Pi Wars ll (2015) round up!

This is a little late, found this write up about my time at the second Pi Wars event in 2015. Cue video of clocks running backwards and sound of ticking clocks!

I started writing this post on the Tuesday after Pi Wars. This year’s contest was better in every way than last years, all credit to Mike and Tim for raising the barrier this year. I also want to thank Mike, Tim, the judges and jam makers for their hard work in making this the best Pi Wars yet. This year’s contest was held at the “Cambridge Computer Lab” same venue where the Raspberry Pi Birthday party was held earlier this year, and it was the perfect venue for the event.

So on to the contest, my first challenge was the Line Following challenge, this year’s course was supplied by Cannybots, and was a lot better than last year’s ad hoc course. In my opinion the course was not without it’s faults, the white band around the black line was not large enough for large sensor arrays and if a robot when off line, the green grass could confuse some line following sensors. I also feel that some of the bends were too hard on larger robots. However, to my surprise Revenge managed to complete a whole lap without fault in just over 60 seconds and took second place!

My second event was the 3 point turn challenge, I was worrying about this challenge, my tests at home and Makespace were very hit and miss, during my tests, I realised that it was very important to make sure that Revenge was in the correct position to start with even the smallest error being magnified by the end of the run. My first two runs went well, with Revenge returning even returning to the start box with all six wheels in the box! The last run was still OK, but finished without any wheels in the start box. My best time was under 10 seconds and second place.

The next challenge was the straight line speed test, for this test you could chose to manually robot, or run for the robot to run the autonomously. I decided to control the robot manually. Out of the three runs, I had two clear runs, and was the six fastest robot.

The final challenge before lunch was Pi Noon, a stand off with a pin and a balloon. Protect your balloon while trying to pop your opponent’s balloon. I decided to attack from the side and hopefully pop their balloon before mine was popped. I won, the plan worked, I popped my opponent’s balloon in under seven seconds!

The next challenge was the one I was looking forward to with a little dread. The obstacle course, with the Spinny Disc of Doom. The start of the course was a set of doubles, I hit them at full speed, Revenge took off, at this point I realised I should have removed PyroBot before starting the course because PyroBot’s head detached when hitting the first bump, Revenge hits the second bump and grabs some air with four wheels leaving the ground! Lucky PyroBots head detaches during the turn, next up is the field of marbles, each disturbed marble costs 5 second time penalty! Crossing the marble field Revenge dislodges about 6 marbles, next it’s the climb up to the Spinny Disc of Doom, finally fight my way pass with Revenge pushing the barriers out of the way. next was the exit ramp and the seesaw and on to the finish line. Amazingly, I had the 5th fastest time!

Skittles was the next challenge, I added a ball guide to Revenge. The plan was simple, take a run up and hit the ball, this worked for the most part and I only faulted on one run. Seems that my Robotic Skittles is pretty much the same as I play in real life, badly! how ever lady luck was looking down on me and Revenge placed in 11th place!

Up next was Proximity Alert my final challenge of the day apart from the Hi Noon battles, more on them soon. I decided that I wanted 3 clean runs and decided that that was more important than risking it for the glory. I aimed for Revenge to stop about 10mm from the wall, happy the 3 runs were about that with 10, 11, 12mm runs. I like this challenge and was happy that I did not muck it up this year! this year was a major improvement on last years results and I am happy to report that I placed 8th.

at the first Pi Wars, PyroBot was pitted against the largest robot in the contest, a six wheel pirate gallon called “BiggerTrak” as PyroBot was the smallest competing robot, it was a little bias but great fun and entertainment. At the end of the battle PyroBot swore that he would return for this revenge! I really enjoyed the Pi Noon battles and with a little luck managed to get to the semi-finals and got to battle PyroBots arch nemesis Leo White the builder/operator of “BiggerTrack” his year robot was called Optimus Pi, So it was a grudge match, Revenge went in hard, trying to pop the balloon and missed. When trying to escape before his balloon was popped Optimus Pi dragged his pin across Revenges balloon and “BANG”. Nooooo, Revenges balloon was popped, however it was a fair fight, and PyroBot went home with his head held high.

An important part of Pi Wars are the non physical parts of the contest.

Build quality, how well is your robot built.

Happy to say that Revenge was placed in second place, with first place going to Tom’s Triangula, first and second place going to two Makespace robots!

Aesthetics – how cool/pretty does your robot look.

Revenge was placed in 3rd place with Triangula taking 1st place again.

Best coding – how well your robot is coded

I managed to get my code in on time, and amazing was placed in 5th place! you can find the code submitted plus the code Revenge was running on the day.

Blogging – blogging about your build and the run up to PiWars

This took me completely by surprise, I won! I had a quick chat with Lisa, who told me that my blog was selected because of the way, I had explained why I selected​ the parts, and programming for the challenges.

So how did I do? I’m still shell shocked, I won the greater than A4 class of robots. so there’s no need to make my own Pi Wars trophy.

So what’s next, it is almost certain that I will not be entering Pi Wars next year. Billy has been talking about entering his own robot which will be designed, built and coded by him. I hope that he does and are looking forward to supporting him. Watch this space for details.

Well Bill did build a robot, but did not take part. Due to being laid off by PiBorg in January 2016, I was able to take part in the 3rd Pi Wars on 2st April 2017. Really shocked to take 1st place in the pro’s/veterans category!