Manav Kataria's Blog

Transformers at IITB – Tech General Championship

Problem Statement

Transformer disguised as a mobile

“A competition held at IIT Bombay as a part of Tech General Championship recently was to device a mechanical robot “Transformer” that fits in a 1ft x 1ft x 1ft volume and expands to a largest (enclosing) bounding box volume. There were no batteries allowed or any chemicals to be used. Your Transformer must only use stored mechanical potential energy! And to top it, all this had to happen with only single external trigger!” Here is the exact problem statement.

The hostels came up with some really innovative ideas and designs. They used everything from straws to springs to umbrellas to rock!

Top most expansions:

  1. Hostel #8 went upto 15 meter^3. About 530 times of the original size!
  2. Hostel #1 went upto 8.6 meter^3. About 330 times the original size. They had a very professional design and called their bot “Graviton”. They won the Best Design Award!
  3. Hostel #3 and Hostel #10 (ladies hostel) had a tough competition with their bots expanding to ~ 6.5 meter^3 230 times!

Photos and videos:

Album 1 and Album 2

Hostel #1

This was the first time H1 was participating in Tech GC. Nobody knows when was the last attempt. Their bot was impressive and as Sagar says, it casted a scary look on many other bots!

First Round – The Drama!

Graviton and H1 Team
“Graviton” & H1-Team

The competition proceeded very interestingly for Hostel #1. Their bot was designed to expand in all 6-directions. The expansions were well thought-off and tested. The trigger was most crucial mechanism of the bot. At the last minute they changed their plan of not using the complicated string-trigger mechanism. This wasn’t tested before and it was their turn – they were rushed onto the stage! All of the extensions were wound by an elastic which was to be cut at-two-places simultaneously for the trigger to be considered valid! Their first attempt, directlty on stage  – scary for the entire team! Nobody was sure whether it would work.

Sagar went on to attempt the trigger. He tried once, the elastic failed to cut .. twice and it failed … Everybody could already hear the scissors’ attempt to cut the elastic … Clang! Two pipes broke off from the bot and hit the ground! This was a clear disqualification! But nobody said anything! It was already embarassing, not to be able to trigger your own bot! Ramnath added to the nervousness by declaring that three attempts have been made to cut the string which he indicated was against the rules! See Video.

Finally the string cut! clack! and only the top extension shot loose. Nothing along the lateral dimensions! Turmoil! 😦

Ramnath rushed the team asking for measurements of the incompletely expanded bot. It was not worth it and we could do better. Manav decided to call-off the attempt. “Ditch!” he said. He accepted the failure and knew the score would be casted zero! He insisted that we be allowed to cut the other elastic to test (rest of the extensions of) our bot. This was granted.

Sagar cut the other elastic and voila! The rest of the bot broke loose! And expanded fantastically in all directions! The boys did note what had gone wrong with the attempt and set out to fix it.

  1. One lateral expansion hit the table
  2. The string that was cut first was a semi trigger only for the top of the bot to release

The Second Trial (Video1video2)

We fixed it both the flaws and tested it independently of the official trial. It worked! Now we were all set for the second attempt. And this here video shows how we did and the public response!

H1 celebrated and partied in the night! I am sure all of us had a pleasant sleep that night! 😉

Hilarious Comments by Sagar:

Sagar very nicely describes the emotions and bashings during the course of the event and celebrations. Hilarious! Check ’em out here:

… To top it all I would like to detail the mindset in which our team was when the first attempt failed…Mr. Mohit “Maine bola tha neechey se kaatna!!” He meant to say scissor ka neechey(near the joint) ka portion. How would I come to know neechey se means near the base of the scissor and not the lower portion of the mechanism (robot)??? …

Crack One-liners by Malpani:

Anand Malpani (leftmost)

Anand Malpani (leftmost)

Anand Malpani, had some crack (amazing) one-liners in desi IIT slang:

… H1 –  matlab yaar too much tha! professional maxxx! the machine was by far ek dum systematic and to top it all they had the transformers logo also on it with the name of hostel and stuff!

H10 – straws!!!! if only straws had beeen allowed but the design was fabulous scissors made from these were never thought by us that could work so great

H3 –  amazing calculations awesome idea of body diagonal!! dunno who is the brains behind it but the team effort was great …

“Graviton” Team:

  • H1 Celebrating!

    H1 Celebrating!

