diskotec' was from Minnesota. 'Run Away' and 'The Gap' were built in the same shop by a single group that split into two competition teams at Robot Wars.

Q: When they met Rosie the Riveter in Nickelodeon Robot Wars, was it true that Tut Tut was facing it's own team-mate?

A: Again, not exactly. The operation of loanerbot 'Tut Tut' in the Nickelodeon Challenge Belt was overseen by Mike Morrow of Team JuggerBot. 'Rosie the Riveter' was fighting under the supervision of Chris Gattman who was formerly a member of Team JuggerBot before leaving to start Team LogosEye.

Q: Was the design of 'Run Away' a simple design to ensure durability, and to repair problems? It said that on a fact sheet relating to 'Run Away', but is it true?

A: Our team motto is "Complicated design is easy. Simple takes work." The concept is similar to the KISS principle. We've seen a great many robots fail in combat because of complex, crowded, difficult to service designs, so we work to keep our robots simple, open, and serviceable. This has worked well for us.

Q: I Know Dantomkia was bought by team hydra But do you think it will do well? Please Awnser

A: I find it difficult to keep current with UK robot happenings. I read the Roaming Robots newsletter and browse the forums, but there is no site like that follows the UK tournaments and I can't find a source of full tournament trees. I just don't have the time to pull enough information together to get a good understanding of the UK teams.

Given the above, I can't really offer an opinion on how Team Hydra might do with 'Dantomkia'.

Q: Is Dark Night a rebuild of the old robot wars bot Thor?

A: I don't believe 'Thor' was rebuilt into anything, and I don't know of any robot named 'Dark Night'.

Q: What made Bunny Attack so good despite it's poor weapon?

A: Solid construction and a reliable drive train will get you farther than a good weapon. 'Bunny Attack' did very well for a 'novelty' entrant, but none of its wins came against high-level opponents.

Q: Do you have a pic of odin 2? what was his weapon?

A: 'Odin II' picture and info here (slow loading).

Q: Were Viper 01/Snake Bite's fangs static or could they actualy crush?

A: Static.

Q: Was Hworf a walker?

A: No - 'Hworf' clearly had four wheels.

Q: Did you have a dislike for Drillzilla in RWEW1 (as he beat your bot twice, helped by others)? Was the Shufflebot ban why he didn't RWEW2?

A: Mark J. here: I did dislike 'Drillzilla' (AKA 'The Ugly Vibrating Brick'), but not because they beat us. I was convinced - correctly, I think - that their shufflebot design was not good for the sport. The rulemakers agreed.

Their design was not legal for Robot Wars Extreme Warriors 2, but I do not have specific information on why they did not return with another robot.

Q: What inspired Run Away?

A: We had very little time to modify 'Run Amok' with an active weapon for Robot Wars. We were a bit concerned about the lack of side armor and decided on the unique 'sidewheeler' blades to add a little defense as well as a bit of offense.

Q: Is it true that Tornado was inspired by the less sucsessful King B?

A: I've never heard any mention of 'King B' inspiring 'Tornado'.

Q: It says on an anti-plaigarism statement on the Tornado website that King B inspired the series 6 champions. You know now, don't you?

A: No points for wasting time with a question to which you already knew the answer. This isn't 'Quiz the Robot Geek'.

Q: What was the best match you saw at the RW studio not involving one of your robots?

A: There was no 'Robot Wars studio'. The first series of Robot Wars Extreme Warriors was filmed on-site at a technology fair in the huge Earls Court Exhibition Centre. The second series was filmed at Shepperton Studios. We were very busy in the pits tending to our robots and did not get to see many matches. There was also very limited access to the arena seating for roboteers. I remember enjoying the final of the Second World Championships.

Q: Didn't the team of 'The Revolutionist' (one of 'The Gap's opponents) have a robot named 'Spin Doctor' as well as their main one [at Robot Wars Extreme Warriors 2]?

A: Yes. Horizontal spinner 'Spin Doctor' and full body spinner 'The Revolutionist' were both from Team Logicom. Both were in the main tournament at RWEW2 -- 'Spin Doctor' was knocked out in the first round.

Q: Spin Doctor lost in round 2, actually, after driving into the pit against Panzer mk. [4]. Cyclone immobilized itself in round 1. Did you Know that?

A: Yes, you're correct. There were many horizontal disk spinners at RWEW2 and I had 'Spin Doctor' confused with the similar 'Diskotec' that did lose in round 1.

Q: [Chinese Forum] What happened to Steve Judd?

A: Mark J. here: Steve died after a long battle with respiratory disease. The robot community will sorely miss him.

Q: What's your favorite Robot Wars fight?

A: I don't think I have a single favorite. Too many good ones.

Q: Does anyone know what has happened with Firestorm post-RW?. What about robots like Panic Attack?

A: I heard something about them jumping off a bridge together and ending up in Borneo, but that's just a rumor. I'd suggest asking around at the FRA forum.

Q: What was your favourite RWEW moment with your robots? and your Nadir (least favourite moment) in RWEW?

A: Mark J. here: Aaron reports that he had a great time all the time at Robot Wars Extreme Warriors, so I'll give you the stories of my own best and worst times -- and I'll throw in a thank-you to one of the other teams.

When we arrived at RWEW2, 'Run Away' was 'seeded' and assigned a spot in Heat G of the main tournament, but 'The Gap' was not given pit space in the main arena and was scheduled only to compete in some un-named secondary event. I flagged down Dan Danknick and asked what was up. He told us that the producers didn't want two robots from a single team in the main tournament. I asked if the producers had actually seen 'The Gap'? I was certain they would want it in as it was a beautiful machine. Dan went off to inquire, and 30 minutes later 'The Gap' was assigned a spot in Heat D, where it went on to score the quickest knockout in the tournament. I was very pleased to have two robots fighting in the main robot wars tournament, and to have both of them progress past their first matches.

My worst moment came when I got a good look at the damage done to 'Run Away' by 'Destructive Criticism' in the opening round of Heat G. Randy Eubanks had only finished piecing his robot together a few hours before the match. The robot had a very fierce horizontal blade powered by one of the then brand new Etec mega motors. When 'Run Away' became stuck on top of the incapacitated 'Dark Tracks', Randy saw an opportunity to test out his new weapon on the rear axle of my 'bot. He destroyed my tire and wheel, and the shock loading shattered the differential assembly and the bearing supports. We were thru to the next round, but it didn't look good for 'Run Away' to ever run again.

I dragged the assorted pieces of 'Run Away' back to the pits and called over team-mate Max Chapin from his driving duties with 'The Gap'. Max Chapin is the best metal worker I've ever known, and he just smiled and said "no problem". We scavenged scrap bits from the rubbish bins in the pits and came up with enough metal to weld-up a solid rear axle and mount the main drive sprocket more-or-less straight. I had a spare rear tire but no spare rear wheel, so I set to work trying to hammer the jagged remains of the original back into something that looked round. Hours later, Max Chapin's fingers ware burned and mine were bloody. He left to drive 'The Gap' against 'Propeller-Head' and I went to work assembling the bodged pieces. We made the call for our next match against our friends and 'General Chompsalot'. We lost, but the important thing is that we fought.

'General Chompsalot' grabbed onto 'Run Away' at the end of the match and fought to keep the House Bots from taking her off to destruction. Their kindness let me keep my promise to Aaron that he could drive in the Nickelodeon Robot Wars event. Thanks Tim and Dave!

Q: Why don't team Frog-bots at roaming robots have origional designs or names?

A: Ask them.

Q: What happened in the heat G [matches] in RWEW 2, including the house bots?

A: Mark J. here: our opening round match had 'Run Away' facing 'Destructive Criticism' (built by BattleBots veteran Randy Eubanks) and 'Lightning Tracks' (Russ Barrow's re-named 'Dark Track' from Robotica 3). A description of both this match and our next round match against 'General Chompsalot' is in this archive - search for 'Lightning'. I don't recall the House Robots in each match.

Q: What was the armourment of the Dutch robot 'Blue'? Why did they claim they were aliens?

A: Blue's armament was a horizontal spinning disk. Blue's armor appeared to be expanded polyurethane foam applied over some very thin and poorly mounted base material. According to team member Karl Jones:

"The aim was to attend and take the pish out of the people who do it seriously by building the most ridiculous looking machine imaginable and dressing up in the most surreal fashion."
Q: Aaron, where did you get the lifter motor for 'Zpatula'?

A: The lifter gearmotor used in 'Zpatula' is a heavilly modified lifter assembly from the 'BioHazard' Pro-series R/C toy. The slip clutch was locked out, the RS-130 motor was replaced with an RS-180 (bought on eBay), and limit switches were installed to cut off the lifter controller at maximum and minimum lift levels.

Q: When did 'Matilda' toss 'Medusa Oblongata' out of the arena?

A: I don't recall. It may have been in the Robot Rebellion event at RWEW2.

Q: Was 'Zanzara' (driven by your team in Nickelodeon RW), origionally 'Silver Box'?

A: I suspect it was, with some fur added. I didn't get a good look at 'Silver Box' at RWEW1.

Q: Was 'Zanzara's blade similar to the one on 'Pussycat'?

A: No. Zanzara's blade was just a piece of sheet metal with a slit cut into it. It was not capable of doing any damage. The 'loanerbots' were not intended to be competitive.

Q: How were 'Mad cow' and 'Mad cow bot' related?

A: See the 'Mad Cow' post below in this archive.

Q: Hey Aaron, where is Zpatula?

A: I tell people to 'ask the builder' if they want to know what happened to a robot. Somebody has been listening! 'Zpatula' is sitting on the end of our workbench, a few paces away from 'Run Amok' and 'The Gap'.

Q: What happened to Vlad the Impaler?

A: Vlad was 'entropically retired' by 'Mechavore' at BattleBots 3.0 -- effectively cut in half. Vlad was not rebuilt [until much later].

Q: I thought he was turned into 'Vlad the Impaler 2' or was Vlad 2 a complete rebeld?

A: Vlad 2 was a new robot from the ground up.

Q: What is the story to the robot G.O.R.T.?

