June 26th 1998:
Well, after nearly two weeks without any updates, things have moved on a bit. We have been working pretty hard, despite the World Cup, and have made a lot of progress. No pictures at the moment, I'm afraid. Two reasons. First, Chris has now gone on holidays for two weeks, and I'm left holding the Panda. Secondly, to be honest, I don't think anyone would be all that impressed with the photos. A lot of the work we have done has revolved around two things - the drive chain and the body work. This has meant that although we have done a lot, the benefits won't be obvious until later.

So, what has been going on? Well, I don't remember all of the dates recently (hence just one big page here!) but since getting the motors and batteries, we have been toying with different possible drives. Our original intention to use wheelchair motors has fallen through with the suppliers, and at 300 quid a shot, I don't really want to buy two brand new ones. We hit a real low point here, wondering what the hell we were going to drive Panda with.

We started to look into re-gearing the motors I had bought and things became less strained. The motors were rated fairly well, but we weren't too convinced the first time we ran them. To be fair, we were using discharged batteries as well. We spent a lot of time planning and looking for alternatives in case it all went bamboo-up!

More June 26th 1998:
While all of this was going on, we did have some new success. Chris managed to get hold of the body panels from his bruv and we started cutting them to size. The plastic is very, very impact resistant - which is exactly what we wanted from it. And if any ofour competitors are thinking that plastic will be easy to cut? Well, maybe - but maybe you might get more than you bargined for if you do!!

  We started building a test-rig for the drives and then transfered what we had to the Panda. The two drives were fitted with our existing motors. We managed to get the gears from RS (can someone explain why they don't like selling things to the public?) and we got some 10mm steel rod from a place in Crawley that was absolute tool heaven!

This was fitted together using blocks of wood as bearing houses.The expectation is that the wood will break in testing, and we will have to re-make them from something else, but I'm working on that!!

Meanwhile, we got the wheels mounted and built spacers so that they would fit the 10mm axles. By now, it was nearly time for Chris to go away. We worked long into the night to try and get the drives running before he left. We got them mounted, but there were problems with the wheels slipping and batteries, so he didn't get to see it running.

Even more June 26th 1998:
So, we are up to date. This weekend, I have had my wife, Dawn, as a trusty assistant. We have re-mounted the drives and fitted front wheels too. The Panda has finally been run in anger!!! I was honestly beginning to think we would never do it. The first run was just a short burst in the garage using one battery, but it was still quite promising. We had some problems with gear slippage when the robot was stopped (this has now been resolved) and I had to fix the wheels to the axles more securely.

The first weapon is partly made and we have a number of components for other weapons. We have the RC gear on order for collection this week also, so I will have about 2 weeks to practise driving it before the first trip up to London to meet Mentorn. It's all getting a bit nerve racking now!! The next couple of weeks are going to be very hard work!

One other piece of good news was that we weighed Panda in skeletal form with batteries and she comes in at around 34 kilos. This means that once weapons and body-panels are
    fitted, we should be just about inside the heavyweight limit. Phew!

More soon - but with Chris away, my attention has to be the Panda!