Zpatula is Team Run Amok's first beetleweight combat robot. Aaron Joerger campaigned antweight 'Mini Maxbot' at earlier daVinci Days robot combat tournaments, and was ready to step-up to the next weight class. We wanted to build something that reflected the philosophy of our other robot designs: simple, rugged, and effective.
Zpatula uses the chassis, drive train, and lifter gearbox from a BattleBots Pro-series R/C Biohazard toy. We liked the 6-wheel drive layout and the simple lifter mechanism. The radio gear was removed and replaced with a 4-channel FM MicroBotParts receiver, a SOZBots twin-channel motor controller for the drive motors, and a Team Delta R/C dual-relay board to control the lifter motor. I modified the lifter gearbox to lock the slip clutch and installed microswitches to limit travel of the gearbox in either direction. The main lifter arm was replaced by a shortened stainless steel BBQ spatula. Power comes from a 7.2 volt 700 mAH NiMHd battery pack. Top armor is 1/8" polycarbonate plastic, with 3/16" UHMW polyethylene plastic side and rear hinged skirts.
The 2004 daVinci Days robot combat tournament in Albany, Oregon was a round-robin event with each robot fighting every other robot one-on-one. Aaron and Zpatula defeated 'Riptyde', 'SLS', 'Trilocity', and 'Thug' on their way to victory. The tournament win qualified Zpatula for the Robot Fighting League National Championship in San Francisco.
For the Nationals, we replaced the 130-size lifter motor with a 180-size for more lifting power. The competition was fierce! After a tough judges' decision loss to Team Think Tank's 'VDB' in the first round, Aaron went on a tear! A victory over Team V's 'Beetle from Hell' was quickly followed by a KO win over Team Gausswave's 'Riptyde'. Then, he faced 'VDB' a second time. Aaron learned from his first loss and manhandled the smaller two-wheeled 'bot for a clear decision victory.
The fight for second place was against Team Tiki's 'Sandman'. Aaron was doing well and was setting 'Sandman' up for a big shove into the 'pit' when something went very wrong with our electronics and 'Zpatula' locked into an unresponsive slow circle motion! Very tough break for Aaron.
'Sandman' went on to the finals, where Team Nightmare's 'Wallop' remained undefeated for the win and the championship. Congratulations to Jim Smentowski and Team Nightmare!