Hi, this is Marc, Angie and Andrew of Team ICEWAVE. We designed, built and now operate ICEWAVE for this year's BattleBots tournament and show on ABC (Sundays @ 9/8C), and we'd love to answer your questions about the 'bot, the battles, and the return of BattleBots. We're all engineers, builders, makers, probably nerds, and overall techy people, so ask us anything!

UPDATE: Thanks everyone for the great questions. We are done for today. Hopefully, we'll see some of you in the Battlebox in events to come!

Our proof is here: https://twitter.com/TeamIcewave/status/618535949652226048

Comments: 279 • Responses: 44  • Date: 

GavinE872 karma

How does your bot differ from Tombstone, arguably the most vicious and dangerous bot in the tournament? How would you prepare for a fight with that bot?

teamICEWAVE85 karma

Marc: Tombstone's blade is shorter, thicker and only in the front. He's probably a little more powerful, but way less armor than us.

Angie: I think this is another fight that would hinge on our driving. Fact is, I fear that if our blade contacts his, ours loses. We're on the wrong side of all the strength dimensions compared to him. We'll need to keep our hits on his back and sides, which is no small task. He's very maneuverable.

Andrew: Yeah, it all comes down to driving against Tombstone. Spinner versus spinner is a dangerous fight.

ResettisReplicas67 karma

Could a bot with a flamethrower make your bot explode?

teamICEWAVE96 karma

Andrew: Flamethrowers are interesting. Our robot is not terribly worried about them. We used metallic tape to seal any holes that lead to any critical systems, specifically to protect against flamethrowers. In our recent fight vs. Chomp, the flamethrower did do some damage to a couple of wires inside the upper engine armor, but only because we left one hole uncovered by accident. Beyond that, it just warmed up the frame and armor a bit. I have heard people speculating about using a flamethrower to 'smother' our ICE, and stall it out. I am not sure that would work, but I would be interested in seeing it happen.

Trooper191165 karma

Is the color scheme of your blade really intentional, in order to blend in with the arena floor, or is that just a random coincidence?

teamICEWAVE105 karma

Andrew: Yes. That was totally a calculated move. I knew the floor would be a dark steel color, and with only 3 minutes in a fight, you don't have a lot of time to look at the other robot mid-fight. At a quick glance, you may not catch the darker tips and might make some errors with spacing. I don't know if it actually came into effect that way, but that was the thinking behind the paint scheme.

pathword54 karma

Big question I think anyone wanting to get into the sport will ask... Price?

teamICEWAVE71 karma

A heavy weight robot, at 250lbs, is not a cheap thing. Think somewhere in the area of $10-20k each. Some of this is ameliorated by sponsors and the like, but still, the sport is not cheap. Materials alone take a massive amount of money out of the budget, and that is before any machining or other work is put into it. For example, the steel for our blade (not with the heat treating or machining) was $500.

incorene2 karma

What steel did you use? You can get a bar of S7 tool steel about that size for like $120...

teamICEWAVE3 karma

Care to share a link? It is 54" x 6" x 0.65"


Hey guys! Thanks for doing this, huge fan. What caused your lithium battery fire at the end of your first fight? How did you handle that/how will it be avoided in the future? Thanks!

teamICEWAVE57 karma

Angie: The LiPo fire was caused by a Team Icewave goofup. Sort of. Call it a lesson learned. We had crowded a little 5-cell NiCad pack for our receiver in the same compartment as our LiPo. They were padded around themselves, but not between the two packs. During the fight, the NiCad pierced the LiPo. The rest is fiery death.

It'll be easy to avoid in the future. No crowding the battery packs. Better padding. Lesson learned.

SinResearch36 karma

What would happen to me if your bot rolled into me, blade spinning top speed?

imadeaname67 karma

this kills the man

teamICEWAVE76 karma

^ this.

But really, we have no idea. It would be horrific to say the least.

teamICEWAVE55 karma

All of us agree on this one: NOTHING GOOD!

