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More Junkyard Wars 102

A reader writes: "Junkyard Wars is quite possibly the only thing on TV that is cooler than Battlebots (I loved the one where they build a hang-glider). Wired reports that TLC has taken registrations from potential teams, and is going to do another season."
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More Junkyard Wars

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  • Does anyone else get that sold-out feeling watching BattleBots? Its almost as the actual battle isn't good enough, they have to have WWF-like dramatics. :)
  • by soulsteal ( 104635 ) <soulsteal@3[ ] ['l33' in gap]> on Tuesday September 26, 2000 @09:30PM (#751373) Homepage
    I wanna be on the team with MacGuyver. We'd build a nuclear submarine out of 2 skatboards, some gum, and a roll of barbed wire.

  • I've been reading too much CueCat stuff all over the Web, and just saw a Battlebot article. Sorry about that ....

  • Sounds rather like the Rambling Wreck parade at Georgia Tech, in which the mobile construction is graded by the originality of motive action and the soundness of construction (it finishes the parade route.)
  • by nbot ( 198131 )
    I hope the teams are fair, unlike the time where they had a team of engineers vs a team of retired military officers.

    i mean really, who do you think will make a better cannon?

    (the team of officer's projectiles kept fusing to the inside of the barrel, eventually propelling the barrel, instead of the projectile)

  • by divide_by_0 ( 176557 ) on Tuesday September 26, 2000 @09:40PM (#751377)
    here is the link to the main site: []

    anyone want to start a slashdot team on it?
    maybe not... nothing would get done, only people talking about how to get linux to run on it.

  • by mattbee ( 17533 ) <> on Tuesday September 26, 2000 @09:42PM (#751378) Homepage
    Goes by the name of Scrapheap Challenge [], and it's presented by Robert Llewellyn, aka Kryten out of Red Dwarf. I've yet to see it but a friend (who lives in a house full of other engineers and architects) tells me it's a blast.
  • I would like to know what other people will think will be next?

    I've seen cannons, floating cars, cranes, boats, planes, and tracter pulling.

    What's next? Midget tossing machines? That would be the ULTIMATE fun machine to build in 10 hours or less! And What Is The Deal With ALL The Engines Starting!?! My 1986 licensed and street legal VW rabit doesn't always start and use it as a daily driver.
  • by 72beetle ( 177347 ) on Tuesday September 26, 2000 @09:49PM (#751380) Homepage
    ...of Red Green's sage advice: To achieve any great goal, one must bring along duct tape.

    My favorite highlight of last season's Junkyard Wars was the all-terrain vehicle that had a cannon that shot a boat anchor to winch itself out of bogs. Slap THAT sucker on the front of your Battlebot and the Gold Nut is yours, hands down!

  • It's probably one of the best things on UK TV these days.

    An absolute must in my ever so 'umble opinion.


  • *shrugs* The team's profession does not always have a huge impact.

    Case in point, the episode where they had to build the amphibious vehicles the teams were a bunch of UK Navy nuclear engineers, and the other, a bunch of hobbyist motorcycle mechanics.

    Guess who won? T'wasn't her Majesty's finest, their craft wouldn't even steer in the water. It was sad watching them flounder.

  • Now, how do we in the USA get that "Best of Scrapheap" vidio? At eleven Pounds (fifteen Dollars) I would buy it, but does not have it.
  • by pen ( 7191 ) on Tuesday September 26, 2000 @10:00PM (#751384)
    Ten people; living on a junkyard; Surviver gets $1M.


  • Its fixed... I mean the article says that the engineer submits plans and they identify critical parts.... Assumedly to make sure they are in the "Junk yard" and functioning, wouldn't be a very good show in a real junk yard.... they would take days to just rebuild a motor to have power.
  • Sounds Cool, but how many geeks know how to weld, or design anything but software? :) ------------------------ Yes, it's a joke.
  • Don't forget the duct tape. It holds the universe together...

    Double J. Strictly for the . . .
  • Self taught people tends to learn the stuff thoroughly because they have to depend on themselves. But the cannon one was cool, I liked it. If the enginners didn't use that tail thing , instead maybe try a corkscrewing bleeder on the cylinder, they might have spinned it. I wish I could build a cannon out of junk =) Anyways, the show is cool and can't wait them to air..
  • I know how to weld. Haven't in a few years though.... I actually really miss my welding days. Welding is some of the most fun I had in High School. (Our "Computer Science" course consisted of two programing languages, Basic and qBasic . . . bleh)

    Double J. Strictly for the . . .
  • According to This page [] the current UK Series (called Scrapheap Challenge) finishes with a TRANSATLANTIC CHALLENGE (their caps) after the final.

    Is this going to be a link up with this US based show prehaps or are they just going to pick some random stateside folk and claim they somehow represent the country?

    There are a few good links at the bottom of that page [] to Channel 4's site, the production company's site, a mailing list etc...

    It is certainly one of the best shows on TV a the moment, but please can we have more of the massive machines of destruction (as in the Demolition []Aerial Bomber [] shambles).

    Anyone wanting to know more about the UK series, which is at least vaguely similar to the US show being discussed, should probably start at The Channel 4 Site. Good site, same the Javascript is broken and they seem to like realplayer a little too much for me.

  • Wellllll, The series you in the US haven't seen yet has the teams building medeval siege engines. One was throwing far sized objects, so a midget wouldn't be that difficult. Wait to you see the one with them tearing down walls....
  • Arrh.. That post was blatently broken.

    I ment to say the Demolition []Aerial Bomber [] one was not so hot.

    They was more to it (pleas for machines of mass destruction rather than tiny models) but it all got lost in the wash. And to think I bothered to preview, next time I'll read it. Anyone who saw the building bashing and the target bombing shows will know what I was tring to get at... no contest.

