I’ve decided to organize our prefight notes as a SWOT analysis. Briefly, that means we’ll be evaluating an upcoming fight in terms of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. At the end of this entry, I’ll evaluate our assessment for accuracy.

Strengths: We’re faster and a spinner. We added forks. Did I mention we’re a spinner? Fighting non-spinners as a spinner is a pretty good baseline advantage. 

Weaknesses: New robot, minimally tested weapon, haven’t hit anything yet. Some mild concerns about inverted performance since that is also untested. Craig Danby has brought back a robot he's been improving on rather than a totally fresh build. We've seen what he's been working on in the off-season, so we know it works and that it can definitely lift.

Opportunities: This is our first fight, so expectations aren’t that high. In part because we’re HyperShock, we’ve usually had gremlins in our first fight, but also because our last season’s performance was middling at best. Slammo! can’t do heavy damage to us, so worst case it shouldn’t be that expensive a fight, win or lose. 

Threats: Slammo! is using a high-manganese steel alloy for their chassis and armor. AR500 is about 1-3% manganese, Slammo!’s special material is reportedly 13%. Increasing the manganese content of steel increases its ductility. Ductility is a measure of how well a material stretches, but it also means it’ll hold a bend more readily. This higher ductility steel will be harder for us to tear into than most of the other armor we expect to encounter. Not only that, it has the same hardness as our weapons: 57 Rockwell. This combination is particularly well suited to giving us a hard time. 

We’re going into this fight with no idea if our magnesium weapon hub will explode. We switched the hub material to magnesium this year to save weight. Magnesium has many of the same properties as aluminum but the trade-off for being lighter is it’s more brittle. The AZ31B magnesium alloy we’re using is also somewhat softer than 6061 aluminum. We also had our machining supplier in China source the material and while we’ve had consistently great results with this supplier, Chinese material specs can be dubious. 


HyperShock BattleBots weight

Fight Configuration

We ran the AR500 main top plate with titanium aesthetic armor and aluminum side armor. The weapon is the dual 1.25” thick S7 tool steel disks on the magnesium hub. On the front, we attached our half-inch thick AR500 forks. The robot weighed in at 238lbs. 


HyperShock BattleBots Chair

Fight Intro

We felt the high-five gauntlet was a great way to introduce new viewers to the kind of fun our (massive) team likes to have. It felt exactly as awkward as it looked.

Our pre-fight showboat was swapping starting squares with Slammo!. We had discussed this with Craig just before the fight but hadn’t really communicated who would go which way. At least, we hadn’t said and confirmed it 20 times, so we waited for him to go and drove around the other side. We cleared this with the officials before the fights and they were extremely concerned about the robots touching before the fight and whether we would actually return to our assigned squares. After switching, we pantomimed back and forth through the dividing wall to confirm that we would drive back to our squares with the same rotation. The officials don’t like when we burn time like this, but we thought it was worth it.

This is my fourth season at BattleBots and I still get jitters before each fight, especially before the first fight of the season. 

HyperShock BattleBots Sparks


Fight commentary

This is my commentary on the fight as the weapon operator. We’ve settled on referring to our standard weapon speed as “70%” but it's truly just the throttle stick positioned as high up as it’ll go with my index finger between it and its maximum travel. I think it’s about 70%.

Conservative start for Will. He sees those big claws on Slammo and doesn’t want to get tangled up in all that. Will begins circling, feeling out the new HyperShock. He tightens in on Slammo and success! We’ve made contact, our forks got under the side of his forward drive pod and the hub hasn’t exploded. 

The weapon had been at a moderate level so we wouldn’t start to gyro and destabilize with all this tight turning as we batter Slammo around. Keeping the weapon at a medium speed helps ensure we get better engagement when we’re not driving fast.

We have our first encounter with the world’s angriest curb here. The shelf is surrounded by the same spike wall as the rest of the arena, it gouges our tire rims pretty severely, even when we don’t hit it violently. The red paint makes it extra visible. 