A: The superheavyweight robot fought two matches at BattleBots and lost them both. Depressed, 'G.O.R.T.' made its way to the center of the Golden Gate Bridge and leapt off - only to land on the deck of a freighter bound for Costa Rica. After hitching a ride into San José, 'G.O.R.T' worked as a bouncer in a tavern for several years and saved every penny until it had enough money to open a small juice bar. It married a lovely girl named Linda and had four children: a girl, two boys, and a blender. The family is doing well.

Q: Does son of whiaci use one or two of the brrigs and Stratton Etek motors?

A: 'Son of Whyachi' has evolved thru several different rotor power configurations. The most recent version used two 15 hp Yamaha gasoline kart engines. The previous version used three Eteks. The BattleBots champion 'shufflebot' version used two Eteks.

Q: Can you give me a link to a vidio of moubieus in a fight? thanks

A: Sorry, you'll have to find your own videos.

Q: Where can I buy Robot Arena 2 to ship to the UK?

A: Do you have PayPal? I could buy a copy and send it to you. I don't know how much shipping would be, but I'd ship for my cost.

Q: Has solaris fought recently?

A: You can find the combat history of US robots at the Name Database. Search for the robot by name, then click on 'history'.

Q: This is a weird one, what about Stewbot? I can NOT find ANYTHING aout him. Did the team build any other bots?

A: You know, if people are interested in robots at all they are interested in robots that had some success instead of robots that fought once, lost, and disappeared. Knowing what happened to 'Stewbot' is not going to be a great conversation starter at parties -- not even at robot parties. If there was anything important about these robots or if the team went on to do anything interesting you would not be having trouble finding that information.

Q: What happened to the bot Yo mama?

A: The featherweight robot won it's first fight at the 1996 Robot Wars against 'Rampage', but lost its second fight to 'Spike'. Depressed, 'Yo Mama' made its way to the center of the Oakland Bay Bridge and leapt off - only to land on the deck of a freighter bound for Hong Kong. After hitching a ride into the city, 'Yo Mama' worked in a meat locker for several years and saved every penny until it had enough money to open a small cell phone repair shop. It married a lovely girl named Suen and had four children: a girl, a boy, and two flip phones. The family is doing well.

Q: Do you think Professor Chaos can self-right?

A: I don't think 'Professor Chaos' has ever been inverted in combat. It doesn't have a dedicated SRiMech, so it would have to rely on the weapon to kick it back upright. Other vertical spinners can do that, but not with 100% reliability. I'd give it a risky 'maybe'.

Q: Hi Aaron. I am wondering if you knew what the name of a robot is. It competed in Robogames, I belive 07, 08, and 09. It is either a lightweight or middleweight. It has a powerful flipper, although it is not 'Subzero' or 'Hexy Jr'. Thank you.

A: Yes, that's most likely lightweight 'Rocket'.

Q: What happened to 'The General'? Was he turned into 'Scrap Metal' from BattleBots?

A: Pat Boon competed at Robot Wars 1996 with middleweight 'The General', sponsored by the University of California at Santa Barbara.

The robot lost its first and only fight, to 'Traxx'. Depressed, 'The General' made its way to the center of the Golden Gate Bridge and leapt off - only to land on the deck of a freighter bound for the Philippines. After hitching a ride into Manila, 'The General' worked in a laundry for several years and saved every penny until it had enough money to open a small appliance repair shop. It married a lovely girl named Rosalinda and had four children: two girls, a boy, and a microwave. The family is doing well.

Pat Boon never, to the best of my knowledge, built another robot. 'The General' had a design that looked like Robert Masek's lightweight 'Scrap Metal' at BattleBots 2.0, but I can find no other relationship between the two.

Q: When did you last use 'The Gap'?

A: Not much call for heavyweights here in the Pacific Northwest. It last fought at a parking lot match in 2004.

Q: What did you think of 'G.B.H. 2'?

A: Pretty, but couldn't fight. Lost its only match to the weak 'Sir Chromalot' and 'The Alien' in the opening round of The Sixth Wars. Wish I knew what G.B.H. stood for, but it was never disclosed.

Q: What did you think of 'Texas Tornado'? What is your opinion on 'Spiny Norman' and 'Yo Mama'?

A: 'G.B.H. 2' was unusual enough to be interesting, but we don't give opinions on every mundane robot.

Q: Whats the story to 'Test Toaster 1'?

A: 'Test Toaster One' won the lightweight (40 pound) class at the 1995 US Robot Wars and made it to the semi-finals of the 1996 event. It has the distinction of being the first 'thwackbot'. We exchanged emails with TT1's builder Jeff Bowden a few years ago. He tells me he still has TT1 out in his garage.

Q: Do you know of any sites where I can search the builders names to get info? Is there a site where I can search any robot and get information on it besides its records?

A: Mark J. here: no such luck. It takes considerable detective work to trace combat robot history. I spent six months running down the information needed to put together the tournament trees and early rule sets for our Who Won web page.

You can start with the Event Reports by Team Nightmare and the Links Page at You'll get very familiar with The Wayback Machine to locate older versions of websites. You may also get some useful information from the Builders Database.

If you're really this interested in stories from early robot combat, drop whatever you're doing and go find a copy of 'Gearheads: the turbulent rise of robotic sports' by Brad Stone. You'll thank me.

As previously mentioned, BotRank has combat records for more than 4000 robots. A great many of these robots simply have no story. They were built, they fought, they won or lost, and their builders moved on. Even if you find the builder, they may have no specific memories of their career in robot combat.

Q: [Chinese Forum] Was 'La Machine' designed by Gage Cauchois? Why didn't he compete with it and let Greg Munson build it?

A: 'La Machine' was a team effort from Gage Caushois, Greg Munson, and Trey Roski. Caushois was the 'gearhead' and proposed the design, Munson organized the team and arranged funding, and helicopter pilot Roski did the driving. You can read the whole story in 'Gearheads: the turbulent rise of robotic sports' by Brad Stone.

Q: What happened to nemisis from the 1996 robot wars? I recognize his builders name from battlebots, but anytime I try to find stuff out about him the robot wars competitor shows up.

A: Chris Harriman went on to build many, many robots and to compete pretty much everywhere -- including Robot Wars, but not with the old 'Nemesis'. The 1996 'Nemesis' was never heard from again. The middleweight 'Nemesis' that competed at BattleBots was not related.

It's standard practice to scavenge retired robots for parts that live on in new robots. BotRank has tracked the competition records for more than 4000 combat robots, almost all of them now retired. If you really want to find out precisely what happened to any specific one of them you're going to have to track down the builder and ask.

Q: Ok, thanks. What robots did he build?

A: Following the US Robot Wars, Chris Harriman became associated with Team Raptor. He built and fought the thwackbot 'Carnage' at Botbash and BattleBots, and the fierce vertical spinner 'Cyclone' at Robot Wars Extreme Warriors. He also contributed to the construction of the 'Raptor' line of robots: 'Alpha Raptor', 'Beta Raptor', 'Tripulta Raptor', 'Gamma Raptor', 'Rippa Raptor' and 'Pack Raptors'.

Q: HE DID!!! NO WAY!! ok, one more bot, did the builder(s) of pokey from the 1996 robot wars build anything else? what happened to pokey?

A: That would be Curt Meyers from Team Boilerbots - builder of 'Pokey', 'Kill-O-Amp', and 'Jaws of Death'. As mentioned previously, if you want to know what happened to a specific robot - ASK THE BUILDER.

Q: sorry, I just can not find any of the builders for some reason. Also, one more bot then I promise I'm done, what happened to los gringos locos from 1995 and did the team build anything else? I'm done now :)

A: The Los Gringos Locos team competed at Robot Wars 1995 with a lightweight robot officially named 'Pain Mower'. The robot is better known as 'Los Gringos Locos' because the team name was lettered prominently on top.

The robot lost its first and only fight, to 'Kitty Puff Puff'. Depressed, 'Pain Mower' made its way to the center of the Golden Gate Bridge and leapt off - only to land on the deck of a freighter bound for the Philippines. After hitching a ride into Manila, 'Pain Mower' worked in a laundry for several years and saved every penny until it had enough money to open a small auto parts store. It married a lovely girl named Maria and had four children: two boys, a girl, and a toaster. The family is doing well.

Tommy Van Gelder and the rest of Los Gringos Locos never, to the best of my knowledge, built another robot.

Q: Did 'land shark' ever compete outside of robot wars? what happened to him?

A: Willis Wong's 'The Landshark' fought a single fight at the 1997 US Robot Wars. It lost to 'Z'. Willis had previously entered heavyweight 'Marvin' in the 1996 Robot Wars. It lost its first and only fight to 'The Merrimac'. My files have no other information on Willis or his robots.

You might be interested in Team Run Amok's Who Won page. It has complete tournament trees for the major robot combat tournaments.

Q: Were mad cow and Mad cow bot related?

A: There have been multiple unrelated robots named 'Mad Cow'. There was a lightweight spinner from Team Mad Cow (archived) that fought at BattleBots, a middleweight from Team Rabid Robotics that fought in the MechWars series, and a heavyweight from Team Boltz that fought at RWEW1. Team Boltz returned to RWEW2 with a minor upgrade 'Mad Cow Bot' and the new 'Psycho Chicken'.

Q: Was Kill-O-Amp 2 really a rebuild of Hercules 2 from Team Nightmare?

A: Mark J. here: no.

'Hercules 2' was built by Jim Smentowski in 1997/1998 and was never put into competition. Jim sold the unused Hercules 2 in February, 2001 to an undisclosed buyer.

'Kill-O-Amp' from Team Boilerbots (Curt Meyers and Amy Sun) first fought at Robot Wars 1997. The name changed to 'Kill-O-Amp 2' for BattleBots Long Beach 1999 and BattleBots Las Vegas 1999, but it was essentially the same robot. The name changed back to 'Kill-O-Amp' for BattleBots 1.0 (June 2000). A pointed front prow was added for BattleBots 2.0 (November 2000) which created a vague resemblance to the pointed front of 'Hercules 2'. 'Kill-O-Amp' fought once more at BattleBots 3.0 (May 2001) but this was the same old robot - no relation to 'Hercules 2'.

I don't know who bought 'Hercules 2' from Jim, but it wasn't Team Boilerbots.

Q: What happened to "monster"? he did good in robot wars, then competed in battlebots, then he just droped of the face of the earth.