  • Thats it I give up. Dammed thing keeps converting my > in the closing anchor tag. And it was correct in the preview too...
  • At least not that I have ever seen.

    I found it in time for the last three or four shows. I would love to watch it again from the beginning to see what I missed. CBS is rerunning the whole Survivor saga so I don't know why TLC doesn't do the same for Junkyard Wars. If they are lacking the room they can please drop the Christopher Loser show. I want to see a boat made from a car, not a cabinet door made from chicken wire.

    Also, this brings up an interesting tagent, why is it that no network seems to understand the value of continuity? How many times have you wanted to start watching a show, but felt it wasn't worth the bother since you had missed so much and wouldn't understand it? Why is it so damn rare that you ever see a marathon of one show running in the proper airdate sequence. I think right now down in Australia, one of the networks is running non-stop Simpsons episodes in this fashion.

    I pray for the day that devices like TiVo and ReplayTV make it possible to truly have an entire channel dedicated to a certain show. I just pisses me off that even when such a device becomes practical, there is the little matter of it taking me ten years for all of the various episodes to show up on the air so I can record them.

    I'll quit now before I get further off tangent. By the way, has anyone else notices that 90% of the work seems to be done in the last 15 minutes? It starts out and they are drawing on the board for an see breaks for the time you get to the final hour there is like 50% completion on the project. A little careful editting and suddenly the damn thing is complete. I think it's a bit faked myself because a lot of the competitions end up being pretty close...which some of those contraptions are so horrid you would think the competition would be an absolute blowout.

    - JoeShmoe

    -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= -=-=-=-=-=-=-
  • We have had it here in New Zealand for ages (The british version that is). It kicks arse! The most entertaining thing on tv on a monday night. Really makes me wish I knew how to weld. I loved the episode where they made the flying machines.
  • By the way, has anyone else notices that 90% of the work seems to be done in the last 15 minutes?

    That's actually the best way to go - planning is EVERYTHING. Without a good plan, the execution will fail. Just ask Digital Convergence!

  • Yeah. Watching a huge hydraulic chomper compete against a battering ram was pretty cool. A plane that only flew downwards vs a balloon that was too slow to handle a gentle draught was a bit dull.
  • There is a similar program in the UK. It has various videos on the site []. The demolition machine was really cool. (Currently in 3rd series I think). Last week's was aerial bombing. (Airship vs radio controlled plane).
  • ...will be able to see it on Prime []. They screened the first two series and i've heard they have the next lined up. Of course south auckland is all like this anyway.
  • Turn off your telly, get outside, build stuff yourself or with your friends, and have a good time. Television, opiate of the masses, someone said. Bloody time for the whole Mad Max bit I'd say. Fo(king good show though.
  • (To the tune of "When Bad Meets Evil" off of the album "The Real Slim Shady")


    I reckon you ain't familiar with these here parts
    You know, there's a story behind that there sid
    Twenty weeks ago, two karma whores took this whole thread over
    Moderators couldn't stop em
    Quickest damn flamewars I've ever seen
    Got modded down in cold blood
    That ol' inchfan there was their lil' home away from home
    They say the ghosts of TROLL and K-HO still live in that thread
    And on a quiet night
    You can still hear the footsteps of Signal11 and Ol' Shoeboy

    I don't post, I float in the grits wrapped in some toast
    I'm not a real slashbot, I'm a troll linking to goats
    I translate when my post is read through a Cuecat and a noise is bred,
    picked up and transmitted through Shoeboy's head (AAHHH)
    Trapped him in a sid, possessed him and hoist his thread
    Till the K-HOness flows through his blood like poisonous lead
    Told him each one of his bots is dead
    I asked him to come to the steelcage, he made a choice and said

    +2 hard? yo I done post first!
    We can get in two threads and deliberate at each other
    To see which one'll swerve first
    Two blind slashbots panic, whose mental capacity holds
    That of a thread on top of nine other comments
    Kissed the cheek of the da RMS
    Intelligence level is lower than JonKatz sellin' /. posts at a tradeshow
    Dismissal, I'm not a fair man, disgraced the race of a unix admin
    Intercepting flamebait wit my bare hands like a patriot
    One thread sliced without words, I buried the AC corpse
    In my past life when the Red Hat mounted the First Post
    And stayed over-worked, its like the zealots and newbies
    Collaborating, attemptin to take over the earth

    Cuz this is what happens when TROLL Meets K-HO
    We hit the trees till we look like (-1: Insightful)
    He's K-HO, and I'm TROLL like Steve Segal
    Above Karma cuz I don't agree wit Hemos either (shit, me neither)
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    I breathe mdma in three lethal amounts
    When I stab myself in the knee with a diseased beer mug
    Releasin rage on anybody in penis-bird range
    Cold enough to make the topic change into something lame
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    Cuz I can't write a decent flame...

    The disaster of threads
    I'm 1337 enough to commit suicide and survive long enough
    To mod my post after I'm dead
    When in trolltalk it's funny
    actually my flavor's similar to a llama
    Cuz I serve any stranger wit karma
    I spray a hundred, man until the story changes
    While slippin comments at point blank range like they was punches
    Piss on a zealot and burn it, murder you then come to your funeral
    Use a server for hobby, strangle your distro then confirm you
    Whippin slashbot ass, throwin trolls crackin jokes
    Wit my posts wrapped in gause, dipped in FUD and rants
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    Somehow AC's ain't that eye-brow raisin to me
    From all of angles of us,
    crash a Mac bad enough
    to trigger a /. DDoS attack
    And bust till flamewars errupt

    *phone rings*
    Hello? (momo) Aiyyo what's up?
    (we're comin to get you..)

