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[DPRG] Mini Sumo and the popular Vacuum/Magnet issue

Subject: [DPRG] Mini Sumo and the popular Vacuum/Magnet issue
From: David Peterson robodave1 at attbi.com
Date: Fri Nov 1 17:11:00 CST 2002

Hey Pete,
   Thank you so much for clarifying one main question of mine, concerning
how magnetics and especially vacuum are even possible on a minisumo. I had
imagined toiling long hours at machining a vacuum pump or a requirement to
have some contact in industry that could provide these types of components
in a small enough package to be workable on a platform. If this was the
case, minisumo could indeed be an "elitest" event, where only deep pockets
and insiders could have something to actually be competitive with other top
minisumos. Perhaps these vacuum pump manufacturers are something mentioned
in your book? If so, and these parts are readily available, I have no real
objection. Perhaps different classes of minisumo competition would be
advisable still though, for those who may not wish to include vacuum at this
  I guess all my objection to vacuum inclusion came from the fact that I
asked over 2 years ago in comp.robotics.misc how to find a vacuum pump to
use in full size sumo, and received no answer, no one picked up the ball. I
had also asked some sumo competitors this same question, and had been told
that perhaps something like a DustBuster would work. Just this last year, I
had finally found the Medo pump you spoke of, and now can see how the other
parts could be possible. All I really want is a level playing field, where
all who seek to compete have available all the possible tools needed to
build a competitive robot. In sumo or minisumo. Thanks again Pete, hopefully
those additions are readily available.

Dave ( who is late for work)

----- Original Message -----
>From: "Pete Miles" <petem at ormondllc.com>
To: <dprglist at dprg.org>
Sent: Friday, November 01, 2002 3:40 PM
Subject: [DPRG] Mini Sumo and the popular Vacuum/Magnet issue

