Tag Archives: Pods

TALON Precision-Guided Rocket- Turning Dumbfire Hydra Rocket Pods into Streak SRM Launchers

Historically, rocket munitions have always been more effective when fired in swarms. From the 15th century Korean Hwatcha rocket propelled arrow launcher to the MLRS or Grad rockets of today to the Itano Circus prevalent in ’80s Sci-Fi anime- and by extension, BattleTech. Rocket swarms can be brutally effective- if a not very efficient means of hitting your target. But those are artillery type weapons. Equipment covered in BattleTech by Arrow IV Missiles. What about something closer in?

The mainstay of western rocket direct-fire weapons for the past 60 years has been the Hydra 70 2.75″ (70mm) rocket pod. The Hydra rocket series weighs in at a hair over 6 kg, has an effective range of 8,000 meters and has an absolutely ridiculous selection of warheads to choose from (19 from the Wikipedia list). White Phosphorus, Flechette, cluster munition, HE, smoke, you name it.

M261 Hydra 70 launch pod with two different munition payloads.

M261 Hydra 70 launch pod with two different munition payloads.

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MK2 Megabot vs Kuratas in Upcoming Solaris-Style Battle



After their unsuccessful Kickstarter in October of last year, the Oakland California-based MegaBots Inc. seems to have done the best thing they could do to stay active in the public arena. They picked a fight.

In late June via video, Andrew Stroup and Gui Cavalcanti challenged Suidobiashi Heavy Industries to a duel- A batchall, if you will, to fight against Suidobiashi’s current combat mecha- Kuratas. Neither Stoup nor Cavalcanti are unfamiliar with either engineering competitions nor high media exposure. Both appeared in the 2012 Discovery Channel reality show: The Big Brain Theory: Pure Genius.

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One Man’s Convention – GenCon 2015, Part 1

Another GenCon has come and gone, and now is the time when those of us who attended and participated are recovering from and reflecting on our personal and shared experiences of one of the most exciting weekends any gamer could hope to have.

This GenCon was my third in total, over a period of the last four years, and each time I have felt like it was impossible for me to somehow enjoy this time more than the last time. I believe that it is an amazing thing that, so far, each new GenCon experience has surpassed the previous ones. I think this is in part due to a continuous learning process that all repeat convention goers should, if they pay attention and mean to improve their future experiences, go through.

I left home near Nashville, TN at 7am Thursday morning, and a little over five hours later, I arrived in downtown Indianapolis. After finding a parking garage only a short walk from the convention center, I proceeded to Will Call to retrieve my pass. The wait was not long, and the process was smooth. I would be surprised at this point if Will Call was a difficult process at GenCon, but I feel that I need to include my assessment in order to provide an accurate picture of the convention from my perspective.

I have here chronicled my GenCon 2015 experiences in two parts. Part 1 details my BattleTech centric experiences, and Part 2 covers my general GenCon experience and my thoughts on how to have a better convention experience in the future.

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Interview with Nickolas Smith, Owner of Virtual World Entertainment: BattleTech Pods!

I was first introduced to the BattleTech universe in 1994.  Twelve years old at the time, my family would often take vacations from our home in Grand Rapids (Michigan) to Chicago, only a three-hour drive away.  On one of these trips, we stumbled upon the BattleTech Center at Chicago’s North Pier.  I was instantly hooked and made my parents take me back to play in the pods every time we went to Chicago.  During one of the visits I noticed a BattleTech: Third Edition boxed set on the counter and asked a bit about it.  I had never played a tabletop miniatures game before, but I convinced my parents that I had enough allowance to buy it and spent the next few weeks playing against myself and anyone I could trick into playing with me.

BattleTech Pod

Modern BattleTech Pod

Going on twenty years later, I still remember how excited I was the first time I played in a BattleTech pod.

For those of you that have never heard of or experience a pod, you’re missing out.  BattleTech pods are fully-enclosed cockpits with multiple screens, joysticks, and rudder.  You play in a heavily-modified version of MechWarrior 4 (called BattleTech: Firestorm) against a dozen others at the same location.  The fighting is intense and a whole lot of fun — you really feel like you’re in a ‘Mech once you step into the cockpit.  It’s an experience everyone should try.

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Home Simpits for Maximum Immersion

One of my themes in looking for interesting things to write about here is ingenuity and innovation. That said, I REALLY wish I had the skills of some of the guys building their own custom simpits. Simpits are fully enclosed cockpits dedicated to a full immersion into a simulation like games. Most likely first started by Microsoft Flight Simulator gurus, simpits aren’t exactly mainstream if for no other reason than it takes a lot of spare time to design and construct one.

I was an Airman in the Civil Air Patrol as a lad, and though MFS was a requirement to master in the Squadron, I would have been much more interested if I had something like you’ll see here today. I might have even gone on to get my Sport Flight License. Here is what happens when you apply the simpit doctrine to BattleTech:

BattleTech Simpit

BattleTech Simpit

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Beginning in the latter part of 2005, MechCorps is a rather interesting mix of mobile arcade and MechWarrior training command. Not many people can say that they have climbed into a totally encapsulated cockpit with fully functional controls to play a videogame- especially these days. If you visit 16034 West Road or attend any of the conventions to which they attend, not only can you try it out but can play with seven other pilots also riding customized Virtual World Tesla II simpods. Running BattleTech Firestorm; custom MechWarrior IV Mercenaries software, MechCorps features forty two mechs and who knows how many variants. While the engine and graphics won’t exactly mesmerize you MechWarrior Online players out there, there is something to be said for the 100% immersive experience over just sitting at a desk on a chair. Those of you who have built your own custom simpits know exactly what I mean.


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