Robot Workshop Basic Tutorial

The robot workshop is where you create or modify your robots. Every great robotics team has a well-stocked workshop with plenty of robot parts and components, welding gear, grinders, and other tools to construct that next superbot. The RA2 workshop has everything you need to build, wire, and paint your robot to your specifications. Of course, none of the parts will cost you a penny and you always put a perfect seam on your weld! The point here is to build a great robot, not to manage your checkbook or hold a torch steady.
So, let's go over the main parts of the workshop and what you can do. You've probably already discovered that to get to the workshop, you first need to have a robotics team formed. In Team HQ, under the Robots menu choice, you have six slots for your robots. Double click any of the slots, or select one and click the Workshop button in the lower right.
You'll now see six buttons at the top of your screen: Overview, Chassis, Components, Wiring, Paint Shop, and Test Robot. Clicking on any of these will change your main view to work in each of those areas. You can click them in any order, but some are dependent on others. For example, you can't add components to your robot until you have a chassis; and you can't wire your robot until you've added the control board component. You'll learn how this works as you spend time in the workshop.


Most of the workshop areas will have a 3D view of your robot on the left side of the screen, and some options or controls on the right side. If you haven't built a robot chassis yet, you won't see anything in the 3D view.
The Overview section lets you give a name to your robot and shows you how much the bot currently weighs. You can also take a "snapshot" of your robot, which will be used in other areas of the game as a preview of the bot. You can rotate the 3D view by clicking and dragging in the window with your right mouse button. You can also zoom using the mousewheel. This is true of nearly any 3D view in the workshop. If you don't yet have a robot created, of course, this does nothing.


Your chassis is the main framework that makes up the shape of your robot. Think about a car that has no wheels, engine, seats, or gas tank. Take away all the stuff attached to the car and you are left with the core chassis.
The Chassis section of the workshop is where you create the shape of your chassis, and select the armor material used to construct it. You'll see a button to do each of these things on the main chassis screen. Of course, you can't set an armor type if you haven't yet built the chassis. Also note that building a chassis is a core part of creating your robot and must be done before you can add components or other steps. And if you ever want to change the shape of your chassis, you will lose any components that have already been placed. After all, the guys in the machine shop can't exactly cut and weld sheetmetal with a motor screwed into the thing, can they?
Creating a Chassis Shape
RA2 lets you be the designer when it comes to your chassis shape. After clicking the Structure Design button from the Chassis screen, you will be given a blank blueprint. (If you already had worked on a chassis and are changing it, the blueprint will show your last chassis shape.)
Step 1 of creating your chassis is to draw the outline of your robot baseplate. This is the bottom of the robot, but it will also be related to the top, as you'll see in step 2. Imagine you are looking at the bot from the top down, and begin plotting points on the blueprint grid to draw your outline. If you don't want to snap to grid lines, you can un-check the option to snap. There are a few rules you need to follow: Your last point must always connect back to your first point. No lines can ever intersect. No two points can be closer than one grid unit. You have a maximum of 16 points to use.
There are also a few other options you'll see here. If you don't want to plot points by hand, you can use the automatic shape tools for circular and rectangular bot shapes. My example here is a rectangle, but I plotted the points by hand, anyway.
In step 2, the baseplate shape that you drew has been extruded into 3D space. The smaller window on the right shows a preview of your chassis. Use your right-mouse button to click and drag in this view to rotate it. You still have a blueprint for this step, but now you are editing the top panel of the chassis. You can't draw a new shape here, you can only select points and move them to a new position. This lets you create slanted panels or other modified chassis shapes. Again you have some restrictions about intersecting lines. You don't have to edit the top panel, if you want the sides of your bot to go straight up, just leave the top outline identical to the bottom one. In my example here, I have dragged two of the points back along the chassis length to make a wedge-shape in the front of the chassis.
Also in step 2, you set the height of your chassis. Use the slider on the right side of the screen to adjust how high you want your top panel to be.
When you are finished editing points and are satisfied with the height, click the Finished button. Remember, once you start adding components to this chassis, you can't change its shape, so be sure you are happy with it at this point.
Selecting Armor
After you have built a chassis, the Armor button will be available. Clicking it gives you a choice between four armor types: Polymer, Aluminum, Titanium, and Steel. Each type has a strength and a weight. You might want a lighter weight material for your robot to make a certain weight class or to drive faster. Or, if you aren't concerned about weight and speed, you can pick the heavier materials which will give your robot more protection.
There is a checkbox here to "use default chassis appearance" when selecting your armor. If this is checked, when you pick an armor type, your chassis appearance will be modified to look like that particular armor. If you would prefer to paint the chassis surface yourself, you can uncheck this option and your chassis appearance will not be changed. You will always be setting the weight and strength of your chassis; this option simply lets you texture your chassis automatically or not.


