KRAKEN 2021/22

Photo by Dan Longmire


Built June 18-August 13, 2021


Season 6 Episode 2
Original air date January 13, 2022

FIGHT REPORT: This fight had it all! A huge fire, an air tank explosion, an unstick, and poor little Wally was obliterated. The match started off well for us with a solid bite on Rotator. We weren’t able to pierce the 1/2-inch top armor, but we had tight hold. Wally got in the middle of the tussle and flew out in a cloud of fluff. Rotator had cut our fuel line, so when we tried to light him on fire, we actually lit ourselves on fire. No worries though because we keep the fire system completely separate from the inner workings of Kraken. We opened the jaw to release Rotator, but his tire was stuck in her small teeth, so the match was paused to separate the robots. This is where things went downhill for Kraken. Rotator hit us, the entire jaw plate flew off, and our weapon was no longer functional. He also took out a wheel and we were left crab-walking around the arena. A hit to the back of the mouth and Rotator took out an air tank in a huge explosion! Needless to say, Kraken didn’t have much life left after that, but she lasted the full 3 minutes! You can’t kill the Kraken!

DAMAGE REPORT: As you can see from the pictures, the damage from the Rotator match was extensive.

The flame system: during one of the early impacts Rotator caught the butane fuel line and severed it. This meant when we powered on our butane system it just sprayed under the bots head until it eventually ignited. That impact also apparently damaged the fuel can, because we were unable to shut the fire off and had to wait until the flame dissipated. Luckily, the flame system is entirely outside the bot, and with our new fire barrier we installed this year no fire got inside the bot. The damage to the flame system was practically a total loss though.

The Jaw: The big hit just before we were able to clamp Rotator was a huge hit, and if you watched the slow-mo closely you can see that he hit us directly on the welded plate on the bottom of the upper jaw. This completely split that plate. After we got our bite and were separated the Rotator gave us another big shot that finished it off. There really wasn’t a lesson here other than use more weld. The welds were good there just wasn’t enough of it. We had never fought a horizontal before, so some lessons had to be learned the hard way.

The explosion: During the course of the match Rotator was able to cut completely through the front of the frame. The area he cut through is a 6″ wide piece of 3/16″ thick AR400 steel. That entire piece was cut-off. The only thing holding Kraken’s head on was two 3″ wide pieces of AR400 in the back right where the jaw mounts. Just behind that torn out piece of steel is one of our two air tanks. The explosion was a ~4,000 psi air tank rupturing. That rupture blew the first tank down into the second tank cracking it, and also severing many of the pneumatic lines inside the bot. This allowed the other tank to also rapidly vent at the same time. We went from 180 cu-in of air at ~4,000 psi to 0 in an instant. The forces were immense.

Total Damage: air tanks (x2), one regulator, tires (x2), frame and jaw required pretty extensive repairs, flame system, pneumatic valve assembly, plastic for the head and back, NPC T74 motor (x1) still runs, but has a gear with a slight chip (still usable).


Season 6 Episode 6
Original air date February 10, 2022

FIGHT REPORT: This fight was another 3-minute slug fest with a horizontal tossing out haymakers. The End. J/K A little backstory before we go into this match recap. I had set 3 goals for this season. 3 simple goals:
1. Bite through someone’s armor.
2. Win a match via KO.
3. Win the giant nut.
All very easy and achievable for our team. Backstory complete.

The match started off and we knew we had to get on HiJinx in a hurry and stay there. They got their blade up-to-speed faster than I thought they could and landed the first big shot. We both got knocked back, them near the screws and Kraken spun backwards. I was able to get turned around and pointed back at them. Unfortunately, due to the odd shape of HiJinx we were never really able to get a great bite. Their angled surfaces and small depth meant the teeth had a small window to get a hold. We were able to drive HiJinx back into the screws, which flipped HiJinx over. This was absolutely a worst-case scenario. Now their blade is protecting their top and it’s hitting us in the worst areas.

We tried for a few more bites, but ultimately just couldn’t get a good hold on HiJinx. The two bots made their way to the center of the arena and HiJinx landed another shot, but it appeared they stopped moving. Their weapon was still working, but I thought their drive had died. I really wanted that KO victory, so I backed off to get the count-out. My team was screaming for me to push them over to the hammer, and in hindsight that was the better plan. I should have taken them to the hammer and let the hammer keep the weapon from spinning up. Ultimately, I made the decision I did, and they got fully up to speed and delivered a massive blow that ripped off the bottom of the jaw, bent both front teeth out, and put a massive bend in the left-side wheel. We still had bite at this point, but there was nothing left to bite with.