ZapTap31 karma

Why did you decide to go with an ICE design rather than using an electric motor?

teamICEWAVE57 karma

ICE is cooler! (pun intended). But really, there is a real intimidation factor in having a loud belching combustion motor on your robot gladiator. Not to mention it is powerful. A 15 hp, 125cc fireman's saw spinning a 47lb hardened steel bar is not something to mess around with.

paulsrobotics31 karma

What is the top RPM of the blade? Can you measure it with a tach? (BTW, thanks for lending your shop!)

teamICEWAVE43 karma

We calculated it to be around 1800 rpm. That isn't based off any physical reading, but rather guesses and estimates. The blades should be around 300mph at the tips when at full speed.

ChasingWindmills28 karma

How easily/quickly can IceWave self-right? I am assuming that the engine+blade assists in putting it back on its wheels, but how effective is this method?

teamICEWAVE79 karma

All of us: That is classified info, sorry.

walleye27520 karma

How do you get into battlebots? I just graduated as a 3 year member of my schools FIRST FRC robotics team, and I was the driver last year, and driving a battle bot is pretty much my dream

teamICEWAVE25 karma

All of us: Well, nobody knows quite yet what the entry process is going to look like next season. It's definitely something to watch out for on the BattleBots FB page. Also, the more you're involved in the larger combat robotics scene, the more plugged in you'll be for news and announcements about BattleBots in the future. Requesting an invite to the Combat Robotics FB group is a great idea. https://www.facebook.com/battlebots https://www.facebook.com/groups/RobotCombat/

wpmullen19 karma

If you had to defend against IceWave, how would you do it?

teamICEWAVE29 karma

Marc: Lots of thick steel and shallow angles.

Angie: I might also look hard at maneuverability. Speed.

Andrew: I don't know how to defend against Icewave!

diamondpenguin2218 karma

What are you going to do if you end up against a bot like Bronco?

teamICEWAVE29 karma

Angie: Driving will be a big, big factor against a bot like Bronco. You simply HAVE to control how he can get at you at all times. Slip for a second, and you're a 250lb cannonball.

Andrew: Hit it hard. Bronco's sides are flat, so that makes it a perfect target for ICEWAVE's blade.

teamICEWAVE14 karma

Marc: Keep the front facing him. Hopefully our floor-scraping wedge would get under his flipper spatula.

tangoyango17 karma

How did you come up with your robot design? It is absolutely shredding!

And what would you say is the most ineffective design for a robot to have?

teamICEWAVE20 karma

Marc: The point of the design was really to get the blade as close to the ground as possible, but while using the gasoline engine. That's what drove the engine going above the blade. Angie: Yeah, there's actually a longer discussion about that on our website's design blog. http://teamicewave.com/portfolio-items/blade-balance-and-why-whats-where/

personizzle17 karma

Longtime fan of the sport and Mechanical Engineering student here. I've always wanted to participate in this.

It seems as though as the technology of the sport has improved, the resources required to not get absolutely obliterated by machines like yours have gone up tenfold. I remember reading technical breakdowns of the robots competing in the early days, and there were a lot of things like salvaged drill motors, wheelchair pieces, scrap metal repurposed into frames, cheapo salvaged SLA batteries, and so on being molded into some very successful robots. Nowadays, it seems like the increased popularity has lead to most everyone using advanced alloys, CNC machining, and incredibly pricey motors, often purpose-built for the sport. I saw a quote from the builder of Tombstone that he averages $1000 on repairs per match! Don't get me wrong, I love how high tech these machines have gotten, and it makes the engineer in me want to dive right in even more. But the requirements seem to have gone from something which didn't scare 11-year-old me in the slightest (I built a driving frame back then from polycarb, old junky wheelchair motors, SLA batteries, and a Vantec, which looked a lot like the one in your profile segment), to something that I couldn't even begin to afford as a college student working two jobs. My question is, how can someone without many resources break into the sport? Are many teams successful in receiving sponsorship, and if so, how do you go about this? If not, what are some tips on building competitive full-scale combat robots while staying on the cheap? Right now, I'm feeling as though I have the skill and knowledge to do this, but nowhere near the resources/funds.

teamICEWAVE17 karma

Angie: I don't know if someday in the near future, building robots will be able to make more than it costs, but that is definitely not the case right now. Just like the other pro sports, sponsorship is a thing, but it takes an established presence in the sport to start those conversations. You could always start in the smaller weight classes and make a name for yourself. It'll still cost you, but it won't break the bank. Like go for 12lb, 30lb, or 60lb leagues in RoboGames.