    I used to be a loudmouth, remember me? (uh-ah)
    I'm the one who burned your sid down (oh)
    Well I'm out now (shit), and this time I'm comin back to blow your sid up
    And I ain't gon leave you a trolltalk to fall back on
    Give me two fat flames and three fuck-yous
    And you won't see me like 1337 kiddies in comp.newsgroups
    And when I go to AOL and I'm gettin ready to leave
    I'ma put card numbers in a file and charge people to see

    [Shoeboy] (Signal11)
    Cuz this is what happens when TROLL Meets K-Ho
    And we hit the trees till we look like MySQL
    He's K-HO, and I'm TROLL like Steve Segal
    Against karma, see you at Kiro5hin for the sequel
    (We'll be waitin) See you in hell, Raymond da Eric S,
    See you on AOL for the sequel (bye bye)
    TROLL Meets K-HO, what? (till next time)

    And so that's the story when Signal11 Meets Shoeboy
    Two of the most cumbersome individuals on slashdot
    Made Eric Raymond and Richard Stallman look like Karma Whoring thespians
    It's too bad they had to go out the way they did
    Got flamed in the back comin out of that ol' crunchtime
    But their spirits still live on till this day
    Shhh...[posts] wait, did y'all hear that?

    [Footsteps and wind blowing]

  • maybe they should stash one of those " Build it Yourself Space ship kits" in the yard.
  • Indeed, Junkyard Wars is an American network buying the idea off the UK production company (I seem to remember it's Bazal a.k.a. those guys who did Big Brother in the UK, but I'm probably wrong).

    In the UK it's been going for at least 3 years now, and by far the scariest one I've seen so far is the glider/plane one. Funniest is a toss-up between the live cannons (yes, with ammo and everything) and the demolition ball/crusher program. This week in the UK apparently it's miniture submarines.

    The only problem I see is that soon they're going to have to start repeating the tasks, as we've already had in the UK everything from energy-efficient cars through hovercraft sand yachts. I just hope they can come up with more ideas.

    I also think that in this series, it's started getting a bit naughty in that some items the teams are using are obviously planted by the production team - this week there was a whole host of radio controlled toys (I've never, ever seen a radio controlled toy being sent to the scrapyard), and one time just "happened" to come across a new roll of Mylar in the locked boot of a car which was just the right stuff to make their 30 foot long helium baloon. It would be pretty boring if they were only able to use real materials found on the scrapheap, but if they have to resort to other materials, perhaps they should just own up and pay some sort of penalty? Just seems like a cheat to me. ;-)

    The other program that I think could be improved a fair bit is Robot wars. Surely it would be far more entertianing if there was some sort of intellgience built into the machines in a corewars style so they were truly independant robots, rather than just the big radio-controlled cars with pneumatic pumps on the front that is the current "thing" in the UK version at the moment.
  • Each team is also assigned one specialist with expertise in that day's challenge.

    "Each expert knows in advance what the challenge is to be, and has submitted suggested designs, with a critical parts shopping list," explained said Jeff Del Papa, a member of the New England Rubbish Deconstruction Society, the first team from the U.S. to compete in the British version of the show.

    This is just a pair of experts putting together pre-ordaned gadgets with a few Real People making it look like it's spontaneous. Think Changing Rooms but with a soldering iron. Unreality TV.
  • Try these links for the Best of Scrapheap challenge. ct.storefront/1170493668/Product/View/71 245 6 My Particular favourite was the trebuchet, it got hammered by a simple catapult, but still.
  • Try these links for the Best of Scrapheap challenge. rect.storefront/1170493668/Produc t/View /71 245 536

    My Particular favourite was the trebuchet, it got hammered by a simple catapult, but still.

  • Guys Junkyard wars is old news on the Metals Newsgroups. There is even an american team called the NERDS. New England Rubbish Deconstructionists, led by Jeff Delpapa. Here is the full scoop. TLC JUNKYARD WARS AFTER THANKSGIVING SPECIAL Leftovers? We got your leftovers right here! Old engines, recycled transmissions, salvaged remote controls, and a couple patched tires. Put them together and you get the best after Thanksgiving treat there is, JUNKYARD WARS! TLC is bringing back this summer hit with a marathon of its tool-packing, fume-hacking, mechanical madness. So grab your favorite power tool and a can of WD40 and watch as two teams face off in the junkyard for a battle of wits, mechanical skills, and stamina. The only turkeys will be the ones shopping at the mall. North American Premieres of the British version of JUNKYARD WARS will air throughout December, and brand new shows with American teams are premiering in January. All shows are rated (PG). Noon Power Pullers 1 PM Flying Machines 2 PM Cannons 3 M Amphibious Vehicles 4 PM Land Yachts ***North American Premiere*** The Bodgers, a group of London bikers, take on a team of washing machine repairmen to see who can build a vehicle out that will go the farthest on a tiny quantity of gasoline. 5 PM Mileage Marathon ***North American Premiere*** The Driller Thrillers face The Megalomaniacs in a junkyard challenge to build and race the fastest land yacht. Think sails with wheels. 6 PM Marine Salvage 7 PM Walking Machines 8 PM Demolition ***North American Premiere*** The teams each have to build a machine capable of demolishing a set of industrial outbuildings at an old powerstation in Norwich. Sadly, no explosives are allowed, but each team may use more than one machine to accomplish the task. 9 PM Bomber ***North American Premiere*** Teams must build a non-piloted flying vehicle that can accurately drop paint bombs on a target on the ground. Both teams need to go with radio-controlled vehicles, but that?s where the similarities end. 10 PM Flying Machines 11 PM Cannons Mid. Amphibious Vehicles 1 AM Land Yachts 2 AM Mileage Marathon Have fun.
  • I've met someone who was on Scrapheap Challenge. Who wants to touch me?


  • Wow, I am happy to see that so many other people enjoyed that show. I only was able to catch the last 3 or 4 episodes over break, but even my parents were entertained by it. I'm glad that it is being picked up again by TLC. Smart move.

