May 29, 2009

Day 3 - Sprint First Heat

Today we saw the first heat of the main Sprint, as well as the first appearance of Sun at the competition. The team got hard to work getting out the solar panels out and ready to charge our batteries.

We set up our visual display and were ready to entertain the crowds (as well as the judges).
Our systems were set up and ready to go for the first Sprint heat, but unfortunately some other teams were substantially less fortunate. The team from Tecnológico de Monterrey had several issues with their flotation due to some stress fractures on their way up to competition.
While they rescued their boat, their drive train got submerged and their motor controller got completely fried. Andrew and I along with the rest of the team, as well as members of the Southampton team, tried to get the controller up and running.
We lent the team some of our endurance batteries in order to help diagnose the problem. As a last ditch effort, we sent over our electrical trio of David, Austin, and Robbie to see if they could work some of their electrical magic.
Unfortunately, after a few hours of troubleshooting there was nothing that could be done to fix the controller. The team from Tecnológico de Monterrey was disqualified from the competition, however if they are able to get their boat working by the end of the competition they will be allowed an few exhibition events to showcase their boat. We will do what we can to help them over the next few days, but at that point our efforts shifted to getting ready for the first sprint event.

After adjusting some of the data-logging code for the control hardware, we headed done to the water with Hydra.

After loading her into the water, Hydra competed head to head with the boat from Middle Tennessee State University. Hydra clocked in 39.46 seconds, which is on par with some of our fastest recorded times.(Image courtest of Scott Miller:
We took some video, and will hopefully be posting it after the competition when we can upload them.

Thanks to some quality work by Austin, David, and Robbie we were able to record critical stats about the boat performance. This will make analyzing boat performance much more accurate than in prior years. Below is a graph of some of our current data during our Sprint event:

After the Spring event, we grabbed a few snacks, and then got hard to work transitioning over to the endurance configuration.
After we were done for the day, we went to a local park for a team ultimate frisbee game, some quality team-building, and then had some delicious BBQ with the Wedler family.

Overall we did very well today, and I was very proud of the entire team. We had no major problems, and performed well in the Sprint event, even with our new hull that is optimized for endurance.
Tomorrow is the Endurance event, with 400 points up for grabs, and will be a deciding factor in how our overall standing will be determined. Hopefully, with our new hull and electrical system, we will be able to better our performance from last year and increase our overall standing in the competition. Right now we are planning our strategy for tomorrow, and we are looking forward to what interesting and exciting challenges await us tomorrow.

Check back for updates as they become available!
- Mark

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