This is an inactive archive copy of the 'Ask Aaron Archive' web page which accompanies this Ask Aaron page from 2005. The current Ask Aaron page is here: Ask Aaron - Combat Robot Q&A

The Ask Aaron Archive!
Earlier Q & A about Combat Robotics

Aaron Joerger at Robotica 1The main 'Ask Aaron' webpage is overflowing! Here are some older answers that my son and team member Aaron Joerger (age 13) gave at the Ask Aaron Main Page that there just isn't room for. Go to the main page to ask Aaron a question about combat robots.

Q: The Dutch robots are getting very fierce, how long do you think you'll last against Gravity or do you think you'll win? (A.J Hamilton)

A: We haven't seen Gravity. The Seventh Wars aren't being shown in the U.S. yet, so I can't really say. All flippers are dangerous, but any robot can be beaten.

Q: Is there any chance and spare weight to fit wheelguards on The Gap? (A.J. Hamilton)

A: Propellerhead hit one of The Gap's wheels so hard it broke the gearbox. That was a freak hit and we haven't had any trouble since then, but before The Gap competes again, there will be wheel guards! We have plenty of weight allowance left.

By the way I've e-mailed some plans for a Run Amok 2 for Robotica. Hope you and your Dad still have some money left.

Thanks, AJ. Nice looking chassis, and I see you put in our removable wedge and color scheme.

Q: What did your dad say about the plan of Run Amok 2? (A.J Hamilton)

A: Mark J. here: nice design, A.J. Strong tubular perimeter chassis, plenty of wheel protection, and it looks like it's invertible. The wedge design is clever, but a standard wedge is tough to get thru the obstacles with. I think I'll go with a boat-prow pointed front to push the debris to the sides if we go back to Robotica.

Q: How much damage did you take from Revolutionist and Trackzilla and have you got any photos? (Adam Hamilton also known as A.J, ring a bell?)

A: Trackzilla hit our front wheel so hard that the steering arm tore away from the weld and left my dad with very little steering. Run Away couldn't dodge Tut-Tut and landed on it's side. No other real damage.

For the tag-team match against The Revolutionist and Spin Doctor, my dad stayed up all night working to repair the damage Run Away took from Destructive Criticism earlier in the tournament. He had to make a whole new rear axle assembly out of scrap parts. I got one good hit in on The Revolutionist before the rebuilt wheel collapsed and our drive chain came off. There is a good scar on the front wedge of Run Away from our one hit.

I don't have any good damage photos -- I guess nobody likes to take a picture of their beat-up 'bot.

Q: How much did you and your dad spend building Run Amok? (Jonathan R.)

A: Mark J. here: Let me take this one, Aaron.

Run Amok herself cost about $1700 in parts and purchased services (machining, specialty welding, etc.). However, our costs to prepare for the Robotica competition covered more than just Run Amok. In addition to the 'bot itself we had spare parts (motor, steering servos, speed controller, drive chain, assorted fasteners and hardware), our high-amperage battery charger (built that ourselves), and the shipping crate.

Our total expenses with the 'bot in the crate, spares packed, ready to go was almost exactly $3000. We broke one steering servo during testing and used up the main drive motor at Robotica, but we came back with a spare speed controller and two good servos. That spare speed controller eventually went into 'The Gap'.

Q: Is The Gap entering Robot Wars Extreme Warriors 3? (Adam Hamilton)

A: We haven't heard anything about another Extreme Warriors competition. If it happens, we'll be there!

Q: I live in Australia and I want to make a minibot or antweight 'bot. I am a subscriber to "Real Robots", so I have an idea on robot building. What materials should I use that are cheap, or are there any cheap kits?

A: In general, "cheap" and "combat robot" are not a good combination because somebody will combine "expensive" and "combat robot" and tear you to bits. But, with smaller 'bots, you can have a lot of fun without spending much money. My antweight 'Mini Max Bot' started as a remote controlled skateboard toy. I stripped off the unwanted parts, added some scoops built from old dinner forks, and beat up a few 'bots. It won't beat my dad's antweight (yet), but it's great fun! I've seen larger converted R/C toys do well in classes up to 12 pounds. They have to be the best fun for the money!