    What I want to see is a list of shows in a similar vien to Junkyard Wars, Robot Wars, Battlebots, etc. Post your list of the best wacky shows that are CURRENTLY on TV (or at least get re-run now and then). Hopefully we'll all benefit by finding out about a show or two that we missed out on.

    I can't wait for my Tivo to arrive now...just taping Robot Wars from my local PBS station last semester was bad enough...

    So lets see those lists! (Feel free to include non-tech wacky shows like Lumberjack Challenge, etc)

  • Not quite - 'television the drug of the nation' perhaps (Disposeable Heroes of HipHoprisy), or 'religion, the opiate of the masses' (Karl Marx). Hey, the words full of pedants just like me.
  • Yes, certain key things are 'planted'. For instance, on the aircraft one the crashed plane was planted. But remember that in the end, someone has to drive/fly/pilot/stand near these things, and deaths caused by duff materials wouldn't be good. And of course, the teams have to find the stuff, and they don't necessarily know that what the experts requested has been provided. I agree the Mylar sounds a bit fishy though!

    I'm sure there's still plenty of scope for thinking up new things to do - I can think of a half-dozen off the top of my head, no problems at all.

    Re the Robot Wars point, no. In a word. The idea of Robot Wars is that anyone can do it - all you need is a remote control, a couple of hundred quid, a local scrapyard and an idea, and you can build your own robot in 6 months easily. The moment you introduce intelligence and autonomous robots, you're limiting who can enter, simply by virtue of the fact that heavy-duty electronics for that is expensive, complex and requires serious software skills. No schools, for starters - too complex and too expensive. No individuals like Rex Garrod - it'll take you 6 man-months to build the thing, and another 12 man-months to get the software sorted, which is too long for most folk. Few amateurs - it's expensive to buy DSPs, and even more expensive to buy a programmer for them!

    And of course, there's the "interest" factor. Most autonomous robots are crap at what they do, and two robots wandering aimlessly around the arena is not good TV. It might be interesting if you've made the robot, or if you're into AI, but it certainly isn't entertainment. To get two well-programmed, well-constructed robots, which can put up a decent fight, ready to go in 6 months is a task only a university engineering department or a company can meet. I'm personally a bit disappointed that it's already getting quite commercial (some teams have spent a couple of grand on their robots), so adding this is just going to screw it up.

    By all means, try a feature for them. They had a feature not so long ago for walker robots, which basically failed. But competing for the top prize - I doubt it. Plus, I doubt an autonomous robot could compete against a human, so it's unlikely.

  • You never been to a scrapyard? Many of the car engines in there are actually OK - it's the rest of the car that usually wears out first! Having put 2 cars with fine engines out of their misery after bodywork rust, I know of what I speak!

    It's different in hot countries - in Italy for example, cars just don't rust, so if you look after the engine then it can last just about forever, so in places like that the engine will be the first thing to go.

  • I cant seem to find it on the TLC schedules...
  • The A-Team used to be like junkyard wars. The plot would always center around the A-Team getting captured in some holding area equipped with all the tools (duct tape, blow torches, etc) they needed to build some sort of contraption. It used to be the best part of the show (besides the amusing parts w/ Mr. T).

    Sorry.... I'm a child of the '80's. --mk
  • Thanks for putting up a link to our Junkyard Wars site []. I have been trying to set the web-server up on a NetBSD machine that we found on the junkyard. Unfortunately, it is proper junk and I have given up. I'll have to see what I can salvage next year.

    What challenges would you like to see on the next series? - if you post any ideas on the Junkyard discussion [], there is a much higher chance that the production team will see your suggestions (they don't look at Slashdot much!)

    Cheers, [mailto]
    "The fiercest and, frankly, ugliest show on television" - Robert Llewellyn

  • Thank GOD for Robot Wars. It is nice to other skills than just out and out bash and smash. Battlebots needs a little tweaking. Leave it to us Americans. Big Brother, Survivor and now BattleBots. Sheesh! Does all our programming come for overseas ideas?

  • A naked and petrified Tux-the-penguin from the Tech Magazine Swimsuit Issue will touch you.

    There. Happy?
  • Same thing with the motorcycle crew when they went head-to-head with a trio of chemical engineers and had to lift a car out of a lake. The engineers developed a rather complex system based on buoyancy, while the bikers just built a huge friggin' crane.

    Again, simplicity won out. When you only have 12 hours (or something like that) you can't plan things out too much.

  • I first heard about Junkyard Wars from a mailing list I'm on for Creative Problem Solving (CPS). The appeal of the program to CPS types is that it does promote divergent thinking, which is one of the primary goals of CPS.

    As a side note, the two major cps programs out there are Destination Imagination [] and Odyssey of the Mind [] The programs are pretty similar. Take a team of 7 or less kids or college students, give them an open ended problem to solve, and have the present the solution on a Saturday competition. The presentations generally include technical portions, as well as a skit, about 10 minutes in length, along with scenery and the like. The competition also include an on the spot portion, where you're given a problem to do in about 10 minutes from beginning to end. Again, creativity is highly stressed. Not exactly geek culture, but I strongly encourage people to go check out either program and volunteer to help out as a judge or something.

  • ...with a soldering iron. Unreality TV.

    So what if it's staged? I dont think it was ever presented/advertised as reality tv. It was meant to be entertaining - and it is.

    So, it might be staged, it seems convenient that there are always enough barrels around when they need something to float, or there are ALWAYS working engines when they need one.

    Nobody ever advertised Bugs Bunny as reality TV and Bugs still kicks ass! People hung up on the reality TV will ruin the shows meant as entertaining. (yes, I watched survivor and was bored stiff)

    I've grown sick of the world and its people's mindless games
  • Does all our programming come for overseas ideas?

