GPS Guided Trans-Atlantic Robot Boat robot boat to cross Atlantic from UK to USA

Robin and June are back from their Holiday in Sicily. See last year's 2013 Newsletter. Love to All ! :-)

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Snoopy will try to cross the Atlantic again soon. See "Latest News" below for details, including launch date.
PRESS: Please see "latest news" below, before you 'phone me. If you do contact me, please mention "7pm Saturday" so I know that you have :-)
Those on the Microtransat Mailing List may wish to visit here to see postings they may not yet have received.
See the Press Release and "latest news" below, for Snoopy's following attempts to cross the Atlantic. Track Snoopy on the live SPOT map below.
Play the June 2014 video of Snoopy's Robot Boat for 2014 Microtransat for the big picture. e.g. details of this year's boat and lessons learned.

BBC TV South broadcast of launch, reported by Ben Moore, BBC Reporter Play the November 2012 video of Snoopy's launch on BBC TV South News with Robin getting soaked. Then family video of Snoopy's 2012 launch with BBC reporters too :-)

Snoopy's GPS Guided Trans-Atlantic Robot Boat

updated 7pm Saturday 18th October 2014 UK time

Robin I set up this page in early 2008, when I started this crazy hobby project: developing a small robot boat, capable of sailing itself across the Atlantic, from UK to USA. If you want to know more about me, our family, or my earlier defence systems career, then GPS software business, you can start by clicking on my picture on the left, or here. I'm Robin Lovelock, and the Press have described me as a "retired NATO scientist". My wife June says that I retired much more than ten years ago !

The French boat from Team ENSTA Bretagne. Click here for 2012 event. After browsing this page and others, you can form your own opinion on myself and this rather challenging project. My local friend John told me about the friendly Microtransat international competition, and I was soon hooked. I believe it was the French who first suggested the idea years ago, and their attempts fired my enthusiasm. That's the ENSTA Bretagne boat on the right and at the very top of this page. Click on this picture for the 2012 teams - both with very small boats. Other teams have tried, but all these heroic attempts only survived a few days or a few hundred miles. A journalist pointed out to me that Snoopy had already sailed over 5,000 miles, during our reliability testing of him on Bray Lake in 2012. Snoopy has done a lot more sailing since then, and that's why I am confident Snoopy has as much chance as the other teams ! :-)

whoever snatched Snoopy had 'bottle' :-) You will find links below to more detailed pages, amusing TV broadcasts, newspaper articles, and home videos, of Snoopy's attempts on the Atlantic since November 2012. Last year's October 2013 Attempt, seemed much as we feared might happen in 2012, with Snoopy being "swept by the tide". However, we were delighted to get him back, so he can try again. Snoopy's favourite mug :-) The November 2012 attempt was VERY different, and MUCH more "interesting" ! :-) Maybe you can help in discovering who "snatched" Snoopy, or where Snoopy went after his time near that military bunker ? Don't fail to watch those videos of our attempts to "beat the surf" in March 2013: now we know how to do it - with Magic Seaweed ;-)

This year's September 2014 Atlantic Attempt appeared to be exactly what happened last year - but we are already confident that the reasons were different: last year the rudder was probably loose, and the boat should have sailed better in that 20 mph offshore wind. This year, we knew we were taking a risk, with hardly any wind at all, and that was probably why the strong tidal current got the better of him. But read the pages below, watch the videos, and decide yourselves :-)

easier to be given a lift than paddle ? :-) I give this page a "tidy-up" when I can, moving material onto other linked pages. Over the years I've found it valuable, despite it's limitations, to save everybody's time, when chatting to me directly: I am a very slow email typer ! These pages should be of help to all in contact with me, including journalists and friends helping, both near me in UK, and in far off countries. Many of my friends now providing invaluable help, first made contact with me after seeing the BBC TV South broadcast, or a Newspaper article. Thank you everybody ! :-)

PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH SNOOPY - or it may disqualify him from Microtransat 2014. But please take photos or video that we can all share. Take care if you are on the water ! Now we pay more attention to Snoopy straying from his path, and may photograph any captors. Maybe someone can arrange a suitable "Reception Committee" ? :-)