Q: What is a robot war competition? How do you win?

A: Never seen Robot Wars? It's pretty simple -- two big (220 pound) remote controlled robots enter a sealed box about the size of a basketball court. Destroy the other robot and you win. You can crush, smash, pierce, saw, or flip the other 'bot. You can throw them over the arena rail. You can push them into the pit, or roast them over the flames. Just do NOT turn your back on the 'house robots' that patrol the edges of the arena.

Q: Where is the best place to start a new hobby like BattleBots? How do you draw a bot and get every thing in the right place? (ziploc27)

A: Two great questions! Start out small -- it's a lot less expensive to learn from mistakes you make on a 12 pound robot than on a 220 pound monster. You can find a list of local competitions at -- if you're lucky, there will be a competition close to where you live. Study their rules, watch a live competition, learn what you can from the internet, and ask specific questions of the builders. Check out the library and bookstores for help on building robots, too. has lots of robot books.

Second question: 'bot builders design and build 'bots all different ways. Some use computer drawing software to design every last detail before they buy parts. Some build exact models from cardboard to see how things fit. Some just buy lots of parts and see if they can fit them together like a jigsaw puzzle. I like to list all the parts I think I'll need, sketch a drawing, and add up the weights of the parts to make sure I'm under the weight limit. If you stick with proven parts that other builders use, you won't get into too much trouble.

Q: How would you recommend that I go about getting a sponsor and building a robot and also entering robot wars as it is a big dream of mine. (dragonfan_sean)

A: Sponsors don't give money to unproven competitors. Start small with a robot you can afford to build with your own money. If you can do well, you'll have something to show to people who might give some sponsorship. One thing to remember, Robot Wars does not allow sponsor stickers on the robot.

Q: Can you ask your Dad if he could open a web-page of the Robotica 3 competitors?

A: Mark J. here: I don't have much information on the Robotica 3 competitors, but I've put up what I have on the gallery page. I also put together a full table of results for each of the Robotica competitions. Go to Who Won? and follow the Robotica 3 link. There is also an archived Robotica 3 competitor's page here: TLC Robotica 3 -- but no pictures.

Q: Could you give me a layout on how to build a robot with tank treads? I need to know how a robot moves and operates. (Ramon)

A: Tank tread 'bots work just the same way as most wheeled 'bots. Motors drive wheels (or treads) on either side of the 'bot. Each side has its own motor speed controller. If the motors on one side are going faster than those on the other side, the 'bot turns. There are some very good books on building combat robots that include good designs. Check your local library.

Q: Hello! I am almost 14 and I live in NJ. I am wondering how I can get started in combat robotics and make a combat robot. I have many books but not a lot of money. (William S.)

A: Big robots are expensive, but there are organized competitions for robots as small as one pound. Find an event in your area. The Robot Fighting League ( is a good place to start. Get to an event and see what really goes on. Talk to some competitors. Small 'bots can be fun!

Q: Which 3 bot's do you fear the most ? (A.J. Hamilton)

A: Scroll down to the third question on this page.

Q: What 'bots do you fear, A.J.?

A: The 3 robots I fear are The Revolutionist, your Gap, and Dantomkia.

Q: Sorry I forgot to put my name on those last two questions but on the photo of you at the top of this page you aren't looking happy. Why not? (A.J. Hamilton)

A: The last match of Robotica happened at about 3 o'clock in the morning. It was a very busy day and I was really tired. The photo was taken in the pits after our win, and I was about half asleep.

Q: Is there any 'bot you would like to get revenge on?

A: There are a couple of 'bots I'd like another chance to fight, but not exactly for revenge. Sir Killalot did try to throw us out of the arena for no reason, and I'd love to catch him with his back turned for a little payback. We didn't really have much of a chance to battle with General Chompsalot 'cause we were so badly damaged in an earlier fight -- I'd like to do that again.

Q: But I thought you & General Chompsalot were Tag team terror partners, you've even got his link ( on your web page. So why do you want to battle him?