    All of it? Not really, but a lot of it does, yes. This is mainly because the networks here are afraid of taking a risk.

    British TV tends to be more 'on edge' than the typical network show in the US. Cable channels take a risk here and there, but never go all-out. Why do you think TLC showed the original BBC version of the show? It cost them a lot less than making it. They were able to see what kind of numbers it would put up.

    I just hope the US version is just as good as the original. I fear they might change the show a little and screw it up.

    I've grown sick of the world and its people's mindless games
  • Pity the fool!

  • Nah, it comes from early 80's cartoons (Transformers/GoBots/Voltron,etc)... of course, those might have come from overseas...

  • I agree about simplicity winning as a rule, but that battle was closer than you made out.

    Y'see, if you make a floating crane it has to be _very_ stable and well balanced, or it'll capsize. Theirs wasn't, and very nearly did.

    I'd actually contend that the buoyancy tank system would have worked better _if_ we had intelligent people running it. As it was, if you remember the challenge, they panicked and took a stupid decision for how to maneuver the tanks. Meant they had to pump for ages, slowing them down and breaking the pump... Stupid, as they had ballast on the tanks which they could have gently released to raise them as opposed to pumping extra air in.

    Fundamentally, though, simplicity and bikers will normally win. Simplcity gives you less to build and less to break, while bikers are used to building strange contraptions from scrap and the like. Look at any trike for proof ;)
  • Yes, that episode disappointed me. Every single decision that the military team made was idiotic. Using cordite as an exposive in a home-made cannon? Using metal-on-metal projectiles with two hard metals (one metal not being copper/lead or some other soft/self-lubricating metal)? A movable breech? I didn't need to watch the end of that one to tell you that the ones who basically built a 19th century muzzle load cannon was the winner.
  • Battlebot is pathetic: These are not robots but RC cars.... The WWWF atmosphere is nearly more interesting than the action itself
  • I agree. I thought satellite TV would be the answer for this. With 900 channels they could let me order Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and run one episode continuously for a week. I could watch it at my convience. I missed the episode in the first season where she fought the Master and died. Sort of leaves a hole in my life, you know. $20 for an episode is a little much. $2 to $5 would be acceptable. Even at this rate subscriptions would be much more valuable than just the revenue from advertisements. Of course, if the execs cared about improving the customers experience, we would have had text annotations in the CD format.

    I also agree with JYW being a bit staged. Remember the amphibious vehicle episode. They were still plugging away and fixing up the next day. And in nearly every episode there was still someone welding/tying/painting while the commentater had called time and was explaining that there time was up. OTOH, if they didn't allow that last fixup, the show would be fairly boring.

  • was the one where they had to build a cannon out of scrap. The whole thing is a neat exercise in how that weird feeling (at the beginning of a product's life cycle) of "Something about this idea just doesn't seem right", which keeps coming as that "some thing" keeps causeing no end of problems, until you finally go to test the whole enchilada and then, BAM! Doh, we need a dope slap! No wonder nobody else does it that way!
  • I loved the three episodes of the show that I saw, but I agree that it's a bit cheesy to see them discover "just right" materials that don't really belong in a junkyard.

    Perhaps producers could vary it a bit by giving teams free access to materials in the junkyard as well as limited access (say --pick 5 items) from a cache of useful materials that are very unlikely to be found in a junkyard. That sort of approach could substantially increase the variety of things that could be built.
  • I first heard about Junkyard Wars from a mailing list I'm on for Creative Problem Solving (CPS). The appeal of the program to CPS types is that it does promote divergent thinking, which is one of the primary goals of CPS.

    How creative can it really be with the experts already having plans drawn up. Just plain vanilla engineering.

    I bet it would be much more creative to have a divergent group of people with no experts in the given project. The time may have to increase.
  • There was a handheld game taht allowed you to scan in your fighters techniques from standard commercial barcodes. I can see it now: "Oh no, battle bot 1 has just executed a Kraft Dinner reverse but got caught by the Jolt Cola flip!" ;)
  • by Dr. Crash ( 237179 ) on Wednesday September 27, 2000 @05:04AM (#751432)
    I've been on the show. I'm Dr. Crash, captain of the NERDS (season 3, you may not have seen us yet) but we're here []

    Is the yard "salted"? Depends on what you mean by "salted".... They do make sure that a grand excess of random parts to make do are available. But there's no pre-defined set of detail plans; I've seen what the "experts" planned out for us in one of our Challenges: there were three different ideas, each one on one sheet of lined notebook paper, no details, no dimensions.... and our result looked like nothing on any of these three "expert's plans".

    Some of the most "fun" challenges have been where a critical part is intentionally _purged_ from the 'heap- the challenge becomes to construct that critical mechanism from random iron, and get it to work!

    Improvization is absolutely key on the 'heap. I can't emphasize this enough. With ONE exception (safety-related equipment), you will NOT find ANY of your key parts "brand new, in box, with doc set" on the heap. What you will find are numerous broken vehicles, trashed appliances, industrial and construction junk, and machine-shop cutoffs/remnants, which may or may not have been placed on the heap because of the challenge, and may or may not have a functional whateveritis you were looking for. (we know that they in general do _NOT_ clean the 'heap out of helpful bits, because we found previous challenger's machine parts on the 'heap )

    The "Experts" are people who've worked with purpose-made machinery in their area of expertise for literally decades. Back in their shops, they have all the proper parts, the right tools and alloys, testing equipment, CAD software, the whole shebang. In short, they have the tools, they have the technology. BUT NONE of that is available on the Scrapheap. The Experts themselves have to learn to scavenge and improvise; anything you can't find or manufacture yourself does not exist, even if you have half a dozen of them back in the stockroom at the company (yes, I've seen an expert nearly tearing their hair out in just this situation).

