It was an early morning for Michael and Alvin as they left for TRANSDEC for 6:00 in the morning. The teams that get there at 6:00 am get entered into a random draw to be able to pick their practice test time for the day. Between the twelve teams that decided to show up that early, Alvin got drawn for a practice slot at 9:45. So he came back, picked all of us up, and we were on our way for the second day of semi-finals.
Our practice run came around, and we thought we were ready. AquaUrsa was in the water by 9:50 and turned out to be too heavy because of the extra battery we had added last night. We were also having a slight problem with the kill switch. So we hauled AquaUrsa out of the water, took off some weight, and tried to fix the connection to the kill switch. Okay, round 2. We put her back into the water and throughout the run, the kill switch was still acting up occasionally, randomly killing the robot. So we ended up taping the kill switch connections to keep them tight. Eventually our practice was over and it was time to either get another practice time, or just wait for our semi-final time to come at 5:30. Jamie and I wandered off to look for Bill again to try for another practice time. A short 5 minutes later, we found him and realized that all of the practice time slots were filled with good teams that would never give away or cancel their time slots in a million years, so we walked back to our tent to wait for 5:30 to come upon us.
Finally, 5:30 came and AquaUrsa was set into the water. The kill switch issue continued to haunt us, so we took it out of water and secured the connections again. A couple of failed attempts later, our spirits were dampened but we refused to give up. With three minutes and thirty seconds left, we knew we had just enough time for one more run. AquaUrsa went through the gate; so far so good. She then followed the first path and hit the red buoy spot on. That's how far we went yesterday, so I was fairly happy with this run so far. 'Please go through' I kept on chanting in my head as the robot slowly followed the second path to the time portal, which was the inverted gate. We watched in anticipation as the top of AquaUrsa went just under the goal posts in the gate - straight through! We are on fire so far! A perfect end to our second semi-final run! After that, we packed up and put everything into the van. 6:30 came and all of the teams stood there waiting for Dave to announce the finalists. While waiting, I talked to the two Russian teams who apparently knew each other and were from the same part of Russia. How cool is that? An hour later, Dave finally came out and told us the four finalists: Bumblebee from Singapore, FEFU from Russia, Mechatronics from San Diego, and AUVUA from Arizona. They then announced the teams in order of scores to choose their time slots to qualify for the three wildcard spots left to get into finals. Apparently out of all the remaining semi-finalists, we got sixth!
With that unbelievable news, we went back to the hotel and decided to go out to Jimmy's Famous Tavern to eat for Mike's last night with us, since his flight leaves at 3:30 tomorrow afternoon. After our stomachs were full and our spirits were high, we set off back to the hotel to fix the faulty kill switch in AquaUrsa. Jamie and I sat and watched a Harry Potter marathon until Mike delegated an important task to us - go ask the other teams at the hotel if anyone had a reed switch to fix the damaged one in our kill switch. So Jamie and I walked up to the first team that we saw sitting by the pool: FEFU from Russia. Luckily, they had a spare reed switch that their professor just put together and gave to us. Five seconds after giving the little glass reed switch to Mike, I see the one metal part of the switch come off. "Mike, please don't tell me you just broke that." I said in utter defeat. "Well, it's fragile. Go see if you can get me another one" So Jamie and I set out again to ask another team if they had a spare reed switch lying around. We went up to Antoine from ETS and he asked the team if they had a switch. Sadly they didn't, but they did give us a hall effect sensor! Mike conceded that it would work in principle, but after about an hour of fiddling around, he 'killed' that idea, saying it would take so long to implement now, we wouldn't be able to get into the pool. So Mike went with plan 'B' and used a spare SubConn connector as a new kill switch. We then did a quick pool test at 2 in the morning and then went to bed. See you tomorrow for finals!