Controlling the "Beast"
So you've built your machine of destruction, now how to sway it to do your bidding! You aren't most likely going to control it via a joystick and a long cable are you? You're going to have to purchase some sort of R/C set or wireless solution. There are a few options out, one being the most logical, a R/C car or plane transmitter. But aren't they expensive? Yes, but so is the event.
Regulations in most of the competitions require that you use a R/C transmitter that is at least FM at 72MHz in the US, in the UK they use 40MHz. As of recent BattleBots has made it a requirement to have a 75MHz PCM R/C set as they are less likely to get interference. These are the most expensive in some cases. But not to forget that there are other options avaible as well, some being cheaper and some being far more expensive but also more advanced.
I'll talk about one of the cheaper solutions first. A company called Multiplex USA is offering a PPM/IPD FM solution for R/C control. Their line seems quite interesting as the units use a transmission type that is better than standard FM transmission. Their line of transmitters are also unquie as they are versitile. You can purchase a 4 channel transmitter and easily expand it to a 6-7 channel unit for a small cost.
A solution that I am familar with from my US FIRST days is the Innovation FIRST control system. This control system is a complete solution that is powered by a microcontroller and is compeletly programmable. It is quite the powerhouse as far as R/C systems go, it can almost be said its overkill...but we all like a little overkill don't we :) Anyway, it has 16 I/O(8 PWM outputs, 8 Analog outputs), blah blah blah, and full of other goodies. The biggest thing besides the nice features is that it uses a 900MHz Transciever as its means of communication instead of the 75MHz range the other two use. You shouldn't have a problem with these as far as intereference go...and I know this first hand. There is a bunch more I could say but its just too much.
There is also the custom solution. If you can build it to the regulations of the rules of the competition you are entering then go for it. Otherwise you'll proably have to go with one of the three menitoned above.
Now, my choice. At this time I'm thinking about the Multiplex USA setup as it is fairly cheap in comparison to the others and it has enough of the features I require. I may have not be able to purchase this set though as its means of communication could possible be turned down by BattleBots because of the new rules requiring PCM.