TORNADO - The Team with the Comedy Flying Cow

Firstly, sorry if you have been sent a link to this page in response to an email you have sent us, or post you have made online. We are getting a lot of questions and this is the easiest way to answer them all.

Robot Wars 2016 on BBC2
We are extremely pleased to hear that finally Robot Wars is going to return to our TV screens in 2016 - not just on an obscure satellite channel but in full view on the BBC! It's great news and it's been a long time coming - well done to RoboChallenge for making it happen - and to the FRA (Fighting Robots Association), John Findlay (live Robot Wars events) and Alan Young (Robots Live!) for keeping the scene going.

How long has Team Tornado known?
You're not the first to tell us. We knew well before you did (i.e. before it was made public). Sorry!

Will Tornado be entering?
Short answer: We'd love to - but no, unfortunately not. There are multiple reasons (see below).

Might Tornado enter Robot Wars in the future?
Absolutely; yes. But it would be with a Mk2 version of Tornado (see below).

Why is Tornado not entering Robot Wars 2016?
There are various reasons, listed below in rough order of importance to us.

The Timing Sucks
The filming date could not be much worse for Andrew - he is moving house the week before, and on the likely week of the filming is taking part in a charity event, the Macmillan 4x4 Challenge - please sponsor Andrew (and his friend Richard).

Tornado needs upgrading
Yes, Tornado runs as it is - but our batteries are 13 years old and need replacing. Battery technology has taken several steps forward since we last competed and it's a significant investment to catch up (in cells and chargers - but also a big weight saving). On LiFePos (borrowed from other competitors as a test) Tornado runs brilliantly - better than it ran on Hawkers back in the day. Dave may have some ways around the problems with his electronic skills, but they need time to implement, and are unproven as we've not been attending live events for some time.
The chassis is no longer strong enough. It's the backbone of Tornado - complicated and one of the heaviest parts of the machine. Unfortunately it is mainly built from 1mm steel, which is not strong enough to handle the blows from current axes and flippers - ignoring the effect of any new and upgraded spinners. Making a new chassis requires time and has a small cost. Materials technology has moved on - we'd want to incorporate Hardox as well as thicker box section. There is a weight penalty (which is partly offset by the new battery technology). Yes, the Mk2 version of Tornado has been in my head since Series 7 - but it requires a new chassis and new armor.
We'd need to re-make some of our weapons - and potentially think of new ones. The rules will dictate what interchangable weapons we can use - some we would definitely need to re-make, as they have been scrapped since Series 7 (so that we did not have to store them).
We don't have the spare money. We reckon the investment we'd need to make is around 2k - so we'd need to get a sponsor to cover the cost. But we don't have enough spare time to find and/or look after a sponsor this time round. Please get in touch if you'd like to sponsor us in a future series.

We don't have enough time
There has not been enough notice given for us to prepare. Previously we'd have an idea of a series happening 6 months or so in advance. This time, it's been just over 2 months. We understand why, but it doesn't suit us.
Even if the filming didn't clash as above and the notice was longer, spare time to prepare is in short supply. Packing for moving and preparing for the Mac 4x4 is taking up all of Andrew's spare time. Andrew also sings Barbershop with Dave - and we are working on the runup for our Convention competition in May. Dave and his wife have a daughter less than a year old. Bryan meanwhile spends his spare time messing around with Land Rovers with BHCLRC (Beds Herts and Cambs Land Rover Club) - Andrew also does Land Rovers and is on the BHC Committee.

There are rule changes
The main issue is the increase in weight limit (again). We weren't fond of the move from 80kg to 100kg, fortunately the structure of Tornado adapted well at the time, but the machine got significantly slower (and more stress was put on the batteries, motors and speed controllers). You can see the difference by comparing the Series 4 machine to everything else that went after it... This will happen again, unless we upgrade the motors and electronics. That's a big investment in time and money. If we stick with the existing motors/electronics, the machine will be slower. Also, a still heavier machine is another level of difficulty to physically move around and work on. Is an engine crane going to be provided at every pit bench?
It is rumoured that an active weapon is again a requirement. Our most sucessful and useful weapon is our pushing blade, but that is not active. It's not an issue - we've added an active weapon to it before - but it takes time and effort to do so.
The FRA rules have changed since we last competed - and there may be further changes we're not yet aware of. For example, our 40MHz radio gear is no longer acceptable. Due to the clever way it is integrated with our electronics (and our own custom failsafes), we'd need to make substantial changes to go to 2.4GHz gear.

The filming location is a challenge
Glasgow is a blooming long way to travel from Cambridgeshire with a car full of robot kit. Will there be travel expenses and sufficient accommodation?

Can you come help on my team/drive my robot?
Sorry, Andrew definitely cannot (see "The Timing Sucks" above). It's pretty likely that Dave and Bryan will be busy too.

Andrew Marchant/Team Tornado, 14th January 2016

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