A: Yes, the guys on Team Jawbreaker are our friends. They are really nice guys. We met them at Robotica and we were tag team partners at Robot Wars. When we met them in a battle at the next Robot Wars, Run Away had been badly damaged in an earlier match by Destructive Criticism and we just couldn't show off much. General C. even had to grab us and pull us away from the house 'bots to save us!

Fighting robots is fun. You play baseball and football with your friends, so why not battle robots with them?

Q: If Run Amok & The Gap had to face all of the R.W. house robots including Mr. Psycho, Growler & the newest house bot Cassius Chrome what do you think would happen? (A.J. Hamilton)

A: That's a lot of robot destruction to face, A.J. In a situation like that, the pit can be your best friend -- I think I'd open it and drive in!

Q: Do you or your dad have plans for another robot? (Jonathan R., New Castle,PA)

A: We always have plans! Right now, our 12 pound "hobbyweight" robot 'Nasty Glass of Water' is getting a complete rebuild and a new lifting fork. On the drawing board is a new heavyweight designed specially as a spinner killer. Watch the Run Amok homepage for updates.

Q: I think Run Away/Amok & The Gap are so good, the Robot Wars Co. should sell pullback toys of them. In fact, I've been e-mailing them to make them do it. What do you think about this plan for your EVIL MACHINES? (A.J Hamilton)

A: It's good to have a fan that thinks so well of our 'bots! Run Amok was actually the very first combat robot to have its own 'toy'. The best part is the toy is free and it can be downloaded here. The Gap would be hard to do in a paper model -- it probably needs a pull-back toy.

Q: You've asked a few questions of me, A.J. -- how about answering one for me? If you could drive any of the British Robot Wars robots, which one would you choose?

A: I would choose Storm II because its like Run Amok. I'm also a model maker I've made Run Amok and your evil Gap (the flipper was so good I flipper my Chaos 2 model out of the window!) (A.J Hamilton)

Cool, A.J.! I have a Chaos 2 model also. I'd like to see a picture of your models!

Q: Are you pleased to be the son of the Robotica season 1 champion? (A.J Hamilton)

A: Robotica was great fun for me and my dad. He brought Run Amok to my school and drove it while I answered questions. I was very proud. My dad and I spend a lot of time talking about robots and ideas I have. The big Robotica trophy is in our living room. I look at it every day.

Q: If Run Amok/Away & The Gap where facing Razer & Hypno-disk (of all things) what would you do? (A.J Hamilton)
P.S even though I'm English I'd vote for Run Away & The Gap.

A: Thanks for your vote of support, A.J.!

If this was a tag-team match, we'd have to pair Run Away against Razer at the start 'cause Run Away doesn't do well against spinning weapons. We'd pull the front wedge off Run Away before the match; there's a steel bumper underneath that would make a good anti-crusher defense. I think this is still legal under the current rules 'cause we wouldn't be adding anything, just taking a panel away. Run Away is so tall that it might not even fit in Razers crushing jaw. Our very high ground clearance and pushing power could be a plus here.

The Gap would pair off against HypnoDisk. If we could keep the very long and low nose of The Gap pointed toward HypnoDisk, I think we could get under their weapon with our extra-long flipping arm.

I don't know if we'd win, but it would be a good fight!

Q: Hello are you going to compete in U.K Robot Wars series 7? (A.J Hamilton)

A: We tried very hard to make it to the 7th wars, but we just couldn't interest Robot Wars in letting a U.S. team come over for this one. They are having some trouble with the new network and all the other changes, I guess. We'll try again next time.

Q: I think if Run Away competeted in the UK Robot Wars he would win what do you think?

A: We didn't really build Run Away for Robot Wars -- it was a modified version of Run Amok with a big weapon bolted to the top. We wanted to go to Robot Wars and learn all we could, then build a robot especially for the show. 'The Gap' is our Robot Wars competitor. We think we have the bugs out of The Gap and are ready to take on the UK bots.

Q: What is your favorite type of 'bot weapon? (Jonathan R.)

A: I like 'bots that have a lot of pushing power and good control. I think the best weapon is to be all over your opponent and don't let up -- hit 'em 'til they break!

