Information on this blog is raw and sometimes unverified reporting straight from the road by teams. The event will issue a media release for any events requiring an official notification.

Note that links in blog entries are not maintained, so while a link may be verified to work on the day of publishing, this is not guaranteed beyond that day.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Leeming SHS: The Day Before: 20 October

Today is on-track qualifying. Our team manager, John, and our driver, Trent, have to be on track at 7:30am, along with enough crew to operate the car. We'd like for our whole team to be there for our atual qualifying lap, but we don't yet know when it'll be -- the WSC's strategy here is simply to get all the teams in the pits at the same time and then make it up as they go along. It's a strategy that fits the "What's the simplest thing that can possibly work?" rule, and it's worked in the past.

The call comes from our team at the pits: we're going on track soon. Radio calls at the apartment: "I want all students on the bus in two minutes!" We leave. We travel. We arrive. Our car isn't on the track yet.

We wait. Cars are going out on the track in groups of three. They do a warm-up lap, the purpose of which is to get them to the start line already moving fast, then do their timed lap. The best time will start first tomorrow. After that it's onto the drag strip to chicane through some traffic cones to prove their steering, and then the brake test: watch the bloke with the "slow" lollipop, and when he turns it around to "stop", you stop.

We watch a couple of groups of three. We get word that we'll be in the group after next, but one of the last group, Suria Car 2 from Malaysia, have lost a wheel on the last corner, and we have to wait for them to recover. They fit a new wheel and the car runs well enough to return to the pits.

Our group comes up. It's us, then Gwawr, then Willetton (the high school down the road from us back in Perth). We do our timed lap, scoring 3 minutes 7.76 seconds. We find out, at the end of the day, that this puts us 30th in the final field of 3 starters. We do the chicane, then the brake test. Our car stops close to the cones marking the end of the brake test area. "Did we pass?", I call to John. "Yes, by this much!", calls John, holding his arms out, not very far apart.

I araldite the thermistor-of-wrong-slope to the motor, we pack the pit, and return to the hotel. There's an all-hands meeting at showgrounds, but I don't go: John Treen and I are working on trying to get the current sense board taking to the telemetry controller. I've already tried five times in Perth and failed:

1. Fix the Sungroper Master board, which is already capable of listening to the current sense board: no response. Doornailed.
2. Use a PICAXE to translate. Too slow.
3. Use a PIC, which is like a PICAXE but 1000 times faster: can't get the PIC programmer to talk to the PIC.
4. Use an AVR, which is like a PIC but different: can't get the AVR programmer to talk to the AVR.
5. Reprogram the current sense board to talk sensibly: can't get the AVR programmer to talk to the current sense board.

So this is attempt number 6: get the telemetry board to listen directly. One step forward, one step back for quite a while, then for variety a period of one step back, one step back.

Of course, the correct strategy would have been to go to the Sungroper team members who built and programmed the current sense board in the first place, but since I could think of five different ways to solve the problem, I thought I didn't need help. And as each approach failed, I thought, well, there's still the next ones I haven't tried yet. And then it was the last minute and I thought, I can't ask for help now, it's embarrassing.

Alas. As of this writing, it's still not working.

At 6am, our car will be on the starting grid.

-- Doug, Leeming Hammerhead