Latest News on Snoopy's 2014 attempts to cross the Atlantic ...
launch of 6th September 2014 Attempt
See the full story in pictures on Snoopy's September 2014 Attempt Page.
Play the Video of Snoopy's 6th September 2014 Atlantic Attempt.
then play the Video of Snoopy's Bray Lake Test on 13th September.
Play 17th October 1 minute Video of Snoopy's Cat' (catamaran). Next year's boat ? :-)

click here for the design of Snoop Sloop

Click here for latest SPOT map Snoopy's boat has been repaired, and was on 24/7 reliability tests, watched by a webcam, sat in Robin's back garden, while Robin and June were on Holiday in Sicily. We are now waiting for another "weather window" before the end of 2014. The day-by-day detail of Snoopy's repairs and tests are in the Blog. The blog also holds our latest thoughts on the effect of a strong tidal flow on robot sailing boats ! Next time we expect to launch from nearer Bournemouth, such as west of Boscombe Pier , and exploit our improved knowledge of how the boat behaves in wind and strong tidal currents. This is our "Plan A". If it gets closer to Christmas, and we still do not have both FLAT surf and offshore breeze, we may have a "Plan B", to launch from somewhere different, but not far away. e.g. from near Sandbanks Beach Cafe ? Meanwhile, while Snoopy's Boat10 waits, we can still experiment with Boat11, or other solutions for 2015. e.g. Snoopy's Cat' in the latest video above :-)

Snoopy had been ready for an Atlantic attempt for weeks, doing 24/7 reliability testing on Bray Lake, while waiting for a "weather launch window". That Saturday, and the following days, could have been the best opportunity we got this year. The lack of wind risked Snoopy not sailing fast enough to overcome the tide, but - if he had got away from the coast - he might have had a following wind for that difficult leg towards Ireland. The early morning start meant a few hours of the tide pulling him westward, away from the Isle of Wight. We launched from Barton-on-Sea again, and the final result was very similar as last year: Snoopy coming home to be repaired and make another attempt before the end of this year. Repairs have been done, and Bray Lake testing started again, but the boat is not expected to try the Atlantic again until October or November, after more testing, and planning our launch options.

The main difference this year is that the boat did seem to sail correctly, but the wind was too weak for Snoopy to overcome that strong tide. "Why on earth do you keep launching from Barton-on-Sea ?" many people ask, and a detailed answer has been on our "Q&A" page for some time. If we do change the launch spot, it will probably only be several miles west, along the same stretch of coast. See the "Conclusions" on Snoopy's September 2014 Attempt Page and the Blog, for where we may try next. I've tidied up the blog pages, and added detail of repairs, such as replacement of the broken keel, and details of re-testing on Bray Lake, to check things like "sailing balance" and reliability. Snoopy sailed well, in his first sailing test with the replaced keel. Check out the "Bray Lake Test" video above ! :-)

In March, the boat had a major rebuild, including modified keel, different rudder, a better waterproof "lunchbox", new rig, and coats of anti-fouling paint. We can justifiably call this "Snoopy Sloop 10", despite it being a rebuild of boat 9, rescued after last year's attempt. After months of testing on Bray Lake, it now seems last year's failure was due to something as simple as a screw coming loose on the rudder linkage, or some unkown combination of that and sailing "balance" of the boat. We've made minor modifications to the boat, such as moving the mast, and put Loctite on that screw, that came loose, allowing the rudder to shift ! :-)

Snoopy needs a day with suitable conditions for launch, to sail south to about 15 miles off the coast, before heading west, almost 300 miles. This stretch to south of Ireland, was always going to be tough, so we want close to a week of favourable wind, from the East or North, rather than from West or South. Play the June 2014 video of Snoopy's Robot Boat for 2014 Microtransat for the latest video and the big picture. e.g. details of this year's boat and lessons learned.

Robin See our Q&A page. e.g. why launch from Barton-on-Sea ? The blog and blog1 pages have the nitty-gritty of progress, towards Snoopy's next attempt, and the design page has detail for those interested. The section "a typical visit to Bray Lake ...", on this page, below, may also be of interest. For his last attempt on the Atlantic, see the details: October 2013 Atlantic Attempt, including Dick's story of the rescue. Watch the Video of Snoopy's October 2013 Atlantic Attempt. Snoopy tried the Atlantic twice in March 2013, when we had an excellent "weather window" - but for the surf !

click here for this picture Snoopy has boat10 for his attempt at the Atlantic this year. On the left is the boat on 24/7 test, without additional test equipment such as Pocket PC, Mobius deck camera, and FM transmitter. In fact: just as intended for the Atlantic. Click on the picture for a bigger copy.