Now that you have your chassis created, you can start to place components in it. After selecting the Components choice from the top menu, you will see a semi-transparent view of your chassis. This lets you see the shape of your bot, but also place components inside of it. Remember how to rotate your view? Drag your right-mouse button in the 3D viewing area. Mousewheel zooms in and out. You will frequently need to adjust your view in order to accurately place a component.
You will see several categories of components in the upper right:
  • Power - Batteries, air tanks and your control board are in this category.
  • Extenders - Extenders are generic shapes that can be connected together to help position the weapons or other parts of your robot
  • Mechanics - Moveable components are included in this category. Motors and pistons of various sorts are found here.
  • Treads - Wheels of all sizes.
  • Weapons - Heavy-duty components used to inflict pain on an opponent!
  • Extras - Items not fitting into other categories end up here. You'll find ballast weights, wedges, and other odds and ends.
This tutorial won't cover all of the various components. You will learn more about some of them in the mobility and mechanics tutorials.
Clicking any of the category icons will show you a list of components. This list scrolls from left to right. Selecting any component in the list shows you a preview and description. The preview window has some green attachment points that you can select to help place the component. Don't worry about that for now. We'll just use the default points for this tutorial.
Every robot needs to have a control board. This is the first component in the Power category. Select it and press the Attach button to begin the process of attaching. Just click it, no need to click and drag. The component will appear in the 3D view at the position of your mouse. Move your mouse around and you'll see the control board move, too. Now move your mouse overtop the baseplate of your chassis. The control board aligns itself to the baseplate showing you that it can be placed there. (Remember to rotate your view with your right-mouse button if you need a better angle to see the chassis baseplate. You will still be in attachment mode even while rotating the view.) To drop the control board on the baseplate, just click your left mouse button. The control board must be completely inside the chassis in order to be dropped. If it is intersecting with a wall of the chassis, it will appear red, meaning it is not in a valid position.
Invalid placement
Placement ok
Pretty easy, huh? But what if you wanted to rotate the direction that the component faces? It doesn't really matter which way the control board faces, but a motor would need to be aligned properly. Let's try it with a motor. Click the Mechanicscategory and select the Redbird Spin Motor. Click the Attach button and drag it onto the baseplate. It defaults to facing one direction, but you might want the axle to point a different way. While the motor is over the baseplate, hold the Shift key and move your mouse. Aha! It rotates to face any direction. When you have it aligned the way you want, release the shift key and you can continue to move it around in its new orientation. Find a nice spot for it, and click the left mouse to drop it. Notice in my example that I positioned the motor so that the axle passes through the chassis. Axles are allowed to do this, but the body of the motor is not. You'll soon learn which components are allowed to pass through the chassis walls and which ones are not.
Starting orientation
Hold Shift to rotate
Wait, it gets better! What if you want something placed higher up in the chassis? In other words, you don't want it placed flush to the baseplate, but instead want it raised up a few inches. Simply hold the CTRL key down and the component can be raised up off of the baseplate. You'll definitely need to get proficient at changing your view to do an action like this. You'll find that you start with a top down view, choose a location on the baseplate, rotate your view to the side, then hold CTRL and raise it up and drop it. A bit tricky for beginners, but you'll quickly learn to do it. It is particularly useful when you are out of space on your baseplate and want to position a control board above another component. Or if you are placing a weapon motor or piston and don't want it to be at the lowest position in your chassis.
So let's get back to placing components. So far you have a control board and a motor. Now let's add something for the motor to spin. The easiest thing for now is a wheel. Click the Treads category and pick the N12 Wheel. Click the Attach button and move your mouse over the Red Bird motor that you placed. The wheel pops onto the end of the axle. Wheels automatically know that they are allowed to attach only to axles. You might notice that you can't place a wheel on the baseplate of the chassis the way you can place motors or the control board.
For the sake of keeping this tutorial short, we'll just add one more component and then move on to other things. To power your motor, you'll need a battery. In the Power category, pick the Nifty 6V Battery and place it anywhere on the baseplate.


