How and why we do robot combat:
For years I had been taking vcrs apart for the motors and gears with the intention to building a robot which had been my goal after seeing R2D2 in Star Wars. Before that my favorite toy was lego's and Knex. I would buy boxes of lego's and as soon as I got home the instructions would disappear and I would begin my own creations. My first actual creation was a phone headset. I took apart a toy headset walkie-talkie and old phone and combined it using bell wire, wire cutters, and a hot glue gun. It only worked intermittently because at that point I hadn't even heard of a soldering iron so the wire connections were a bit unstable having twisted and glued them together.
Then I saw Battlebots on Comedy Central in 1999 or 2000. This reignited that goal to build a robot. I began to assemble those vcr motors into a "robot" that would look like R2D2 and get me sodas, or so I thought... I also began searching for any information I could find online about robots. Concentrating mostly on hobby robots that only weighed a couple of pounds.
Next up was a fishing trip that probably ended up changing my life. My Dad and I often went deep sea fishing with his buddies out of Cape Cod. I brought along some of the pictures of my robot and we got to talking about Battlebots. We came up ideas for liquid nitrogen weapons to freeze the other bot and easily shatter. We talked about EMP weapons and like most newbie's we joked about mounting shotguns onto the bot. "Why don't any of the people on the show do these??? It would be sooo cool and effective", we all wondered. If your unfamiliar with the sport, your probably thinking the same thing, but the answer is pretty simple. Its against the rules.
Rich LaPlante, a very experienced programmer, was there. He wanted to build a fleet of multibots all autonomous to enter. Seeming genuinely interested he got the gears turning in my head. What before was just a really cool TV show was now something I could do. I wanted to build a Battlebot! As soon as I got home I was on the computer researching the show and how I could build one of these amazing machines and compete. I discovered the Battlebots forum and did as was recommended, read back into the past posts. I spent months just reading back on the forum learning as much as I could. However at that time I was still too clueless to understand much of anything and was essentially a newbie.
I was one of many of what they called SPNs or South Park Newbies of which there was a great flood of about the same time I showed up. The only difference with me was I didn't find out about Battlebots because it was on after South Park. I think I was just channel surfing. But as a result of the flood a test was instated to keep people who didn't belong on the forum out because of the low signal to noise ratio. This was an attempt to fix that. Unfortunately the test confused me at the time and came about just I was leaving for Maine for two weeks and by the time I got back I had found something else to occupy my interests for a few months. Sometime later I decided to get back into the forum, the test was gone and I regained access. From there my voracious appetite for knowledge exploded and I read until my eyes hurt. That 2 week winter break I spent every day reading from 11:00 am to 3:00 am every post I could find. After a few months of researching I began my design on my first robot. Which later became the heavyweight Consistently Inconsistent.
Since then I have gained more practical experience then I could have anywhere else. I have built 10+ robots and have met some of the most amazing people and made some awesome friendships. You can find out more about my adventures in the event reports and various other parts of the website.
Brian Benson Jr
This is me at Motorama 2008 being presented the "Coolest Robot Award", the guy that started the team. I am currently 20 and a Junior at WPI studying Mechanical Engineering.
Brian Benson Sr
This is my dad. He's the guy to go to when you can't figure something out or there is no apparent solution because he will probably have a solution. And if you don't know how to do something, he probably knows 3 different ways.
This is my Mom, she provides the non technical support. Although she can't make it to all the events she makes it all happen behind the scenes.
Not so active:
This is the guy that while he doesn't know much about this whole "robot thing" he makes up for it with his willingness to try anything I tell him that doesnt directly threaten his life. He comes over and helps me get the bots done when I have 6 months of work to do in 4 weeks.
Courtney tags along with Joe, she keeps my shop in order. She's also willing to work on most any part of the bot which is a huge asset. If things go as planned she may be building her own bot.... *evil laugh*
Jon was a HUGE help at my first event Robocide. Coming over a few days before we left and making sure the bot got done he was invaluable. He also came along for the long drive and amazing event. Also mechanical illiterate he made up for it with his great work ethic. He made sure the bot was polished like a mirror and that the stickers were put on with professional expertise.
Rich is the guy I gotta give credit to for getting me into this crazy sport. While I don't believe it was intentional it made all the difference. Hopefully someday we can do that fleet of autonomous combat robots! At the moment we are working on a java based autonomous robot that will do a wide range of tasks.
Copyright 2008 Robotic Hobbies