Making the DinoBot more fun with wargaming capability









A serious hard case, giant ants from Australia


FABULOUS - If looks could kill, this is the look. Never mind the London look, this female is dressed to kill and armed with a sting that beats a divorce hands down. Dino the DinoBot is preparing to dress for the ball - paintball.



Most insects have some kind of self defence mechanism that is unpleasant to either their pursuers or their quarry. Ants are no exception, the bullet and jumper ants have one of the most potent stings imaginable. The bullet ant is said to be the most painful to humans. Many plants also have stings or barbs as a self defence mechanism. The evolution of the sting or bite as a hunting tool is interesting. Snakes bite with hollow fangs and inject venom. Ants use stings in combat to kill an adversary and when hunting for food, to paralyze whatever is on the menu.



Bulldog jumper ant stings a human


OUCH - A black bulldog ant stings a human. You can see the venom making the skin red. It is no joke being stung by one of these insects, it can paralyze a man - apart from the excruciating pain.



In this article we look at (solid state) electronics as a means to simulate the sting of an ant, without going over to chemicals, needles and pumps - although that may also be an interesting topic at some point. Chemicals play an important part in all biological organisms, even humans, where the orgasm is natures reward for attempting to procreate, and a nice taste (a chemical reaction) is the reward for feeding the body.


We also take a glimpse at the booming sport of paintball marking. Using slightly modified gaming markers, we can target and mark an opponent. Apart from a high level of fun, this development might be useful in real life control situations, but not here and not today. This is just for sporting fun.




LASERS - You can purchase these generic 330mW laser diodes for around £3-4. The housing on the right is another £3. With these prices you may as well begin experimenting with components that you can repeat buy at sensible prices. An economic solution for wargame simulations might be to strap 7 of these little beauties together for a 2.3w output at a cost of £42 pounds, all focused at one point. Neat! In any event, lasers are great for ranging and identifying targets. You ordinary DVD burner has a laser similar to this inside. That is how it burns the disc and that is why a Blu ray disc comes out of the machine warm, because it has been shooting a laser at the disc to read it.



LEFT: Panasonic 380mW laser diode. RIGHT: Osram's 2000mW burning laser diode, which unfortunately also carries a singeing price tag on nearly £400. Two watts is more than enough for wargaming - but not at that price. All projects of this nature demand soldering skills, a basic knowledge of electronics, and model radio control equipment. Later on, when it comes to programming robotic functions, then we would expect that you have some knowledge of computer programming. If not, get yourself down to Maplins, or other good electronics retailers (online) for a crash course in Arduino or Raspberry Pi robotics applications.



WARNING - Before building your own laser, please read up on how dangerous they can be. You can be blinded if you do not work safely. Never look into a laser beam. Do not shine a laser at any moving vehicle. Do not use a laser to play with pets. This information is posted here as an educational resource. If under 18, make sure your parents know what you are attempting.




DIY PCBs - An example of a laser driver circuit diagram without a potentiometer and a 4 ohm resistor. Lasers are now used as weapons on US Navy warships as part of their strategic development.



Laser cannon for anti piracy use at sea  Circuit board on the back of a 5500 watt laser cutter  Laser cannon with aluminium heat sink and cooling fan


LASERS - The power of commercially available lasers is coming down in line with the popularity of cutting applications such as engraving. It won't be long before this 5.5 watt unit is available in 500 watts and then 5,000 watts power outputs. Experiments are planned using these and other units as to their potential for anti-piracy use on boats that are unmanned. It is better to have a weapon and not need it, than need a weapon and not have it.





TASERS - The X26 the model commonly used by police departments delivers a peak voltage of 1200 V to the body. They use barbs to establish a circuit, fired from the gun by compressed gas. The gun generates a series of 100-microsecond pulses at a rate of 19 per second. Each pulse carries 100 microcoulombs of charge, so the average current is 1.9 milliamperes, too force the muscles to contract without risking electrocution - so they say! Stun guns generate a high-voltage, low-amperage electrical charge. You may remember an experiment like this in school where you joined hands to complete a circuit.