We plan to launch him again from Barton-on-Sea (or west of there!) as soon as we can, and the wind and waves allows us. We need a dry weekend day, with Winds expected from the North or East for several days, ideally a week. The launch day should have waves smaller than 1 ft, or FLAT conditions, forecast on . You can see where Snoopy is now, by clicking on his SPOT map , updated every hour - on Bray Lake or at home, being repaired or about to travel to the coast ! :-)

Windmill Boat Before making an Atlantic attempt, Snoopy has several weeks of "24/7 tests", to ensure all the boat is reliable. Snoopy sailed over 5,000 miles on Bray Lake in 2012, and has sailed a lot further since then ! If the wind drops to below about 1mph - as often happens at night - Snoopy "goes for a wander". If he gets stuck near the shore, Robin goes over to push Snoopy out again. While Snoopy prepares for the Atlantic, Robin sometimes "plays" on Bray Lake with possible improvements for boats launched in future years. That's Snoopy on the right, watching Telly, sat on his Windmill Boat :-) See the Compass and Software pages for experimental work in progress on electronics and software for next year's boat, and related new videos.

Want to cheer Snoopy on ? Be prepared to sing "Rule Britania!", and bring a flag to wave :-)

Snoopy's route ... How long will it take ?

This is all academic if Snoopy only survives a few minutes, hours, or even days, but here is my best guess on how long it might take to travel the 5300 miles to the USA. Maybe he might sail at up to 1.5 mph - if he gets away from the UK shore. The wind needs to be kind on that difficult stretch west, to 7.5W, south of Ireland. When the wind changes to it's normal direction, from the south-west, it will be VERY slow ! The wind is expected to be very light, of only 3 mph on Saturday, so Snoopy might struggle to sail at even 0.3 mph. Hence the pessimistic guess below of when he might reach his first "Channel" waypoint, 15 miles out. I'll keep this section updated, after we launch, and while we are able to track Snoopy, to see how well he progresses, and at what speed, the latest wind predictions, etc.

typical robot boat route from UK to USA

  • Snoopy driven from Sunninghill to Barton-on-Sea on Saturday 6th September. Leave home before 0745. Launch at 0850 ?
  • Barton-on-Sea, UK. Head 15 miles due south to Snoopy's "Channel" waypoint. 50 hours @ 0.3 mph ? Turn westward on Monday ???
  • Channel Waypoint, 15 miles offshore then head 282 miles west, to 7.5W, south of Ireland. 8 days ?
  • Old Microtransat Start Line at 7.5W then 1240 miles south west, towards the Azores, to catch the trade winds.
  • New Microtransat Start Line is between between 51N 16W and 45N 8W. Snoopy should cross at about 47N 11W after 200 miles. 6 days ?
  • Microtransat Start Line to waypoint east of The Azores is about 1040 miles. 4 weeks ?
  • Azores then 2360 miles west, towards the Microtransat Finish line, at 60W near the Bahamas. 10 weeks ?
  • Microtransat Finish Line at 60W then head towards the USA east coast: maybe 1400 miles. 6 weeks ?
  • USA Landing 7 or 8 months later ? Before 1st April 2015 ? :-)

Snoopy planned route from the UK. As mentioned earlier, Snoopy may only survive a few minutes or hours, but if he DOES reach that first "Channel" waypoint, about 15 miles due south from Barton-on-Sea, this is where he plans to sail next.

His autopilot software has not been changed since January 2013, and is programmed to head for a position on what was the old Microtransat Start Line, at 7.5 degrees West. The intermediate waypoints, south of Prawle Point and The Lizard, are intended to reduce the risk of him "bumping into the shore" due to inaccuracy of keeping his course.

If he succeeds in eventually crossing the 7.5W line, he should then head south west, to his next waypoint east of The Azores. This should mean he would cross the 2014 Microtransat Start Line at about 47N 11W. In the unlikely event that Snoopy gets this far, Robin will publish more detail on the route ahead: not much risk of that ! :-)

Snoopy with many friends on Bray Lake

September 2014 Atlantic Attempt ....