A: I'm not sure how you figure 'Monster' did well at the 1997 U.S. Robot Wars. He had two fights and lost them both. Overall record: 2 wins, 5 losses.

I'm not going to take more 'what happened to' questions because the answer is almost always the same: they built, they fought, they got tired of it, and they quit.

Q: What ever Happened to panic attack? he did so well in robot wars, then it ends, then boom, hes gone.

A: Lots of robots disappeared following the end of Robot Wars. 'Panic Attack' had been on a long downhill slide:

  • Second Wars: champion
  • Third Wars: quarter-finalist
  • Fourth Wars: quarter-finalist
  • Fifth Wars: heat winner
  • Sixth Wars: heat runner-up
  • Seventh Wars: second round loss
By the end of the Seventh Wars, 'Panic Attack' just wasn't competitive. I think the team simply lacked the enthusiasm to continue.
Q: Did the team that entered the featherweight 'Bernard' enter anything else?

A: I have very little information on the Robot Wars featherweight competitors. Nothing related to 'Bernard' pops up in my files.

Q: Were Robot Wars heavyweight 'Rampage' and Robot Wars featherweight 'Rampage 2' related?

A: If there is a relationship, I can't find it.

Q: Do you know the dimensions of 'Botwork', 'Sater', 'Ghettobot' and 'The Mangulator'?

A: Sorry, no. I also don't know Philippa Forrester's phone number, Craig Charles' shoe size, or how many bolts held the Robot Wars arena together.

Q: Did A-Kill/Saw Point 2 have a website?

A: See #30.

Q: Do you know of a picture of British featherweight 'Eddie Evolution'?

A: 'Eddie Evolution' fought only once, in Robot Wars Extreme Series 2: Robot Rampage. It drove into The Pit and was never seen again. No photo available.

Q: Was 'Eddie Evolution' related to 'A-Kill'/'Saw Point 2'?

A: They looked a bit alike, but I don't know of any relation.

Q: [Chinese Forum] Why does Original Sin 2 isn't as successful as Original Sin?

A: It's difficult to comment on a robot that only fought two matches and lost them both. Both 'Original Sin' and 'Original Sin 2' fought at RoboGames '07 - perhaps the team resources were stretched too thin to properly support both robots?

Q: [Chinese Forum] Did Team Mad Overlord filmed every fight in RG09 like they used to do during the early years? Could we watch those matches on their website some time later?

A: Ask them.

Q: The annual Roaming Robots award for best engineered featherweight seems to have gone to Team Plumb Crazy. Is it true? Do you know more about it?

A: No, not true. Featherweight 'Pain in the Asp' is the product of Team Torque in the UK. I'm assuming that they are admirers of Team Plumb Crazy and 'Sewer Snake', so they built a featherweight version.

Q: was the lightweight bot "crusher" from the same team that built bad Attitude?

A: Yes, Team Attitude and Thomas Petruccelli fought with lightweight 'Crusher' at BB 2.0 and BB 4.0.

Q: And, whats your opinion on bad attidude? I thought that he was pretty cool.

A: Nice robot. Well designed, well built, and well driven.

Q: Since Bad Attitude is now "Nasty Attitude" would that raise the value of a "Bad Attitude" toy?

A: No.

Q: Is it true that 'Run Amok' had a spinning blade on the bottom? That's what I heard, but I do not see it anywhere.

A: No, but I know how this rumor started. Run Amok used the main chassis elements from an old riding lawnmower that we salvaged from a junkyard. Some photos on the Run Amok Origins web page show the lawn mower with the original mowing blade still in place. The blade assembly was removed in stripping down the chassis, but the photo seems to have caused some confusion.

Date marker: November 2009
Q: Do you have a 'Defiant' robot website?

A: See Frequently Asked Questions #30. I don't believe James Underwood ever had a website for 'Defiant'.

Q: [Chinese Forum] Could The Gap Self-Right? I think it could.

A: Yes - 'The Gap' could (and still can) self-right.

Q: Whats the best shield for better protection?

A: I recommend Mitchum Power Gel, Unscented.

Q: what do you think of the hobbyweights? personally theyre my favorite sub light class

A: If hobbyweights were the biggest class supported by our local arena we'd fight hobbyweights, but we like bigger 'bots.

Q: A long time ago you said middleweight 'Hazard' was your favorite robot. Has that changed now years later?

A: Nope - still my favorite. It had all the traits I admire: simplicity, careful materials selection, fine workmanship, and great driving.

Q: Have you ever played any robot combat games on your computer?

A: Sure. My favorite is Robot Arena 2: Design and Destroy, but I've pretty much played them all - PC, Playstation, GameBoy. See previous posts on games in this archive.

Q: Did the firestorm team from robot wars have a website? if so can you give me a link?

A: Team Firestorm had an awesome website, but it's no longer available. See Frequently Asked Questions #30 for tips on finding websites for old combat robot teams.

Q: What kind of robot is good for combat with voice control?

A: The imaginary kind.

Q: [Chinese Forum] Why does 'Evil Engine Number Nine' looks so like 'Chopper' from Team Logicom? Are there any connection between them?

A: Same robot, different paint, new name.

Q: I know 'Vlad The Impaler' lost by a couple of fights by a judges, but does he ever lost by knockouts?

A: In my book a loss is a loss -- knockout or judged, either one sends you home. Given that, I don't recall any of Vlad's six losses being by knockout. Even his final destructive loss to '[Name Deleted]' went to the judges.

Q: [Chinese Forum] I've checked the new members of Combat Robot Hall Of Fame this year. All of them are really awesome! But what caused there are so few votes for 'K2'? I think it should be there.

A: Every builder and fan has their list of robots they think should be in the Hall who aren't there. I can only say that the voters haven't shown much respect for lightweights since the BattleBots days.

Q: Was 'Slap Em' Silly' used to be George Roach's 'Patriot'? If so, why does it do better while in Andy's hands?

A: It's more complicated than that. Robot names often carry over to entirely new robots, and old robots are sometimes re-named.

George Roach built a lightweight called 'Patriot' that competed at BattleBots 3.0 and posted a 1-1 record. George decided to build a new lightweight rather than modify. He sold the original 'Patriot' on EBay and built an entirely new 'Patriot' that did well, recording a 4-1 record at BattleBots 5.0.

The original 'Patriot' was upgraded with new electronics, new armor, a rear-mounted spike, a new fixed wedge, and a new name: 'Slap Em Silly'. It did well at BattleBots 4.0, making it to the quarter-finals. An entirely new 'Slap Em' Silly' was built for BattleBots 5.0, and the last traces of the original 'Patriot' went into a middleweight multi-bot called 'Slap Em' Sillier'.

Following BattleBots, the 'Slap Em' Silly' name was retired and replaced with 'West Side Glory'. Several generations of lightweight have competed under that name.

Q: Hey Aaron, I am 13 and am looking to conact or e-mail the builders of 'T-bone', Team Evil Squirrel. The e-mail on their website is down. Do you possibly know them? Sorry for asking this type of question. Thanks.

A: Team Evil Squirrel's Dylan Feral-McWhirter is a member of Western Allied Robotics and has competed in our Antbotica tournaments. I was going to suggest that you leave a message for Dylan on the Western Allied Robotics forum, but I see that you've already done that and that Dylan has responded. I guess you don't need my help on this one.

Q: Has Ziggy only been flipped out of the arena once by ShovelHead?!

A: Superheavyweight 'Ziggy' has seventeen wins and eight losses, pwned by 'Shovelhead' for three of those losses. I have no specific details on the losses.

Q: whos my bestfriend

A: I've asked around and nobody will admit to being your BF.

Maybe you should build a robot friend?

Q: Did 'Biohazard' ever loose a battle?

A: BioHazard's record is 35 wins and 5 losses - the best win percentage for any heavyweight with more than 7 fights. You can track the record for any North American robot at

Q: You are a role model for every 17/18 year-old out there. I am sure you had your choice of colleges when you were applying. Where are you attending college?

A: A very kind comment - thank you. I'm choosing to not share personal information on the web at this time.

Q: Who is behind me?

A: In the intelligence line, I'd say 'nobody'.

Q: Is Team Killerbotics still competing? I know they participated RG08 with '2EZ', but I don't know if they are competing nowadays.

A: Yes, Team Killerbotics was at RoboGames 2009 with 'Pyromancer'.

Q: Has 'Punjar' not been too much damaged after beating 'Blendo' in Las vegas? Because I noticed he hasn't been.

A: I don't understand your question.

Q: [Chinese Forum] What do you think of Team Sharpnel and Mechavore, Mark J.?

A: Mark J. here: I think we've discussed 'MechaVore' sufficiently. Ask Aaron is now a 'MechaVore-Free' zone.

Q: [Chinese Forum] What do you think of James Underwood's Defiant? I think it's CO2-powered 4-bar-lifter is pretty good and it did really well in the US Robot Wars and Battlebots, too. But why does it retired this early?! Because of Ziggo?

A: 'Defiant' was the class of the lightweight field during the period in which it competed. It was the only truely successful 'BioHazard' clone, and the decision to go to a pneumatic lifter was a good one. James Underwood moved on to other interests and left robot combat. I don't believe that 'Ziggo' had anything to do with his decision.

Q: [Chinese Forum] I noticed that 'Run Amok's design looks a bit like 'Onslaught' from Robot Wars! Have your team got some inspiration from Onslaught?

A: No. At the time we built Run Amok we had never seen a single episode of Robot Wars. Our inspiration came from the 1/10th and 1/12th scale R/C road racers we had been driving for a few years before we started in on 'bots. We knew how to drive those and wanted a robot with similar driving characteristics to make an easy transition.

Q: Hi Aaron, still Chinese Friends: What do you think of 'Killer B'? Was it tough to face them in Robotica Series 1?

A: 'Killer B' was a fast and powerful competitor. Their twin pancake motors delivered about five times the horsepower of 'Run Amok' at Robotica and we were quite concerned about the fight. However, Killer B was not designed as a pushing robot for a Sumo-style event: their front wedge was had a very shallow angle and the small arena platform would not let them build much speed. We were worried that they would turn their 'bot around and use their blunt tail and brute force to push us straight off the platform, but they apparently didn't think of that option.

Q: If there was a combat robot beauty contest and you could choose five, which five would you choose?

