You probably reached this "Blog6" page from that called
Snoopy's October 2016 Atlantic Attempt,
Design of Snoopy Sloop page
If not, click on a link to know more.
Each "blog" page describes detailed work preparing for the next Atlantic Attempt. i.e. covering a period in the region of a year: less if more than one attempt is made. The Blog pages were started after the first 2012 Attempt, where Snoopy's boat was lost. All later attempts were with the same boat, sometimes after major repairs. The blogs provide online "Engineering Notebooks", providing a day-by-day account of repairs, changes, and testing: mostly testing.
These blog pages are mostly about numerous repairs to the boat, results from "BRAY LAKE TEsts", or 24/7 reliability testing on Bray Lake. i.s. Snoopy sailing back and forth over a 24/7 waypoint in "Snoopy Corner". This is typically for several weeks, in all weather, including gale force winds. Sometimes, a few things happened which resulted in amusing pictures or stories, such as countering human-intervention, or testing the wheels for Snoopy's trolly. Click on the pictures either side for larger versions, or visit earlier blogs above. BlogX, the "blog of experiments", shows ideas and products, some of which may appear in future boats.
This is a record of repairs and changes made to the boat, after the October 2016 Atlantic Attempt. See Blog1, Blog2, Blog3, Blog4, and Blog5 pages, for earlier progress, including testing on Bray Lake, before the 2016 Attempt.
We start with analysis of what we think went wrong with the boat on the October 2016 Attempt. It makes sense to get as much information as possible from each attempt, before making the next boat. As it happens, Boat 11 has been "waiting in the wings" for years. We did not expect to keep getting Boat 10 back ! :-)
You can read the full story in pictures and video on Snoopy's October 2016 Atlantic Attempt.
In short: Snoopy made fast progress, but with a steering error to the right, that got worse, before his last SPOT report, just before he is assumed to have hit rocks on the east coast of Portland. Analysis of wind and tidal current indicates that he was probably then swept out to sea. The following information has been moved from that "October 2016 Attempt" page above.
Peter's KML map, based on SPOT data, etc. Last SPOT position was 1004 BST Friday 7th October. Google Earth will display RBAA16A.KML.
It should not be a problem, but it is certainly not what was expected. It seems that, through an "accident of good fortune", of wind and tide directions, and geometry, Snoopy managed to "cut the corner", skipping the "Channel" Waypoint, to make faster progress. It seems Snoopy may be steering to the right, probably due to the rudder not being exactly centered. He made little progress on Thursday night, because the wind was not strong enough to fight the eastward tide. Now Snoopy has the tide and wind behind him, until the tide turns eastward again at about 0800 BST Friday. Let us hope Snoopy does not get too close to Portland Bill - he's done that before ! :-)
Snoopy was last seen on his SPOT tracker at 1004 BST, heading towards Church Ope Cove. A sighting or photo would be good !
Email received from Dick at 1805 Friday, before he headed back home from Portland: Hi Robin, Well no luck I'm afraid. I've walked the very rocky shoreline from the car park north for about 2-3 miles and examined the shoreline south of the car park for about a mile. Pity we didn't get one more transmission just before he came a shore, or better still just after so a identify the spot... etc "
Everyone: no taking risks please. I'm sure Snoopy will turn up one day, and at least it means we can switch to his much lighter Boat 11, waiting in the wings for years ! :-)
Portland from the East, using Dick's AA16PATH.KML on Google Earth. Later Wind & Tide analysis shows Snoopy may have travelled south, to left, towards Portland Bill.
The rocky coastline is difficult to reach from land, to the south, as Dick discovered. You can use Dick's KML file with Google Earth, to explore the area, or google images such as "east portland coast". I found this one of Cheyne House, near Freshwater Bay, that looks a nice place to stay. Click on the image to enlarge it.