A 20,000 - 150,000 volt charge combines with the electrical signals from a human brain to confuse it. At its most basic, this is all there is to incapacitating a person with a stun gun - you apply electricity to a person's muscles and nerves, and since there are muscles and nerves all over the body, it usually has some effect.

The Taser takes advantage of two natural protections against electrocution that arise from the difference between skeletal and cardiac muscle. The skeletal muscles are on the outer shell of the body; the heart is nestled farther inside. In your upper body, the skeletal muscles are arranged in bands surrounding your rib cage. Because of skeletal muscle fibers' natural inclination to conduct low-frequency electricity along their length, a larger current injected into such a muscle tends to follow the grain around the chest rather than the smaller current that penetrates toward the heart - that would of course be deadly. On the other hand, studies have shown that stun guns were used during about 30 percent of in-custody deaths in the United States.


The Taser is not considered to be a firearm in 44 US states where they can be carried lawfully. The Czech Republic encourages vulnerable persons to carry such devices for self protection. You can make your own stun device from a gas lighter or a camera flash - but these experiments are much more dangerous than the commercial product that you cannot purchase in many countries.




WASP STINGER - This is the sting of a wasp, with a venom droplet visible. The stingers of some wasps, such as those of the Polistes versicolor, contain relatively large amounts of 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) in its venoms. The 5-HT in these venoms has been found to play at least two roles: one as a pain-producing agent and the other in the distribution and penetration of the paralyzing components to vulnerable sites in the offender. This helps in the rapid immobilization of the animal or of the certain body parts of the animal receiving the venom.



Paintball wargaming marker


PAINTBALL - is a sport in which players compete, in teams or individually, to eliminate opponents by tagging them with capsules containing water-soluble dye and featuring a gelatin outer shell (referred to as paintballs) propelled from a device called a paintball marker (commonly referred to as a paintball gun). Paintballs are composed of a non-toxic, biodegradable, water-soluble polymer. The game is regularly played at a sporting level with organized competition involving major tournaments, professional teams, and players.



WARNING - Before experimenting with your own stun equipment, check out the law applicable to your area - it varies widely. There are many personal stun weapons available off the shelf on Amazon and Ebay. They cost around $20 dollars on average. We include this subject for general interest only. No way should you even consider making any kind of robot with stun features included - except perhaps as an insect repellent : )




CHEMICAL WARFARE - You don't have to sting to ward off an enemy, here an ant is waving a droplet of venom in the air as a threat of things to come. Ants also smear venom onto an enemy.





If we map the stinger to an ant phylogeny (simplified from Brady et al 2006 using the program Mesquite 2.5) we see that all the early lineages have one. Of course, this is a sensible observation given that ants evolved from wasps. The Ur-Ant possessed a wasp like sting and the device is carried through to many extant species.

We can also see that many lineages have lost the sting. The loss is repeated in several recent groups, suggesting a strong trend towards sting-less ants. It is as if stingers are more burden than benefit.

While we do not know for certain why the stinger has become a liability among so many modern ants, the ecology of species with differing sting morphologies suggests that the loss of the sting is related to some significant changes in lifestyle over the course of ant evolution. As no one has yet done the work to properly test hypotheses of sting evolution, you may speculate about what you think is driving the emerging pattern. It is a fact though, that a feature that is not used, will recede and an evolutionary advantage will come to the fore. It is pointless for a creature to expend energy during its lifetime on something that is does not need. In humans, the coccyx is the vestigial tail that we no longer need to balance us as former tree dwellers.



Stephen James "Steve" Backshall (born 21 April 1973) is a BAFTA-winning English naturalist, writer and television presenter, best known for BBC TV's Deadly 60. His other BBC work includes being part of the expedition teams in Lost Land of the Tiger, Lost Land of the Volcano and Lost Land of the Jaguar, and he has worked for the National Geographic Channel and the Discovery Channel. He has published three novels for children and several non-fiction works.


