AWS67 Event Report

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AWS 67 Event Report
Time for Crab and Big Loader.jpg
Primary Contact Steve Barnett
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I made a solo jaunt down to Gloucester at the end of April for Antweight World Series 67 (AWS67) with my robots Big Loader and Time for Crab.

My view upon arriving in Gloucester

AWS is a long running antweight tournament and has run about 3 times a year since it started in 1999.

The tournament started slightly late due to some necessary fettling of the arena, leaving plenty of time to get my robots out and ready, and apply acetate to any wedge like surfaces to try and maximise ground game.

I had the usual pre-tech check nerves, but all for nothing as both robots came in at about 145g, leaving plenty of headroom under the 150g limit and fitted the box with no problems. This was a nice contrast with Ant Freeze 9 where I was forced to borrow a dremel to hack the front off of Time for Crab's claws to fit it in the box. Big Loader could do with some minor tweaks for future events as the slightly flexible PCB pontoons the tracks are mounted on can spring out slightly, but it passed the box test regardless.

Tournament Start

AWS is a double elimination format, so when a robot loses its first fight it moves into a second loser's bracket. At the end of the tournament the top two from each group's winners bracket and the top two from each group's losers bracket go into a final stage which is also double elimination. At the end the top robot in the winners bracket fights the top robot from that stage's losers bracket. For the final the winner of the winners bracket fights the winner of the loser's bracket, if the robot from the losers bracket wins this final there is a rematch such that the winning robot needs to lose twice before being eliminated.

With about 80 robots present there were 4 groups of 21 robots (with a couple of placeholders), with Big Loader ending up in Group B and Time for Crab in Group C. You can see the full bracket and results at

The titles below are timestamped YouTube links.

Big Loader vs XPC

My first fight of the day was Big Loader vs XPC, who I was sharing a pit table with. After a while of running circles around each other failing to get any purchase I was able to get XPC in Big Loader's scoop and push it to the corner. It was able to briefly break free, but developed some drive issues allowing Big Loader to push it into one of the drop out zones for the first victory of the day.

Time for Crab vs Qrybaby

Time for Crab's first fight was against Qrybaby, a vertical spinner. I was a little nervous facing a spinner as my robots are printed in PLA Plus and not super robust, but fortunately I was able to use the claws to keep the spinner at bay for the most part. I got flipped several times, and went for a strategy of using the opponent's spinner to right myself instead of trying to drive inverted for extended periods. I managed to get several decent grabs with the claws, mostly avoiding the spinner, though in one of these grabs the spinner took a chunk out of the inside of the claw without causing any loss of functionality.

I eventually managed a grab in a position where I could push Qrybaby to the drop out zone and release it. It promptly bounced back in, but not before touching the bottom of the drop out zone so this was a victory for Time for Crab.

Damage to Time for Crab from its fight with Qrybaby

There was a small amount of damage on Time for Crab after this fight. The chassis had some cosmetic scratches and there was a chunk missing from a claw which I decided to leave as it was (ominous foreshadowing). I had to replace the gearbox cover which was damaged and pulled off during the fight. Qrybaby was also able to nibble away at the brass claw leadscrew leaving a section of thread that was unusable. I decided to adjust for this this by offsetting the other side of the mechanism so that the damaged bit of thread would not be used instead of replacing the leadscrew. It reduced the claw travel slightly, but not in a way that took it outside of the 4 inch cube limit.

Big Loader vs Dissector

Big Loader's second opponent was a Dissector, a nasty looking hammer saw with a large blade and a spring loaded expanding mechanism triggered by it cutting a piece of masking tape that holds it inside the cube at the start of the fight.

Dissector, a nasty looking hammer saw

Dissector had trouble cutting its tape at the start of the match, which I was hoping to capitalise on but I ended up struggling to get Big Loader's scoop mechanism to stop in a good place which cost me the advantage. I was able to get the scoop down just in time to keep Big Loader's delicate (and slightly expensive) tracks out of Dissector's way, but didn't manage to win the ground game and get a good grip on it with the scoop. Eventually it managed to get in at an angle to the side of the scoop and pin Big Loader with the hammer saw, cleanly cutting off one of the scoop mounts and making a gash in the lid. After it was released Big Loader was still functional, but I wasn't quite able to recover before Dissector came at me again pinning Big Loader against the arena wall and eventually pushing it up and over the edge. Big Loader was able to climb back in, but this went straight into another pin resulting in another gash in the bottom of the robot before it was pushed through the drop out.

Big Loader Damage from Dissector
Big Loader Damage from Dissector
Big Loader Damage from Dissector
Big Loader Damage from Dissector

Amazingly despite all of the damage, Big Loader was fully functional at the end of the fight. The gash in the top stopped short of the controller board leaving just a gash in the PLA and a small scratch on the PCB top plate. The scoop and one of the arms had to be replaced, but I have several spares of these. The larger gash on the bottom was fortunately on the left hand side of the robot so instead of hitting the scoop motor it just hollowed out a section of the scoop drive gear which was easily replaced. I didn't feel like swapping out for a spare chassis, since there are a lot of fiddly parts to move over, so I taped a second lid over the large gash on the bottom of the robot and it remained comfortably within the weight limit. I'm tempted to make this a peramanent feature and access hatch for future versions of Big Loader to provide a bit more protection.