Marc: The more success the show and the sport has, the better the chances of sponsors being willing to put in more money. I agree there needs to be a "junkyard" competition.

LetsGoEighty15 karma

Who do you think is going to be the biggest challenge for your bot?

Ever feel bad for the bots that get completely shredded?

teamICEWAVE30 karma

Oh yeah, we totally feel for those robots. Both Razorback and Chomp were beautifully made machines, so it was both awesome and terrible to take them apart like we did.

WigglestonTheFourth13 karma

Have you considered adding a victory dance to your matches? The winning teams seem so tame when the combat is so fierce.

teamICEWAVE29 karma

Marc: Actually, I was looking at that in our last fight. I kinda started to do a little victory dance, but I thought better of it. I got about a half-revolution and then stopped. Andrew: Calm and professional. No dancing needed. Angie: Haha. I can't convince these guys to busta groove when we win. What can I say?

kaiser11218312 karma

Does IceWave have trouble self righting?

teamICEWAVE18 karma

Angie: Sorry. Classified.

PCsomo10 karma

Hello and thanks for doing an AMA! Your robot is definitely one of my favorites.

The sound that I hear when that blade is getting up to top speed on the TV show is terrific. Is that sound actually coming from your robot or is that a sound added in post production?

teamICEWAVE20 karma

Angie: The sound is actually recorded from our running robot, however our theory is that they do some post-production to dub it in during the battle. Fact is, the BattleBox doesn't have good acoustics. In reality, the engine sound is much more impressive than they were able to reproduce in the show.

teknomonk9 karma

What is your opinion on nets and other forms of disablements in BattleBots?

Because from what I heard it's not illegal but that match the other day was done over.

teamICEWAVE20 karma

Marc: Entanglement is illegal. You have to give them credit for reading the rules and finding a loophole, but ultimately, the sport is going to be better without entanglement because as we saw, it made for a dull match. Their real mistake was not disclosing their "weapon" beforehand, per the rules. Angie: Yeah, but we all agree that no one deserved to be disqualified. It was a grey area, a loophole that was closed on the fly. Andrew: Dull match. Dull match.

teamtestbot7 karma

Marc, why are you so damn cute?

teamICEWAVE11 karma

Marc (did not) say: Good breeding, good eating, and lots of exposure to metal dust, grease, and solder fumes.

sawburst7 karma

How did you come up with the name?

teamICEWAVE26 karma

All of us: Once upon a time... okay, it's mostly an inside joke. Paul from Bite Force used to go to a high school in NJ whose mascot was Green Wave. He built a robot of the same name that was a Hazard-style overhead bar spinner. Then for BBIQ he built Greenwave Squared that had a big motor added above the blade. Marc had been wanting to use an engine for a while, and when he saw Paul's bot with the big box motor on top, it turned on the lightbulb. He built an early ICEWAVE based on that, and the name was ICE for Internal Combustion Engine and WAVE to pay homage to Paul's GreenWave.

sarahbau7 karma

I've wanted to build a bot for a long time (since the original Battlebots), but never got around to it. I've been thinking about building a 12 or 30 lb bot using drill motors, but even that seems to start out at a few hundred dollars once you get the speed controllers, batteries, etc. Did you start out building smaller combat robots using cheap parts, or jump right into building larger bots with high quality parts?

teamICEWAVE9 karma

Marc: I think the 12 or 30lb is a great place to start. My first robot was a 120lber because I was specifically building with the goal of being on BattleBots. I financed it by building web sites. But yes, you're looking at a couple hundred dollars no matter what you build.

Andrew: My opinion is that if you're interested in getting in at a low price point, you can start in the ant weights and build much cheaper bots.

sciencequiche7 karma

How was your experience participating in the show? Would you return for season 2? And if so, are you thinking of a brand new design?

teamICEWAVE9 karma

Every time you go to the battle box, you need to have something new to keep yourself competitive. We have some ideas, both for new robots, and for improvements to Icewave.