Since you have a control board and a motor, you can wire your robot. If you didn't have the control board you couldn't do any wiring. And if you didn't have the motor, you would be able to do wiring, but would have no components needing it!
Click the Wiring button on the top menu. The wiring panel shows the same transparent 3D view, as well as a blank robot controller. You can set up your controller however you like. You will see a grid of empty slots on your controller and three different control types at the top of the screen.
  • A Switch is a control that toggles power On and Off every time you use it.
  • A Button will give power to a component while the button is pressed, and will turn off power when the button is released. It is also used to trigger components needing instant input, such as a burst motor.
  • An Analog Control is a control that provides variable power to a component. Using a keyboard input device, the analog control can only send full positive 100% or negative 100% signals. With a joystick or gamepad with analog input, you can use the sensitivity of the input device to send partial power to a component. Analog controls are particularly useful for motors that need to spin in two different directions. The positive input can power the motor in the clockwise direction, and the negative input can power it in the counterclockwise direction.
It's best to think through what you want to do with your robot, then build an appropriate controller. In our example here, we have only one motor with a wheel attached. Let's build a simple controller to drive that wheel in one direction. Click and drag a Button Control from the three choices onto an empty slot on the controller.
As soon as you drop the control, you get a window asking for more information. You can give this control a name to help you remember what it does. It could be something like "drive forward", or "trigger weapon", or whatever you like. You don't need to give it a name if you can remember what it does.
You also need to assign an input to the controller. Click the rectangular field next to the "Button on/off" label and select a key on your keyboard that will activate this button. My example uses the W key. You could also hilight the field and press one of the buttons on a joystick or gamepad if you prefer. Click OK when you are finished.
Ok, so you now have a button control set up on your robot controller. You also have decided that the W key will activate it (or whichever key you chose). But it still is not wired to anything on your robot. With the button control selected (shows a blue border around the controller slot), click on the motor that you attached to the robot. A new window appears asking you to decide how this control will be wired to this motor.
The spin motor gives you two options in the drop-down list for how this control might be wired. The button can either make the motor spin clockwise or spin counterclockwise. Pick either one for this example. I selected clockwise. Click OK when you are done.
That's it for wiring. You have chosen a control type, assigned a key to it, and wired it to your motor. Obviously most robots have more than one motor, and many also have more than one control wired to each motor. But for this example, we should be able to see how it is working. Click on the Test Robot button at the top of the screen.
You now see your robot in the test garage. (Every good workshop has an area to test the robot. You know...beat up some 50 gallon drums or a pile of cinderblocks.) Go ahead and press the key you assigned (example used "W"). You should see the motor turn on, which spins the wheel and makes the bot start moving around in circles. Pretty much impossible to drive, of course, with only one wheel that can only go one direction. But you get the point. The next tutorial will go into more detail on ways to build and wire your bot for driving.

