Battery-Cart-Fiasco

Photos and story (below) contributed by Alexa Stott.

On Friday, September 28, 2007, team 25 and 4 other teams (395, 555, 1089, 1626) participated in GadgetOff at the Liberty Science Center. This required our team of 4 members to take a bus to the science center for the event.

As we loaded up the bus with our supplies, we put our battery cart, driver bag (tethers, zip ties, radio, etc.), toolbox, and robot cart into the bottom storage compartment of the bus. After loading up the rest of our gear, we headed off to the event.

About 30 miles from North Brunswick Township High School, our home base, we heard a strange noise. We originally believed it to be the large trucks driving alongside of us. After the noise persisted, however, we took a look out the window.

To our astonishment, the bottom compartment door had opened and our battery cart was dragging alongside the bus at about 70 MPH (the fastest known speed of a battery cart ever). When the door opened, some of the battery wires had caught onto the door latch. We immediately yelled for the bus driver to pull over, but we were in the middle lane of the New Jersey Turnpike.

As we pulled over, the battery cart broke free from the control of the bus and the back wheel ran over it. Looking out the rear window, we witnessed the cart literally explode before our eyes, scattering chargers, batteries and assorted wires all over the road. The shrapnel flew everywhere and nearly everything was destroyed by oncoming traffic.

Our mentor, Mr. Cokeley, and the bus driver got out of the bus and trekked back down the highway to find any remaining equipment. They returned with one battery and parts of a few chargers. We were able to make a charger out of salvageable parts using wire cutters and electrical tape.

Upon searching the bottom compartment, we realized the driver bag had also been thrown from the bus.

We were able to make it through the event by using batteries loaned to us from team 1089, as well as our one remaining battery. We used a tether for the beginning of the event and then operated for a short time with a radio also loaned to us by team 1089.

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