However, a search for Snoopy along that strip of coast, would be done much easier in a suitable boat in suitable weather and tide conditions. Remember that the "shambles" is a notoriously dangerous area of strong tidal currents. More importantly, you could be wasting your time: Robin's best bet is that Snoopy was carried out to sea. See the information below, on wind and tidal current.
Google Earth analysis of Peter's KML file confirms that after launch, Snoopy was steering 17 degrees to the right, but by next morning, this was nearer to 90 degrees. The last autopilot software change was 15th February 2015, to add the "Weymouth" Waypoint. Details of software testing, including with Peter's software rig, are in Blog4. e.g. When east of "Weymouth", Snoopy should be aiming almost directly south for that waypoint, but this switches to "Prawle", to the South-West. This "Blog4" also includes detail about Snoopy's rudder servo linkage: look at the work in January 2015. That servo "lever arm" should be held by an allen screw, clamped tightly against a flat, filed onto the rudder shaft. The whole lot should have been fixed with Locktite, AFTER making sure the rudder is exactly centred, by testing on Bray Lake !
I was horrified to discover, after looking at Blog5, that Snoopy's boat had not been tested on Bray Lake since the lastAtlantic Attempt in March 2015 ! It's hardly surprising that the rudder may have been a bit off-centre ! Looking further back in time, in Blog4, shows weeks of 24/7 reliability testing on Bray Lake, in February and March 2015. Click on that picture to enlarge it. The last "Bray Lake Tests" were in February 2015, and show tendency to steer to the right. It seems it was never corrected !
My "Blog" pages are my "Engineering Notebooks", akin to what I was taught to use as a young engineering apprentice, working in a laboratory for the first time, in the early 1960s. The difference of doing it online is that lots of people can look over your shoulder and see where you made mistakes ! :-)
France is only 100 nautical miles downwind ! :-)
While we wait for any really useful information, such as a visual sighting of Snoopy, we can speculate on where he might go in the days ahead....
The picture on the right is from Robin's old DRIFT model, originally used on GPS Bottles projects, years ago, and last used on the American Toy Boat page in March 2016. It needed the right tidal current and wind data plugged into it. e.g. tidal current maximums between 1.2 and 1.5 knots. e.g. Winds 15mph from North East rising to 25mph from East-South-East by Wednesday. Wind predictions are taken roughly from Ventusky This gives a rough guess on where Snoopy might reach by Wednesday 12th October, or earlier.
The white track is of a bottle, half submerged, drifting with the tide and surface water at about 3% of wind speed. The blue track is at 5% - something catching the wind a little. The green is 10% - perhaps Snoopy with sails up,but with rudder hard over, drifting in circles. Yellow and purple are 15% and 20% - sails up but with rudder central - running with the wind.
There are LOTS of assumptions here. e.g. that Snoopy managed to get free of rocks. e.g. that Snoopy drifts downwind, with his sails still up, and no steering by his autopilot, and the rudder to one side. We think they have broken by now anyway. If they were working at all, his path would be more westward. But speculation is no substitute for observations ! :-)
The following is taken directly from the Design page, where it has been for some time. Perhaps I should add "5) do Bray Lake Tests to check the rudder is central" ! :-)
There is a lot I would not change in next year's Boat. e.g. 1.2 metre long Marblehead hull with IOM #3 Storm sails; GPS-Only Autopilot, based on Picaxe computer and Globalsat BR355 GPS. I may experiment with new ideas, such as power switching, compass steering, and wind direction sensors - but they are only adopted after many months, or even years, of prototyping then thorough testing. However, I've added this section, so you don't miss important future changes, mostly based on the discovery of better products. In short they are: 1) Use of SPOT Trace, instead of a modified SPOT Messenger; 2) Use of the Picaxe 28X2 Computer, instead of the Picaxe 08M2: more memory and comes assembled; 3) Use of the Globalsat BR355-S2 GPS, including applying a firmware patch, and configuring it with Static Navigation off, and only $GPRMC sentences; 4) Fewer but better solar panels. You will see these products discussed in more detail, later on this "Design" page and linked pages. The pictures should help you find the relevant sections.
