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RoboSub 2014 - August 1, 2014 - Day 5: Semi-finals Round 1

Posted by admin-robotlord on August 4, 2014

Another early morning, leaving the hotel at 7 AM to TRANSDEC. Since we had so much stuff, only 5 people could go at a time and Mike had to come back to get the other two. Today, me and Rumman were left for the second trip and while waiting around we got hungry. I remembered that there was a restaurant by the hotel so we decided to go and get some breakfast since it would've taken Mike around 30 minutes to get to TRANSDEC, unload the car, and come back to the hotel. It was a cute restaurant with an amazing breakfast menu, I didn't know what to get since I wanted it all. I'm a huge fan of cooking shows like Masterchef, My Kitchen Rules, etc, and they always use eggs benedict as an elimination test therefore I wanted to try how good this thing was. I've only tried eggs benedict in buffets where the poached egg turns into a hard boiled egg after some time. My first taste of actual American eggs benedict was delicious but got too heavy and creamy after a while. Rumman got strawberry pancakes and I wished my stomach was big enough for an order of cinnamon vanilla french toast as well. It was a delicious meal, way better than any food truck.

When we got back to the hotel we noticed a rented van similar to ours. We knocked on Mike's room with no answer and I went to check on the look-a-like truck to see if Mike was sleeping in it; there was no one there. As I headed back to Rumman's room, I saw him running to the restaurant. I lost my room key so I stood outside of Rumman's room waiting for him to come back or Mike to come pick us up. After 5 minutes I hear this loud knocking on a door downstairs and when I went down to see Rumman looking for me. Turns out Mike had got to the hotel 30 minutes ago and was waiting in his room and didn't hear the first knock. When I went to go check the look-a-like van, Rumman had knocked again, this is when Mike opened the door. Rumman didn't know I had gone to check on the van and didn't know where I was but he needed to get his backpack from the restaurant and asked Mike to drive the van and meet him at the front of the hotel which was closer to the restaurant. As all this was happening, they didn't know where I was while I waited for either of them show up outside of Rumman's room. It was a communication disaster. Mike told us our 'leave-second' privileges were now revoked.

When we got to TRANSDEC, we had to quickly get AquaUrsa ready for the semi-finals round. The LED lights were installed last night for visual indicators but when we sealed the robot, they kept turning off. We had to keep unsealing the robot, re-seating some wires and put them back in, waiting for the system to boot back up. The easiest way to get the lid in is to use a mallet and just give it a few hits. Every time the lights were on, the hammering turned the lights off. This kept happening for a good 15 minutes, so finally we just used our hands to push the lid in. Then suddenly the back o-ring snapped so Alvin had to run back to our tent to get a new one. Once the new o-ring was on, it kept popping out of its grove and getting caught in between the lids. Finally the robot was sealed and in the water but when the thrusters were on it just kept diving down. After a peek into the hull, Mike saw that the depth sensor wire was not plugged in so we had to take the robot out, open it, plug in the depth sensor, seal it without the mallet and put it back in the water. By this time we only had enough time for maybe 2 tries. Luckily during the second try, Aqua Ursa passed the gate and got within less than an inch to the green buoy (according to the diver) which we hope will give us partial points. That was the most frustrating 20 minutes so far which no explanation as to why the robot wasn't working for the first 15 minutes.

We needed more testing time but all the practice slots were full for the day. We couldn't use the hotel pool since we were only allowed in starting at 10 PM. Now we had to quickly make a final edit on the static presentation and get ready for our slot at 12:40 PM. It seemed like we had a lot of time to prepare for the presentation but before you knew it, it was already 12:15 PM and we had to be in front of the presentation room doors by 12:25 PM. Quickly making final changes, getting Aqua Ursa into a presentable state, and just being notified that we needed a laptop with VGA port last minute, we move fast and made it to the doors with a bit of time to spare.

