I woke up to an early morning, as we were supposed to be at the TRANSDEC by 8:00 am sharp. The pool is set up as a huge circle and into four sections: A, B, C, and D. There is a practice side and a competition side in the pool. The team tents are set up all around this pool, so as you can imagine, there are quite a few teams here. There are thirty-seven registered teams this year in RoboSub and we are excited to meet all of them!
To qualify for semi-finals, all we have to do is get AquaUrsa to go underwater, stay underwater, and pass through the gate. Easy, right? That's what I was thinking because AquaUrsa can easily go straight underwater as we have tested that many times. Our scheduled qualifying time was at 1:15, so we had a little over 5 hours to make sure nothing went wrong with AquaUrsa. We grabbed everything from the van, brought it to the table and set it all up, and were ready to go! Alvin soon left to go pick up Jamie from the airport and Veselin from the hotel, and we were left to man the tent. We soon realized that we were only two mechanical engineers and one first year left at the tent, so any electrical questions from other teams were answered with very few details.
A couple of hours later, 12:00 came and lunch was upon us. Alvin, Veselin and Jamie finally showed up so we now thankfully had one person from the software team to test the robot and make sure it was ready to qualify. Before long, we became aware of an issue with the kill switch. That was a serious problem because if the kill switch does not work while we are doing the qualifying test, then we will get disqualified because it is not considered safe. So we fixed that as fast as we could, but unfortunately we had to change our qualifying test time to 3:00 just to be safe. Jamie and I felt like we were being anti-social, so being the good business/COPPER team members that we are, we got up and met all of the teams. All I can say is wow, there are teams from all over the world. We first met McGill University from Montreal Canada. These fellow Canadians look like they have a promising robot with three cameras, a claw, torpedoes, and even LED lights all over the top of the robot. I thought that was impressive until we started meeting all of the teams. There are actually quite a few teams here that have all of the components to get through all of the obstacles in this competition. We also had the privilege to meet Cornell University from New York, ETS from Montreal, University of Florida, and many other amazing teams. There were teams from Turkey, Russia, Sweden, Thailand, China, Japan, and so many more. I love meeting new people so Jamie and I walked around for a little bit, meeting and talking to fellow competitors.
After a while, we felt like we should head back to the team. Once we got back, a feeling of gloom and frustration hung over our tent. It turns out an H-bridge on the motor controller blew, smoke came out of AquaUrsa, and the motor controller now did not work at all. The vertical thrusters were also permanently stuck 'on', so we decided to switch to the spare motor controller for them. Frustratingly, the spare motor controller had the same problem, so now we definitely needed Mike to get here as soon as possible. His flight comes in tomorrow, so I guess we have to make do for today. 3:00 was coming fast and we weren't ready to qualify as the motor controllers still weren't working. The only solution was to push the test back again to 6:15. All we needed was AquaUrsa to be able to go straight through a gate, so hopefully we could fix the little things to make it work. Next, as if someone was trying to tell us to give up, the IMU connection went wrong and the sensor board wasn't working. Great. More to fix. Giving up is not in the team dictionary, so we bypassed the IMU connection to the computer and got some of it working again!
Testing it in water was the next step as we went to the dolphin pool with AquaUrsa. We still had no control over the vertical thrusters, however, we did have complete control over the horizontal thrusters! We immediately used that to our advantage and devised a plan to hopefully get AquaUrsa through the gate before hitting the bottom of the pool during the qualifying test. A half an hour before the test, we carried AquaUrsa back to the tent and waited for 6:15 to arrive. Soon, it was 6:05 and we were ready. I stood up, ready to test. As Veselin was testing the thrusters one last time, a look of frustration passed over his face. "What's wrong?" I asked curiously. Alvin sombrely replied, "The battery died, and we don't have any spares." It is such a tiny problem, but all of our other batteries were back at the hotel. Michael volunteered to go tell the people in charge that we weren't able to take the slot and qualify today. Tired and hungry, we packed everything up, heaved it all to the van, and headed towards the hotel.
After we put everything into the hotel room, we decided to go and eat. Jamie wanted Oggi's, so we took the two minute drive there, ordered take out, and went back to the hotel to eat. Happily, as we ate fantastic food and drank some adult beverages, we laughed and talked as the comedy that is The Big Bang Theory played softly on the TV. We knew we couldn't do much to fix AquaUrsa since it was all electrical problems, so we decided to just wait until Mike joins us tomorrow. After slathering on extreme amounts of Aloe Vera gel onto our sunburns, Jamie and I decided to go to bed early and for once get a full 8 hour sleep - which apparently is extremely rare at competition. Tomorrow we are determined to qualify for semifinals, so stay tuned for Day 3. Have a good night everybody! See you tomorrow San Diego.