> This is probably one of the most contested issues in amature robotics I
> seen in the last 5 years.
> Let me make this point clear, I am NOT telling anyone to change their
> to allow magnets and vacuum in mini sumo.
> I personally believe that mini sumo is the best place for beginners
> (regardless of age and sex) to get started in robotics.  They are easy to
> build, and don't cost a lot of money.  The mini sumo Dohyo is small and
> to build and carry around so everyone can have their own ring at home.
> I go to a lot of robotics events, and non robotics events, including local
> school science fairs, and promote mini sumo.  None of the mini sumos I
> present have vacuum, magnets, sticky wheels.  I show off the Mark III at
> events, and now that I have a SumoBot from Parallax, it will be shown at
> next science fair I am going to.
> I have no intentions of changing this, because I want this to be a place
> where people can get excited about robotics.
> My discussions about magnets and vacuums are usually more generic and not
> specifically targeted to Mini Sumo, but since this is what everyone wants
> relate it to, then lets talk about it.
> When it comes to technology advancements as it relates to mini sumo, what
> are people talking about these days?
> Casting wheels.  That is right, making sticky wheels to give their robot a
> competitive advantage over other robots.  This was once frowned on, but it
> is now accepted, at most events.  There are lots of discussions on how to
> cast silicon and polyurethane wheels, at several robotics clubs.  People
> on presentations on how to do this at meetings, and people are detailing
> to do this on their websites.  The only reason why people want to spend
> money for the polyurethane (which is expensive) is to give them a
> competitive advantage.  I would not be surprised to see a company selling
> polyurethane wheels within one year.
> It is funny how people hated this idea a couple years ago, and it is now
> rage in mini sumo.
> Where are the other technological advancements in mini sumo?  Sensors?
> You can buy an ultrasonic range sensor for $30 for Acroname and
> Hey they are great devices, they work very well.  Buy three and you have
> some really good coverage for your robot (270 degrees of coverage).  But
> that is almost $100 added to the price of the robot.  Nobody complains
> that.
> You can buy the Sharp G2PDxx range sensors for your robot, average, $15
> from Acroname.  They have a really narrow field of view, so you will need
> say 5 of them to have a similar view coverage from the ultrasonic sensors.
> Thats about $75.  Nobody complains about someone spending that much money
> their robot.
> Lasers?  Ken Maxon has to perfect laser ranger I have ever seen for this
> application.  Needs to be made smaller, but would not only tell you how
> your opponent is, but the exact location.  It is the perfect sensor for
> robots.  We are talking hundreds of dollars here.  Nobody will complain
> about someone using this system.  This type of system is needed for the
> robotics community, and it is too complicated for most of us to figure
> Better sensors means you can use better programming logic to attack your
> opponent.  Most mini sumo robots appear to move more in a random motion
> immediately finding their opponent and attacking them.
> One thing is for sure is that better sensors makes robots more expensive.
> In the end, the goal of a mini sumo robot is to push the other robot out
> the ring.  The ability of a robot to push the opponent out of the Dohyo is
> based on the apperent weight of the robot and the coefficient of friction
> the wheels.  The whole polyurethane custom casting wheel efforts going on
> across the country is focused on the wheel friction.
> Magnets and vacuum address the weight issue.
> But lets talk about magnets first.  If the Dohyo is not made out of steel
> (or other magnetic material), then having magnets on the robot is not an
> issue since won't do anything but add weight.
> Since most mini sumo robot builders add lead weights to their robots, why
> not add magnets to increase the overall mass to 500 grams.
> Rear earth magnets are easy to get and are cheap when you go to surplus
> houses like Electric Goldmine.  Implementing a magnet on a robot is
> relatively easy to do, and doesn't cost a lot of money.  Much cheaper to
> than adding any ultrasonic sensors, and hand full of the Sharp G2PDxx
> sensors.
> A simple such as a SumoBot with a couple magnets will be able to compete
> much better against top notch robots such as Goliath and Nemisis where
> can not add magnets because their general design makes them heavy.  Adding
> couple magnets does allow beginners to compete against some of these old
> time veterans.  Right now, no commercial mini sumo can compete at the same
> level as Goliath and Nemisis.
> Now lets talk about vacuum.
> First, it is highly unlikely that someone will build a robot with a vacuum
> system in a mini sumo.  But someone might, and it will be a really
> innovative design.  I do have a 1 inch cube vacuum pump I got from Gast
> Manufacturing for $50.  I am hoping to make a vacuum mini sumo with it.
> is more of an experiment just to see if I can do it.  One thing is for
> the crowd will be very impressed to see a vacuum robot compete on a glass
> window.  You can almost make a contest with a sheet of glass held
> vertically, and the sumo compete on the glass.  You will have literally
> degree viewing of the contest.
> If you allow magnets, you might as well add vacuum
> Vacuum on a 20 cm square sumo is easy a lot easier than people think.  A
> good vacuum pump from Medo costs only $60.  And most of the Japanese use
