We are building an arena, we are building it bigger

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Next month is the Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire and fort the 4th year I'll be there representing Trossen Robotics. Every year we have several robots ready for attendees to control like our robot arms and our Hexapod on a Leash

But I've been itching to do more at the faire. So here's the pitch: a 10'x10' arena where 2 Geekbots race around to collect balls. Each geekbot is piloted by a Maker Faire attendee. Here's the catch: just like Mech Warfare, the pilot can only watch the match from a camera mounted to the robot.

So begins my quest to build a 10'x10' arena. It needs to be modular and easy to install and take down. I've got multiple faires in multiple venues, so it needs to work indoors and outdoors. For the floor, Wade reccomended Interlocking EVA foam, which is working out amazingly. Its easy to lay down and take apart, and the Geekbots have no problem rolling around on it.

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Since we're not using projectiles like in Mech Warfare, the arena doesn't need to be totally enclosed, but I still couldn't' decide how to do the walls. We couldn't have the Geekbots falling out of the arena now. After playing with a variety of ideas (insulation foam, vinly, PVC, plywood) I finally came to the realization that I don't actually need a full wall - just enough to keep the Geekbots from going over the edge. After a little experimentation Wade figured out how to make a 2" foam wall that keeps the Geekbots at bay. First, we're hot-gluing extra EVA foam onto the outer finished strips of the EVA foam - this make it easy to take apart and store the 'walls'. To keep the geekbots from pushing the walls right off the arena, we're using a long thin plate of ABS under the finished strip to add support. This combo keeps the geekbot in the arena and wall stays nice and in place.

There's still a lot to do. Kat is going to make some arena obstacles and we need to figure out coloring for the goals among other things, but we're well on our way.

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