Mechanics Tutorial
Many of the components in Robot Arena 2 are fairly self-explanatory. An axe head is, well, an axe head. Swing that bad boy at something and delight in the damage it does. But how do you swing it? What is it attached to to make it into a weapon? You are really asking how to make things move in RA2. These questions can be answered by learning to use the components in the Mechanics category. Or more simply, motors and pistons.
motion_styles.gifThere are two main types of motion that you can use to make moveable parts on your robot. Things that have rotational movement (torque) around an axis, or things that have linear movement (force) along an axis. Your physics teacher may have more insight into the terminology and mathematics of motion, but for now it's enough to understand these two styles of movement.
Even more simply, we can match components to these two motions. If you want something to rotate, you will use a Motor. If you want something to move back and forth, use a Piston. Motors and pistons are the bread and butter of motion in RA2. Let's go into more detail on each of these, and clarify some of the variations of each.
As mentioned above, motors essentially "spin" things. All motors have rotating axles to which you can attach other objects. Some examples might be spinning wheels to make the robot move, or swinging a weapon, such as a hammer on the end of a pole. There are three subclasses of motors in RA2: spin motors, burst motors, and servo motors.
A Spin Motor freely rotates any component attached to its axle. The motor can spin in two directions (clockwise and counter-clockwise) and has no starting or ending position, it just rotates continually when power is applied to it.
A Burst Motor is like a spring-loaded device that slowly, but powerfully cocks the axle in a starting position and waits to be triggered. When it is triggered, the spring is released and the axle spins at very high torque to its ending position. The starting and ending positions can be set, as you will see later, but have a maximum separation that is less than 180 degrees. In other words, a burst motor can only swing an object in a partial arc, not in a complete circle. The motor is not bi-directional since it has a specific starting and ending position.
A Servo Motor is similar to a spin motor in that it can rotate continually in either the clockwise or counterclockwise directions. However, it moves at a slow, controlled pace and locks into position when stopped. The servo motor is useful when you want to carefully rotate an object, possibly stopping it at a specific location in its range of motion.
Let's build a bot that uses a few of these motors to see how they work. This tutorial assumes that you have read the Basic tutorial and understand how to build a chassis and place components.
Spin Motor Example
Start with any style of chassis. We will just use a basic box for maximum simplicity. All of our motor examples require a battery and control board.
In the mechanics category, pick the Z-Tek spin motor. If you read the mobility tutorial, you have used spin motors, but we'll do this one a little differently here. Before placing the component, rotate the small preview window (right-mouse drag in the view) so you can see the green attachment point on the back of the motor. Click it to select it. This means you will be placing the component based on that point. In this case, it will let us place the motor so that the axle faces up from the baseplate.
Position the motor on the baseplate, but don't drop it yet. Use your CTRL key modifier to raise the motor up towards the top of the chassis so that the axle sticks out of the top as shown in the picture. It may take some maneuvering with your view to get it positioned just right. We really don't have to do this to explain a spin motor, but it helps to practice some alternate placements other than the normal position that the motor defaults to.
Now we need something for this motor to spin. In the extenders category, pick one of the standard round extenders and select a longer length than the default. The style dropdown menu gives you options for this. My example uses an 80 cm extender. Again, we will use the green attachment boxes in the preview window to select one of the side attachment points instead of the default end point. After picking the length and side attachment point, place the component on the motor axle. It should look something like the picture shown.
You can optionally SHIFT rotate the extender when placing it if you would rather its starting position be another direction instead of over top of the chassis. One example of this is if the weapon you plan to attach would collide with the chassis in the position shown, but would have enough clearance for placement if the extender tip were out in the open area to the left.

Finally, add a weapon to the end of the extender bar. I chose a mace for my example.
OK. The bot is built, now it just needs to be wired. In other tutorials we have only used analog controls for driving. Let's use a button control here. If you remember from the Basic tutorial, button controls are ON when the input key is pressed and OFF when the input is released. In other words, this motor will only be powered while you are holding a key or joystick button down. (Of course, it may continue to free-spin even without power.) Give the button control a name and assign an input key to it.
With the control selected in your controller grid, click on the spin motor. You will have an option to wire this motor to spin either clockwise or counter-clockwise when the button is pressed. Pick either one.
OK. Try that sucker out. You can press the key right here in the workshop view to see the weapon spin, or you can go into the test garage to see it. My example ended up being pretty wobbly since the motor is spinning a lopsided object. You'll discover that spinning weapons like this often need to be balanced so that there is similar weight on either side of the bot.
Burst Motor Example
Using the same basic chassis/battery/controlboard. Let's try a burst motor. From the mechanics category, place a DDT Burst Motor as shown below. Then attach an extender and a fireman's axe to it.
Now, here's the extra step that burst motors require. In your 3D view, click on the burst motor you placed. You will see that you now have slider controls to set starting and ending positions for the motor. Adjust the two sliders until the starting position puts the axe up above the chassis, and the ending position puts the axe down more at ground level (imagine smashing your opponent there!).
With that finished, you just need to wire it. You can use a button control just like the first example. You have only one option for wiring, called "Fire" which triggers the burst motor. After wiring it. Try pressing the input key to watch the axe swing menacingly. Test it out in the garage if you like.
Servo Motor
Because the servo motor is so similar to the spin motor, we won't do an example here. Follow the same steps as you did for the spin motor, but use the servo motor component. You may want to wire it with an analog control to see it work bi-directionally.