The early-diverging ant lineages are nearly all predators. Most forage alone without the help of nest-mates, and their prey is not killed but paralyzed. The prey remains alive until consumed, so does not decompose a neat touch where refrigeration is human only territory. The catching and maintaining live prey is not unlike the strategy of predatory wasps that capture spiders or caterpillars for their young. Only ants are social and carry their quarry back to communal nests.


In general, then, what seems to favor a sting is either the need for foraging ants to paralyze prey - the ancestral state for the ants - or the need to defend against vertebrate enemies. Ants that do not require live prey, or ants whose lives involve a lot of fighting against other ants, have often arrived at more effective tools.




DRACULA - One example of a stinging species is the western dracula ant, Amblyopone oregonensis. This insect feeds on geophilomorph centipedes in the old growth forests of western North America. Their stinger is well-developed and is used primarily to inject a blend of paralyzing enzymes into the centipedes. The hapless myriapod is then fed to the voracious ant larvae.





Many modern ants have since moved away from this ancestral habit of solitary hunting. The more diverse lineages retrieve prey in groups and get much of their sustenance from hemipteran honeydew or scavenged detritus. It is in these lineages that the sting often is lost or reduced. Where present, the function usually switches from prey capture to defense, as in the wood ant that squirts formic acid to protect their nests.

The infamous Solenopsis fire ants display an intermediate condition. They retain a functional stinger primarily as a weapon against vertebrates.

Fire ants may also use their sting to subdue prey, much of what they eat is either plant-based (via hemipteran honeydew) or scavenged. Consequently they are not as dependent on the organ as more ancient ants like Amblyopone and Harpegnathos.





A stinger is not always so useful against ant competitors. In combat with other ants, fire ants may sting. But just as often they resort to waving volatiles about, or smearing venom, instead of trying to pierce the chitinous armor of their enemies.

A further step in stinger reduction is displayed in the Crematogaster acrobat ant. She does have a stinger, but unlike the fire ant’s it is thin, weak, and floppy. Instead of impaling her enemies, she uses her sting as a brush for smearing a toxic slurry.

Two of the largest subfamilies, the dolichoderinae and the formicinae, have dispensed with the sting altogether. Species in these groups tend to have large colonies, use group prey retrieval and are heavily subsidized by honeydew and nectar. Some predatory functions of the sting are replaced by concerted group action, as seen in the African weaver ants.




BULLET ANT - The pain caused by this insect's sting is purported to be 
greater than that of any other hymenopteran and is ranked as the most 
painful according to the Schmidt sting pain index, given a "4+" rating, 
above the tarantula hawk wasp and, according to some victims, equal to being 
shot, hence the name of the insect. It is described as causing: waves of 
burning, throbbing, all-consuming pain that continues unabated for up to 24 




CANNIBALS - In one Forelius versus fire ant battle, the opposing sides maintained a standstill for the entire morning they were observed. The Forelius never penetrated deep enough into the fire ant nest to plunder any significant amounts of brood, but the fire ants also failed to repel their attackers. Although the long term evolutionary trend might seem to favor the airborne chemical warfare of Forelius, for 4 hours both weapons systems remained locked in an equilibrium. What an equivalent battle might look like in another 50 million years is anyone’s guess.





Ant venom is any of, or a mixture of, irritants and toxins inflicted by ants. Most ants spray or inject a venom. In the case of the subfamily Formicinae the main constituent of the spray is formic acid.

Some notable examples of stinging ants include Solenopsis (fire ants), Pachycondyla (ponerine ants), Myrmecia (bulldog ants), and Paraponera (bullet ants). In the case of fire ants, the venom consists of alkaloid and protein components. The stings cause a cutaneous condition caused by stinging (as distinct from biting) venomous ants. Particularly painful are stings from fire and bullet ants.

First aid for fire ant bites includes external treatments and oral medicines:

* External treatments: a topical steroid cream (hydrocortisone), or one containing aloe vera
* Oral medicines: antihistamines
* Applying zinc chloride or calamine lotion .

Severe allergic reactions can be caused by ant stings in particular and venomous stings in general, including severe chest pain, nausea, severe sweating, loss of breath, serious swelling, fever, dizziness, and slurred speech; they can be fatal if not treated.