See the page September 2014 Atlantic Attempt for the full story, our plans, and more pictures videos soon. "Why on earth Barton-on-Sea ?" - see our Q&A page :-)
The full 7 minute youtube video should be ready soon, here.

September 2014 Atlantic Attempt In brief: Snoopy launched at 0850 Saturday 6th in little wind, wandered, landed Sunday morning and rescued. Not enough wind ? Now being prepared for next attempt soon ! :-)

October 2013 Atlantic Attempt ....

See the page October 2013 Atlantic Attempt for the full story. October 2013 Atlantic Attempt In brief: Snoopy launched at 1215pm Friday 11th, wandered, landed about 3am Saturday, was rescued at 8am. Faulty rudder linkage ?

March 2013 Atlantic Attempts ....

See the page March 2013 Atlantic Attempts for the stories, pictures and videos of us fighting the surf ... Snoopy's attempt on 30th March 2013 - yes ! In brief: Snoopy tried, but failed to get away from the beach, in waves that were bigger than on his 2012 attempt. He went home, to sail another day - in calmer conditions ! :-)

November 2012 Atlantic Attempt ....

See Snoopy's 2012 Attempt to cross The Atlantic for the story from 2012, after he was launched on Tuesday 27th November.
Snoopy's 2012 attempt on Tuesday 27th November
In brief: Snoopy sailed straight towards his destination, despite a strong sideways tide. Then he moved AGAINST the tide ! He then landed on the steps of an old military bunker !

a typical visit to Bray Lake ...

Robin videos Snoopy's return Robin has added this section, which may be of interest to journalists, who want to "tag along" to get some photos or video. It may also be of help to dog-walkers, who probably wonder why that strange man, seems to be talking to himself, and listening to several radios on the roof of his car.

Snoopy has started making regular visits to Bray Lake again, to prepare him for his next attempt on the Atlantic, expected before Christmas. Bray Lake is near Maidenhead, not far from the M4 motorway junction, and about 20 minutes drive from Robn's home in Sunninghill. You can find out more by looking at the bottom of the Press Release, or simply visit

Maidenhead Sailing Club webcam Robin normally avoids days when it is raining, or when there is no wind at all. He therefore checks web sites like the Met Office, RainToday, and the Maidenhead Sailing Club web cam.

One of the boats are normally ready, and are quickly loaded into the back of Robin's rusty old Mercedes E240 estate car, which was once silver, before discoloured by rust and mud. Important junk added to the car include wellies (the waders are reserved for sea launches), a cheap transistor radio - to pick up speech from Snoopy's computer, a Pocket PC based GPS to record a plot of Snoopy's path on the lake, and - maybe most important of all - Robin's camcorder - so he can record everything, rather than rely on his flakey memory.

GPS plot near Base at Bray Lake Most people park on the right, just before the club house, but Robin has the combination to the barrier, so parks his car near the "Base", a few yards past the club house. Snoopy is usually launched within 5 minutes of Robin arriving. First Robin switches on the Pocket PC, since it takes a minute or two to "warm up" and start recording GPS data. He puts on his wellies, and leans Snoopy against a post, with a tranny radio switched on to pick up the computer's speech. The computer is switched on, and within a few minutes it is speaking and ready to launch.

Robin about to launch Snoopy Robin then uses his camcorder to shoot less than a minutes video, saying things like the date, any changes to Snoopy's boat, and showing what the wind strength and direction was.

Snoopy sailing in a good wind Snoopy is then dropped in the water, and soon after, Robin shoots video. A typical video might last an hour or more, and occasionally a few small clips might be used in edited videos made public. However, the main purpose of Robin's video, is to add yet another unedited video DVD to his collection at home. It provides a useful record of what happened.

Snoopy usually sails around the "Bray Lake Test" within an hour, and possibly as quickly as 20 minutes. This usually depends on the wind direction: the fastest trips are usually with a gentle breeze of 5 to 10 mph from the north-east, which means Snoopy does not need to tack towards a waypoint directly upwind. If the wind is particularly "unkind", Snoopy's trip might take much longer than an hour: the slow bit is always where he needs to sail upwind.