Pistons move in a linear direction along a limited range of motion. You might think of it as moving "in" or "out" until it reaches a limit. Pistons come in various lengths so you can pick the best size for your robot. Like motors, pistons have subclasses:
A Burst Piston starts in a retracted position. When triggered, it extends to its outward limit very forcefully, then slowly retracts back to its starting position.
A Servo Piston can accept two wiring input signals, one to extend and one to retract. The piston slowly moves in or out and can be stopped and locked at any position in between the two limits.
Burst Piston Example
We will build a few bots to demonstrate the use of pistons. Start with another simple chassis. In RA2, pistons are powered pneumatically, which means you need an air tank instead of a battery. If you have a bot using both motors and pistons, obviously, you will need both a battery and an air tank.
From the mechanics category, select the burst piston. You can optionally pick a length style. I chose the 80 cm version here. Place it in the chassis so that the shaft of the piston is passing through the wall of the chassis. Like a motor, the body of this component cannot pass through the walls of the chassis, but the moveable shaft can.
Now pick a weapon to put on the end of the piston shaft. I chose the pointy tip, but many weapons might be suitable. This will be a thrusting type of weapon.
All that's left is to wire the piston. Drag a button control onto your wiring controller. Give it a name and assign a key to it. Then select the piston in your 3D view. The only wiring option is for "Fire."
Go ahead and try it out. The piston jabs outward quickly, then retracts.
Servo Piston Example
Start with a base chassis again with only a battery and air tank. For this example we will use the "Linear Actuator" component. This is simply a servo piston that has a side-pointing slider mount. The other servo piston has an end-facing mount just like the burst piston.
Before attaching the linear actuator, select its side attachment point in the preview window as shown below. Then place the component so that the slide mount faces the side of the chassis. I picked the 100 cm length for my example.
linact_placed.jpgExtender bars are one of the components allowed to pass through the walls of the chassis. Since the linear actuator is inside the chassis, we will use an extender to mount a moveable object externally. Put a 20 cm extender on the linear actuator slide mount.
Now let's put something on the end of the extender. For my example, I picked the hammer head.
Now let's wire the servo piston (linear actuator). We will use an analog control since the piston can be wired in two directions.
After placing the control on your controller grid and assigning keys to it, click the linear actuator and wire positive to "extend" and negative to "retract."
Try it out. The hammer head moves in and out as you press the input keys. Of course, this isn't a particularly useful arrangement of components, but you can think of more effective uses for the servo piston on your own.