We had a great time, and would love to go back for season 2, depending on what the team is doing in their personal lives.

kingbane5 karma

so i've been curious what happened in this fight https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AY45kUc7TJU

the video is really blurry so i can't tell what did you guys hit that sent icewave flying like a ragdoll?

teamICEWAVE2 karma

Marc here. Something caused the robot to start coining (become unstable) and the oscillations shook the engine so hard that it sheared all of its rubber shock mounts off. Then, the engine smashed the inside of the top cover and the whole thing fell into the blade. You can see the yellow engine getting chucked across the arena during the slow-mo.

battlebotter5 karma

Did you use any CAD software to design/model ICEWAVE?

teamICEWAVE7 karma

Yes. We extensively used SolidWorks to make sure our design fit together and worked before we started to machine any of the large, critical pieces. This had the added benefit of making the robot very easy to service in the pits between matches. Everything fit the first time, thanks to the CADs.

ScorpionDerp5 karma

You guys are awesome! Would you say that there is any weapon that is better than a horizontal spinner? Those things seem to be instant winners?

teamICEWAVE13 karma

Angie: I'm not sure horizontal spinners are some sort of instant win button, but they put on a REALLY GOOD SHOW. There aren't any other types of weapons out there that can throw so much kinetic energy at the opponent, so that means there's nothing else that really has that explosive destructive force. Though the hydraulic lifters like Bronco have a good show, too.

Marc: No. :) But I still like flippers. Because the little low boundary wall inside the arena lets flippers knock people out by knocking them over the wall. And that's good because flippers have been at a disadvantage for a while.

Xarrin5 karma

What's IceWave's weight distribution like?

teamICEWAVE9 karma

Angie: Icewave is actually pretty symmetrical, so the COG of Icewave ends up being basically dead center right-left and just a little front-biased. It's about 1" lower than the blade. http://teamicewave.com/portfolio-items/blade-balance-and-why-whats-where/

ForceAndFury4 karma

A big deal has been made about flamethrowing weapons in this iteration of Battlebots. How effective do you feel that they truly are? Do they actually pose a significantly greater risk to an ICE 'bot like yours?

teamICEWAVE7 karma

Flamethrowers have a place. Mostly for attempting to fry exposed or poorly protected electronics. I personally didn't see anything to suggest that a flamethrower poses any special threat to an ICE powered robot. Without some seriously powerful and/or long lasting fire, I don't think that they will be a serious threat to anyone who is a little prepared for them.

ResettisReplicas4 karma

Who was your favorite bot in all of Battlebots? And if you ever followed the British scene, who was your favourite from Robot Wars?

teamICEWAVE7 karma

Marc: Complete Control at BattleBots this year. And I liked Juggerbot on TLC's Robotica. The team was also on Robot Wars with a different paint job.

Angie: I'm actually super new to the whole robot world, so I don't have any old favorites. This year, my favorite was Nightmare.

Andrew: From the original series, I really liked Toro, so of course I liked Bronco this year. Witch Doctor was also really cool.

glorkvorn4 karma

It seems like horizontal spinners are becoming more and more powerful... are they eventually going to dominate the sport?

teamICEWAVE10 karma

The sport is very much like Rock-Paper-Scissors. Spinners can store a lot of energy in the blade or shell they are spinning, but are usually pretty vulnerable to being flipped. Anything with thick metal and shallow sloped angles will fair well against a spinner, no matter what they are spinning.

Hiicantpk3 karma

Looking at the bracket, most of the tournament favourites are on the other side (Tombstone, Bronco, Stinger). Who are you looking out for on your side of the bracket?

teamICEWAVE7 karma

Angie: We are a wary bunch. We look out for everyone! No, seriously. We have never had anyone on our side of the bracket who we thought would be a pushover. These bots are all serious business. Andrew: Bite Force is the one that I'm most afraid of. Marc: I agree with Angie. I try to treat every 'bot like my worst enemy.

