June 20, 2008

A Sprint Towards the Finish

Today saw the beginning of the Sprint Event, which places 250 points on the line for this year's competition. You'll hear not only about today's trials and tribulations, but also about how some of yesterday's issues got resolved.

Day 3 - Friday, June 20th

Setup and Fixing the Trailer - 8:45 am
After a day of qualifiers, it was time for CMSS to bust out the real stuff and get ready for our first major event. We started the day by charging our sprint batteries in preparation for the day's event.
While charging our batteries, we decided to remedy our trailer problem from the previous day. We purchased a couple of caster wheels the previous night, and decided to spend our morning laying our "Enforcer" to rest.

Meanwhile, some inter-collegiate mingling was occurring, thanks to a slack line provided by Kevin from Washington State University.
While waiting for our Sprint heat, we took some time out to watch some of the other teams compete. Unfortunately USC took on a bit of water, due to what appeared to be a CG problem.
With Nessie in the water we lined up for our first sprint heat.
I don't have many pictures of the heat itself, on account of taking video. However, the heat itself did not go as planned. At the start the high-torque we were applying to the motors caused some timing belt slippage, which eventually subsided once we got up to speed. The real kicker occurred 3/4 of the way through. It stopped Nessie in its tracks, but luckily neither the boat nor the driver got hurt. What could cause such a peculiar event, you might ask? In this case a picture is truly worth a thousand words.
At some point during the sprint run, the battery terminal arced, creating the equivalent heat of Arc Welding and melting the terminal connection to the battery. It was the first time anyone on our team had witnessed such an event. The remnants of the melted terminal can still be seen on the battery case.

Despite the strange series of events that transpired today, our team remains glad that no one got hurt and that the damage is easy to repair and should not happen again. Mike did a great job as driver and he will be sorely missed now that he has gone back to Philly. Part of the excitement of this competition is the constant knowledge that at any moment something could go wrong, and today tested those exact boundaries.
Yet, as with every problem, the CMSS team emerges more willing and ready than ever before to complete what we have started. Every wrong turn creates opportunity for new knowledge and innovation, and CMSS really takes that to heart. In a way, these set backs provide far more knowledge than any normal run ever could.

We will use what we have learned today, both on the endurance course tomorrow as well as the second Sprint heat on Sunday, in order to provide a stepping stone for further adjustments. We feel confident in our system and are very excited about the prospects that tomorrow will bring for us.

To all our faithful readers, thank you for your support, and keep tuned for as regular an update as I can provide.

- Mark


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