> same pump you can get in the U.S.  Vacuum cups are easy to build.   I
> a pretty good vacuum system in one evening using Sintra plastic, rubber
> cement, some foam rubber, and a coping saw.  It sticks to the wall quite
> well.
> I don't think cost should be an argument that it is only for those people
> who have a lot of money.  Anyone willing to buy a couple ultrasonic
> can afford a vacuum pump to make a sumo robot.  And magnets are a lot
> cheaper.
> But these are just some arguments for allowing magnets and vacuum.
> If you are a purest, and do not want to allow and traction enhancing
> such as sticky wheels, magnets, and vacuum systems, in your events, then
> that is fine with me.  I am not telling you that you have to have them.
> Mini Sumo is a great contest, and I like it the way it is.  But I also
> to see things evolve so that the same two robots that win every year have
> change in order to keep winning.  Current mini sumo rules favor the
> and Nemisis designs.  Allowing magnets and vacuum should make things much
> more interesting.
> Like I said before, I am not telling you to change your rules.  I just
> presented some arguments for allowing them.
> Pete
> petem at ormondllc.com
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "David P. Anderson" <dpa at io.isem.smu.edu>
> To: <dprglist at dprg.org>
> Sent: Friday, November 01, 2002 12:38 AM
> Subject: [DPRG] Micro Robots: A modest proposal
> >
> > Howdy
> >
> > Pete Miles posted some good, interesting comments about robot sumo and
> robot
> > contests in general.  Pete is the event co-coordinator for the Seattle
> folks
> > (they do a great job at their yearly Robothon, I can tell you from
> > experience) so he has obviously thought about this a great deal: sticky
> > tires and magnets and audience building and rules issues.
> >
> > He makes some very interesting points about robot contests and their
> underlying
> > motivations, to wit:
> >
> > > When the crowd loves an event, the event grows because they get
> in it.
> > >
> > > If the crowd doesn't like the event, it becomes boring, and eventually
> dies
> > > because the competitors go away from it.
> >
> > <snip>
> >
> > > ask yourself this question. Why are you even
> > > competing in it?  Is it because you enjoy the technical challenge of
> > > building a sumo robot, or do you like to hear the crowd cheer you on.
> If
> > > there was not one spectator to watch the event, would you still
> > >
> > > When you hold a public event, do you do it for the spectators or the
> > > competitors.  If it is only for the competitors, then why make it a
> public
> > > event?
> >
> > Why indeed?
> >
> > Some might argue that Pete is confusing the advancement of hobby
> with
> > the entertainment industry, but they would miss the larger issue.  I
> many
> > years myself as a musician and professional entertainer, so I believe I
> can
> > speak with some experience and candor on this subject.
> >
> > I would therefore like to propose three additional elements for our
> sumo
> > contests, and for all our robot contests in general, which I believe are
> in the
> > spirit of Pete's observations and which I believe would be logical and
> > valuable add-ons to the competitions.  Perhaps even the BattleBots
> > who I understand were not picked up for a 6th season by the Comedy
> Channel,
> > might benefit from these suggestions.
> >
> > I propose we can enormously increase audience interest and excitement in
> hobby
> > robotic events by the addition of these three elements:
> >
> > 1.  Gambling
> > Wagering on the outcome of robot sumo is a natural, and will
> > up the revenues of robot clubs substantially, bringing in a
> > whole new heretofore untapped audience for our events, as
> > well as providing healthy purses for the winners and thereby
> > increasing both the size and level of competition.  For clubs
> > in states where gambling is illegal, I propose video links
> > to casinos in areas where wagering is allowed.  We might even
> > consider a special "Native-American" sumo class for the gambling
> > establishments on the reservations in neighboring states.  This
> > simple addition will, I believe, totally change the face of the
> > hobby of robotics and in a single stroke make it a legitimate sport.
> > 2.  Alcohol
> > This more than any other element will increase the excitement
> > as well as the volume level of the crowd, and is another potential
> > source of income.  Take a cue from professional sports here,
> > BattleBot aficionados!  People like to drink at sporting events,
> > especially if they also get to gamble.
> >
> > 3. Scantily Clad Large-Breasted Women.
> >
> > Once again, the experience of professional sports like WWF wrestling
> > suggests that huge cheering crowds as well as almost certain television
> > coverage and the accompanying fame and revenues which will follow can
> > bring our fringe hobby out of the shadowy halls of weird science and
> > into the mainstream.  I'll be there for sure!
> >
> > Think of it, folks.  Visual-Basic Joe with a fist full of dollars and a
> babe under each
> > arm, stoned out of his mind and screaming for YOUR ROBOT!  It just
> get any bigger
> > or more exciting than that.
> >
> > Now if you are offended by these admittedly vulgar suggestions, you
> perhaps console
> > yourself with the thought that the huge sums of money raised from these
> events will go
> > a long way toward paying for whatever clever serious robot inventions
> may be nurturing
> > in your quiet little workshop.  Think about it.
> >
> > most respectfully,
> > dpa
> >
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