This was the first loss for Big Loader so it dropped into the losers bracket. Big Loader received a nomination for Most Destroyed after this fight, but eventually that award (deservingly) went to Fliplup.

I'll be looking for a more positive way to stop the scoop where I want it for future events since this turned into a common problem throughout the day.

Time for Crab vs Duckling

This was a short fight against Duckling, which shares a driver with Dissector. Duckling is hard to grip and a very low wedge so I focuessed on trying to stay behind it and not drive up the wedge.

Time for Crab ended up on the wedge a few times, eventually getting flipped near the edge. I lost orientation and drove myself out of the arena while trying to recover.

This first loss put Time for Crab in the losers bracket.

Big Loader vs Flippy

Like the name suggests, Flippy is a flipper with a quite tall triangular shape. After a bit of trouble getting started Big Loader as able to get a good grip on Flippy and shove it out of the arena.

Time for Crab vs Recycler

Recycler is scary drum spinner and my strategy going in was to try and tank hits on the claws, protect the claw mechanism, and hope it lost control in a way that left it vulnerable to shoving. Unfortunately since Time for Crab is very light on the front most hits resulted in Time for Crab getting flipped with very little backlash and Recycler was able to quite quickly chew off one of Time for Crab's tyres leaving it still driveable but hard to control.

After tanking a few more hits the claw that was damaged by Qrybaby gave up and although Recycler lost control and bounced around landing near the out zone Time for Crab didn't have the control to capitalize on this, though it was able to avoid taking much more damage before getting pitted.

This second loss knocked Time for Crab out of the tournament, placing joint 13th in its group. I gave the detached claw away to Recycler's driver as a trophy and replaced it with a spare.

Time for Crab Declawed by Recycler

Big Loader vs Zero

Zero is another wedge bot which is hard to get a grip on. After a bit of fighting to get the scoop in a good place Big Loader was able to hold its own in a shoving match and avoid being pushed out of the arena.

After a few more tussles Zero attempted to pin Big Loader against the wall. Eventually Zero's wedge found its way under Big Loader which drove over Zero whose acetate stuck in the arena side wall. I considered trying to push Zero out of the arena at this point, but Big Loader does not do a great job of pushing against the sidewall so I left Zero to be counted out.

Since Zero was immobilised this was another win for Big Loader.

Big Loader vs Little Kit

Little Kit is a cute fox themed robot which did a good job of keeping Big Loader distracted while I was trying to position the scoop.

Unfortunately while trying to figure out my orientation I let Big Loader heft itself over the side wall and out of the arena with its scoop, resulting in a win for Little Kit.

This was Big Loader out of the tournament, placing joint 7th in its group.

Full Combat Gladiator

I put Time for Crab in the Full Combat Gladiator (last robot standing wins, no time limit). In the first few seconds of the fight Qrybaby got launched at the plexiglass shield around the arena, and right at my face since I was kneeling down to let other drivers see. I let myself get distracted by this and ended up driving Time for Crab out of the arena again early in the match.

Amusingly most of the spinners took themselves out very early with the Full Combat Gladiator turning into a wedge off and eventually being won by High Five.

Time for Crab and Qrybaby in the pit after the Full Combat Gladiator

Non-Spinner Gladiator

This AWS also had a Non-spinner Gladiator which I entered Big Loader into.

The early match was complete chaos with some near misses and a lot of self righting for Big Loader. Fortunately the tracks make it very easy to climb over other opponents or back into the arena after balancing on the edge.

Big Loader generally stayed out of trouble, but did manage to get a good grip on Blip Remix and eject it from the arena.

Later the field thinned to Big Loader, Look What You've Done To Our Breakfast, The Piskie and IV. These 4 all held on for some time, with IV managing to tangle one of its forks in Big Loader's tracks at one point, but fortunately failing to remove the track. Big Loader had another near miss incident, nearly driving itself out of a pit but making it back in safely.

Eventually IV drove itself out of the arena shortly followed by Big Loader getting lined up to shove Look What You've Done To Our Breakfast out. The Piskie attempted to push Big Loader out also, but fortunately Big Loader's tracks ended up on top of The Piskie's wedge and when The Piskie backed off Big Loader came along with it.

This left just Big Loader and the Piskie who had an extended grappling match before Big Loader was able to get a grip on The Piskie and eject it from the arena.


After the tournament the various awards were given out, with trophies for the top 3 places and certificates for various categories including Best Driver, Most Destructive, and Most Destroyed.

I was happy to come away with a certificate for winning the Non-Spinner Gladiator with Big Loader.

Non-Spinner Gladiator Certificate

Closing Thoughts

AWS 67 was a well run event and I had a great time participating. It was well worth the travel time and it was nice to win a few more fights than I have at previous events.

It was good to see my robots improve, but as always I've come away with a lot of ideas for further improvements and new robots.

I'll defintiely be aiming to attend AWS 68, although it is a little more awkward travel wise.