Mr Bit at PiWars 2017

It’s been two whole days since PiWars and we are still buzzing with the excitement from it, it’s bound to last for many more days and beyond. The challenges weren’t easy and the work put into getting there the biggest challenge of all. Very naively we assumed it would be a very simple task to put a robot together but we soon realised, as mentioned in many of our posts, what a huge underestimation this was. I’m not sure what other task we’ve approached (me in particular) that has led to so much learning in such a short period of time. Exhausted mentally and emotionally, I feel like I’ve been plugged into the matrix and downloaded an encyclopaedia of new knowledge, it’s left us elated and eager for more. I’m sure everyone felt and experienced the same and it’s all thanks to Mike Horne and Tim Richardson for organising such a special event.

Rebelle and me with Mr Bit ready for PiWars

Mr. Bit was entered into the beginners class, we’d never built a robot before from scratch though inspired when I was Rebelle’s age (9) by my toy robot Zoid kits and Seymour Papert’s Logo it’s something I’ve personally always wanted to do. I’m over the moon that I can share that with my daughter and even more so that she’s so engaged with it all, thanks to the fun and openness that the Pi community cultivates.

What a day of stressful fun, a rollercoaster of emotions, successes and failures all embraced with smiles, not only us but everyone. We were so proud to receive the fastest speed test medal and first medal for the minimal maze in our category, turned out we were fastest in those challenges overall.

As the overall results were announced we sat there in disbelief that we either weren’t going to get a prize at all or that we were actually going to be in the top two. When second place was announced the CNM team, who had travelled 5000 miles to be at PiWars, came to shake Rebelle’s and my hands before they went to receive their awards – what an amazing team – it had such a profound effect on us both, we were slightly confused and shaking…

…319 – We won!

We couldn’t believe it we won!

I have never felt quite like that before, all the hard work we’d put in and all the failures – getting up and the dusting off over the past months to result in Reb and me walking back up the stairs together in the lecture theatre in Cambridge University, carrying our trophy.  We never expected it and we’ll never forget it.

There our post ends, what follows are a few notes to self for next year and photos and videos to remind us of the day.

A quick run-through of our challenges:

  • Pi Noon (bye/rnd 2) – Reb drove Mr Bit to success.

Rebelle prepared for battle in Pi Noon

  • Obstacle course – Reb began with a brilliant start until a bump made our GrovePi fail, reboot and off again but our shakiness by then meant we had a terrible run although we did complete.
  • Line Following – nah nah – under pressure having missed our slot we didn’t get chance to complete a circuit.
  • Artistic – Mr Bit was going to be a cat but no time left so we found a cat looking crazed who sat at the helm.
  • Technical – lovely to meet Dr Lucy Rogers, not sure we were able to describe our technical accomplishments succinctly though our blog posts are full of tech.
  • Straight Line Speed Test – we got the fastest time on the day, very pleased with this and kind words and compliments from Tim Freeburn (Pi Borg).

  • Minimal Maze – we followed the left wall with sensor on front and left and got fastest time of the day with no touches on the walls for both runs.

  • Pi Noon (rnd 3) – Reb had an amazing start followed by PS3 battery failure meaning we were out.
  • Slightly Deranged Golf – bigger wheels for our Gripper Pipper but too big for our tiny motors to turn Mr Bit in the long grass, we did get the ball in the hole though.
  • Skittles – The gripper came into its own and was able to grab the ball and move it into position easily, up against the time as our controller only had limited battery we completed the challenge in super fast time with the help of the wonderful judge and just after the last ball the battery failed – phew.

Here are all the rankings of the day

Me and Rebelle receiving award from Dr. Lucy Rogers (from Robot Wars)

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