Review of Combat Robots Complete

Posted on 29/05/2005 by wcox in Reviews
Zac Soden reviews Combat Robots Complete UNLESS you have pay TV, there is not much coverage of robotic combat here in Australia. Of course there is the occasional airing of Robot Wars, but other than that we don't get much exposure to this quite fast growing sport. This lack of exposure also means that there isn't much in the way of Aussie combat robot builders. But even if you don't plan on building a 'bot to enter into the BattleBots competition, Combat Robots Complete is still worth getting, mainly because of the large amount of information it provides on robust robot construction. Combat Robots Complete Author: Chris Hannold Publisher: McGraw-Hill Rating: 3.5/5 Notes: Excellent detail on building mechanics for any robot project One of the most prominent technical aspects that combat robots are producing is a much better understanding and utulisation of robust robot chassis and mechanics designs. Think about it - a robot that is going into combat will have to be built much stronger than ine designed for, say, vacuuming the house but I believe that we can all learn from the combat robot for any of our domestic and non-combat robot designs. It never hurts to have a better constructed chassis, more suited motors and drivetrains and greater stability in a robot and Combat Robots Complete goes into a good degree of detail about such issues. Whilst the techniques described are on a fairly larger scale, they can all be suitably down-sized to be used in the design of hobby robotic mechanisms. And for those who do wish to get started in robot combat, Combat Robots Complete really is for you. It goes into detail about all aspects of the combat robot and the sport, addressing issues such as mechanics, power, control, fabrication and weapons. I found it quite intersting reading the tools section, which gives summaries of basically all of the tools that one would encounter building a combat robot. Each chapter addresses topics in a very well laid-out manner and are appropriatly sequenced to make for a very smooth read. Included in the latter parts of Combat Robots complete are the plans for three complete combat robot projects. Whilst the plans do not go into meticulous detail, I believe that the information provided would be enough for the average handyperson to construct the robots. Alas, to the true roboticist's dismay, combat robots do not have much in the way of control electronics - mainly a bunch of commercial R/C and motor contoller units wired together but the author also goes into adequate detail on the use of these modules and their limitations. Despite all of the previously mentioned highlights, I believe that the best part of Combat Robots Complete is the excellent appendices provided on all sorts of information, including conversion factors, information tables (which contain every hint of mechanical technical information imaginable - things such as drill sizes, current capacities, milling speeds, etc.), frequently asked questions and a glossary. I really can't state how useful and relevant the information presented here is for all types of robotics. Even better is the fact that much of this information is duplicated on the included CD-ROM and can be printed out for placing on the walls or wherever in the robot builder's workshop. A good deal of information is presented on motor selection, with issues such as torque and gearing discussed in detail. The presentation of torque measurement and calculation methods is simply excellent. That said, I did find that some topics presented were also a little lacking - some technical aspects were mentioned but no further discussion found. I was also shocked to find a robotics construction book that did not have a "how to solder section - it doesn't bother me but for those without electronic experience... Despite a couple of small nitpicks, Combat Robots Complete turned out to be quite an informative book. The design and construction processes discussed are very interesting and when scaled down can be quite relevant to all types of robot design and construction. I give it 5 stars out of 5. Buy it here!
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