Pete Smith


Pete's Articles

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TIPS FROM THE PITS: Getting Connected
August 2013, Page 33
The “magic smoke” from burned out motors and electronic speed controllers (ESCs) is inevitable in combat robotics, and getting those parts replaced quickly can make the difference between working your way through the brackets to the finals and an ignominious forfeit and early exit.

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BUILD REPORT: A Wider Bite
August 2014, Page 28
Afew months ago, I was making a batch of drums for my Saifu Ant kits when I received an order for a wider drum for a customer who was building his own chassis.

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BUILD REPORT: Printing Cheese
July 2014, Page 41
The 3D printing phenomenon had more or less passed me by. I had learned to use one at the TechShop in Raleigh, NC, but that wonderful resource closed days after my course and I never got a chance to use their machines.

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BUILD REPORT: Isotelus Rex — Part 4: The Sprint to the Finish Line
May 2014, Page 35
In Part 3 of this series, I had received most of the parts and started work on the chassis. Is this part, I will put together the drive motors, complete the rest of the parts, and assemble the bot. I was on a tight deadline as there was only four weeks to go before the bot’s first event ...

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PRODUCT REVIEW: Making Tracks
March 2014, Page 38
Pololu produces an interesting set of components that allow you to have caterpillar type tracks on your small 250 g to 1 lb combat bots.

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BUILD REPORT: Isotelus Rex — Part 3
March 2014, Page 28
In Parts 1 and 2 of this series, I showed how I designed my new 12 lb combat robot, and then revised the design so that it would meet the weight restrictions.

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EVENT REPORT: Franklin 2013 — Fall Fun in Philly
January 2014, Page 39
The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia (www2.fi.edu) hosted its 7th annual robotic combat event on September 21, 2013. The Institute provides the venue arena and N.E.R.C. (www.nerc.us) organizes the event.

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BUILD REPORT: Isotelus Rex — Part 1
January 2014, Page 30
Aweight class in combat robotics can be dominated — often for years — by one particular bot.

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PRODUCT REVIEW: Snap Hubs
August 2013, Page 32
Kitbots and FingerTech Robotics have joined forces to develop a new range of hubs for smaller bots.

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PRODUCT REVIEW: HobbyKing HK4B6 Charger
July 2013, Page 39
It is convenient to have all four batteries on one charger, and it takes up less space in the pits. It’s also a little cheaper than having four separate chargers, but it could also mean that if it fails you may lose all four at once.

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TIPS FROM THE PITS: Speeding Up a Motor Change
June 2013, Page 38
Half the battle in combat robotics is having your bot repaired completely in time for the next fight. This is the first of a series of short articles detailing some ways to make that just a little bit easier.

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EVENT REPORT: Motorama 2013
May 2013, Page 32
Just this February, the Northeast Robotics Club (www.nerc.us) hosted the 11th annual combat event at the 2013 Motorama motorsports extravaganza and custom car show (www.motorama events.com) in Harrisburg, PA.

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Is This the Future of Combat Robotics?
April 2013, Page 29
There have been whisperings and rumors of a revolutionary new drive system for over a year now, but details have been hard to come by until our photographer got a picture at a recent late night test session in a barn in rural Pennsylvania. Our contact (who wished to remain anonymous) could give us only a few details of what she called “hoverbots.”

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BUILD REPORT: Mini Bot Hockey Bots — Part 3
April 2013, Page 26
In Part 2 of this series, I discussed how I made the chassis and drive train. In this part, I will show you how I wired the bots and set up the transmitter and receiver.

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Building a Large Scrolling Display — Part 2
March 2013, Page 32
Buoyed up by my success in getting one panel to work, I decided to add a second panel to increase the impact of the display and to make it a little easier to read.

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PARTS IS PARTS: Product Review: OrangeRx T-SIX 2.4 GHz Transmitter
March 2013, Page 30
The OrangeRx range of 2.4 GHz spread spectrum DSM2 receivers (available from HobbyKing) has proved to be very useful in combat robotics over the last couple of years as they provide a cheaper alternative to the Spektrum receivers required by the popular DX6e and DX6i transmitters.

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BUILD REPORT: Mini Bot Hockey Bots — Part 2
March 2013, Page 26
In Part 1 of this series, I covered the design of a new mini bot.

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Building a Large Scrolling Display
February 2013, Page 43
Ioften attend shows where I’m either demonstrating combat robots and bot hockey, or as a sponsor providing prizes of Kitbots products. In order to inform the public about the event or the products, I have several banners to hang up on the walls, plus I also hand out business cards and information sheets when I have the time. It would be useful, however, to have a more eye-catching and informative way of passing on the information.