We kept on attacking and using our superior pushing power to drive HiJinx into the screws on the shelf. As we were pushing them up on the shelf, the left-side wheel that was already damaged got hit by the screws and pinched that tire against the frame, disabling that left-hand drive. It didn’t matter because HiJinx was on the shelf and we thought we were about to win (more on the shelf at the end). However, HiJinx was able to teeter over to the edge and Kraken was forced to crab-walk over to them around the corner of the shelf. That gave them time to get up to speed again. Kraken, now limping, came in to take another shot. We tried to bite down again, but without much meat left we lost another tooth.

We got driven back and ended up high-centering on our own eye, which had been hanging out since one of the first hits. Our tire still spun, but it was JUST off the ground. Thankfully the kill-saws came up and pushed us off our eye, and I was able to move again. The eye ended up wrapped around the motor and getting torn off, but we were free to move. The fight ended up going the distance with both bots not moving great. I’ll let HiJinx explain their side of things, but from my point of view it looked like being upside-down negatively affected the traction and/or reception and they struggled to move freely.

The decision came in 6-5, 6-5, 6-5. In the moment, I felt like it was really close, but we lost. Watching it back it was closer than I remember, but we still lost. We definitely won control and aggression, but there was just too much damage to ignore. Losing the teeth again was devastating and losing a drive right at the end was probably the nail in the coffin. I think the judges ultimately got the right answer even if I don’t fully agree with how the points were assigned.

The obvious question that no one is asking is why not use the flame when HiJinx was in the mouth. We use a rubber band to secure the servo actuator to the flame canister. It’s a simple solution that is intrinsically safe. No matter what happens, without that actuator installed in and secured the flame won’t work. During the start-up procedure we forgot to install that rubber band and the actuator rod came lose before the match even started.

I know the judges and even the HiJinx team have taken a little bit of vitriol for this match, and I don’t think that’s fair. I think HiJinx won. I think the judges got it right. I think that hatred should be redirected towards the shelf. I don’t like how the shelf came into play in this episode. Not in our match, nor Defender vs Riptide. Allow me to explain. The intention of the shelf is to provide a location for flippers to get an OOTA (out of the arena). It also provided a nice little perk for control bots. It was originally intended to have walls all around and if tossed up there you’d have to drive over the screws to get off. The builders (myself included) felt that really helped vert spinners more than anyone. Most vert spinners can toss a bot 12″ in the air, and it would give them a target to toss their opponent in there. BattleBots agreed and made the concession to remove the side walls, and now bots could drive off without going over the screws. I didn’t think that was right either, but I didn’t feel strongly either way. In hindsight, I think leaving the walls in place would have forced both HiJinx and RipTide to drive over the screws to get back in the arena. In the HiJinx case, they may not have been able to get out, and at the very least would not have been able to have their weapon at full when they got out. In the RipTide case, they escaped the pressure from Defender by driving out the opposite side of the stage and were able to spin up, while Defender had to take the long way around the shelf. Ultimately, it worked out alright in that match and in both cases the correct bot won, but I’d like to see the shelf revised. Going forward for next year, I’d like to see the shelf reshaped as a triangle with screws on both sides and the arena wall along the back. I think it could be much smaller and still serve it’s intended function. I think it would greatly increase the available fight area, and it would truly be a place you would not want to be knocked into.

DAMAGE REPORT: It’s easy to tell a bot that has fought HiJinx. First, they’re trashed. Second, they have pretty colors on them. The little fireworks effect on the wing of Kraken was caused by their 3D printed hubcaps. When we crashed into a tire it left a neat little mark on the frame.

These teeth weren’t really ideal for fighting ANOTHER horizontal, but the steel to repair the blade teeth hadn’t arrived prior to this match, so “Run What Ya Brung”. About halfway through the match, you can notice that we lost the bottom jaw plate. The entire bottom plate got torn off, but the two front teeth were still attached. It looked like the weapon wasn’t working for half of the match, but it actually still worked fine. It was just that the teeth were constantly bending further and further forward because there was nothing to support them. Well, at least the weapon DID work until HiJinx tore through the throat on that last big hit after they escaped the shelf. That impact cut through the new Flash steel frame and bent it outward enough that it prevented the jaw from closing. It also bent the jaw so severely that we had to hammer the pin out in order to remove the jaw. That impact also damaged an air tank, so that needed to be replaced. Fortunately, the tank didn’t rupture this time, so replacement was just screwing in a new tank. In the 3 previous seasons we didn’t lose a single tank, and now we’ve lost 3 in two matches. We used up all our spares, so we had to order another tank on-site to get ready for our next match.

Our NPC Robotics drive motors stood up to some unbelievable abuse in this match. First, they took a direct impact from HiJinx. Second, after putting HiJInx on the shelf, the same motor that took the impact got pinched by the screw and jammed the wheel against the frame. For the last 45 seconds of the match that motor was stalled. After the match, we pulled off the jammed tire and did a quick test of the motor and it was like it was never used.