A: I like the question! Let's open it up to a vote. Send your ballot in to 'Ask Aaron' for up to five of the 'prettiest' combat robots you've seen. I'll count them up and give my own choices.

RESULTS: Seems like nobody can agree on this. I got half a dozen responses, and the only robot that appeared on more than one ballot was 'Razer' with two votes. 'Razer' wasn't on my list, but given the total lack of agreement I think I'll just leave this question unanswered.

Q: What did you thought of Ahmet Zappa at Robotica?

A: Nice guy. I talked with him a bit about his father's music. He isn't at all 'loud' in person.

Q: I have known your 'hall of fame' since one year ago and I was happy to see both 'Razer' and 'Warhead' can get into it. But can you tell me the percentage they get of the ballot? [Chinese Forum]

A: Like the Baseball Hall of Fame, the exact balloting is kept confidential. If a robot appears on at least 50% of the ballots in a given year, it is granted admission to the Hall. A robot appearing on at least 25% of the ballots gets an honorable mention. No quibbling about who got an extra percent or two over whom, or who 'barely made it'.

I will point out that some few robots have a tag under their photo. These robots appeared on every ballot submitted when the Hall opened in 2003. 'Razer' has one of these rare tags.

Q: What do you think of 'Maggot' and 'Botfly'? [Chinese Forum]

A: Mark J. here: Team Maggot is based here in the Pacific Northwest. Gary Warren attended a couple of local Oregon events and I had a chance to see his 'bots up close. Gary does a great job of packing components into a tight space, so his 'bots are small for their weight. Smaller size means you can use thicker armor!

Gary learned a lot from 'Maggot' and put all that learning into his next generation robot. 'Botfly' had a tremendous 19 win 9 loss record and was never in a tournament where it lost more matches than it won. Very few 'bots can make that claim.

Q: I'm the Chinese whose English is Better than your Chinese. But I'm not that Behemoth's Chinese Fan. I might know him.

A: Sorry for the confusion. I thought all the questions were from a single Chinese source. I've checked and all of a sudden the site is getting hits from Anhui, Guangxi, Jilin, and Beijing. Eight years and never a single question from China, now I'm flooded! Why the sudden interest?

Q: I'm the fan of Behemoth from Beijing. One of our little forum's members discovered your FAQ and then we wanna send some questions that've been in our mind for a long time. That's the cause!

A: I'm never gonna be able to go back and straighten this out. If it's OK with you, I'll just label all the recent Chinese questions as 'China Forum'.

Q: Can Team Whoopass' robots self-right? I've only seen Hexy Macro self-right once but I don't know the others. [Chinese Forum]

A: Team Whoopass lists ten robots in their stable. I believe that all of them can either self-right (with at least some reliability) or run inverted.

Q: What is Carlo Bertocchini doing recently? I saw he took his boxing robot into RG07. [Chinese Forum]

A: Carlo is still involved with and BattleKits. He has been making appearances with his RoboBoxers at assorted venues. You can see a video here.

Q: Still Behemoth Chinese fan: in your opinion, who is the coolest flipper in this world? Is it Dantomkia? [Chinese Forum]

A: Coolest flipper? Can't beat 'Chaos 2'.

Q: What do you think of Stephen Felk? I think he is quite strange but he is good at building/driving wedges, isn't he? [Chinese Forum]

A: I got to meet Stephen Felk at the RFL national championships a few years ago. He is very dedicated to the sport and really seems to enjoy himself at tournaments. He gave us a good tip on a nearby restaurant. He is a fine builder and driver who accomplishes a lot with limited workspace and budget.

Q: Remember 'Behemoth'? What do you think of it's ability? Could it be one of the greatest robots in UK? I'm a big fan of Behemoth and I'm from China. [Chinese Forum]

A: Behemoth was a very solid competitor with great resilience and staying power. It's design has been compared to the House Robot 'Shunt' -- see a recent post in the archive.

I think it would be an overstatement to say it was one of the greatest amongst so many great UK robots, but it did have great fan support.

Q: What do you think of Panzer MK III/IV? Is it tough enough to take on some top UK bots like Tornado and Razer?

A: All of the Panzer series were world-class combat robots -- rugged, powerful, and well driven. We fought against 'Panzer Mk. III' in the first round melee at the first Robot Wars Extreme Warriors. I'm very glad we didn't have to face 'Panzer Mk. I' at Robotica.

Q: What do you think of the German robot 'Tsunami'? Could it be another 'Chaos 2'?

A: It certainly borrowed from Chaos 2's design. The full-pressure CO2 flipper gives it greater power, but Chaos 2's success is unlikely to be equaled.

Q: Why can't 'MOE' enter the Hall Of Fame? Is it weak when it's compared to 'Warhead'?

A: Mark J. here: I don't get to decide who is admitted to the Combat Robot Hall of Fame, but I do run the site and organize the balloting. 'M.O.E.' has received a few votes over the years, but never enough to make the Hall. The robot community is asked to consider new members based on four criteria:

  • Dominating success in combat
  • Pioneering or perfecting influential designs
  • Having great fan or entertainment appeal, or
  • Otherwise making a lasting impact on the sport.

Just being a good example of a specific design does not count for much. MOE's record of 5 wins and 3 losses is good, but certainly not dominating -- it lost in the first round of both BattleBots 3.0 and 5.0. MOE never won a title and just does not have a huge fan base.

This reminds me: the Combat Robot Hall of Fame opens balloting for new members in August of odd-numbered years. That's approaching quickly. I'll place notices and ballot instructions on the FRA and RFL forums, so watch there if you'd like to vote for your favorite robots.

Q: Do you remember Mortis? How do you think about Mortis? Why the robots with axe are becoming weaker and weaker? (Excuse me, I'm Chinese. My English is not very well.)

A: Your English is much better than my Chinese

Mortis was perhaps the most successful 'multi-weapon' robot in Robot Wars. The combination of a lifting arm and an overhead axe gave it a versitile attack that was very popular with the audience. Mortis has an 'Honorable Mention' on the Combat Robot Hall of Fame.

Overhead axe weapons were useful in the early days of The Wars, but better armor has outdated them. You can only get so much power out of an overhead weapon without flipping your own robot over!

Q: Aaron, what kind of batteries are in 'Zpatula'?

A: As mentioned on the Zpatula web page, our beetle runs a 700 mAH NiMH pack. We made the pack from six AAA cells bought off the rack at a local electronics store -- nothing fancy.

Q: What do you think of Team Automatum Technologies? It seems that Derek's bots are very creative but have some lethal weaknesses...

A: Derek Young built some of the most innovative combat robots to ever compete. Derek did not have a large budget and did a tremendous job with the resources he had available. His middleweight 'Complete Control' is a well-deserved member of the Combat Robot Hall of Fame.

Q: What do you think of Team Vladmeisters?

A: I never met Team Vladmeisters. They kept kind of a low profile and never even put up a website. Their robots were always well thought out, flawlessly constructed, and professionally prepared. You pretty much had to tear one of their robots in half to stop it.

Q: Can you tell me your opinion: which is better, 'Razer' or 'Warhead'?

A: Team Razer built these two robots for very different purposes; it's kinda like asking "which is better, a boat or an airplane?"

Razer was refined over a period of years for combat in the Robot Wars arena where robots can win by tossing an opponent over the railing, shoving them into 'The Pit', or by immobilizing them. Robot Wars was about tactics and strategy.

Warhead was built for BattleBots where there is no Pit and no possibility of throwing an opponent out of the competition area. BattleBots was about destruction.

Head-to-head I'm certain that Warhead would tear Razor apart, but that's not the whole story. In a Robot Wars tournament, I think Razor would advance farther against the mixed designs that enter such tournaments. At a BattleBots tournament my money would be on Warhead to push further into the final rounds because it has fewer weaknesses that could be exploited by the usual entries at those events.

Q: Could you tell me which is better between 'Nasty Attitude' and 'Max Wedge' in your opinion?

A: As pointed out above, it's very difficult to determine the 'better' of two robots. Nasty Attitude has a narrow lead in head-to-head matches against Max Wedge, but Max Wedge has a better overall win/loss record and has won more championships.

I was willing to discuss the heavyweights from Team Razor because they were an interesting contrast in styles, but I'm not going to go thru random pairs of robots and render opinions.

Q: What are Sewer Snake's dimensions?

A: Sorry, I didn't have a tape measure in my hand the last time I was standing next to Sewer Snake. From memory, it's about 48" long, 30" wide and maybe 8" tall. If you need to know exactly, contact info for Team Plumb Crazy is on their web site.

Q: What happened to Pussycat's team member David Gribble?

A: David Gribble, driver for Robot Wars' Team Pussycat, died in a motorcycle crash in October of 2002 shortly after the filming of the Fifth Wars. Recognized as one of the best drivers in the series, David was 17 years old.

Q: Do you plan on competing again now that you have some time off after you've finished school?

A: I don't really have any time off. I'm jumping into college classes in just a couple of weeks. The problem hasn't been my time, it's been the lack of events here in the Pacific Northwest. Western Allied Robotics have been doing a good job with small 'bots in the Seattle area, but I'm just not that into sublights right now. I like big 'bots!

Q: I know this might be stupid of me to ask. But I just want to know. What was your favorite robot wars house robot theme song? Mine was the Dead Metal theme song.

A: None of them left an impression on me.

Q: Who do you think was the best bot ever built who never won a match? I say 'Bender'.

A: Combat robots are judged by their ability to win matches. Robots who never won are either unlucky or lacking. Either way, I find it difficult to rank them.

At any rate, 'Bender' does not qualify. Bender's record is 2 wins, 6 losses, with first round wins at BattleBots 4.0 against 'Space Ape' and BattleBots 5.0 against a no-show 'Beta'.

Q: How do you listen to the Plunderbird pop song? And get on their website?

A: I like to listen to it with my fingers in my ears -- not my kind of music. You can listen to it in this You Tube clip. Best I can tell, Plunderbird never had a website.

Q: What teacher at South Salem High would be the best at building combat robots with you? And what student?

A: Hey, a shout-out to the Saxons! Mr. Morales teaches CAD and Robotics so he's the obvious faculty choice for a combat robot team. From the students, I'd pick linebacker and wide receiver Thomas 'Pit Bull' Roberts for his great skill at intimidation.