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BUILD REPORT: Mini Bot Hockey Bots — Part 1
February 2013, Page 33
Playing bot hockey is great fun, and it’s a big hit with the crowds at events. I have my own full team of 15 lb class bots.

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BUILD REPORT: Finding a Happy Balance
December 2012, Page 26
Today's Beetles and Ants have drums and beater bars that can spin in excess of 20,000 rpm.

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BUILD REPORT: Siafu: An Army of Ants — Part 4
September 2012, Page 30
In this final part of my Army of Ants series, I will describe how I made the drum for Siafu and completed the rest of the bot build.

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BUILD REPORT: Siafu: An Army of Ants — Part 3
August 2012, Page 28
In this part, I will show how the parts were manufactured, provide a list of the other parts used, and how they went together to make a drivable chassis.

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BUILD REPORT: Siafu: an Army of Ants — Part 2
July 2012, Page 30
In Part 2, I will detail the design of the drive motor mounts, the hubs and wheels, the drum and its mountings, and the design of the front wedge profile.

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BUILD REPORT: Horses for Courses
July 2012, Page 28
Combat robotics is — in many ways — a game of Rock-Paper- Scissors. If everything else is equal, a brick will beat a spinner; a flipper will beat a brick; and a spinner will beat a flipper.

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EVENT REPORT: Happy 10th Birthday for Motorama – Motorama 2012
June 2012, Page 34
This February 17th–19th, the Northeast Robotics Club (www.nerc.us) hosted the 10th annual combat event at the Motorama Motorsports Extravaganza and Custom Car Show in Harrisburg, PA.

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BUILD REPORT: Siafu and the Army of Ants — Part 1
June 2012, Page 32
I decided my first serious Ant would be a drum bot.

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Product Review: Spektrum DX5e 2.4 GHz Transmitter
May 2012, Page 31
The 2.4 GHz spread spectrum transmitters and receivers have transformed the R/C market.

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PARTS IS PARTS: Product Review
May 2012, Page 30
Product Review: Turnigy Simplex 1 - 4 Cell LiPo/ LiFe AC/DC Charger.

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EVENT REPORT: “Beware the Hobby that Eats” (Benjamin Franklin): Franklin Institute 2011
February 2012, Page 31
The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, PA (www2.fi.edu) was host to the Northeast Robotics Club’s (www.nerc.us) 5th Autumn Event last year on October 15th.

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DRILL BABY, DRILL. OR, THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY
December 2011, Page 35
For about a decade or more, it has been possible to get cheap cordless drills from Harbor Freight (www.harborfreight.com).

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PARTS IS PARTS: Fine-Tuning a Brushless Electronic Speed Controller
November 2011, Page 30
My 12 lb Hobbyweight bar spinner Surgical Strike had a problem at the last couple of events...

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EVENT REPORT: Clash of the Bots 2 by Pete Smith
October 2011, Page 32
The Schiele Museum (www.schielemuseum.org) in Gastonia, NC held their second “Clash of the Bots” open day on Saturday, July 23rd.

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End Of The Alkalines
October 2011, Page 41
Iwrote an article about programming cheap 2.4 GHz HK-T6A transmitters that appeared in the January’11 issue of SERVO. In that, I commented on how it’s probably a good idea to convert from the standard AA alkaline batteries to rechargeable batteries.

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BUILD REPORT: A Team Building Exercise
October 2011, Page 29
My Kitbots bot hockey team “Team Scotch Pies” had competed in one event and taken part in a couple of demonstrations, but the bots were retasked for a summer camp and were less than ideal.

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BUILD REPORT: Trilobite — a Tough Beetleweight Brick/Wedge
October 2011, Page 26
Ihave long held the opinion that a good wedge/brick is the best type of bot for most beginners in the sport.

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BUILD REPORT: Building a Better Beatle Beater Bar — Part 2
August 2011, Page 28
This month, I will show how to create the axle, drive pulley, and flanges.

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EVENT REPORT: Robot Rumble
July 2011, Page 32
The Museum of Life and Science in Durham, NC held its fourth annual “Robot Rumble” on Saturday April 16, 2011.

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BUILD REPORT: Building a Better Beatle Beater Bar – Part 1
July 2011, Page 30
A higher rotational speed gives a bigger hit but it also reduces the bite.

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The Reality of TV
June 2011, Page 32
An Opinion Piece by Pete Smith

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EVENT REPORT: Motorama 2011
May 2011, Page 31
Each February, the Northeast Robotics Club (www.nerc.us) hosts their biggest competition of the year as part of the Motorama motorsports extravaganza and custom car show (www.motoramaevents.com) in Harrisburg, PA.

