Smaller Cheaper Robots

Lately (more like today) I’ve been interested in smaller cheaper robots. I’ve been looking at things like antweight battlebots and also the hobbyweight 12lb class. I’ve also been looking at super tiny pager motors and stuff like that. There is Vex but I’m looking for something a little more custom, not like a kit.

With how expensive robots are, as size goes down, price does too (although probably not by as much as it should)

So I have a few questions. Has anyone built any small or cheap robots? If so, let’s se them.

Also, I was wondering if anyone has been involved in smaller fighting robot competitions? If so, how is/was it and how do you get involved in them?

As much “kit” as Vex might be, it is still very customizable. Here shortly “Scofus” will be putting up pics of the bots we have been creating out of a single Vex kit. If you are interested in competitions for smaller and lighter robots, this year at the IRI there will be an entire Vex competition playing a completely new game designed by myself and Scott Ray. All the info is posted here:

It is the first ever open to the public Vex competition and like you said, its smaller, cheaper, and a lot more manageable.

When I get home I’ll have to remember to post a picture or 2 of some of my BEAM robots.

Or, better yet, check this out:

So cheap, and kinda fun.
One fun thing to do is to set up an obstacle course, and then set up several desk lamps. The only control you have is to turn the desk lamps on and off to “drive” the robot through the obstacle course.

I will take this opportunity to evangelize for BEST some more. Sadly, it’s not in CA. The farthest west that BEST has gotten is NM, but still.

Smaller: 24 lbs, 2’ x 2’ x 2’ cube.
Cheaper: Free for a team to compete… Well a $200 deposit that you get back as long as you return the controller and such. Though it does require atleast a small group of people for the team. And only one team per school.
Custom: You get four real motors (Globes), some speed controllers and servos. And a box of random metal, PVC, plywood, fasteners, etc. That’s all you get to work with, too. So it’s a bit of a challenge.
Timeframe: Six weeks to build, with a practice competition week 5. In the fall, even, so it’s perfectly compatible with FRC.
Downside: Just a 4-channel RC car controller. However, I’m seeing what I can do to get this fixed…

So, sadly not much help for you sanddrag, but I think it’s definitely an option for other FIRST teams looking for things to do or a way to warm up for the big show in january.


If you’re planning on getting into combat robotics, PM or email me, or just ask here. I have plenty of experience and competitions under my belt and am willing/know plenty of people who are willing to assist another person into the game.

There is a very high concentration of builders in California as well as tournaments. You should have plenty of places to play.

Here’s something to start you off: Robot Fighting League’s forum.

A member of my team (1418) knows Mark Tilden the guy who invented BEAM and really showed what you can do with simple parts and logic. He’s also the guy who made those neat toys.



And there’s BattlebotsIQ

Try micro mouse competitions. They use a “neural net” so theres no programming required. I’ve competed when i was younger and it’s actually quite fun, but if you really wanna go overboard some guys use ultrasonic sensors and stuff. Another cool competition is Beam drag racing. I’ve built 2, accept for a capacitor array for the motor and solar panel, there aren’t any electronics. If you want a guide i suggest the book “junkbots, bugbots, and bots on wheels”, the first couple of chapters are for people who have never soldered or don’t know how to use transistors, capacitors, etc. but it gives you many schematics and instructions for Beam robots. It gives detailed instructions for mini sumo, solar rollers, bicore headbots, etc. Who knows maybe we can even have mini competitions at regionals and at the nationals. O and about sozbots, I’m building a robo-one robot and so far I’ve spent about 400-500 dollars, but thats nothing to what sozbots are charging for their khr-1 kit ($1,650). So if anyone is planning on competing in Robo one, i suggest that you build your own.

A lab technician I knew about 15 years ago inisisted that his favorite programming language was solder.

ROFL!! I’ll use Solder over anything out there now. theres always a mechanical way to make things. Like the “night rider” LED thing i made for my team’s robot. It was pretty much a servo which turned a metal arm which came into contact with metal pins which completed a circuit, and then turned on a certain LED. No relays or circuit boards necessary. :smiley:

Smaller robots can be really fun. Here’s a 1lb combat bot I’m making for the RoboNexus expo in October.](

It uses 60:1 copal gearmotors ran at 14.8v off of two LiPoly packs in series, and a micro reciever from The Robot Marketplace

The speed control is an Ant-100 from

The chassis is a milled block of UHMW

The tires are from a local Slotcar Track

Beyond that, all you need is a transmitter(75mhz, normally) and it’s ready to go.

Note: this was milled on a mill from harborfrieght, and all the dimensions were figured out on the spot, so it is a bit sloppy, but perfectly fine for it’s purpose

Hmmm, i wish there was a robotics convention in NY. Robonexus is just too far away to go to.

Bit of a follow up on my last post, here’s the thing in action, but with one dead motor.

Angry Little Person drivetest