Q: Hey Aaron, what's your favorite show still on TV? I like Mythbusters.

A: Mythbusters is great! Any show with hosts who built combat robots is good for me.

Q: This site is so cool! What was your 1400th question answered? What was your first question ever answered? thanks.

A: Sorry, the order of the individual questions gets scrambled when the 'Recent Questions' are broken up into the categories for the archives. I can't really backtrack to a specific question number...

...but the Internet Archive has a copy of the 'Ask Aaron' page from back when it was only seven questions and a haiku.

Q: How are robots different from computers?

A: Well, your computer won't go berserk, tear a big hole in the garage door, and put a gash in your leg that requires 23 stitches.

Robots are designed to interact with the physical world guided by input from their sensors, whereas computers are designed to process information. Robots often contain computers that govern their actions and assist in interpreting the input from their sensors.

Q: Would 'Run Away' get 'Napalm' shredded? I know you don't predict matches, but can you tell me anyway?

A: Since you asked nicely, yes. I think that 'Run Away' realistically could have shredded 'Napalm'.

Q: What do you plan to do with the Q&A once you're at college?

A: The Ask Aaron site takes very little of my time. I plan to continue answering combat robot questions, but I might take a little longer to get back to you with an answer.

Q: I'd like to know what you do for fun and if you ever go outside?

A: I've posted about my interests and activities previously in this archive, but here's an update for May, 2009. I'm a high school senior, have four letters (2 football, 2 basketball) and I'm currently on the track team. I was elected 'King of Hearts' at this year's Valentine's Day dance, and I still play an occasional Yu-Gi-Oh game.

Q: What happened [at Robot Wars Extreme Warriors 2] when you brawled against 'Destructive Critisism' and 'Lightning Tracks' in round 1 and 'General Chompsalot' in round 2?

A: 'Lighning Tracks' was a tank-treaded robot that had a cosmetic tank turret attached to the top. 'Run Away' kept Lightning tracks between it and the high-power horizontal spinner blade on 'Destructive Criticism'. After several good hits, LT went dead and RA tried to run up their wedge to shear off the turret but got stuck directly on top. DC powered their weapon and destroyed RA's entire rear axle assembly. We moved on to the next round but we were in real trouble.

Long hours later, we had pieced together a new rear axle from scrap found in the pit trash cans and had hammered the shredded wheel more-or-less round. The differential assembly was not salvageable, so we had a solid rear axle that made for very poor maneuverability.

In the second round match against 'General Chompsalot' we were able to make a single run at them with weapon spinning. The impact did some small damage to them, but our scrap axle flexed and we lost our chain drive. We were dead, and the General fought the Housebots for the carcass.

Q: Who was Crocbot?

A: I'm assuming you mean the heavyweight Crockbot at Robot Wars and not the lightweight Crockbot from Team Gator? They were in the pit next to us at Robot Wars Extreme Warriors 1, but I don't recall the names of the team members.

Q: Have you seen Dutch Robot Wars in the UK? Can UK children be homeschooled? Does your parent have to be a teacher or have to have qualifications to teach you at home?

A: I'm not in the UK. Team Run Amok home base is on a hill overlooking the beautiful Willamette Valley.

Q: do u like mudkips?

A: and mudkips liek me.

Q: Hey Aaron, what's with the purple stripe on your jacket in the Robotica picture?

A: The teams at Robotica were given blue jumpsuits to wear with a colored stripe to identify the team. In the finals, Team Run Amok's color was purple.

Q: What happened to Juilo Roquetta of Team Loki? I saw an "in memory" for him at the bottom of the Builders Database.

A: Mark J. here: it's probably best described as a traffic accident. He got out of his car at a traffic light very late one night to argue with some guys in another car. The driver of a third car didn't see him and hit him. Let's all be careful out there.

Q: Did you ever have any thought about entering BattleBots before there was a Robotica?

A: Some.

Q: I was looking at your Combat Robot Hall of Fame and I was wondering why 'Little Drummer Boy' isn't in the Hall? LDB was very impressive in its rookie season going all the way to the finals. Granted season 4 and 5 it didn't fare to well. Also, why isn't 'Suicidal Tendencies' in the Hall?

A: Mark J. here: I don't get to pick who is or is not in the Hall of Fame -- I just collect the votes. Every two years, voting is opened for the Hall. Announcements are made on the Delphi robot combat forums and on the Fighting Robot Association forum. I tally the votes and announce the results. The Hall first opened for voting in 2003, and I do not recall ever receiving a vote for either 'Little Drummer Boy' or 'Suicidal Tendencies'.

Q: Do you have any pictures of 'Panic Attack' from Robot Wars series 2-7? What happned to Panic Attack after Robot Wars?

A: 'Panic Attack' is a member of the Combat Robot Hall of Fame and we have a picture there. A Google image search for 'Panic Attack Robot' turned up plenty more photos.

I haven't heard anything about Panic Attack since the Seventh Wars. Kim Davies (captain of Team Panic Attack thru series 6) hangs out at the Fighting Robot Association forum so I suspect any recent developments about Panic Attack are discussed there.

Q: What happened to Killerhutz after season 4 of BattleBots?

A: Simply retired, I believe.

Q: Had 'Son of Whyachi' still been a legal heavyweight do you think it could have beat 'Warhead' at BattleBots 5.0?

A: I don't predict fantasy matches, but it would have been fun to watch.

Q: What does 'Domore' do any way?

A: More than 'Dolittle' but not as much as 'DoAll'. The main weapon was a pneumatic spike, but it could also spin. You have to remember that robot combat was still new in 1995 and nobody knew what was going to work.

Q: Is there any more Robot Wars Extreme Warriors clips coming in on youtube yet?

A: We are not involved in posting copyrighted material on the internet and we have no knowledge of the actions of those who are.

Q: Which machine did you like best in Robot Wars UK?

A: Chaos 2.



Q: What do you think about the fan-made Robot Wars series on YouTube?

A: I remember being 8 years old and playing with Legos and a box on my bedroom floor. Why anyone would want to watch videos of someone doing this puzzles me.

Q: Out of the fights that you guys have been in with 'Run Amok', 'The Gap', 'Zpatula', and the others, what was your favorite fight?

A: We liked all the fights we won -- hated all the fights we lost. The final platform match at Robotica had to be the best.

Q: Who is the inventor of robots?

A: Like most complex things, robots were not 'invented' -- they delveloped over a long period of time with the help of many smaller inventions. You can't give credit (or blame) to any single person. You can read a short summary of the history of robots.

Q: Whats a 'sallie'? People in the NERC forum used to say it a lot.

A: Sorry, I never heard the term used in robotics.

Q: What's the biggest mistake you ever made in robot combat? My biggest mistake was drilling a hole in my ant's wedge and accidentaly drilling through my receiver.

A: Our biggest mistake was probably not quitting while we were ahead. We had a tidy profit after Robotica and Robot Wars, but that's long gone now.

Q: I ment did you ever do anything dumb like what I did by drilling into my receiver. That kind of thing.

A: Well, I'm not going to admit doing anything really dumb, but my dad put a good dent in the side of his truck while he was testing out Robot Wars heavyweight 'Run Away'. He backed into his truck and the rear corner of the armor dug in just under the passenger door. The dent is still there.

Q: Are there any photos of '259'?

A: I don't have any photos of the Robot Wars vertical spinner, but how about a video?

Q: '259' is very cool looking! Does it have a website? Thanks!

A: Check the #30 post on how to locate websites for older teams. I'll save you the trouble this time: I can't find any current or archived website for '259'.

Q: What happened to 'Shuriken'?

A: Evan White's 'Shuriken' was destroyed at the US Championships at the first Robot Wars Extreme Warriors. I don't recall who did the damage. Evan White returned to RWEW2 with 'Ninjitsu'.

Q: Dear Aaron, could 'Nightmare' have won against 'Son of Whyachi' if everything went to plan and also if Pete didn't interfere? [Anthony]

A: We don't generally make predictions on 'fantasy matches' here, but I'll make an exception this time. No matter what BattleBots arena hazard operator 'Pulverizer Pete' did, 'Nightmare' was no match for SOW.

Q: Hey Aaron, what is the funniest bot name you ever heard?

A: Most attempts at funny robot names don't do much for me, but my favorites are:

  • Delicious Monkey
  • Electric Lettuce
  • Evelyn a Modified Dog
  • The Prussian Pitchfork of Pain
  • Wack-a-tron

Date marker: January 2009
Q: How come the question counter at the top of the Ask Aaron page skips ahead sometimes? It was at 1248, and two posts later it was at 1251.

A: We count questions, not posts. If a post asks two distinct questions we count them both.

Q: In Robot Wars Extreme Warriors did your blades on 'Run Away' defeated 'Lightning Tracks', or was 'Destructive Critisism' did all the work? And do you have a photo of 'Lightning Tracks'?

A: We may be a little biased about our role in that fight. Let's just say it was a combined effort. I can say that after 'Run Away' sheared the turret off 'Lightning Tracks' we were stuck on top of them and 'Destructive Criticism' tore us a new one.

'Lightning Tracks' was a modified version of Russ Barrow's Robotica 3 robot 'Dark Track', pictured at right. For RWEW he added a tank turret to the top.

Q: Can "Robot Arena 2" run on a Mac? [Nate Franklin]

A: System requirements say: Windows 98/Me/2000/XP with a 450 MHz Pentium II or higher. No Mac.

Q: Hi Aaron. How old are you? What do you do in your spare time? I am building an antweight. I'm using some R/C car I found in the trash. I glued and bolted pieces of steel and aluminium to it.

A: That's great! I really enjoy hearing from people who dig in and make a robot out of the pieces they have available. You'll learn a lot and have good fun while you're at it.

My dad keeps a updated mention of my age up above my picture at the top of the page. I'm 17 now and a senior at my high school. This year I'm the student manager of the football team and I'll be playing basketball. I play Yu-Gi-Oh twice a week at the local card shop.

Q: Out of all the robots at Robotica every season, who were your favorites for each season? Congrats on the season 1 victory. The waterfall at the maze was cool.