    Manav Kataria

  • Sagar Bhokre
  • Nikunj Bhagat
  • Srinivas
  • Mohit
  • Mayank Pandey (H9)
  • Siddharth Jain (H9)
  • Jhelum (H11) – Optimum Coordinate System
  • Husain
  • Anand Pratik
  • Rahul Mishra
  • Abhishek Dwivedi – Posters
  • and many more …

— x —


7 responses

  1. manavkataria

    Appreciation for H1 at Tech GC! Highlights in Bold:

    August 28, 2009 at 11:17 am

  2. nikunj

    Hi, great post. You described it as an story teller. Except for few misspell like “no batteries or chemicals” its great.


    August 28, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    • manavkataria

      kaunse spelling mistakes be?!

      August 29, 2009 at 10:48 am

    • manavkataria

      Fixed it! thanks

      August 30, 2009 at 10:21 am

  3. Sagar B Bhokre

    Hey, great post except that it hides all the bashing I had to witness and experience after the event from our very own Mr. Joshi and Mr. Datta for leaving the discussion table oily and the floor stuffed with saw dust (after the nightout session)…:D 😛 🙂
    For the first time in my life was I warned for doing something good 🙂 that too against the most dreaded personality in EE Dept (Prof. P C Pandey) :D. In Mr. Joshi’s words “Jar table la SCRATCH aali asti tar Pandey siranna mail pathavlach asta!”…Since yesterday Datta sir has hidden all the equipments so that no1 finds it comfortable to work in the lab after lab hours!! 😀
    To top it all I would like to detail the mindset in which our team was when the first attempt failed…Mr. Mohit “Maine bola tha neechey se kaatna!!” He meant to say scissor ka neechey(near the joint) ka portion. How would I come to know neechey se means near the base of the scissor and not the lower portion of the mechanism (robot)???
    Nikunj as always…. calm… “ABEY Theek hai theek hai apney paas aur attempt hai kar lenge…”
    I was like “Make it quick buddy, we have 2 more attempts to go for in 1n1/2 hours!! 11 baj gaye toh SAC waaley woh attempt bhi nahi leney denge…”. With time running out of hand, I was dying to trigger the mechanism on the unofficial stage for a trial run but Manav was too cautious to not allow me to do so…measuring the table more than twice to make sure the mechanism doesnt touch the stage. “Arrey yaar 50 cm < 60cm (please dont smile but this was THE actual argument I raised before Manav) table ko touch nahi karega kya point banta hai measure karneka" and as always Manav pointed his index finger towards me n said "point hai point hai" I was like " ??? ". At last hrrrhrhrhr I was allowed to trigger the mechanism n I was more than happy 2 know that none of the parts fell off (all intact–1 of the rules framed for the event).
    Then came the final try…we knew our mechanism was sturdy and stable…H1 cheers all around…just a trigger n 2 seconds later we moved from the bottom of the list to a respectable position (2nd position was never that bad for us…) n then was the time to confuse myself Shanky saying "Axis ko tedha le volume jyaada milega" I asked for some time from the judges and went to both Nikunj and Manav… "Kaunsa lena hai??" both of them mathematically much stronger than me!! 🙂 a confident reply "(ABEY )seedha waala lena hai!!" dont recollect who said but it was definitely correct…
    Post event celebrations were just awesome…Coke and Photography sessions in the TT Room followed by party plans outside SAC gate. Later we all came to our hostel, BUMPS for no reasons were initiated by Nikunj… myself falling prey to it…Manav became the next victim. Nikunj was filled with fright when we all hit em on his tushy and took em towards the the bull standing besides us. This was nothing compared to the terror he experienced when the bull came running towards him (or his red T-shirt) and rest of us ran (started running) away from em. Nikunj "ABEY ABEY ABEY ABEY ABEY ABEY ABEY" 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
    To conclude my bhashan I appreciate and thank the H9 junta in our team for being with us (TREAT ASSURED from Manav :D) and Hussain for suggesting the triggering mechanism (however I had suggested the mechanism earlier but it was never thought of seriously at that point in time :)) Mohit, u come up with good pragmatic ideas, Srinivas, ur commitment is just amazing—- a word…. and we used to assume "HO JAYEGA" all the juniors were jus outstanding with their enthusiasm.
    Nikunj–"Tu toh baap hai yaar" (Please take the literal meaning 😀 😀 :D) Manav — Great work of taking the initiative and leading the team.


    au re voir
    *please dont chew over mistakes 😀 BHAAVANAON KO SAMJHO
    B Sound

    August 29, 2009 at 10:02 am

    • manavkataria

      Awesome Storytelling! 🙂

      August 29, 2009 at 10:51 am

  4. Vijay

    Congrats to the team…First time in H-1 . Great…Wonderful…Highly appreciable..

    September 7, 2009 at 10:03 am

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