Now that you have yourself a giant 3 foot tall 8 foot by 5 foot table, you may have discovered (as I did within a few minutes) that when robots fall off the table results may vary, but only in the amount of destruction that occurs.
It had always been my intent to build side rails on the arena to protect competing Arduino/Versalino/Sumobot robots from falling to their inevitable doom. That said it took only minutes of battle before I looked away for just a few moments, and the Mark I 3mm Versalino Rove tumbled to the concrete floor of the garage and met it’s doom.
Luckily all of the electronics were unharmed, so I was able to transfer them to the Mark II body I already had put together within a few short minutes, but the point is, you need bumpers on an Arena of this kind. This article is dedicated to sharing how we made and applied them to the table.
We had a lot of ideas for how to implement the Arena bumpers. In fact we had intended on using a post system and mounting the Acrylic sheeting with bolts in the side of the table until we came up with a simpler solution after some discussion.
Ultimately we decided that the best way to get the bumpers in place was to use heavy duty Velcro in lieu of the more complicated wooden post method. The main advantage was a reduction in cost and size of the assemblies.
The first thing we did was get a 60 inch by 30 inch piece of acrylic, and have it cut into 5 6 inch wide 60 inch long strips. We then cut the last piece into two 27 inch pieces, which gave us roughly the entire circumference of the table. In addition we needed 15 feet of Velcro, which we cut into 3 inch strips as shown below.
The 3 inch strips were then placed evenly across the bottom of all of the 60 inch acrylic strips. The strips were placed height-wise so that there was 3 inches above the velcro, and 3 inches of Velcro stripping in intervals down to the bottom of the Acrylic pieces.
We personally made sure that all of the pieces were set up to match each-other to keep it nice and simple later, just in case we mixed up the boards, but as long as you don’t mind keeping track that shouldn’t be too critical. The key was keeping enough below to make sure they would stay on sturdily. I am sure we could have managed with 2 inches, but how much you need above the table depends on the platform you are using. Technically 1 inch would have done the job for our needs, but we thought 3 inches looked a lot better.
Now the 5 foot sections are easy because you just put a single 60 inch sheet of acrylic, and call it good, but the 8 foot sections require a little more effort. That is where our 27 inch pieces come into play. By placing a 27 inch piece on the side of the 60 inch we get a relatively even coverage on all sides (be sure to measure, you may want to use more than 27 inches to cover more of your table).
Congratulations! Once you have all of them on you are done for the moment, so you can celebrate with a robot battle and a beer, or whichever of the two you prefer. The next step is to add a pretty skirt, and actually design the gaming area and rules. I look forward to writing the next guide shortly, and can’t wait to see you all at the What If festival so you can try your hands at the robot games.