Snoopy is rescued He will normally return accurately to his Base, where he started, but occasionally he might end up stuck in reeds on the far bank, tangled in trees on the island, or snagged on the mooring for a floating jetty. That's when Robin calls in the "Rescue Team" from the club house, and pops another £5 into their drinks kitty :-)

If Snoopy has been left over at Bray Lake for 24/7 reliability tests, he will have his SPOT tracker, which may not always be with him, if it is being worked upon. Robin will occasionally go over to visually check Snoopy, or push him out again, if he has drifted into the bank due to the wind having dropped overnight.

Snoopy's Bray Lake Test ... sail 530 metres automatically, through 5 waypoints ...

Bray Lake used for testing of the robot boats

GPS plot of a Bray Lake Test in March 2014: solving the zig-zag sailing, giving a straighter and faster path ...

GPS plot of recent Bray Lake Test by robot boat 9

GPS plot of a Bray Lake Test in December 2013: showing the zig-zag sailing problem ...

old GPS plot of recent Bray Lake Test by robot boat 9

useful links ...

click here for a high res. copy of this picture
of Snoopy's new boat, taken on 21 March 2013.

See October 2013 Atlantic Attempt for details of Snoopy's most recent attempt.
See March 2013 Atlantic Attempts for the stories, pictures and videos of us fighting the surf.
See the Design page for details of Snoopy's 2012, 2013, and 2014 boats, built for the Atlantic Attempts.
See the Blog1 and Blog pages for details of tests and repairs.
See the Snoopy's Paint page, for how we are testing the paint to be used on future boats.
See the Compass page for details of experimental electronics for future boats, including the Picaxe 28X2 Computer.
See the Software page for details of the software used in our earlier boats, and that being tested for use in future years.
See The 2013 Microtransat Map - the French École Navale boat is on it's way ! See The Microtransat Challenge for competition details.
See our new Q&A (Questions & Answers) page. e.g. Why not launch Snoopy from a boat ? Do you understand the tide ?
See Snoopy's Windmill boat and play the Windmill Boat video - for what may appear in later years ? :-)
See Robin's Snoopy Sloop robot boat - progress in 2011 and 2012 for detail removed from this front page.
See Robin's Snoopy Sloop robot boat - the early years, from 2008 to 2010 for how we started.
See Robin's old "on water" page - not updated for over 14 years :-)
See Snoopy's Track on Google Earth to analyse what happened on 27th November 2012.
See Snoopy's last position on Google Maps : 7:39pm Tuesday 27th, near a military bunker in Alum Bay.
See The Search for Snoopy in his Robot Boat for more information such as the map showing coverage of searches done in 2012.
See The 2012 Microtransat Map for Snoopy and the French. This SPOT Track is from the Mail Online. This Map before deletion.
See for how busy the shipping lanes are.
See SPOT communications coverage map for gap in SPOT tracking in mid-Atlantic.
See UK Winds , Sailflow Winds , Met Office Rain & Wind, World Sea conditions , Temperatures and Sunshine.
See or for expected wave heights in addition to wind and weather.
See Bournmouth live web-cam for the weather and size of waves, just a few miles west of Barton-on-Sea.
See Jasper Coppings article in the Sunday Telegraph the Sunday before launch, and our original Press Release.
Play the video of Snoopy's launch on BBC TV News , Robin getting wet, then our family video of Snoopy's launch with reporters too :-)
Play our 2012 Snoopy-Sloop history video. The underwater TV recce/winch boat used in 2009 is in the 5 minute "Rescue of Snoopy" video
Play the 3 minute Robot Boat Sounds: past, present and future video September 2012 Text-To-Speech and video of Snoopy Sloop for 2013.
Play the 15 minute Snoopy-Sloop 2013 video with latest boat, the 2012 attempt, all boats since 2008 - or the 5 minute version here :-)
Play the 7 minute utube video of Snoopy's Atlantic Attempt on 23rd March .
Play the 7 minute utube video of Snoopy's Atlantic Attempt on 30th March .
Play the 2 minute video of Snoopy Sloop 9 in June 2013 on Bray Lake
Play the 10 minute Video of Snoopy's October 2013 Atlantic Attempt.
Play the 14 minute January 2014 Video of a Bray Lake test, with the new deck camera.
Play the new June 2014 video of Snoopy's Robot Boat for 2014 Microtransat for the latest video and the big picture. e.g. details of this year's boat and lessons learned.