Mobility Tutorial
Well, you gotta be able to move around the arena right? This tutorial covers some of the common ways you can build and wire your robot for easy driving. Of course, you can do just about anything you want to make your bot move. You don't even need to use wheels if you don't want to. But for now, we'll just be talking about wheeled robots. There are numerous possibilities for how you set up your wheels: 2 wheels, 4 wheels, powered steering unit, wheels kept internal or placed external, etc. You'll probably discover many variations on your own. I will get you started with a basic 2 wheeled bot to get you started.
Note: For this tutorial, we won't cover some of the basic concepts like how to create a chassis. If you don't know how to use the workshop to build a chassis and place components, you might want to read the first tutorial on basic construction before reading this one.
2-Wheeled Bots
Two wheeled bots are one of the easiest types of robots to build and wire. This is a common design seen in AI bots like Stinger, Wide Load, Flame Chopper, and LugNut. The basic principle is to set up two spin motors facing the opposite direction from one another and attach wheels to those motors. The steering technique is accomplished through wiring. Each motor is turning either clockwise or counterclockwise. When the wheels rotate together the bot goes forward, when they turn in opposite directions the bot steers left or right. Lets build a quick one.
In the workshop, build a new robot and use any chassis shape, but make sure it is large enough to hold two spin motors, a battery, and control board. My shape is shown below.
Go to the components menu and place two spin motors on the baseplate facing opposite directions. Remember that holding the SHIFT key while placing a component will let you rotate it. I used the Red Bird motor here, but you can use another spin motor if you want. Just make sure the axles point outward from the center of the bot. Although the body of a spinmotor cannot pass through the walls of the chassis, the axles can. This helps you to place wheels externally.
Note: If you wanted, you could keep the motors and axles completely inside the chassis so that when you put a wheel on the axle it is guarded inside the walls of the chassis. You need to ensure there is enough room for the motor/axle AND the wheel, of course.
The next step is simply to place wheels on the axles of the spin motors. You will find that the various wheels have different diameters and some may not be large enough to use with certain spin motor setups. For example, the mini wheel is too small to use with the Z-Tek motor because it can't reach the ground.
If I test my robot now, the front end will fall to the ground since it has no support to balance it. You might want this effect for some designs, but for this example, lets add a Balance Caster component to keep the front of the bot level. I picked the 20 cm version of the caster. Some components have styles like this to help fine-tune your robot. Note that the caster component is placed on the bottom of the baseplate. You won't see it if you are viewing from the top.
Go ahead and put a battery and controlboard somewhere inside the bot. We will need these if we want to be able to wire and drive the bot.
Go to the Wiring setup screen. We will be using two analog controls for this robot. Remember that analog controls have two inputs: one positive and one negative. This is ideal for driving setups because we have opposing directions. So we will use one analog control for the Forward-Reverse directions and another analog control for Left-Right steering.
It is frequently helpful to give names to your controls. For the first analog input, you could call it "Forward-Back." Click the input boxes and assign two keys from your keyboard that will be used for control input. My example uses W and S. Or you might press two directions on a gamepad or joystick if you are using that style of input.
Now you need to wire the Forward-Back control to your spinmotors. Rotate your 3D view so you can easily see the two spin motors, and so that UP would represent a forward direction for your bot to drive. With the control selected in the grid, click on the right spin motor. You will get a dialog box asking how to wire the motor. For the right motor, wire it so that positive is clockwise and negative is counter-clockwise. Click OK when you have done this.
You have wired one motor for Forward-Back, now wire the other one. With the same Forward-Back analog control still selected in the grid, click the left spin motor. This motor will be wired opposite of the right motor, since it faces the opposite direction. Wire this one so that positive is counter-clockwise and negative is clockwise.
If you think about it, it makes sense: pressing the forward input key (my example is "W") sends positive input to the control. Positive is wired so that the right motor spins clockwise and the left motor spins counter-clockwise. Imagine the wheels spinning in this fashion and you can see that the bot would drive forward. Pressing the other input key ("S" in my case) sends negative input which spins the wheels the opposite direction causing the bot to drive in reverse. Try it out by going to the test garage (click "Test Robot") if you want to see how the bot drives so far.
OK. We have forward and reverse. Now we need to be able to steer the robot. Steering is easy to set up. Drag another analog control onto the controller grid and name it "Left-Right" and assign some input keys. Since I used W and S for forward/reverse, I might choose A and D for left and right. Then, with that analog control selected, you will wire each spin motor identically: positive is clockwise, negative is counter-clockwise. Again, think about what is happening here. Pressing the "Left" input sends a positive control signal. Positive is wired so that each motor spins clockwise. If the right motor spins clockwise, it will push the right side of the bot forward. If the left motor spins clockwise, it will push the left side backward. When the right side goes forward and the left side goes backward, the resulting motion is a rotation of the entire bot chassis in the left direction.
If it helps, here is a diagram of your wiring. It shows how each analog control is wired to each spin motor.
Remember that terms like "left" and "right" are dependent on your viewpoint. This assumes you are looking at the bot from the top down and that UP in the view would match the robot's forward direction.

4-Wheeled Bots
The good news here is that once you understand the principles of the 2-wheeled wiring, a 4-wheeled bot is nearly identical. Instead of just one motor facing each direction, set up two on each side of the bot. Motors on the right side of the bot are wired the same as one another. Motors on the left side are wired the same as one another.
You have the added option here of using 4-wheel drive or 2-wheel drive, and 4-wheel steering or 2-wheel steering. With a lightweight bot and powerful spin motors, you might find that having all 4 motors wired for steering is too powerful and your bot spins too fast. In this case you could use all four motors for driving forward and reverse, but use only the front two motors for steering.
With the diagram below, assuming up is the forward direction of the robot, see if you can wire the two analog controls to the four spin motors to get this 4-wheeled bot to drive properly. The motors and controls are labeled and the solution is given following the illustration.
Control 1
Motor A
Positive = CCW
Negative = CW
Control 1
Motor B
Positive = CCW
Negative = CW
Control 1
Motor C
Positive = CW
Negative = CCW
Control 1
Motor D
Positive = CW
Negative = CCW
Control 2
Motor A
Positive = CW
Negative = CCW
Control 2
Motor B
Positive = CW
Negative = CCW
Control 2
Motor C
Positive = CW
Negative = CCW
Control 2
Motor D
Positive = CW
Negative = CCW

