Balance of Power was a head-to-head autonomous robotics contest with he play field a standard building stud, an 8 foot long 2x4, that was balanced on a pivot. The objective of the game was to have your starting side of the beam higher than your opponent's at the end of three minutes.
Team A> brought three entries...
1) The Tower Bot - "Big BoPer":
Built by my son and I the day the rules were announced, using every
1x16 technic brick in our house, as well as the somewhat unorthodox
method of reinforcing with old blue train rails (I KNEW there had to be a
use for them!). It sat without a "top", as I couldn't figure out a
nice "lift" or "elevator" mechanism. until the latching rod came to me
in a dream, and the day of the contest someone (thanks whoever)
suggested it be spring loaded.
2) The "Real" Robot - "Brainy BoPer"
(i.e. with a
RCX controlling it) that I built built after deciding that a tower was
a "loophole-bot". It used a geared down, two-motor per wheel drive and a rotation sensor to measure beam slippage as well as beam positioning.
3) The Gravity Ring = "Baby BoPer"
The Trivial Case
The simplicity of this was that it relied on gravity, and the theory that most competitors could be heavier, to just slide down the beam, with a one way toggle preventing it from being pushed back past the pivot bolt by its opponent. Of course, this strategy could be simply over come by a tower bot, or tied by a similar bot. (the 3 minutes against Janey were some of the most nerve wracking in the event.....NOT
And I question if it really should have been allowed to compete , but I seem to recall a MIT competition for robotic rope climbing that was won by a hula hoop tied to helium balloons (though I can't find the reference at this time).
I was only going to bring the actual robot, but my son wanted to see the big tower
go head to head against other people, so I said he could run it.
My daughter pouted at me and said "but what can I use" so we quickly
built the gravity ring. She thought it was stupid, until I showed her
my "real" robot couldn't beat it (even Dave K's runamok couldn't take
it apart)...And I was impressed that others like Janey independently came up with
a similar solution!
I knew in advance that the only one of the three I would actually call a
"robot" was going to loose to the other two, as they did at home, but
that didn't stop us from playing all of them, even when my RCX hit the
ground repeatedly and still managed to finish in a resounding last
place (0 points, no wins, lost ever match).
Now, the tower did loose against Dave K in a rather
spectacular fashion after being hoisted 9 feet into the air and had to be rebuilt, with my wife's help (who, by the way
can not stand to build with Lego - Thanks, Deb!).