A scheme such as a Robot Wars entry for a UK TV programme doesn't happen without mishap or drama.

Here's a wee insight into some of the behind-the-scenes ups and downs during the 10 months of Slippery Strana's creation.

The Mentorn Paperwork
Our deadlines came and went for submission of the various forms and paperwork demanded by Mentorn. Sometimes we wondered whether they would give up on us and tell us "too little" or "too late" or "try again next year". But we managed to get the basics through OK and Mary-Jane Evans was amazingly tolerant about our delays.

Charlie As Project Manager
Yes, I said Project Manager. We never gave Charlie this title, but with hindsight he probably qualified as one. As most projects do, our Robot Wars venture went through highs and lows, and if it hadn't been for Charlie's tenacity, our project would have flopped many times over. I reckon the following would be 'qualities' of a typical Project Manager:-

1.  Keeps an eye on the final objective
In the early stages, both Dave and I had repeated doubts about the likelihood of building a credible robot. Charlie never doubted it. At the end of an evening with Charlie, for a dozen barely tangible reasons, Dave and I found ourselves talking positively about 'our robot', in spite of the reservations we admitted to each other at the beginningof an evening. And we only ever drank coffee!

2.  Watches how much is spent
We had a gentleman's agreement to share all costs between us (in the beginning it was Charlie (CDS), Dave (DPC) and myself (CSP)).

A well known rule about managing costs and resources is to measurethem. If they're not being measured then they can't be managed.

It was Charlie who drew up our lists of expenditure-to-date and you can see the earliest page opposite.

Our Early Price List

3.  Gets others to cough up the cash !
Well of course we DID share the costs between us, but Charlie had an amazing knack of getting Dave and/or me to produce the cash or the credit card "just for now" ! (For the record, Charlie alwayspaid his whack - in the end!)

4.  Motivates the team
Those probing questions on the telephone that begin -"by the way ...", "have you ...", did you ..." and "when is ..." could all be construed as 'motivation'.

And Charlie construed to motivate us. Not very often, but often enough.

5.  Uses charm to smooth over the inevitable hiccups
As you can read above, our deadlines came and went for the Mentorn paperwork, but . . .

On at least three occasions, we left Charlie to telephone the lovely Mary-Jane Evans at Mentorn and talk us out of a hole. Yes, I admit that credit should go to Mary-Jane for her flexibility, but you can understand our relief that Charlie and Mary-Jane established such a good rapport.

Highs and Lows

The highs were wonderful, for example :-
1. Seeing our lump of bare MDF board, two Bosch drills and two lawn-mower wheels scraping and bumping along the pavement under radio control for the first time, and
2. Collecting our new shell from Matrix Mouldings and realising we had at last got a hope in hell of building a credible robot.

The lows were sad, for example :-
1. Over a week's work of component buying, soldering and wiring all lost, when our DIY electronic speed controller melted. Here's a hint : don't try to design and build your own speed controllers.
2. Having to scrap our first shell design because the original moulding company went bust.

Back To The First Paragraph

Our DIY Speed Controller

Please call back later for news of this sorry soldering saga.

My Role In The Project

That's a very good question! Beware! If you call back to read this later you may be assailed by some heavy philosophical musings.

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Slippery Strana Home



The Name

The Speed



Amazing Shell

A Good Fight

This page last modified 2007-04-15