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How to get started with giant robots

****There are some things that mortal men just cannot do, which is why we need to have giant humanoid robots to do our bidding. Ideally. If your plans call for heat rays being shot out of the eyes of an advancing phalanx of relentless shock troop while binary nerve gas warheads are discharging their payload along the line of march, robots are your very best friends. If it has more to do with creating a serum for eternal life or cloning a race of winged badgers, you might not see the urgency in having these, but we can probably all agree that they fall at least into the nice to have category.

*Evil plotpoints

  1. Prototype. Chicken wire, Lego, mashed potatoes, or good old pencil and paper are all good ways to start out. Any especially fiddly subsystems such as those custom freeze grenade launchers ought to be worked out and debugged on the bench before integrating them into the Mark I structure. Check for balance and unforseen conflicts at this point, then build out the clean Mark II using as many real components as you can obtain. Like it yet? Love it enough to build a hundred of them? Hope so.
  2. Procure. If you just want one or two one-off numbers, you can hand-fit and burnish every single square centimeter of your creation, but if you are counting on serious quantities of these units going into action, you need to change your mindset from the proto lab to that of heavy industry. Control or eliminate your supplier costs, keep an eye on the Gantt charts, and watch as that mech bay fills up with the fruit of your effort.
  3. Testing. 99% reliability means that one of every hundred units will have a telling flaw, which when it comes to giant armed robots can be a real bringdown when you are on maneuvers. To get up to the much more prudent 99.999% level you need to impose strict regression testing controls, holding the line bosses painfully responsible for any slipups discovered. And spare no effort in torture testing the AI component of your design in order to smoke out any weakness that the forces of good will endeavor to turn against you, as is their wont.
  4. It's alive! Now comes the moment of truth when you are able to unleash your shiny happy metal people on an unprepared world which will curse your name and your evil designs with their dying breaths. Savor the moment and share it with your debased allies while you still can.

! Strokes of genius

Androïde
  • Measure twice, weld once. Now you didn't just go and build that 3 meter wide android in a concrete bunker which has only 2.5 meter wide doors, did you? Avoid these kinds of embarrassments at the beginning by investing in a professional tape measure, and measure the heck out of everything whenever there is even the slightest hint of things coming into conflict.
  • Humanoid, not human. It may be gratifying to have your own face and every physical attribute (I know) immortalized in your creation, but unless your reason for creating an android is to have it serve as your doppelganger, it may be better to relax the realism requirement in favor of practicality. Too many perfectly usable but artistically-challenged automatons never go live, so to speak, because of this. Plus, the moment your unit sees conflict, the whole simulacrum thing will likely go out the window anyway, and it is just plain discouraging to have to sculpt yet again your own likeness once it has been slagged with radioactive acid.

!! Traps for mere fools

  • The nosy neighbor. When you are in the midst of a creative brainstorm, or even the destructive kind, then thing you really do not want to have is the kind of niggling about little details, the petty little sniping about trivia, which a well-meaning bystander not acquainted with the grand plan is prone to dish out. Unfortunately, when your project is three storeys tall it can be a bit hard to conceal before it is all done unless you have a really spacious indoor bay. Sometimes you can make do by putting up some dense shrubbery around the perimeter of your property, backed up, if need be, by a few humorless armed minions, though it must be admitted that there are times when the measures one takes for privacy end up drawing attention to the enterprise as a whole. Sometimes the only good solution is to accelerate your build schedule and/or to kill them all (external link).
  • Missing spares. It is astonishing how a simple little mechanized gladiator project leads to huge piles of spare limbs, sensors, weapons, hydraulics, and every other component you have ever used or considered for use. The fact is that all of these deep stocks are at least as essential as the bits which are actually installed on your robot, as they make it possible to get past the freakout times which typically occur in the wee hours of the morning when something just is not working out right and days or weeks of effort need to be torn out and re-engineered. They will be used, too, when you put your metallic creation into action, as the stakes get higher and a head or gun-mount may suddenly be out of commission owing to circumstances. Do not fall into the trap of building your giant robot with exactly enough materials, lovely it may be to have that workshop of yours completely free of clutter on commissioning day. You will regret this sort of neatness fetish. I know - I was there myself.
  • Builder's remorse. Maybe they make more noise than you thought. Or it could be that they turn on you and try hunting you down with a remorseless infrared hatred. Take comfort that you have accomplished something that only a relatively few of your peers would be mad enough to attempt, and learn to accept that nothing in the world, natural or artificial, is completely as its creator intended.

+ Precious and needful

Mooformers!
  • Gantry crane.
  • Duct tape.
  • Heliarc welder. All the usual metal shop equipment.
  • Shop vac.
  • Miniaturized positronic brain.
  • Steel ingots. (several dozen tons)


Further plotting



Created by: GrinningSkull. Last Modification: Friday 10 of July, 2009 11:06:16 EDT by CapellaNovafyre.

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