    Bearings have to be scavenged; we ripped some out of a Moped. Need a bigger bearing, with a strong shaft? Use a steering knuckle and CV joint off that crashed Citroen. Box girder? If you can't find cutoffs from someone elses project, cut them out of that shed roof. Heavy electrical cable? Scavenge it from one of the big junked excavators.

    The ONE EXCEPTION - wherever safety on the set or British safety law (the equivalent of OSHA) is involved, new parts and tools are always salted. For example, safety valves are always new, freshly tested, with certification papers up in the Director's cupola. If you manage to scavenge a safety-related part that isn't one of the certificated ones, an assistant director will let you know- and won't let you build using the unsafe part- they'll send you back out onto the heap with a hint on where to find the safe part that does the same job.

    We aren't allowed to change our own grinding wheel or cutoff disks, for the same reason (they have to be spin tested before use, in a safe area). Explosives and high-flammability materials (and fuel tanks) are likewise covered and there are a platoon of Britain's Finest Firemen standing by for the whole day, as well as paramedics and an ambulance, Just In Case (and my thanks to them!).

    By it's nature, the show can be dangerous and everyone on set, contestant or not, has to be on gaurd all the time. There hasn't been a serious injury yet (sprains and strains, that's all), and everyone on the show works to keep it that way. Even if it messes up continuity (and you can see this occasionally, where safety gaurds get added to a machine after "TIME" is called) a safety issue trumps any other consideration of the show.

    Hope this helps...

    -Dr. Crash (Captain, NERDS, season 3)

  • Iron Chef.
  • What do you do if you dont own a television - but still want to see this show?

    I stream all my media, what is the holdup of full broadcast of TV stations via the internet? This is that same problem I have with BattleBots - I want desperately to see these programs, but I dont own a television.

    Is anyone aware of a URL (ftp/wrapster/gnutella/freenet) where the full shows (BattleBots, Junkyard Wars, ScrapHeap Challenge) are contained? Has anyone recorded and digitized the programs?

    Help a fellow geek out - someone please please please provide a link to any or all of these programs in their entirety ...
  • How about instead of a slashdot team for Junkyard Wars, a Computer Wars for slashdotters.

    Imagine you're brought in, and first thing in the morning told your job is to build the best machine you can for ... a car mp3 player, a C compiler, graphics design, etc. Give each team a 28.8 modem and ISP account to allow some downloading of s/w but not enough to do serious downloading of large programs.

    Just think of the fun. Maybe allow each team to bring in 3 CDs or something. You know, an OS, some basic s/w, maybe some docs.

    I know of several companies in my town (~200,000 people) that would have enough junk lying around to make this interesting. If nothing else, it would give the companies something to do with a bunch of the old stuff that's lying around.

  • Yeah, I could really watch Battlebots without the two dodos making stupid comments and trying to be all dramatic.

    I enjoyed Robot Wars (a BBC show) on PBS much more for that reason, and because they had obstacles and stuff like that. I thought the house bots were a bit unfair at times, but overall Robot Wars is a hell of a lot better than Battlebots.

    But that's just my opinion, I might be wrong.

  • Hmm.. Maybe I should actually get cable. Maybe. I'd really like to see this show, but I'd probably never turn the TV off if we did get cable.

    On a random note -- the Minneapolis/St. Paul area apparently only has about 50% penetration with cable. IIRC, most areas are much higher (70-80% or something).
  • Wouldnt it be cool for us to have our own 'junkyard war' ? Perhaps we could design a challenge that everyone could have a go at, preferably something which has easy-to-verify results, and can be done over the internet. perhaps see who can design the longest flying paper aeroplane - this can be verified by posting the design and allowing others to test it. Any ideas? Winner gets a free... er. well, nothing, but hey :)

  • I think you'll find the TRANSATLANTIC CHALLENGE is actually a task in itself. The contestants have to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a craft which must be fashioned from items scavenged from the scrapheap/junkyard.
  • Battlebot is too easy. They have all sorts of time to buy and make parts, then engineer them into a working robot. Anyone can drive down to Radio Shack and get a servo. It takes something different to make an old steam pipe into a working cannon...

  • I watched the UK 'Who's line is it anyway?' I don't watch the US version anymore. It just doesn't have the same feel. Especially when both shows had the same 'improvised' acts on both shows (like Ryan doing hunted deer in party quirks)

    I have quite a few doubts that the US version of Scrapheap will fare any better.

  • I saw the previews for Junkyard Wars and wanted to see it then, but I missed it. I just went to tlc's web site and did a search for "Junkyard Wars". It couldn't find it. I found the TV listings page, and did a seach from there. Found it. Went to the page. Found a link that gives showtimes. Instead of giving me a date and time it put me back at the daily tv listings, and not the day of the show, but todays listing. Like I'm going to go through day by day listings to find a show that may or may not be there and I may or may not be able to find if it does. What a crappy site. Pretty pictures: 10 usability: 0
  • And 9 minutes (at most!) of stuff to watch. Thank Yog for Tivo and fast forward. I think this show has some entertainment in it, but it's mostly filler.
  • Here ya go: everyt hing you ever wanted to see on tv []

    I work in the streaming media biz, and although I think it's admirable that someone would limit all their viewing to streams, be realistic - there's still no substitute for tv, and that won't change until people think about 56k modems the same way we think of 300 baud externals today. Maybe once broadband is the norm, tv and streams will converge. Until then, the boob toob is the only way to get all the tv programming you want.

  • I'll start one if there are people that are interested!!! I want to build a killer device out of a car engine and AOL CD's.
  • I think it's a bit faked myself because a lot of the competitions end up being pretty close...which some of those contraptions are so horrid you would think the competition would be an absolute blowout.