SCORPION - Among arthropods, a sting is a sharp organ, often connected with a venom gland, adapted to inflict a wound by piercing, as with the caudal sting of a scorpion, seen above. 





WASPS - Yellow jacket or yellowjacket is the common name in North America for predatory wasps of the genera Vespula and Dolichovespula. Members of these genera are known simply as "wasps" in other English-speaking countries. Most of these are black and yellow like the Eastern yellowjacket Vespula maculifrons and the Saxon wasp Dolichovespula saxonica.

All females are capable of stinging. Despite the reservations of humans, yellow jackets are in fact important predators of pest insects. Wasps are bold and aggressive, and can sting repeatedly and painfully if provoked. It will mark aggressors, and will pursue them if agitated. A man in Sussex can attest to that having accidentally discovered a nest in a hedgerow, the wasps chased the poor chap some 50 yards waiting until he was inside his house, when they let fly a concentrated attack, getting into his jumper for strikes to his back and up his trousers for stings to the leg. He rushed to find a tennis racquet to fight off the swarm. All of the angry wasps had to be killed.


Curious, the chap investigated the nest the next day, standing farther away - this time armed with a badminton racquet. The wasps still spotted the intruder and gave chase, whereupon he darted inside smartly - closing the kitchen doors. Still a number of wasps made it inside. There followed a rapid swatting session when all the wasps were again killed - and yes, he was stung again, but only once this time, needing to remove his clothing to get the last of the attackers - and jump on the clothing - to be sure. Do not take any chances. On a third day, the chap went outside again with his racquet. While not 30 feet from the nest, the wasps gave chase, but this time he got inside and closed the kitchen doors before the wasps could catch up. They then buzzed the windows with both parties observing each other. The chap did not want to harm the wasps and gave that area of the garden a wide berth for a while - because a wasp is no match for a badminton player. During the first and second swarms the chap took out around 50 wasps - in the process devastating the nest. He regularly finds queen wasps in crevices in the timber building.

Wasps have lance-like stingers with small barbs and typically sting repeatedly. Only occasionally a stinger becomes lodged and pulls free of the wasp's body; the venom, like most bee and wasp venoms, is only dangerous to humans who are allergic or are stung many times.





A stinger, or sting, is a sharp organ found in various animals (typically arthropods) capable of injecting venom, usually by piercing the epidermis of another animal. Technically, a stinger is the part of an insect or animal that holds a sting, where a sting is the pointed organ. In common usage, stinger is a colloquialism for sting. A sting differs from other piercing structures in that it pierces by its own action and injects venom, as opposed to teeth, which pierce by the force of opposing jaws. Stinging hairs which actively inject venom on plants such as stinging nettles are also sometimes known as stings, but not stingers.

An insect bite or sting is a break in the skin or puncture caused by an insect and complicated by introduction of the insect's saliva, venom, or excretory products. Specific components of these substances are believed to give rise to an allergic reaction, which in turn produces skin lesions that may vary from a small itching wheal, or slightly elevated area of the skin; to large areas of inflamed skin covered by vesicles and crusted lesions.

Stinging insects produce a painful swelling of the skin, the severity of the lesion varying according to the location of the sting and the identity of the insect. Many species of bees and wasps have two poison glands, one gland secreting a toxin in which formic acid is one recognized constituent, and the other secreting an alkaline neurotoxin; acting independently, each toxin is rather mild, but when they are injected together through the sting, the combination has strong irritating properties. In a small number of cases the second occasion of a bee or wasp sting causes a severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis.

Hornets, some ants, centipedes, and scorpions also sting. Some insects leave their stinger in the wound. Multiple stings may give rise to severe systemic symptoms and in rare instances may even lead to death.





WIRED.COM 28 June 2007


iRobot Corporation — maker of bomb-handling and floor-sweeping machines — has teamed up with the shocketeers at Taser International "to develop new robots that can remotely engage, incapacitate and control dangerous suspects," according to a company statement. 