A: Thanks for the props! It's hard to list favorites from Robotica since it took all the different 'bots and personalities to make the competitions as amazing as they were. I have listed a group of particular favorites from Season 1 further down in this archive -- search for 'I really liked'.

For season 2, I thought 'Ill Tempered Mutt' and 'Flexi Flier' both paid careful attention to the Robotica challenges and designed well for them. 'Wizard of Saws' gets my vote for coolest looking, and "Mechacidal Maniac" was probably the most fun to watch.

Season 3 was filled with many of our friends from Season 1 and I can't pick favorites from among them. Of the new teams, I liked the ingenuity of 'Scrap 8.2' and the design of 'Rambot' who borrowed many design features from our 'Run Amok'.

Q: What is your favorite flipper robot?

A: Chaos 2.

Q: Dear Aaron, CM Robotics built 'Texas Heat' and 'Ziggy'?

A: Yes, CM Robotics from Ottawa, Ontario built and operate superheavyweight 'Ziggy', heavyweight 'CycloneBot', middleweight 'VanillaBot', and lightweight 'Texas Heat'.

Q: Hej jeg er FRA dk og mangler et par gode råd til robot våben.

A: Mark J. here: sorry, my danish isn't very good. Try again in English?

Q: Which combat robot is your favorite, beside Biohazard?

A: My favorite robot is the last robot I beat. My least favorite robot is the last robot that beat me.

Q: Do you know of any videos that show the fight between 'Tillah' and 'Megabyte' at Steel Conflict?

A: Sorry, no.

Q: In Robot Wars Extreme Warriors, did 'Xylon' have a self righting mechanism?

A: Not that I recall.

Q: Do you know what ever happened to Ramiro Mallari and 'Punjar'?

A: The last I saw of them was at BattleBots 3.0 in May, 2001 where the seeded heavyweight 'Punjar' lost it's opening match to 'Shark Byte'.

Q: Who invented combat robots?

A: Marc Thorpe was responsible for popularizing robot combat when he came up with the concept for Robot Wars, but credit for the first organized robot combat tournament goes to the Denver Area Mad Scientists Club. They organized the Critter Crunch as part of the MileHiCon Science Fiction convention in Colorado. The exact date of the first Critter Crunch is in question, but it pre-dated the first Robot Wars event (1994) by at least ten years. The 2008 Critter Crunch will be part of the 66th World Science Fiction Convention in Denver.

Q: Dear Aaron, what is your favorite weapon on a combat robot?

A: For an active weapon I like lifters and flippers, but they don't do terribly well under the current judging guidelines that focus on damage and aggression rather than controlling the match.

Q: In Robotica, was 'Evil Beaver' made of cardboard?

A: No -- why would you believe that? Kyle Rader's 'Evil Beaver' was a low-budget old-school design using as many 'found parts' as possible. The body of the robot was a recycled steel computer case.

Q: Is 'Rosie The Riveter' invertible?

A: As she appeared at Robot Wars Extreme Warriors, Chris Gattman's Rosie was invertible. The airplane-style cockpit was held in place loosely and would shear away if inverted to allow for tire contact.

Q: What goes through your head while you're driving your robots during fights?

A: If I have enough practice with the 'bot, the whole experience is transparent. I completely forget that I'm holding onto a transmitter or that I'm standing feet or yards away. Everything is pure reflex, just like I was in the arena.

Q: Would 'The Gap' flip out a robot wars robot out of the arena?

A: The Gap as it appeared at Robot Wars was more of a pneumatic lifter than a 'flipper'. It did score the fastest knockout at RWEW2, and possibly the fastest ever at Robot Wars when it took out 'Trackzilla' in four seconds.

Q: What were 'Run Away' and 'The Gap's weaknesses?

A: That information is classified -- although we do talk a bit about The Gap's weaknesses in a previous post in this section of the archive.

Q: What was your favorite part of being in Robotica?

A: The best part was meeting other people who shared our interest in robots and competition. We made many good friends at Robotica.

It was also great fun to watch the production of a television show on a Hollywood sound stage. I hadn't realized how much effort went into making a television program.

Q: What would you name 'Run Amok' and 'Run Away' if they were cluster bots?

A: Hmmm... how about 'Hit and Run'?

Q: Do you have plans to enter other robotics events like ROBO-ONE or sumo?

A: We do have some sumo designs drawn up, but the nearest competition is 250 miles away and runs once a year. Pretty small fun. If things pick up, we'll be there.

Q: Team Run Amok: if you had an unlimited budget and could build just one more combat robot, what would it be?
  • An art bot like Mechadon?
  • A spinner comparable to a nuclear bomb?
  • The strongest wedge with the thickest titanium to ever barrel across the arena at 20mph?

A: Our reasons for building combat robots are probably a little different than other teams. We like robots that are responsive to operate and that can do interesting things. We're also too empathetic to really enjoy highly destructive weapons that rip another team's robot apart. We've said before, we like to leave our opponents pretty - but beaten.

There are several robots on our drawing board that we'd really like to build:

  • a sub-light version of 'Probophobia' who managed to crawl up and out of 'The Pit' at Robot Wars Extreme Warriors;
  • a dominating spinner-killer along the lines of Team Nighmare's 'Breaker Box';
  • and even a stealth autonomous sumo 'bot that evades optical and sonic detection.
But if we had to pick just one final robot it would have to be a mecanum omni-drive platform like 'Alcoholic Stepfather' with an effective weapon; a medium-power flipper I think. It would be expensive, but I can't think of anything more fun than stepping out of the way of your opponent's attack and retaliating by tossing them in the air.
Q: Which robots did you face in 'Robot Wars Extreme Warriors' season 2?

A: In the main tournament we fought:

  • Lightning Tracks (Russ Barrow)
  • Destructive Criticism (Randy Eubanks)
  • General Chompsalot (Tim Berghoefer)
  • Trackzilla (Lawrence Feir)
  • The Revolutionist (Brian Nave)
  • Propeller Head (Mike Konshak)

Q: How do you know so much about combat robots?

A: My dad and I started building combat robots in early 2001. We didn't know much about them when we started but, with the help of people who were very generous with their knowledge, we've done very well. We've built seven combat robots, won four competitions, and been in the top three at half the events we've entered. We fought at big, televised competitions (Robotica, Robot Wars) and smaller local, regional, and national events.

When we struggled to learn new things that were difficult to find information on, we wrote-up what we'd learned as guides for other robot builders (radio programming, PRO-120 speed controller set-up, combat robot gyros). We reviewed combat robot books, and compiled full tournament results from national and international combat robot competitions. We organized and maintain the Combat Robot Hall of Fame and we put on our own unique tournament -- three times. We've also researched the answers to more than 900 questions about combat robots. That all adds up to a considerable education.

Q: Was 'The Steel Magnolia' an early version of Crocbot?

A: Sorry, I can't find any connection between Team Gator's "Crockbot" and "Steel Magnolia".

Q: Can you point me to some combat robot build blogs?

A: Build reports are common features of combat robot team websites, although they vary a lot in detail and completeness. Start at Team Daisy and click on any of the 'build report' links for their robots. A web search for "build report robot" will find many, many more.

Date marker: March 2008
Q: This question is for both Mark J. and Aaron, What is your favorite weight class? Why?

A: Mark J. here: Aaron has answered this question -- search this page for 'favorite'. I completely agree with Aaron's view.

While I'm on the topic: I think we would have better tournaments if we had fewer weight classes. Right now there are ten RFL-recognized classes:

  • Fairy
  • Ant
  • Beetle
  • Hobby
  • Feather
  • Sportsman
  • Light
  • Middle
  • Heavy
  • Superheavy
There are also several unrecognized classes: Flea, Kilobot, Mantis, and MechWars 390. With this many classes you're lucky to get more than a handful of 'bots competing in any class, even at big tournaments. The last RFL National Championship tournament had four or fewer robots compete in all but three weight classes. Pitiful!

I'd suggest a reduction to four weight classes: ant, hobby, light, and heavy. With fewer classes the existing builders would be concentrated for better competition and a cleaner tournament structure. It would also be easier for spectators to follow the progress of the tournament.

Q: In Robot Wars the robots were introduced with stengths and weaknesses. What were The Gap's?

A: Robot Wars Extreme Warriors didn't get those introductions. The Gap is still combat-ready, so I'm not eager to talk weaknesses. Let's just say that the wheels could use some spinner protection -- that's what took us out of Robot Wars.

Strengths include precise maneuverability, a very long weapon reach, large CO2 and battery reserves, and bulletproof electronics.

Q: What is happening in the Juggerbot team? Are they building some new robots?

A: Team Juggerbot is no longer competing in combat robotics, but they are busy with other robot projects.

Q: What happened to Team Jawbreaker? Their website no longer exists. Is in the archive?

A: Team Jawbreaker has retired from combat robotics. Here is a link to their archived site.

Q: This might sound dumb but, what ever happened to 'Tombstone', Team Hardcore Robotics' superheavyweight?

A: Tombstone last fought at the 2005 Robogames. Team Hardcore is still active, so I can only guess that they are having trouble finding other superheavyweights to fight. Dragging a superheavyweight around the country for just a couple of fights is just not worth the effort. You can contact the team and ask them directly.

Q: I was looking through your selection of robots in the Combat Robot Hall of Fame, and I think there are a few you're missing:
  • Shrederator (RFL) should be inducted because, like Megabyte, he has inflicted massive damage on his opponents. In addition, Shrederator was the 2006 RFL champion.

  • Cyclone (Robot Wars: Extreme Warriors) should be inducted because he wields a very powerful vertical spinning disk. Not only did he use it to become the Robot Wars: Extreme Warriors Annihilator champion, but he also used it to become the first robot to shoot an opponent out of the arena by the use of a spinning disk.

  • 259 (Robot Wars UK) should be considered because it is an ingenious design. It is almost a merge of 'Cyclone' and 'BioHazard'. It pummeled 'Wild Thing' very badly, and it deserves respect.

  • Dantomkia (Robot Wars UK) should be inducted because it was the first and only robot to flip 'Chaos 2' out of the arena, and that says a lot. Plus, he has flipped at least 20 opponents out of the arena in his lifetime, and he is still probably flipping out more.

  • The Mortician (RFL) should be considered because it is an extremely destructive middleweight robot. Even though it is at least half the weight of its big brothers, 'Last Rites' and 'Tombstone', it still packs one hell of a punch and it is not to be underestimated.