    Most of the episodes I saw ended with major failures for at least one team (both had problems in the last episode). The cannon that wouldn't fire, the amphibious vehicle that spun in circles, the glider that didn't... I'm amazed that anything they build actually works long enough to win a competition.

  • The NERDS Scrapheap Challenge team have a list [] of "Ten reasons why being on 'Junkyard Wars' is better than being on 'Survivor'" on their website [].
  • I saw the brit-import version of Junkyard Wars on TLC last winter. That was enough.


    I thought it was really dumb. I didn't like the Mad Max / Judge Dredd spin, and the pretense that the parts are all "found" is annoying. The little informational bits they insert are less educational than yer average "Schoolhouse Rock" cartoon.

    Maybe they count on the audiance being drunk, and thus unable to actually notice how lame it all is.

  • by rjnerd ( 143758 ) on Wednesday September 27, 2000 @07:31AM (#751449) Homepage
    I am Jeff, organizer of the first US team to compete, and the one interviewed by Wired. Crash is a teammate. The TLC site is fairly low on content currently. I suggest either our site [] or the Channel 4 TV [] site which includes some neat time-lapse photography of the workshops as the machines come together.

    TLC is planning to show more episodes of the british show in the late fall and early winter. (the schedule isn't final yet, so I can't give a more exact date). In Jan/Feb, they will broadcast an Americanized version of the show. No they didn't dumb it down. Its the same crew, same pile of junk, and comparable challenges. The big difference will be in the accents of the contestants and they replaced Robert with an American comic.

    Yes, it is a real pile of scrap. On the other side of the wall from the set, are Cockneys in large cranes, that end in claws, literally tossing cars thru the air. Like a good yard, the stuff is partially sorted, on one side is a pile of wood and other construction debris (the wood is "experienced" most of the plywood had clearly been a concrete form in its first life). Next comes ex plumbing, and electrical conduit. Cars in various degrees of flattened are piled forming the odd aisle, then the ventilation/hvac stuff. Off to the other side starts some of the more serious industrial scrap. there is a 20 foot pile of very rusted 1-2" wire rope, next to what must have been a large liquid storage tank (20' diameter, guessing from the curve in the 8' square sections of 1" plate steel) There is the twisted remains of some conveyor systems (a great source of chain and bearings), and other large machines, including what looks like the yard's now-deceased former car crusher. Closer to the workshops, are some of the more unusual vehicles, including a well tagged ex- tourbus, and some military surplus truck based device that seems to be a large collection of hydraulic bits.

    Even when parts are seeded for a particular purpose, there is no guarantee that they will attach to anything else. To use one of the already broadcast shows, "power pullers", there were apropriate tires in the pile. There were no differentials that fit said tires however, and one of the challenges to using the good (lugged) tires, was how to get them to mate with the differential you found.

  • Now, how do we in the USA get that "Best of Scrapheap" vidio? At eleven Pounds (fifteen Dollars) I would buy it, but does not have it.

    Several people have posted links, but unless you have a multi-system TV and VCR, you'll be unable to watch the tape as it's in PAL format. Play it in an NTSC VCR and you'll get garbage. Now, if it was on DVD and you had a region-free DVD player...

    / v \
    (IIGS( Scott Alfter (remove Voyager's hull # to send mail)

  • The schedule isn't yet set in stone, an exact date doesn't yet exist. They have said late november and december for more british shows (including the NERDS vs the Scots). and the (still filmed in London) all American series on for sometime in January or February.
  • Sounds pretty good to me but I say we make it the original 16 from the show Survivor [] and throw in a few junkyard dogs. That would be 'Must See TV' :)

  • Based off of the piano flinger (based of of the real cow flinger) used in Northern Exposure, I built a Mac Flinger many many years ago... It made it across a parking lot (53' 3"). Of course, it was completely fabbed with real parts (not trash) and it took me several weeks to design and build... but hey it was a neat way to put to rest a non-functional Mac I got credit for an independent study in "Computers in Aerodynamic Applications."
  • problem every time. The only physics it teaches is Ke=(1/2)mv^2, and while they did show the equaison once during the prelims, it was in the context of "you aren't supposed to understand this". It doesn't do anything to promote the idea that engineering might be a fun way to spend your life, etc. When I saw the first US broadcast of Scrapheap, I simply had to be a part of it. I forgot to watch last weeks episode of battlebots... -dp-
  • Three season episode guide [], and Channel4's third season only tournament ladder [].

    While they re-use basic themes, the details change in a noticable way. For example, they have done an underwater show each time. First year, it was making the diving gear. The second was salvaging a sunken car. This year, we built submarines.

    Every year, they have built a projectile weapon. The first year, they had siege engines, the second, cannons, and this year a different projectile challenge. Each year a boat gets built, the first it was just a boat, the second an amphibian, the third year, it had to put out a fire. The car for the first year was a pulling tractor, the second a MPG marathon machine, this year, they are steam powered.

    They do welcome suggested challenges. One I offered up was "loudest noise you can make with wood", thinking of a wood fired steam boiler explosion going up against a wood fired turbojet engine, or a giant organ pipe (reed) powered by the entire team sitting on the bellows.
  • You've never dealt with the military before, have you?

    They get selected based on 'leadership potential' and 'team working ability' rather than technical nouse. That's why they destroy and misuse so much equipment they are given, and are incapable 'feeling' what will work. Sometimes it helps, they use it in way's the designers never thought of. Often they just break it.

    Not really surprising they made such a hash of it, or that they thought to try to cheat and use grapeshot for the last shot. Its the type of people they are.

  • ...if Hemos has realized that BattleBots is a parody yet.
  • Go look for a vehicle that went broadside into a tree. With the reliability of recent engines, the engine wearing out is not the most common reason a car goes into the scrapyard these days. Most of the ones we saw, the owner had re-arranged the sheetmetal in a serious way.