The idea is to equip a PackBot with a X26 stun gun, giving "SWAT, law enforcement and military" types "a new ability to control dangerous suspects while keeping personnel, the suspect and bystanders out of harm’s way."

For the last several years, robot-makers have been equipping their recon and bomb-disposal ‘bots with weapons — including rocket-launchers and machine guns. But the military has been reluctant to take any of the machines into battlezones. What one of ’em starts spazzing out, and accidentally shoots up a friendly squad? But, armed with a Taser, there wouldn’t be nearly as much risk. Although the potential for stun gun abuse or mayhem would be, uh, considerable. 



Arnold Schwarzenegger



SMS 27 OCT 2015

In most sci-fi films the robots have been programmed so that they don't harm humans. The Guardian in Terminator 2, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, is the perfect example of this, with his sole mission to protect Sarah Connor.

So far in real-life a lot of robots haven't been programmed not to harm humans. In fact, some of them are being designed to taze them in the balls.

Meet the TRAD robot, the robot created by Taser International so that police don't even have to be in the same room as the suspect as they shoot 50,000 volts through them.

Conveniently though, they do have a camera on them so they can see the look of pure terror on the suspects' faces as they: wonder what the hell that remote control car is doing, notice the robot seems to have both a taser and a thirst for human suffering, try to appease their metal overlord, and get shot with 50,000 volts of electricity. Fingers crossed they upload the video to YouTube.

At the moment, the robot is remote controlled and armed with a taser, but there are plans to automate it and arm it with a shotgun for military purposes. It's a sign the robot uprising when governments aren't just dreaming of fully-automated robot killing machines: They're budgeting for them. 

There are two main challenges for military robotics. The first, get them to navigate all kinds of terrain as well as humans do, and secondly, make them kill stuff when they get there. Perhaps the most important is to make them look as cool and intimidating as Arnie.



TALON - It's pretty much a gun on wheels. That above robot is called the Talon and is actually in use by the American army. Though it's more like a Dalek than a T-1000, it's still pretty intimidating to the enemy to be faced with an uncaring robot enemy that won't even take the time to flinch or look grim as it fires in your direction.

Unsurprisingly the idea of robot involvement in war is already garnering opposition from groups such as the International Committee for Robot Arms Control (ICRAC), founded by academics in the forefront of robotics, who know what machines are capable of. They argue that "machines should not be delegated with the decision to kill or use violent force". 



FLORA - In plants, the term "sting" is normally used as a verb, but occasionally used as a noun refer to urticating hairs, sharp-pointed hollow hairs seated on a gland which secretes an acrid fluid, as in species of Urtica (nettles). The points of these hairs are brittle and break off easily, leaving a sharp point through which the fluid is injected. On the other hand, the bristles of some cacti are recovered by retrorse barbs called glochids (like foxtail spikelets), which prevent bristles from falling once they sting.




Wikipedia Stinger


A prehistoric giant ant hatches from a frozen egg to create havoc   Ant-Man the Marvel movie 2015 with Paul Rudd


LEFT - Movie idea, lurking beneath the Antarctic ice is a discovery that scientists will die for. This story is now the subject of a low budget trailer to be produced mostly in the UK. The promoters are looking for backers. The UK will contribute 20% toward production costs. Roughly 60% of a low budget film may be pre-sold as distribution rights, leaving 20% finance to source. The deal is that investors recover 120% on their project stake within 12 months of shooting, with an income stream thereafter from networks and merchandising. Producers and directors please take note that there is a significant audience for well made movies of this genre. Look at what happened when they remade Godzilla. RIGHT - 2015 movie based on the Marvel series of graphic novels.




ENGINEERING DESIGN - Ants are fabulous fighting machines. Biological engineering is less of a compromise than man-made machines. The only advantage that machines have that we build is that we can use any material we want to seek to compensate for design and manufacturing limitations - and we are not stuck with one means of self defence.





Artwork for Sectasaur, a story about a giant insect discovered as the Antarctic thaws



A Sectasaur™ (thawed) - now on permanent display at Herstmonceux Museum, in Sussex, England.
















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