Q: I am 12 too and love Robot Wars and roboteering. I am starting to build my first bot. What should I do first to start on my bot and where do I find the best parts such as cheap electronic speed controllers. You have a cool bot. Maybe some day we can meet in the arena. I am hoping their will be a US robot wars sometime soon. Hope to see you there. (Coleman)

A: Before you start building a 'bot there are a few things to take care of. First, read the rules for the competition you plan to enter very carefully. You don't want to build your 'bot only to find out you aren't legal for the competition! Next, take time to find as many websites from competitors who have been to competitions like the one you want to enter. Read everything they have to say. Finally, draw up a design that you can actually build. The coolest design won't do you any good if you don't have the skills (or money) to build it.

The words 'best' and 'cheap' don't go together in robot building -- especially with speed controllers. You don't want cheap parts that will put you out of the competition if they fail. See what other builders that have been successful use in their 'bots. It won't be cheap speed controllers! For good parts, try Team Delta (, and the marketplace at

Q: What's your best tip for robot building? (Jonathan R.- New Castle,PA)

A: You're getting to be like an old friend, Jonathan! My best robot tip is to make sure the basics of the chassis and drive are really well built. Lots of 'bots lose matches because something really simple wasn't designed well -- like a wheel falls off or a wire comes loose. The most insane weapon is not any use at all if the chassis or motor fails.

Q: Will you and you dad build a new 'bot to compete in Robotica? (Jonathan R.- New Castle,PA)

A: We'd be very happy to build a new robot to defend our Robotica championship. If they have another Robotica, we hope we're invited.

Q: Do you plan on making your own battlebot someday? (Jonathan R.)

A: I'm working my way up the weight classes. I've already made my own antweight robot, "Mini Maxbot". I started with an R/C skateboard toy and added some dinner forks as scoops. It did pretty well in its first tournament. It won its first match, but then I had to fight my dad in the second round. No mercy! I'll work up to heavyweights some day.

Aaron's antweight robot - Mini Maxbot
Mini Maxbot

Q: Do you have any combat robot plans you could send me?

A: There are some really good books about building combat robots that have come out in just the last few months. My favorite is "Combat Robots Complete" by our friend Chris Hannold who has competed in Robotica and Robot Wars. It comes with several sets of plans on CD ROM. You can read more about his book here: Combat Robots Complete by Chris Hannold

Aaron's Robot Haiku:

My robot can flip
your robot any old day.
See you in the ring.

Q: Will you ever compete in BattleBots? (Anon)

A: It's too expensive for us to compete at BattleBots. Maybe if we get a sponsor willing to pay our entry fee and travel expenses we might go. It's a lot of work and if you lose your first match you just go home. We're having a lot of fun competing at Robot Wars!

Q: Do You think that you and your dad will ever rebuild Run Amok and compete again in Robotica? (Zach Y)

A: Run Amok has been rebuilt to her original design and is fully operational -- but she isn't well suited to the events at the current Robotica. If we were invited back, we would build a new robot for the new events.

Q: Do they make robot kits? (Anon)

A: Sure... but not combat robot kits. You can find lots of robot kits at that will teach you a lot about robotics -- plenty of books too. Combat robot kits would be a bad idea. The best thing about combat robots is that they are all different. If a lot of them started being the same it would be lame. Design and build your own!

Q: What robots do you fear the most? (Merrick R.-Raleigh, NC)

A: Razer -- the world champion might punch holes in us; Sir Killalot -- every robot builder is afraid of an 1100 pound opponent; Toro -- he might flip us really high.

Q: What's your favorite robot? (Anon.)

A: My favorite robot is middleweight Hazard. I really like the spinning blade, and Tony B. is a great driver.

Q: What were the best parts about being in the pit area at Robot Wars? (Lance D. - Azusa, CA)

A: I liked being able to see all the other robots close-up. I especially liked the British robots "Tornado" and "Razer". The American robot "Tricerabot" was very impressive at the first Robot Wars Extreme Warriors -- he almost pushed Sir Killalot into the pit! My friend Jerome had an impressive robot named "Unibite" that was pretty strong. It was the first robot to go into the "drop zone". Being in the pits was awesome!

Run Amok Combat Robotics homepage