Snoopy-Sloop 9 is the latest robot boat

Ben, Snoopy and Robin

What the Papers say ... Don't believe all you read in the papers :-)

Read Jasper Coppings article in the Sunday Telegraph the Sunday before launch.
Read BBC News report of "crash landing" here or Nice pictures and amusing words in The Mail Online here :-)
The news about Snoopy even got as far as New Zealand, in the Wellington,NZ Dom-Post article :-)
First paper: Snoopy prepared for self-navigating Atlantic voyage by Paul Miles in Maidenhead Advertiser on 5th September 2012.
Journalists may have started with our Press Release and video, but editors need to edit : the meaning may not remain the same :-)
Robin says to Tim Robinson of BBC Radio Solent , "This is the guy who lost one of my GPS bottles last year !" :-)
Higher resolution pictures for the Press ... Snoopy, Mug, Boat, Robin, BenTV, Launch, TimRobin, Cat, NewBoat

Robin thanks his friends ...

Snoopy says bye-bye to Bray Lake staff
  • All staff at Bray Lake Watersports for use of the lake, numerous rescue missions and coffees. Here they say bye-bye to Snoopy.
  • local friend John who started Robin off, provided the team name, and has supplied numerous original ideas. See Team-Joker.
  • local friend Dick Bailey, who has been with Robin on numerous "adventures" and who rescued Snoopy in October 2013.
  • Peter Facey for his own time and expense, searching for Snoopy and those pictures to help others.
  • local friend Eric, for supply of Snoopy Sloop 4, and our best videos. See Eric's other videos here.
  • local friend Gary, the Master Car Mechanic , for donating Snoopy Sloops 1 and 2, when Robin started all this in 2008.
  • my old friend Klaus in Germany, who in 2008, suggested use of SPOT to me and Microtransat Teams. Also for his interfacing card.
  • the Intelligent Robotics Group at Aberystwyth University, Wales, for organising Microtransat and their own heroic attempts.
  • the French Teams for first suggesting The Microtransat Challenge years ago, and their repeated heroic attempts. See below!
  • Those in the Press who've gone "beyond the call of duty" including for last year's BBC GPS Bottles project.
  • The nice chap at the National Trust who called back with information about the military bunker where Snoopy landed.
  • The nice lady who is Custodian of the Needles Battery . She has tweeted this, after checking with Robin:
    "Can you help Robin find Robot boat Snoopy? See if you can help. Last seen near The Needles."
    Robin, despite his name, cannot Tweet. Please take care what you tweet, so as not to encourage others to take risks.
  • Chris at the UKHO ( UK Hydrographic Office ) for detailed tidal data, confirming that Snoopy was "snatched" :-)
  • My long-suffering wife, June, and all those that I've yet to thank here :-)

Snoopy Sailing

from the earlier introduction at the top of this page ...

Simple rules for this robot boat race: get past 60W, off Bahamas; wind power only; autonomous (GPS self guidance); must report position (GPS/Satcomms). See The Microtransat Challenge.

The Welsh Team tried in 2010 and the boat sailed a few days before it was lost. The old track of the boat is here.

The French Team made an attempt in 2011 and it sailed for a few days in heavy seas before a sail broke. They recovered the boat and tried again in 2012.

For my business partners who visit these pages... OK - I confess! I DO spend much of my time on this hobby project :-)

Do not be confused by the picture of Snoopy sailing the bottle: that was from the GPS bottles in the sea projects :-)

the French ENSTA-Bretagne boat, braving the Atlantic waves !

robot boat from the French Team, braving the Atlantic waves !

Snoopy's boat is on 24/7 test while waiting for his "weather window" to make this year's 2014 Atlantic attempt. That's Robin sat on the bank. This was filmed by experimental boat 6

Snoopy Corner

Snoopy got his Mobius video camera at Christmas. Play the June 2014 video or click on the picture below.

click here for 26 minute video of Snoopy on Bray Lake

Snoopy's preparation in 2012 for the Atlantic crossing - the first taste of salt water ! ...

boat 6 first test in sea

See Robin's Snoopy Sloop robot boat - progress in 2011 and 2012 for an earlier copy of this front page, with more detail and links.

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© 1991-2014 Robin Lovelock. Please credit if you use material from any of these pages. Thankyou.