    After all, one of the options offered to someone with a blown engine is a transplant from a junkyard. - The reason that you don't see many in a running yard, is that they do remove the good ones, and sell them. Since this "yards" "employee's" are the teams of scavengers, we get to remove them. The usual yard you have visited, has had the good stuff picked over by the yards employee's, the stuff they let randoms paw thru is stuff they are done with. If they let you at the unfiltered incoming stream, you would see a lot more functional stuff.

    And not all the engines work. If you are lucky it fails in the workshop, while you have time to fix it. (you always test it in situ. Even with a "no prisoners" approach to removal, its going to use up a not insignificant amount of precious time. You want to know that it stands a chance of working before you invest any of that rare substance in it)

    If you are like many teams, it (or its gearbox) will decide that it has had enough, while on course. The tractor pull was decided by transmission failure, Bowsers walking machine fell victim to welding too close to the ignition system. (blew the condensor, the points cooked during the challenge). The string trimmer engine in the most recently aired (in the UK) bomber competition did not want to run, and it took some serious persuasion to convince it otherwise.

  • We did keep the basic theme (can say more on Monday), but changed it in almost every detail. He hadn't solved some of the problems (like how to seal some things like the propellor shaft), and we picked very different materials than he originally thought to use. In our case, he was treated like a regular team member. He was most definetly not the team leader. (at times, who was leading was very much an open question. All of us talked about the "herding cats" model of team dynamics). All of us had a hand in design, and construction. If the rules had allowed, all would have had a hand in finding the parts. (the captain and assigned specalist have to stay in the shop)
  • BattleBots is, at most, 9 minutes of combat. I typically watch the show on fast-forward in under 10 minutes. Yawn. They try to spice it up with Gina Lee Nolin, but still, YA-fsckin-WN.

    Has everyone forgotten Survival Research Labs, who put on shows in SF, and elsewhere?

  • "I just love it when a plan comes together."
  • TLC (the US network that is broadcasting the british shows) also commisioned a series with American accents only. (the one exception was Cathy). They had their own 8 team, 7 show single elimination tournament. The winner of that series stayed an extra week, and took on the winner of the British Grand Final (Megalomaniacs vs. Winner of this years UK series).
  • Was a commercial version of the MIT 2.70 design competition. (which has occaisionally been televised in the US, and carried live by NTT in Japan). It has spawned an organization that holds such competitions for high school students. The second round test given to the short listed teams is of this sort. Teams were given a collection of household objects, and a problem, which they had to solve in 45 minutes, while a TV crew poked cameras at them. (in our case, we used a webcam to let them watch) The stuff we got to use were things like paper, string, toothpicks, straws, etc. No power tools. (no duct tape even!) Another show in the same veing was "Secret Life of Machines". Not a competition, but two guys building examples of complex machines out of stuff that could be found in a garage. (like an incandescent bulb from some bits of wire, and a peanut butter jar). According to Cathy (the executive producer, and one of the hosts) she got the idea for the show from watching the movie "Apollo 13". She heard about the other shows after the first version of it aired.
  • zrk:
    Has everyone forgotten Survival Research Labs, who put on shows in SF, and elsewhere?

    I haven't. SRL [] invented this stuff -- in...guess when? 1978. And he (Mark Pauline) continues to innovate.

    From the bio page []
    Survival Research Laboratories was conceived of and founded by
    Mark Pauline [] in November 1978. Since its inception SRL has operated as an organization of creative technicians dedicated to re-directing the techniques, tools, and tenets of industry, science, and the military away from their typical manifestations in practicality, product or warfare. Since 1979, SRL has staged over 45 mechanized presentations in the United States and Europe. Each performance consists of a unique set of ritualized interactions between machines, robots, and special effects devices, employed in developing themes of socio-political satire. Humans are present only as audience or operators.

    /.ers probably won't get over their obsessions with mentally-deficient jock humor, though, so expect continued stories about watered-down, apolitical SRL rip-offs.

  • > and they replaced Robert with an American comic.

    Now I must say, that's a damn shame. He was a great host. It's not like he has a hard to understand accent. I think it would have been perfect to have him do the American version as well.

  • When they showed one single run of the British show, they didn't run it under it's original name, NOR under it's Americanized name. They put it "inside" one of their other 'techie' shows... I mean, you'd watch TV and it would say "Junkyard Wars", and there'd be no hint of anything else, but when you went to the TV schedule, it was under one of TLC's regular weekly show names..

    Did my explanation make sense?

    Sure hope they don't do that next time, or it will be impossible to watch for in the schedules, one will just have to hope they catch the commercials or keep an eye out on certain newsgroups and such...

    Hmmm, maybe slashdot will announce it!

  • I think the Great Egg Race is still being repeated now on BBC Choice in the UK (if you've got digital). They don't repeat the whole program, just a ~15min shortened version though.
  • Every nerd has to go for this show: how to make anything from nothing. Every engineer who thinks he has the Right Stuff should sit back and figure -- wow, cool. Maybe there should be a slash-dot version of this show where you show up at some high-tech warehouse and have to assemble, say, a web server, from a left-over Apple ][, a high speed paper tape reader, and a 78 story building.
  • Well, what went wrong was that they didn't cut the ropes to the weights at the same time. On one side the rope was cut and that side of the mini shot to the surface, the other rope hadn't been completely cut. When the mini became angled the floats from the side that was cut slide out from under the mini and the whole thing just sank.

    Good idea, error in the execution...
  • Okay, Lister is doing Robot Wars. Kryten is doing Scrapheap Challenge. So where's Rimmer at? How about Cat?

  • Of course, that was my point. has the video but that would avail me naught. (Shhh. Any way someone could sneakernet it to me?)

When you are working hard, get up and retch every so often.