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MANUFACTURING: Hobbyweight Weapon Blade and Hub
March 2011, Page 32
Hobbyweight Weapon Blade and Hub

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Affordable 2.4 GHz
January 2011, Page 23
The principal radio frequency for many years in USA combat robotics was 75 MHz PCM.

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EVENT REPORT: Franklin Institute 2010 – Rise of the Melty Brains!
December 2010, Page 34
The Franklin Institute Science Museum in Philadelphia and NERC (www.nerc.us) presented their fourth annual robot event on Saturday, October 9, ‘10.

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EVENT REPORT: Clash of the Bots — Schiele Museum 2010
November 2010, Page 33
Walk in the front door of the Schiele Museum (www.schielemuseum.org) in Gastonia, NC and the first thing you see is a full size replica of the skeleton of a T-Rex!

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PARTS IS PARTS: O-Ring Wheels for Ants
October 2010, Page 33
Antweight (<1lb) combat robots use a variety of different drive motors and finding small, light, and robust wheels for them can be a problem.

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BUILD REPORT: Bigger Better Beetle Blade
August 2010, Page 28
The first blade I had created for our 3 lb beetleweight, Pure Dead Brilliant, had been done in a big hurry to meet weight for its first competition.

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EVENT REPORT: Power Play! Robot Rumble 2010
July 2010, Page 31
The Museum of Life and Science, in Durham, NC, hosts this one day event each spring. Last year, three local teams got together to put on a “show and tell” about combat robotics as part of the museum’s much bigger robotthemed event.

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PARTS IS PARTS: Data Points: Fine-Tune Your Bot’s Performance
June 2010, Page 28
Knowing exactly how well your bot performs in a particular configuration would be very useful ... like, exactly how fast is the blade turning? What current is the weapon motor drawing at start-up and at cruise? How much does the battery voltage sag at full power?

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BUILD REPORT: Reversing the Trend
May 2010, Page 26
I recently completed our first drum bot — Weta, God of Ugly Things. And while it is a pretty conventional design, it does have one feature rarely seen in bots of this type: The drum is reversible, so it can spin in either direction.

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How to Prepare For - and Maybe Even Win - a Robot Competition
May 2010, Page 42
Get some insights and helpful tips from a veteran of robot combat.

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Pattern Routing of Plastic Parts
March 2010, Page 29
The easy way to do these parts is to have them watercut by a company like Team Whyachi (www.teamwhyachi.com), but if you need parts quickly and your time is cheap, then with a little careful design you can route the same parts using just a router and a pattern.

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No Gain Without Pain - Franklin Institute 2009
January 2010, Page 31
The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, PA (www2.fi.edu) holds their “World Space Week” each autumn and hosted the Northeast Robotics Club’s (www .nerc.us) big autumn competition on Saturday, October 3rd.

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Increasing The Speed And Power Of A Combat Robot
November 2009, Page 26
I wrote an article for the November ‘06 issue of SERVO describing how to convert a cheap cordless drill into a drive motor for a smaller robot.

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Wheels For Drills
September 2009, Page 31
Iwrote an article for the November ‘06 issue of SERVO that outlined how to convert the motors and gearboxes from cheap cordless drills for use as the drivetrain in smaller combat robots.

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Mounting Weapons: Blades and Pullys
August 2009, Page 25
Alot of builders dream of creating a bot with an active weapon but are put off by the apparent complexity. How do you attach a blade to the axle?

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A Color To Dye For
July 2009, Page 27
UHMW (Ultra High Molecular Weight) polyethylene is an increasingly popular plastic for use in robotics in general, and combat robotics in particular.

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Ask Mr. Roboto | March 2008
Column: Ask Mr. Roboto
March 2008, Page 20

Your Problems Solved Here.

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The Appliance of Science | The First Annual Franklin Institue Event
April 2008, Page 64
The Northeast Robotics Club (www.nerc.us) has held a very successful event every February in Harrisburg, PA and this year, they partnered with the Franklin Institute Science Museum (www2.fi.edu) to add a second major event. The Institute is a modern, hands-on type of museum situated in the center of Philadelphia. It houses many large exhibits in a bright modern building which also includes an IMAX cinema. It is, in many ways, an ideal venue for a robotic combat event with a regular audience ...

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Judgement Day
Column: Appetizer
September 2008, Page 76

I have competed in many robotic combat events and taught classes about the basics of that part of the hobby, but I have never judged any sort of competition. It was with a little trepidation then that I accepted a request to be a judge at a FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) Regional Championship held at the NC A & T State University in Greensboro, NC...