  • 13 Black (Robot Wars UK) should be considered because it is a very creative and destructive robot. With two spinning disks mounted diagonally, it showed it's stuff by defeating the elusive 'Stinger', and it caused 'Razer' some real damage.

Any comments on my selections?

A: Mark J. here: thank you -- I'm always pleased to receive comments and suggestions about the membership of the Combat Robot Hall of Fame. The hall opens for membership voting in August of odd-numbered years. The selection of robots isn't really 'mine' -- my vote counts no more than anyone else's -- but I did set out the original criteria for voters to consider. I suggested that membership be based on:

  • Dominating success in combat
  • Pioneering or perfecting influential designs
  • Having great fan or entertainment appeal, or
  • Otherwise making a lasting impact on the sport.
I believe that each of the current members in the hall shows exceptional strength in one or more of these areas.

I can tell from your list that you value destructive force and unusual design in a robot, as do many fans. From a builder's point of view -- and most votes come from builders -- destructive ability and creative design may commonly be valued less than other aspects of a robot's performance. Noteworthy achievements in a single match make for good highlights in the membership notes but do not hold much influence in my own voting.

Here are my takes on your proposed members:

Shrederator (38 wins / 16 losses - ranked 5th historic) is certainly a contender for Hall of Fame membership and has received a few votes in past ballots. The value of having won the 2006 RFL heavyweight championship is reduced because only three robots participated in that contest. Worse, Shrederator is totally pwned by both 'Megabyte' and 'Sewer Snake' in head-to-head fights. No vote from me for now, but the tide could turn.

Cyclone (Unranked) had perhaps the most powerful vertical spinning disk weapon in the history of the sport. The weapon was, however, clearly derived from the pioneering design of hall of fame member 'Nightmare'. Aside from their well-earned victory in the RWEW Annihilator, their competition results were disappointing -- winning zero matches in open tournament competition. No vote from me.

259 (unranked) did win 'Best Design' at the 6th Wars, but it was not a design which proved to be 'influential'. Competition results were poor with an overall record of 1 win and 2 losses in head-to-head matches. I do believe the 'bot has fan and entertainment appeal, but there are several other Robot Wars 'bots ('Pussycat', 'Bigger Brother', 'Firestorm'...) I'd vote for before 259. No vote from me.

Dantomkia (seeded) is an agile and powerful competitor with a broad fan base. Performance in Robot Wars open tournament head-to-head matches was only fair: 4 wins and 3 losses. It failed to even come close to a major championship. A good robot, but no vote from me for the Hall of Fame. I'd much sooner see 'Firestorm' make full membership.

The Mortician (14 wins / 11 losses - ranked 100th) deals out damage, but is simply not a top-rank competitor. Absolutely no vote from me.

13 Black (seeded) is derivative of 'Hypno Disc' -- no points for adding on a second spinning disc to no good effect. Overall record in open tournament head-to-head is 3 wins / 3 losses. The robot had fan support, but then so did 'Plunderbird'. No vote from me.

The hall will open again for membership voting in August of 2009. You can certainly lobby on the forums for your favorite 'bots at that time and perhaps sway some votes to your favor.

Q: What happened to the robot Rosie the Riveter/LogosEye? For her www doesn't exist. Is in the archive?

A: Archived Rosie the Riveter website. Rosie was badly damaged at the Oregon Clandestine Street Fight, but was certainly repairable. That was the last I saw of her.

Q: Who won the 'JuggerBot 3.0' versus 'Mini Run Amok' match? [Photo at left]

A: I think we'll have to call that a draw.

Juggerbot had us outweighed about 40:1, but we did get in the first hit. If their high-pressure flipper had been charged, we'd still be waiting for Mini Run Amok to come back down

Moral: don't bite off more than you can chew.

Q: What do you think about 'Tillah'?

A: Tillah had a fearsome drum weapon, but its mobility was handicapped by the two-wheel drive system. It proved difficult to maneuver and was not successful in combat.

Q: Is 'Tricerabot' a JuggerBot incarnation?

A: Yes. There were three JuggerBot platforms:

  • JuggerBot 1.0 was used at Robotics series 1. The chassis was loaned to Team Thunderbolt for use in 'Rosie the Riveter 1.0' at Robot Wars. Later versions of Rosie (and 'Logos Eye') were fully built by Team Thunderbolt.

  • JuggerBot 2.0 was a six-motor, six-wheel superheavyweight that competed at BattleBots 3.0. For Robot Wars, the two center motors and wheels were removed to make heavyweight specs and it was renamed 'Tricerabot'.

  • JuggerBot 3.0 was built for and competed in Robotoca series 3. It had a new motor layout and a high pressure air flipper weapon.

Q: Are there any videos of your robots in Robot Wars or Robotica?

A: My last source of Robotica videos was, but they seem to have run out. Keep an eye on EBay, and search YouTube.

Q: Ok, are there any videos of your robots in Robot Wars or Robotica on YouTube?

A: None that I know about.

Q: What you think about Juggerbot/Tricerabot and Rosie The Riveter/LogosEye?

A: Mark J. here: Team JuggerBot was one of the top technical teams in the sport and one of the finest groups of people I have ever met. Their robots were always prepared at the highest level and their pit skills were astounding.

JuggerBot 3.0 was one of the most capable combat robots of it's time. The addition of the high-pressure air 'Up Ender' weapon to the quick and agile JuggerBot platform created a (nearly) unbeatable machine. JuggerBot 2.0/Tricerabot was the first and only robot to shove the 1100 pound 'Sir Killalot' into the Robot Wars pit.

Rosie the Riveter/LogosEye was based on the original JuggerBot chassis used at Robotica. Operated by a separate team of members spun off from Team JuggerBot, Rosie continued development of armor and power from the original configuration and proved its durability by surviving a record ten fights at Robot Wars Extreme Warriors 2.

Q: How did 'LogosEye' come into existence? Why it isn't on the JuggerBot website?

A: The full story of 'LogosEye' and 'Rosie the Riveter' can be found at the archived LogosEye Website. 'LogosEye' was built for Robotica Series 3, but failed to perform to the expected standards of the associated JuggerBot teams. You can find a couple of pictures of it in the JuggerBot Robotica 3 gallery, but that's about it.

Q: What you think about RamForce? Jawbreaker? Viper? Panzer Mk. I? Kritical Mass?

A: I hope I don't have to go thru all the Robotica 'bots!

  • Ram Force - Andrew Lindsey puts a lot of thought into his designs and he understands the technical aspects of robot building as well as anyone. Ram Force had the best control of any 'bot at Robotica. Just watch it run thru 'The Speedway'. The go-kart slick tires failed to produce the traction hoped for.

  • Jawbreaker - The only two-wheeled 'bot to make the Robotica finals, the beautifully built Jawbreaker overcame it's control issues to put on a great show. Tim Berghoefer and crew had a great time and were big fun to hang around with in the pits.

  • Viper - Sticking to solid construction and proven design, Bob Allen created the best pushing 'bot in the field. It needed only a little more speed to compete for the top spot.

  • Panzer Mk. I - Power, speed, control -- everything needed to win. If they had not run into the only robot that could out push them in their preliminary 'Fight to the Finish', I'm certain that Todd Mendenhall's team could have gone all the way. He got his chance at Robotica 3.

  • Kritical Mass - Jeff Cesnik is a very serious fellow and a very tough competitor. Kritical Mass had the most destructive weapon at Robotica. The 'bot was quick, agile, and adaptable. The low clearance and tiny drive wheels just couldn't deal with the clutter in 'The Gauntlet'.

Q: Whether 'Tillah' lives??

A: Tillah -- another JuggerBot spin-off -- was torn into tiny shards by Megabyte at Steel Conflict 4. There wasn't enough left to rebuild.

Q: Have you got different robots - no Run Amok??

A: Run Amok was retired after her return from the second Robot Wars Extreme Warriors competition, but she remains fully operational in a place of honor in our workshop. You can find a listing of all of our combat 'bots down a little lower on this archive page.

Q: Are you still competing?

A:Team Run Amok remains active in a variety of robotic projects, although it has been a while since we competed at an RFL event. Next month we will host an Antbotica competition here in Oregon, and we just got back from a trip Florida where we helped promote the new Slambot arcade game. We keep several of our 'bots in ready condition in case a opportunity pops up.

Q: Hi Aaron, What competition format is your favorite, and why?
  • Robotica, with a mix of tasks and battle;
  • BattleBots, one on one;
  • Robot Wars, 3 on 3 with house bots;
  • Or others?

I loved the Robotica type, the robots had to be versatile and maneuverable. Driving skills played a big part of success or failure.
[Matt M. -]

A: Hi, Matt. You build some great robots!

I like all styles of robot combat, but you've probably guessed that a 'Robotica' format is my favorite. It's a challenge to balance the design elements of the robot to meet all the differing tasks, and the driver has to stay cool and be ready to take advantage of any development. We like it so much that we designed our own Antbotica competition to include many of the same elements.

One thing I didn't like about Robot Wars -- we had to drive from a balcony a long way from the 'bot. I like to be close to the robot when I drive and I like to be able to hear the noise and feel the impact! That's what big 'bots are all about for me.

I also like what I've seen about autonomous sumo robot. I saw some great competition at Robothon and could really get into that if there were some local interest. Some of the guys at Western Allied Robotics have been building autonomous antweights and competing against R/C, but if anybody has a transmitter in their hands I want to have one too!

Q: If robot combat was still televised, would you make a 'Run Amok 2'? Would it be able to self right?

A: Mark J. here: 'Run Amok' was built for the unique demands of the original Robotica competition. It had the balance of speed, stability, power, and adaptability that was needed for that particular challenge.

We've built many robots since 'Run Amok'. For each different type of combat we build a very different type of robot. For Robot Wars, we built The Gap, which does not in any way resemble 'Run Amok'. The decision on self-righting would depend on the layout of the competition. 'The Gap' can self-right.

Television was only important to our robot combat career because it kept our expenses down. Building, transporting, and fighting heavyweight combat robots is expensive. The televised competitions would pay to transport us and the robots, put us up in a hotel, feed us, and usually pay enough prize money to cover our other expenses. Without that economic help, we've had to settle for smaller robots and 'local' competitions.