ps_preview.jpgPowered Steering Component
The Powered Steering component is a single component that you place on your chassis baseplate to make it easier to set up and wire the bot for driving. The component has two axles with rotating hubs, and wiring connections for forward, reverse, left, and right. It typically needs to be used on a four-wheeled robot because it mimics the type of steering on a car, with moveable rotors for directing the angle of the wheels. This is different from the style of steering you used above where you wired one motor to go forward and the other to go in reverse in order to steer the robot. This part of the tutorial will walk you through using the Powered Steering component.
Build a chassis that would be suitable for a four-wheeled design. Something sort of rectangular would work, but remember that you can make just about any shape you want as long as you can fit the components you need into it.
With your chassis ready, go to the components screen and pick the mechanics category. You will see the Powered Steering component in the list. This component comes in three styles: narrow, medium, and wide, depending on the size of your chassis. For the one I have built here, the narrow style will fit best. Click to attach the component and place it in the front of your chassis. Notice the blue triangular arrows on top of the component. These indicate the forward direction, so place the component so the arrows point towards the front of the bot.
The hexagonal hubs on each side are just like axles of a spin motor. Go ahead and put wheels on these. You'll see they pop into place easily.
To make this a four-wheeled bot, we need some wheels in the back of the robot. You could place spin motors back there, but let's make this example as easy as possible and use generic axle mounts. Axle mounts are unpowered axles that can rotate freely--useful for extra support wheels. These are found in the extenders category. Put one on each side in the back, as my example shows.
Your bot is nearly built. Pop a few wheels on these axle mounts, then add a battery and control board.
You may notice that the axle mounts are at a slightly different height than the powered steering hubs. For that matter, each spin motor is at a different height and each wheel is a different diameter, so mixing and matching components may result in bots that are not perfectly level, but that's ok. Remember you can also raise components up off the baseplate to adjust how high they are positioned.
For wiring, we will again use two analog controls. Remember how to drag these onto your controller? Label one of them "Forward-Back" and the other "Left-Right" if you want to remember what each one is for. Assign keys or joystick inputs to these controls.
The actual wiring part is easy. Start with the "Forward-Back" control, select it, and click on the Powered Steering component in the 3d view. In the popup dialog, wire positive to "Forward" and negative to "Backward." Then click OK.
Now, select the "Left-Right" analog control and again click on the Powered Steering unit. This time, wire positive to "Left" and negative to "Right." Piece of cake, eh?
That's all there is to it. Try it out in the test garage and you'll see that you can drive forward and reverse, and steer the wheels left and right. Similar to a car, left and right by themselves simply rotate the wheel angles. You have to be driving forward or backward while steering if you want to turn.
There are many variations you can do with the powered steering component. You could combine it with spin motors for added power. You could use two powered steering components, one in front and one in the rear. You could steer from the back of the bot. And so forth.

Custom Texture Tutorial
Robot Arena 2 facilitates creating custom textures for your robots, and this tutorial provides guidance on how you can do just that.
Note: For this tutorial, we won't cover some of the basic concepts like how to create a chassis. If you don't know how to use the workshop to build a chassis , you might want to read the first tutorial on basic construction before reading this one.

Creating Custom Decals
To add a custom decal texture to the game, follow the instructions below.
  • For a simple square decal, create the custom texture in your favorite image editor (ie. Adobe Photoshop, Corel Draw, etc.)
    • Adjust the image size so that it is 64 pixels by 64 pixels square
    • Save the file as a 24-bit bitmap (bmp) file on your hard drive.
    • Make sure there are NO spaces in the name. (ie. star.bmp, yellow_star.bmp)
    • Copy the file to this folder in your Robot Arena 2 installation directory: Infogrames\Robot Arena 2\Texture Library\decals\

  • To create a decal with an alpha channel, create the custom texture and corresponding alpha channel in your favorite image editor (ie. Adobe Photoshop, Corel Draw, etc.)
    • Adjust the image size so that it is 64 pixels by 64 pixels square
    • Save the file as a 32-bit targa (tga) file on your hard drive
    • Make sure there are NO spaces in the name (ie. star.bmp, yellow_star.bmp)
    • Copy the file to this folder in your Robot Arena 2 installation directory: Infogrames\Robot Arena 2\Texture Library\decals\

Creating Custom Robot Textures
To create a custom texture for your robot and import it into the game, follow the instructions below:
  • Create the chassis of your robot. Without the chassis it will be impossible to do the next step.
  • Once the chassis is created you can proceed to the Paint Shop section of the Robot Workshop.
  • In the lower left hand corner there are two buttons that are used for exporting and importing custom textures.
  • Click on the Export Paint Template. You will then be given two choices:
    • By default the exporter will simply export a texture showing the texture areas used for the current chassis design. Enter a name and the file will be saved in the Infogrames\Robot Arena 2\Custom Textures\ folder.
    • The other option is to create the base texture within Robot Arena 2 using all of the Paint Shop tools, and then exporting this texture for additional enhancements. In the exporter dialogue box there is an option to "Export the current chassis texture instead of a template". By checking this option it will export out the texture as a bmp and put it in the following folder: Infogrames\Robot Arena 2\Custom Textures\ folder.