Slammo is now in the dreaded alley on the side of the Upper Deck shelf. The weapon is at nearly full power, but still not quite there. I’m still very worried about how the dual motor system is going to handle full power hits. HyperShock lines up another attack as we give the weapon full throttle. This is the moment I’ve been sweating over, maybe the disks explode as Witch Doctor’s had in Season 5. Maybe the hub finally gives out, or the weapon motors or ESCs. So many things could go wrong now. The hit connects with a low engagement speed, so the bite depth wasn’t too great. The weapon stopped despite still having throttle. I tried spinning it up just a little, but nothing. Decided to leave it be. Fortunately, Slammo wasn’t moving anymore.

Our record now stands at 1-0, 1 KO. 

HyperShock BattleBots Front

Post Fight

IT WORKS! The robot we’d slapped together in barely a week works! The crewbots roll HyperShock and Slammo out to the cool-down tent; we follow after our interviews. When we get outside and see the robots up close, Slammo took a beating. HyperShock is covered in scratches and bits of dazzle camo vinyl, but the only serious damage is one ruined tire rim. We don’t get into the guts beyond removing the battery box in the cool-down tent, so back to the pits we went. 

The first order of business after a celebratory huddle in the pits is photographing the damage. I’ve included the full damage detail album at the bottom of this blog.

We focused on the weapon system, trying to diagnose why it stopped. After removing the front cover, the issue was pretty immediately apparent: the half-a-slip-clutch on one side had unthreaded and jammed against the frame. The reason we have only half a slip clutch is we just didn’t have space for a whole one. The weapon assembly is just too wide to accommodate whole slip clutches. We also discovered that the motor on that side had ruined a bearing.

We determined the most reasonable response was to use our biggest wrenches to crank the slip clutches as tight as they’d go and then ask the Lincoln welders to tac them in place. 

After that problem had a workable solution, some of the team started the process of sanding and grinding down the burrs and scratches from the fight. It's important to go into each fight looking relatively clean, you don’t want the judges to mistake old damage for new. They’re supposed to ignore the damage you come in with, but they don’t get a close look at the robots before the fights. It’s a rare occasion that the judges go into the arena after a fight to inspect the robots anyway. We use a combination of car paint repair pens and sharpies to cover most of the blemishes as well as replace any torn or missing vinyl. 


HyperShock BattleBots Teeth

As you can see in the picture above, our weapon teeth are mildly chipped. Otherwise, they’re perfectly fine to keep using. After each fight, Collin grinds and sands the weapon disks back into a smooth, sharp tooth. We can only repair a disk a few times before it becomes too damaged to be made sharp again. There are plenty of opponents where we wouldn’t bother to run fresh sharp teeth, so even badly chipped disks are likely to see more combat. 


So how did that SWOT analysis play out?

Strengths: Our speed didn’t really come into play directly, but I think we were edging Slammo out on drive and it definitely worked to our advantage. Being a spinner worked out, we pummeled our opponent into a definitive KO in under a minute. Our forks got under Slammo consistently. 

Weaknesses: The weapon worked and worked well. The slip clutch did fail and jam though. Invertibility didn’t come into play, so I’ll leave that one for another day. 

Opportunities: We managed expectations and delivered a solid fight, even if it was a little short. I’ll take definitive and short in a first fight. We only took minimal damage, the worst of it coming from the arena.

Threats: Slammo’s armor held up well, but we still managed to bend its frame. I can’t confidently say why, but the claimed hardness of Slammo’s armor didn’t seem to be a major problem for us. We weren’t hitting as hard as we should be able to, so that may have spared our disks.

The magnesium hub didn’t explode! We’d brought all of our Season 4 and 5 weapons as backups in case this plan fell through. After thoroughly checking the hub, particularly the spline, we were satisfied with its performance and felt much more confident about using it.


HyperShock BattleBots Bent Rim
{Front all scratched up}
HyperShock BattleBots Tire

{Front right tire, bent from hitting the shelf (Bid on eBay)}

HyperShock BattleBots Weapon Damage

{Another view of chipped teeth}

HyperShock BattleBots clutch

{The unscrewed and jammed weapon slip clutch}

HyperShock BattleBots bearing damage

{Ruined motor bearing}

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