Robosub 2018 Day 1: Building Auri

By Susana Trac

Monday was the day the Mechanical team arrived at competition, which conveniently coincided with the day our shipping crate finally showed up at the hotel.

The first thing I did when I arrived in San Diego was provided false information. Classic. Since the arrival time of my flight was half an hour later than Curtis’, we were going to meet up at the baggage claim for my flight before being picked up from the airport. He messaged me to ask if it was in terminal 1, as that was the terminal number listed on the itinerary posted online. I didn’t think too much about it and said yes. Fun fact, my plane actually arrived in terminal 2. Oops. I managed to find Curtis at the correct baggage claim and Jon picked the two of us up. We arrived at the hotel about 15 minutes before the Robosub orientation presentation ended, so we were able to catch the last bit of the talk. Afterwards, we were able to meet up with the rest of the team except Sophia, who would arrive later that night.

Curtis and I then got to work reassembling Auri on the 2 beds. That’s when we noticed the parts were missing brackets, as well as many screws and nuts. We did a thorough search of the room, and we retraced the path from our van to the parking space, but the parts weren’t there. That’s when we had a mental breakdown. Or at least I know I did. Since we had spare screws and nuts, we weren’t too concerned about those parts. However, the missing brackets were a big problem. Those brackets were the ones used to close the hull of the robot, sealing the electronics inside from the water. Of course, as the fantastic engineers we were, we didn’t bring spare brackets. We temporarily brushed this problem aside and started replacing rusted washers and nuts on Auri instead. Though we soon realized that this would take way too long because we had many connections on the robot, so we decided to focus on assembling the robot itself, as we could change the rusted components some other time. However, we could only ignore the main problem for so long, and eventually we had to deal with the missing brackets again. Curtis thought the brackets may have fallen into the crate during transport, so Alain and Moira were sent to go check the crate again. Luckily, the two of them came back with the brackets and an assortment of nuts and screws. Thank goodness. Now, we can actually put the whole robot together! Members of the electrical team also came to help us put the robot together, and Sophia also arrived as well, which definitely helped speed the process up.

It was at this time that I went to take a power nap as I started to put flange nuts on backwards, which was probably a good indication that I needed a bit of rest. After I managed to drag myself up from the bed, I went back to help with the robot assembly. Turns out I didn’t have to do much as the majority of the robot was already assembled at this point, including all the electronics as well. Naturally, the day would not be complete without yet another mishap. I was told that one of the thrusters on the robot didn’t seem to be functioning properly, which set us in another panic as we need them to control movement of the robot. The funny thing is, after several tests, the thruster appeared to have no issues at all. Note to self: do not underestimate the thrusters. This fiasco was particularly draining so we called it a night after the thruster started working again. It was definitely a roller coaster of a day we but did have Auri up and running by the end of it! Not too bad for a bunch of engineers and science students.

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