  • Now that you have either a template or a chassis texture exported. Create or modify the texture in your favorite image editing software.
  • Note: You can NOT alter the size of the texture to be bigger or smaller. Doing so will create an invalid texture and cause problems for the game.
  • Once you are happy with the texture, save the image. If you moved the image to another folder for editing purposes then copy the final bmp to this folder: Infogrames\Robot Arena 2\Custom Textures\
  • Now that you have the texture created, we can now import the texture back into the game using the Import Custom Paint button. Select the custom bitmap and click ok. Your chassis will now have the custom texture applied to it.

Creating a Texture Fill Texture
To create an addition texture fill texture for the Paint Shop, follow the instructions below:
  • Create the texture using your favorite image editing software. (ie. Adobe Photoshop, Corel Draw, etc.)
  • Adjust the size of the texture to be 256 pixels x 256 pixels.
  • Save the file as a 24-bit bitmap (bmp) file.
    • NOTE: You can NOT use spaces in the file name.

  • Copy the texture into this folder: Infogrames\Robot Arena 2\Texture Library\
  • Now when you go into the Paint Shop, your texture will be listed along with all of the other texture fill textures.

Creating Surface Layer Textures

To create additional surface layer textures for the Paint Shop, follow the directions below:
  • Using your favorite image editing software (ie. Adobe Photoshop, Corel Draw, etc.) create a new texture with the size of 256 x 256 pixels.
  • Create the texture and the corresponding alpha channel layer.
  • Save the file as a 32-bit Targa (tga) file.
  • Copy the file to this folder: Infogrames\Robot Arena 2\Texture Library\
  • Now the new surface layer texture will be in the Paint Shop the next time you run Robot Arena 2.

Creating Custom Edge Line Textures
To create a custom edge line texture, follow the directions below. This process is a little more advanced and you will need to follow these directions closely.
  • Using your favorite image editing software, create a new texture with any of the sizes listed. The larger the texture the more detail you can add:
    • 16 x 16 pixels
    • 32 x 32 pixels
    • 64 x 64 pixels

  • Once you have selected a size, create you edge texture and the corresponding alpha texture layer.
  • Save the file as a 32-bit Targa (tga) file.
  • Copy this file to the following location: Infogrames\Robot Arena 2\Texture Library\edges\
  • From here you have to do some text editing to setup the edge line texture to be used in the game
  • Create a new text file in the same folder you just copied the texture to: Infogrames\Robot Arena 2\Texture Library\edges\ And make sure that you give the text file the same name as the texture file!
  • Open the text file and add the following lines(This is an example File.. your settings will differ from those below):
    • Filename: name_of_file.tga
    • Preview: name_of_preview.bmp
    • Length ratio (world pixels per file pixel): .04
    • Width (world pixels): 8

  • Below is a definition of each line in the text file and what the settings mean. This will allow you to adjust these setting according to your texture:
    • Filename: This is the name of the .tga file to use for the texture itself. Please use the included .tga files as a guide in creating your own edge line textures. These are found in the Texture Library\edges directory under the root install of the game.
    • Preview: The filename of the preview bitmap to use. Please use the included preview bitmaps as a guide in creating your own previews. These are found in the Texture Library\edges directory under the root install of the game.
    • Length ratio: This value determines how often the edge line texture will tile across the bot texture. The number of tiles is determined by the following formula:
      • Number of Tiles = Length Ratio * Pixels on Bot texture.
      • This value can range from 0 (which means no tiling) to less than 1 (Note: 1 would mean infinite tiling so don't use that value). You should tweak this value until the visual outcome is what you desire.
    • Width: This value specifies the width of the edge line and can range from 1 (a hardly noticeable edge line) to 256 (an edge line that is huge). A good value to use is 24. Again, tweak this value until you are satisfied with the result of your edge line.
    • NOTE: Name the text file similarly to the other text files in the directory, as this name is used in the game interface.