Q: How fast is Run Amok?

A: At Robotica, Run Amok was geared for speed and topped out at 17 m.p.h. For Robot Wars we increased the gear reduction for more pushing power and the top speed dropped to 12 m.p.h.

Q: How do I start my robot?

A: Pump the gas twice, depress the clutch, and turn the key to the right. See: #2.

Q: Do you think you can make a webpage devoted to the diagrams you give us here on the Ask Aaron page? They are very useful. For instance, every time I design a bot I check out the wiring diagram in the FAQ to make sure I'm not forgetting anything in the budget sheet.

A: Good to hear that you find the diagrams so useful. The Ask Aaron Archive had become a big page to load and I've just finished splitting it up into smaller sections. An 'all diagrams' section might be a good addition.

Q: When are you next going to take votes on the Combat Robot Hall Of Fame Inductees, and how do we submit our votes?

A: Mark J. here: The Combat Robot Hall Of Fame opens for new inductees in August of odd-numbered years. Votes for new members are solicited from the robot building community. As in prior years, the announcement and details of the voting process will be posted to combat robot related discussion groups at the Delphi Forums site. If you are an active member of the combat robot forums, you'll hear about it.

Q: I was wandering around the Ask Aaron Archive and realized that no one takes the time to thank you like they should, and a few are down right rude. So this one goes out to you guys, fellow bot builder.

A: Thanks for the props. We really enjoy fielding robot questions and don't do it for recognition, but it's nice to hear that our efforts are appreciated.

Q: What do you get if you mix acid and carbonate?

A: We only answer robot questions here, so we'll have to modify your question: if a robot made of a carbonate ran into another robot made of an acid, you'd get a cloud of carbon dioxide and a puddle of water. Robot questions, please.

Q: What are your best tips for getting sponsors?

A: It's very tough to make a good case for a business to sponsor a combat robot right now. No TV coverage plus small audience turn-out at events means very few people would see a sticker on your 'bot or a banner in your pit area. Unless you're related to the owner of a business, you're going to find it very difficult to snag a sponsor. The only sponsor we've ever had is my dad's credit card.

Build a small 'bot with your own funds and enter a few tournaments. If you can show some skill and talent it will be easier to convince a potential sponsor to help you build a larger 'bot.

Q: What is a robot?

A: Robotics pioneer Joseph Engelberger once said: "I can't define a robot, but I know one when I see one."

Q: What 'bot is your favorite? I'm a fan of Hypno-disc!

A: Hypno-disc rocks, but my vote goes to Carlo Bertocchini's Biohazard. Twenty-seven wins and three losses is just impossible to beat. My beetleweight Zpatula is based on his electric lifter design, and Carlo was kind enough to autograph Zpatula for me at the 2004 RFL nationals.

Of the Robot Wars 'bots, I always liked Firestorm. Hypno-Disc beat Firestorm 3 in the 5th Wars, but it was a great fight!

I thought biohazard had five losses at: BBLV'99, BB1.0, BB3.0, and Combots cup 2005 (x2)?

I was counting the record at BattleBots, including melee wins. If you want to count the 2005 losses to Megabyte and Brutality, count the 2005 win over Jawbreaker and throw in the undefeated record at the early Robot Wars for an overall head-to-head record of 35 wins and 5 losses. That remains the best win percentage of any heavyweight with more than 10 fights.

Q: Can I see a picture of your Antbotica robot, Mini Maxbot 2.0?

A: Sure. Mini Max 2.0 uses the drivetrain from a BattleBots custom series 'DoAll' toy. I replaced the radio and speed controllers with hobby-grade equipment, and added a 700 MAH rechargeable battery pack. The treads are silicone rubber coated for added traction, and I added a removable front polyethylene scoop. The 'bot will run upside down if needed.

Mini Maxbot 2.0 placed second at the 2005 daVinci Days Antbotica event in Corvallis, Oregon.

Q: I'm building a model car and it has to go up a steep hill but I can't seem to get it to climb the hill. How could I get it over the hill?

A: You'll need more power and/or less weight and/or greater gear reduction and/or more traction. With the information you've given, my best advice is to build a combat robot and have it throw your model car over the hill. Robot questions, please.

Q: Have you /your dad read and or reviewed "Build your own combat robot" by Pete Miles and Tom Carroll?

A: There's a review of "Build your own combat robot" on the Team Run Amok book review page.

Q: How do I make my robot faster?

A: Try pointing it downhill. If that doesn't work, write back and tell me enough about your robot that I can make a reasonable suggestion.

Q: I like the new page on 'Zaptula'. Who do you think would win between 'Zpatula' and 'Wallop'?

A: Nobody was gonna beat 'Wallop' at the 2004 RFL National Championships. The magnet wheels gave him a huge advantage on the steel-floored arena. There is more to building a good magnet-bot than just bolting ring magnets onto your hubs, and Jim Smentowski did a great job of it.

On a non-magnetic surface, a 'Zpatula' versus rubber-tired 'Wallop' match would be interesting. I think my narrower lifter might get under his, but Jim is a very experienced driver. Call it a toss-up.

Q: How much did your beetleweight 'Zpatula' cost to build? What does it run on?

A: Zpatula is based on a BattleBots Pro-Series Biohazard R/C toy that I bought on EBay ($30). We removed the toy radio and installed a SOZBots ESC ($58), a Microbotparts FM micro receiver ($25), and a home-built 7.2 volt 700 mAH NiMHD battery pack ($10). The drive train uses the 130 size electric motors that came with the toy.

The toy gearbox for the lifter was modified to lock the slip clutch and to allow controlled up/down operation with a Team Delta R/C dual-ended switch ($39). We also upgraded the electric lifter motor from a 130 size to a more powerful 180 ($10). The lifter itself is a shortened BBQ spatula ($4).

For protection, we added 1/8" polycarbonate top armor ($3) and 3/16" UHMW polyethylene side/rear skirts ($3). Not counting the radio transmitter, that adds up to well less than $200.

Zpatula won the 2004 daVinci Days tournament and finished 3rd at the 2004 RFL nationals. It's lifetime ranking score at is a very respectable 1277.68.

I just want to say thanks for all of you guys' help. My friend and I started about a year ago and if it weren't for your helpful answers, we wouldn't have finished our three ants. You can see the three robots we've built at: Team Pinq.

You're Welcome. Your 'bots look great! Happy to hear our advice was helpful.

Q: Do you still have Mini Maxbot?

A: Yes. 'Mini Maxbot' was my first antweight. It is a converted R/C skateboard toy - four-wheel drive with dual 'forks of doom' on the front. It won the first Antbotica competition and won a few combat matches as well.

We still have all of our combat 'bots, although hobbyweight 'Nasty Glass of Water' is not operational.

Q: What would you do if two of your robots had to fight each other at Robot Wars?

A: Each of our 'bots at Robot Wars had its own driver and support team. We'd just go for it and see who had the better stuff that day. But no senseless destruction after the match was over!

Q: Which of the Robot Wars housebots were your favorite and least favorite?

A: I think I mentioned before that I had a grudge with Sir Killalot -- he attacked 'Run Away' without provocation and from behind. Cowardly! Dead Metal was my fave.

Q: Do you own 'Robot Wars Arenas of Destruction'? If so, is it possible to buy the housebots?

A: Yep, I own the game -- very cool! The housebots cannot be bought there, but you can play as a housebot in 'Robot Wars Advanced Destruction' for the Game Boy Advance.

Q: Why didn't Run Away use Run Amok's shipping crate?

A: Three reasons:

  • Run Away was a longer and taller 'bot than Run Amok.
  • We wanted to pack a lot of spare parts and tools in the same crate.
  • International shipping required a much sturdier crate to ship Run Away to Robot Wars in England than we needed to ship Run Amok to Robotica in California.

Q: Are you building any new bots?

A: We don't need anything new at the moment, but we always have a couple things on the drawing board...

Q: Can you tell me how to make a robot walk?

A: Take away its bus pass. [Sorry - couldn't resist the bad joke.]

Walking robots are for advanced robot builders and are much too complicated to talk about here. See earlier posts about walkers for some information sources.

Q: Do you have any more bad robot jokes?

A: Yes, but I don't want to drive people away from my website.

Q: Do you have any pets?

A: Didya run outta robot questions? My favorite color is green, my eyes are blue, I'm 6' 2" tall, my favorite musician is Ray Charles, my favorite class is Computer Aided Drafting, I like to eat pizza (no anchovies) and play Yu-Gi-Oh. I have two dogs, three birds, and a fish named 'Alpha'. More robot questions!

Q: 'Tillah' looks light -- was it a middleweight?

A: Tillah was very compact, but the Oregon drum spinner was a 220 pound heavyweight. The weapon was very heavy. You can see Tillah fight in the Oregon Clandestine Street Fight.

Q: How heavy is Tillah's drum?

A: Mark J. here: First, Tillah should be referred to in the past tense - Tillah is no more. As noted in an earlier post, Tillah was destroyed in a match against Megabyte at Steel Conflict 4.

I could only guess at the weight of Tillah's drum weapon. It was made from very thick steel plate. Ask Team JuggerBot for a definitive answer.

Q: What weapons did JuggerBot 2.0 have?

A: Mark J. here: The primary weapon of all the JuggerBots was speed and power. Juggerbot 2.0 was the 6-motor 6-wheel drive version that competed as a superheavyweight at BattleBots 3.0. It had no 'active' weapons, but did have a variety of interchangeable front-mounted spikes. This chassis also competed at Robot Wars, minus the two middle drive units, as 'Tricerabot'.

For JuggerBot 3.0, chief weapons officer Ron Ender developed the 'up-ender' weapon -- a small but mighty high-pressure air powered flipper to coordinate with the other attributes of the 'bot.

Q: Are you going to the 2006 Robot Fighting League Nationals in Minnesota?

A: No. We didn't compete in any RFL qualifying events this year; we don't like their scoring system.

Q: Could 'The Gap' lift 616 lbs (A.K.A. Sir Killalot)?

A: Yes, and no. Explanation:

The Gap's lifting platform has a max capacity of 1060 pounds, but you'd have to position the load very precisely on the platform to lift that much. The Gap will lift 400 poun