Overall, the damage wasn’t terrible, but we didn’t start repairing it right away. We still had our third frame that hadn’t been used, so we set this one aside and put all the “guts” into the K2 frame for our third match.


Season 6 Episode 10
Original air date March 10, 2022

FIGHT REPORT: Well that was fast. We went into the match extremely confident. Maybe TOO confident. Our match with Glitch was scheduled for the first filming session on the last day of fight night matches. Glitch vs Hydra was scheduled to happen as the first fight in the morning session, and then Glitch vs Kraken was the last fight in the same morning session. That’s a brutal timeline for an experienced team, but for a rookie team it was incredibly tough. For my pre-fight interview, we had only seen Glitch fight Ghost Raptor, so the only data we had to go on, was they were a small diameter vert that had difficulty driving. We were actually in the battery tent putting batteries in when Glitch faced Hydra, so we saw that upset. That was eye-opening. Suddenly there was this reliable bot that the weapon didn’t stop spinning. It was capable of this sudden burst of speed. We still felt like we had the advantage given our weapon match-ups, so we went in knowing we had a real shot to take a win against a 2-0 bot and maybe just maybe sneak into the round of 32.

When the match started, I made my way toward the drivers box, as I like the action to be near me, so we can see more clearly. In this case, Glitch made the same maneuver, so we were in nice and close. We tried to engage, but Glitch was so low I couldn’t get under them. That was a surprise. I tried switching into high-speed mode to see if I could get more inertia to get the nose under there, but that caused us to wheelie slightly. We exchanged a couple glancing blows which just nicked the corners, but not much else. I was trying to drive the bottom jaw into their weapon, but missed, wheelied, and ended up putting one of the wings into their weapon. That hit pulled us into their weapon and sent us flying into the air. That first hit sent us over to the shelf, upside-down, getting chewed up by the screws and pulled onto the shelf. Not a great start. This was Kraken’s first time on the stage, and like any true performer her natural instincts took over she immediately started dancing and doing spins. It was certainly interesting. Not a great fighting strategy, but apparently Glitch hit her so hard she thought she was a ballerina. TBF you try getting hit by Glitch, flying 5 feet in the air, landing on your head and see if you don’t end up a bit woozy. In all seriousness while we were on the shelf, I knew we lost a drive, and I had to crab-walk a bot on its back. After a couple pirouettes, she came to her senses, got back on her wheels and was able to get off the shelf. I’m not dead yet. It took a second to get around the corner of the shelf being down a drive and get back out into the main fighting arena. Glitch was hanging back, so I was crab-walking pretty aggressively and it got us spun around. Glitch came in and gave us a huge hit on the back left side. This impact took out the drive on the other side and we were dead. Glitch came in and gave us one final shot that sent us full force into the screws. I don’t think the episode conveyed the aggressiveness of those impacts. My memory of that match is a blur, but those impacts were so forceful it’s hard to convey. Thankfully Glitch did us a solid and didn’t blow up our Wally, so at least we were able to walk out of there with one functional bot.

DAMAGE REPORT: Glitch hits hard. Like REALLY REALLY hard. In the past 3 seasons of BattleBots we’ve only been knocked out 1 time and that was against the formidable Son of Whyachi. Let’s recap the bots we’ve fought since that SOW match: Shatter, Lucky, Black Dragon, Witch Doctor, Huge, Saw Blaze, Rotator, HiJinx, Rusty, Claw Viper, SMEEEEE, and Gruff. That’s 12 matches against some of the top bots in the sport without being knocked out until that lucky number 13 and Glitch. We also experienced a completely new failure mode we hadn’t experienced in any of our previous matches.

That first hit on Kraken peeled back a piece of the “fin” armor and gave Kraken flying lessons. It also pulverized the magnets in the right-side drive motor. Those magnet shards exploded inside the motor and destroyed the rotor. A rotor is the inside spinny piece of a brushed motor that contains the coils of wire. Glitch’s second huge shot was to the left side of the bot, and that hit destroyed the magnets in the left drive motor, wiping out the rotor in basically the same manner. Two hits and we were dead. Glitch didn’t realize this and landed a third hit that tossed the battery cover. The second and third impact were so forceful that it crushed in the frame on that side. The left-side motor was pinched in the frame, destroyed, and could not be removed without a lot of work. There was a little damage to the front wedge, but nothing too serious. Compared to the damage in our first 2 matches, this was a fairly easy fix, even though she was knocked out in this match.


BattleBots Champions: Skorpios Bounty
Original air date September 1, 2022


Filmed August 20-September 5, 2021