Sylph3 karma

What is it like to be doing this AMA and other interviews as if you are right now in the middle of the tournament even though in reality it has already been fought? Is it hard to keep things to yourself? Are there a lot of things that are not directly related to the outcome of the fights that you would like to talk about but are not allowed to while the show is running? If so should we expect a lot of more in-depth interviews with the roboteers once the season finishes airing?

teamICEWAVE2 karma

Marc: It's not so bad. Just don't give away what hasn't aired yet. What is harder for me is knowing that there is so much amazing footage that wasn't used because there just isn't enough time. Hopefully they post it somewhere.

Jerseyborn883 karma

Hey guys, I've been a big fan of your bot since seeing you guys featured on the Tested youtube channel.

My question is: Do you have anything in store for the low to the ground bots that could possibly get under your blade? Do any of the competitor bots fit this profile?

Rooting for you guys! Thanks for doing this.

teamICEWAVE8 karma

Our front wedge is a critical part of our offensive strategy. Instead of relying on it as a defensive backup in case of blade failure, we designed the front wedge to help us scoop up low profile bots and run them into our blade. Warrior Clan and Witch Doctor both have small, low to the ground nuisance bots and we should be pretty easy to hit with the wedge and blade combo.

Dark-tyranitar2 karma

Probably too late to the party, but why didn't you build a wedge around your entire bot? Weight issues perhaps?

blulizard2 karma

Just a guess, but part of the reason could also be this: If you look at the bot, the blade doesn't sit in the center but a bit more in the front. So, with the wedge added on the front, the blade becomes more or less centered again. The way Icewave is currently designed, if you add anything on the side or back, it would lower the blade's range (in terms of jutting out over the main body). Spinners often also have a defensive aspect of warding anything off coming too close to the bot's body itself. So maybe that thought played a role too.

teamICEWAVE2 karma

This is true. And if you put wedges all around, it's a waste of weight. Just learn how to drive better!

I_am_Rude2 karma

What kind of qualifiers and requirements did you guys have to meet to get to the show? Was there a tournament to get into the tournament or something?

teamICEWAVE2 karma

Marc: We were invited because we had competed in some previous competitions. But before we were chosen as one of the 24, we had to submit design proposals, safety forms, videos of the team, team bios, etc. The 24 robots were selected from the applicants by BattleBots, the producers, and ABC.

m3mn4rch2 karma

Excluding Icewave, which bot is your favorite to see in the Battlebox?

teamICEWAVE2 karma

Marc: I really liked watching Bronco.

vazod1 karma

hello. what do you guys do in your free time?

teamICEWAVE2 karma

We don't have much free time. Building Icewave took all of our free time and then a whole bunch more.

soundsmith891 karma


What Tx-Rx system do you use for your control? Do you have a stick/button layout of your robot's functions? Any special software that you have written for your robot's functions?


teamICEWAVE2 karma

Spektrum DX6i transmitter and 6-ch receiver. Only the right stick is used for tank steering. We have a separate DX5e transmitter and receiver for throttle where only the left stick is used.

Fights_with_Coyotes1 karma

How did you get started in robot combat, and where/how do you recommend someone new to the sport get into it? What kind of knowledge do newcomers need to have/learn?

teamICEWAVE3 karma

Marc: I saw BB on TV, and I started following the websites of teams like c2robotics.com and reading all of the build reports. I contacted Rich at NPCRobotics.com and he was super helpful. He gave me a bunch of pointers, and I ended up buying my first motors from them.

paulHarkonen1 karma

I suspect I am too late to get any answers, but I am really curious. What special gearing or engine modifications did you have to make to allow your engine to handle the sudden jarring stop of the blade smashing into other solid metals? Your bot design is impressive, but every ICE I've ever worked with would be completely destroyed by the punishment of having the crank suddenly stopped constantly the way yours would be.

teamICEWAVE2 karma

The engine has the stock centrifugal clutch which drives a 3L v-belt to a larger pulley. From there, another chain reduction drives the blade. The clutch and v-belt provide enough slip that the engine probably doesn't feel much.

MistaBojangles991 karma

Why are the tips not sharpened? I get that it may make it weaker but wouldn't it also effectively help slice through some of the lighter armor? Or was the point to just keep bashing enemies?

teamICEWAVE2 karma

They ARE sharpened! The blade was very sharp at the beginning of the competition, but every hit dulls the edge a little more.