Wednesday, September 29, 2010

First Place In the Outback Search and Rescue Challenge

It is official we took first place this  year.  We did nearly win the 50k but were not able to claim it as the bottle did not land within the specified 100 meters.  We had a one in a million error with our drop arming that caused the bottle to drop prematurely.  The bottle came to rest 551 meters from Outback Joe.  Aside from that we were told by the judges our estimated position of Joe was 15 meters from his actual location.  Thats within 50 feet which is pretty close.  We still stand as the only team to have ever successfully launched a bird, flown to the search area, locate Joe, have clearance to drop, drop something, and return to the home base safely.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Competition Update

A quick update:  We still stand as the only team to have ever found Joe been allowed to drop and returned to the airfield.  There is a possibility that one last team may compete today.  Other then that will update as soon as we know more.

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Near Perfect Performance

First Flight Down Under

After the long night we arrived here this morning at 6 and they drew our name out of the hat to fly first.  We got out to the field and set up and flew our 10 minutes of scrutineering and passed that.  Then we landed and prepared for the mission.  They held us for nearly an hour because of low cloud ceilings.  After the clouds burned off we were cleared to take off.  We got out into the search area as fast as we could and we found "Outback Joe" within 10 minutes of takeoff.  We then prepared for the drop.  Unfortunately, we did have an unscheduled drop... not where we wanted to.  We have not been told how close we were but the preliminary report is we were outside the 100 meter boundary for a complete mission.  We came back to the airfield after that and landed the aircraft safely.  We stand as the only team who has ever sent the aircraft out, identified Joe, dropped a bottle, and returned safely to the airfield.  We are happy with our performance and it has been an unbelievable experience.  We will find out our actual performance and placing later this afternoon possibly or tomorrow.  We will  update as soon as we know how we place.


Long Long Day and Night

After the last post Dave and Kaci gave a spectacular oral presentation and passed that portion of the competition.  Then we were moved out to the flight line for scrutineering flights.  Dave passed the manual flight portion of the flights and we landed the aircraft and prepared for the autopilot flight scrutineering.  We had a short delay for a crop duster to take off as the airport was being used for both Manned and Unmanned flights.  We powered our system back up and much to our demise the autopilot would  not connect to the ground station.  We began troubleshooting this problem and were lucky enough to have the ability to contact Cloud Cap Technology.  We worked as long as we could at the field to resolve the issue.  We thank Matt from Cloud Cap for putting in the late night he did to help us as it was somewhere around 10:00 pm his time when we were talking with him.  The event organizers decided to allow us one more chance tomorrow to complete the scrutineering.  We came back to the hotel and worked for a few hours deciphering what was happening with our system as it was an error we had never seen before.  We ran out of things we could try without talking to Cloud Cap so we decided to break and try to get some rest until 1 am local time when Cloud Cap would be open for business.  Matt then contacted us with a solution to try and we did it and our system came back to life.  We then tested again and the same error came about after a power cycle of the Autopilot.  We currently have a solution to the problem that should allow us to fly for the scrutineering and competition.  We are departing again for the airport in 20 minutes.  We are confident that we have a system although not perfect that will work for what we need.

A short update on the rest of the competition.  We are not the only team having technical difficulty.  Only one team has passed scrutineering so far.  This is the team from Texas.  They will have their shot at the competition today.  The other teams, including us, will also have a chance at the competition if their systems pass scrutineering.

Although it has been a stressful day and night hope is not lost.  We remain confident in ourselves and our system.  We will update the blog as soon as we can today.

Also as soon as we have some time we will be posting some pictures as we have some pretty good ones including the first takeoff from Australian soil.


Sunday, September 26, 2010

At the competition

Sitting here at our booth at the competition.  Yesterday we hooked up our entire system and it all worked like it was supposed to.  Today we have set up the plane in the booth and they have come and done the physical scrutineering.  We passed that so next up we have our presentation.  After that we have the radio on portion of scrutineering.  After that we have the flight portion of scrutineering.  Tomorrow is the competition day.  The list of teams is down to only six now.  We will be flying in the afternoon tomorrow as far as we know.  We will update as soon as we get farther into the competition.


Friday, September 24, 2010

Departing for Kingaroy

We inspected the contents of our crate yesterday afternoon and everything arrived intact eventhough the crate looked pretty rough.  We are leaving the big city this morning for the coutryside.  Last night by the pool we saw some sort of monkey/cat thing that threw things at us and then crawled down the tree very near Keith.  We got a pretty good picture of it and asked the receptionist at the hotel and she said it was a Possum.  Didnt look much like a Possum we have back home though.  We also saw a Gekko that was pretty cool.  Off to Kingaroy we go, two days till the competition begins.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

At the Best Western Hacienda

We have gotten our crate from UPS and are at the hotel in Brisbane.  The crate had sustained some minor damages durring shipping but from a first glance everything looked to be ok on the inside.  One link we forgot to post earlier is to the video we made for our second deliverable for the competition.  Heres that link: .  We are going to go investigate the crate now and we leave for Kingaroy tomorrow morning.  Driving on the left side of the road is pretty strange.