The static presentation went okay, there was a time limit of 15 minutes and then a 5 minute question period. We had a lot to talk about and we had to rush at the very end. Alvin talked about the mechanical platform and the changes we made, Mike talked about the electrical platform and the things that worked or didn't work last year compared to this year and Veselin talked about the Software platform, giving an outline of all the software components. Except for being a bit rushed, it was a good presentation. When the question period came, the first question was about our website, if they had the right website or not because the current website had information from the 2012-2013 year. That was the one question we were hoping to avoid since we knew the website haven't been updated yet. When the judges came up to see Aqua Ursa up close, it was funny that they commented how clean our robot was. It is a pretty clean robot.

There was a lot of frustration in the morning from the robot iffiness and the website question, so we went to go get some lunch and cool down. The food truck of the day was an Asian truck. I got the rice plate with Korean BBQ beef with a side of kimchi. Being Korean, I wasn't expecting much from Korean food made in a food truck by Caucasian guys. The food was decent, kimchi even tasted okay but the portion was small. After I ate I had to go to the regular Beach Eats food truck and get their fish tacos. I haven't had their fish tacos before but they were delicious. I wished I had gotten this in the first place instead of the rice plate. San Diego is a seafood place, can't go wrong with seafood. (Mike's Note: Jamie likes food a lot. I think if she hadn't gone into Engineering, she'd be a chef instead.)

The day went on with the MecEs working on the camera case, the EEs and Software trying to figure out what went wrong this morning and how to prevent it from happening again. It was another typical day at TRANSDEC. I stayed behind to be in the second ride with Mikey and Mike and also for the 6 PM meeting to decide the time slots for tomorrow's semi-final. We also saw the ranking board and saw that we got points for passing the gate and also for being super close to the green buoy but there were many teams that got the gate, buoy, and the inverted gate. There were also teams that only got in the water so at least we got the gate.

The time slot decision was based on the static presentation, website, and the technical paper points. We knew we didn't get much points on the website side but thought we didn't do THAT bad on the static presentation so was hoping for around mid-rank. First up was Cornell (who apparently won best technical paper before so no surprise there), the University of Florida. ETS and McGill was pretty high up on the list as well (woot Canada!). The Falcon High School also was high up on the rank which makes me want to go check out their robot tomorrow. We were again around 5th last and got a time slot at 10 AM. Better than today but still I thought that we did well enough to be mid-rank. Either the website killed us extremely or our static presentation and technical paper wasn't as good as I thought. One surprising news at the 6 PM meeting  was that we got a third chance on Sunday. The finals will be held on Sunday afternoon and the morning will be dedicated to 10 minute time slot for a final chance and the final rank will be based on the best of the three days. I was happy that we got a third chance, just in case tomorrow's run didn't work as well as today but also a bit disappointed that I didn't have Saturday night off. I don't know how the other members can stay up till 2 AM, wake up at 6 AM and still function without passing out in the middle of the street. After this week I feel like I need 2 weeks off just for sleep. I was looking forward to just lying in bed Saturday night but rethinking this, that is not why we're here in San Diego. We worked all year for this competition and losing one more day of sleep is worth it so that we can do better. During the drive back to the hotel, Mikey sat in the back holding Aqua Ursa so it wouldn't slide, just so the thruster incident won't happen again.

We ate pizza for the last 2 days so something new was needed, therefore time for fast food at Jack in the Box. There was an ad for croissant donuts looking all yummy and since I believe in ads too much, I got 3. They were deep fried, doughy, and covered in brown sugar. I felt like I was at the Stampede eating their street food. Back at the hotel, the MecEs worked on the camera case, dunking it from different sides to isolate where the leak was coming from. The EEs worked on the hydrophone, first testing it in the bathtub and then the hotel pool with a pinger. They were up until 3:30 AM testing the hydrophones but unfortunately, the sonar system was not being co-operative.

We needed a practice slot tomorrow to test our robot so we decided to get to TRANSDEC by 5:30 AM and get a practice slot before it gets filled up. Tomorrow is another day, a new day for Aqua Ursa and still having not much of an idea what made it not turn on during this morning's practice run, we hope it won't happen again tomorrow. I would like to say that we slept but it was more of a "passed out" from being so tired. A good nights "sleep" for a happier day tomorrow.

Jamie Lee
ARVP Mechanical Team Co-Lead
University of Alberta

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