Hi James, I’ve never talked to anybody who builds robots before, tell us about it, when did you start?

I started, I think maybe just over 2 years ago now, I’ve lost track of time.

Tell me how did you get started? Why the interest in building a battle bot?

Well I watched all of the series of Robot Wars when it originally aired with ex Top Gear host Jeremey Clarkson before Craig Charles took over.. after than I just really wanted to build one.. I started a new job three years ago making gates an railing - my boss at the time who is sadly no longer with us said he was happy to let us use the workshop in my spare time to build one.

How old were you when you first started

27

Are you in a team?

Yes its mine and my girlfriends team..... Team Griffalo. We are on Facebook and Twitter.

IMG 5236How long did it take to build your 1st one?

This is still the first one however about 7 months as I only get two days a month to work on it.

What’s the robot called?

Griffalo

Haha I should have registered that with a name like Team Griffalo. Who came up with the name?

My Girlfriend Gaynor,  she put my favourite children's book “The Gruffalo” and part of my surname Griffiths and came up with the name.

Love it. What’s been the hardest bit to build? I imagine that the electronics may have been a nightmare.

Yes definitely electronics because it's all been custom made by me and it was all pretty new territory to me.

IMG 5235Did you know much about electronics before you started?

Yeah a little bit, I've restored a vintage Lambretta scooter before so you do all the electronics yourself  but that was basic stuff in comparison to build Griffalo.

I bet there was a steep learning curve there, especially the weapons, does it have weapons?

Yeah definitely, best bit aren’t they?! It has a 22" long spinner bar made out of a bottom plate from a hydraulic press machine and for the drive motors we used were wheelchair motors over volted to 36v.. our weapon motor is an Lynch motor (Used in boats) (Industrial Air Compressor) that's speed limited for the live events... You can follow us on Facebook and Twitter, if you type in Griffalo there should be some fights on there

Any weakness that you know of?

Yes, me Hahaha, we do have concerns about the safety links at the minute.

Have you taken it battling yet?

Yes, 3 shows so far in Gloster, Manchester and Cheltenham

IMG 5234And how did you get on?

You can see the video on YouTube... We did ok... but didn't win any fights I'm constantly upgrading though

How much would you say you’ve spent on building so far?

Tricky to say but I’d probably say about £700 but we got lots of upgraded parts from friends worth over £1000

Sounds like a good group of people, what is the community like?

Very friendly in the pits and  always happy to help plus a lot of support online to... The most important thing is to get the robots in the arena... For us to smash up.

Is it a bigger underground sport than most people imagine?

Yes we do the live shows near us. But is all around the country... Check out on Facebook.. Extreme Robots.. They helped support Griffalo online

Would you say it more males than females in the pits?

Yes however there are more female getting involved which is nice to see. There is an all girl team that was recently on Robot Wars. It's why I love my girlfriend getting involved... She will be driving Griffalo this year.

IMG 5232And who’s a better driver?

This will be Gaynor's first time driving Griffalo so we will see.

I like that attitude. Is getting onto Robot Wars the pinnacle of the sport?

For some people it is definitely, not for us, we’re not fussed if we do or don't get on the show  because we really enjoy the live events so much.

Any advice for anybody looking to get into battling?

Yeah join Facebook group over even try and get VIP tickets to the show with one on one talk with other roboteers... Were always happy to help give advice to anyone wanting to get involved in battling.

Important question time now, is there usually prize money involved?

Well you get £5 a fight each time your robot goes into the arena but that's for heavy weights only.

Not retirement money then but I’m sure that’s not the point

Fun Fact Griffalo has over 100year old steel at the back.

IMG 5237Is older steel stronger?

Ummm sort of but nowadays days robots are made out of Hardox (Wearsteel) (Tanks).

Where can we see Team Griffalo kicking ass next?

It will be at Cheltenham again in November hopefully... I'm promised myself I won't rush. But yesterday we got a sponsor.

Oh wow, that’s cool, who’s the sponsor?

They are called Basic micro and they are from California. And they build ESC.

ESC?

Electric Speed Controller... It governs the speed from the Transmitter (RC) to the Motors.

IMG 5231Do you see this a hobby or could it be a full time job in some capacity?

It's a hobby for me at the moment however I might get me some work making props, I don't know at the moment.

Thank you James, It’s been an absolute pleasure talking to you  and we wish you and a Team Griffalo all the best for Cheltenham in November

Thanks Nick and if you ever want an 8 track tape player fixing you know where I am.

 

Follow James & Team Griffalo here