Responding to a sighting of Snoopy will obviously take priority: we would re-run the DRIFT model to get a better guestimate of where he goes next. If, by good fortune, he is rescued, we can decide what museum to put him in. One thing is for sure, it's time for Snoopy's boat 10 to retire, and for Snoopy to sail Boat 11, that has been "waiting in the wings" for years :-)
Here is a list of things planned, and things we should not forget to do:
15th October 2016: Picaxe 28X2 Autopilot software version AP28X2F.BAS 15Oct16 created by copying version AP28X2E used in Eric's Boat 12, to sail around Goldsworth Park Lake. Comments were added to the front, but changes to the code not yet made. First changes are expected to be speaking the new version and date, removal of the Goldsworth Park waypoints, and putting back those used for "Tea-Tray Testing" in Armitage Court. Peter, Dick, Roy and Terry, were sent a copy for thir information and possible review.
The Boat 12 Autopilot was switched on, after being dormant for months. The Globalsat BR355-S2 seems to have retained it's settings, like Static Navigation being OFF, because it did what it should: random rudder movements, indicating the required movement sensitivity. Boat 11, in the garden, was weighed, and found to be 11.9 kg. This will increase, but hopefully not to Boat 10's 16 kg !
16th October 2016: Robin & June visited Bray Lake and spoke to Andy (Simon's deputy). Email exchange later, with permision to do. You will see problems in some of the recent videos of Bray Lake Tests. Boats 11 and 12 have deeper keels. Vegetation obstructs filming. A "Tea Tray" Picaxe 28X2 Autopilot was plugged together, based on spares, including the 28X2, Globalsat GPS, Servo, and Text-To-Speech unit. The software AP28X2F.BAS was updated to 16 October, including changing the startup speech to say "28X2 Autopilot 16 October 2016" after the usual waggle of the servo. After a few seconds, it then went into the normal 7 second control cycle, steering to the default Bray Lake waypoint A and saying things like, "Time is 2001, Speed is 0.3 knots, on course of 80, Target Alpha is 7 miles, at 349, turn left by 91". More spares have been ordered: three Globalsat BR355-S4 from Digigomart at 30.30 GBP each; One Parallax Emic 2 TTS for 90.90 GBP, half of which is shipping from the USA. Depending on power, we might consider the cost of having a TTS on the boat that makes the attempt, with a suitable GSM based "spy tracker" like the Pocket Pal on the AVL page. e.g. to listen in to any conversations Snoopy might have to those nearby, or the sound of him hitting rocks ! :-)
Below are Snoopy's boats, all fitted with experimental Autopilots. From Left to right: Boat6, Boat11, Eric's IOM Boat12, and little "Affinity". We may begin by testing with Eric's Boat 12 which already has a Picaxe 28X2 based Autopilot. This could be a better boat for first investigations, with Bray Lake Tests, of things like analysing steering errors, and those "tweaks" mentioned above. See RB12Blog" How we built Boat 12 from Eric's IOM, including the Picaxe 28X2 Autopilot, and Eric's Page. Click on the pictures to enlarge.
Monday 17th October 2016: The latest 28X2 Autopilot software will be loaded into Boat 11, for 2017, but may also be tested in other boats, such as Boat 12. But before that, we can do useful tests at home, including how the velocity accuracy of the new Globalsat BR355-S2 compares with that of the old BR355 used for years. First step was to see what Autopilots we have in the boats, in addition to that now on a Tea Tray:
Boat6 ( yellow on left ): plugging in a TTS unit and switching on, made it speak "Autopilot for 28X2, 12th March 2016". Looking inside the Autopilot box we could see no compass and the old Globalsat BR355 GPS, used in all previous attempts. Looking at the "Change History" in the code, we can see that AP28X2D was after having two 24/7 waypoints on Bray Lake instead of one. AP28X2E removed Armitage Court waypoint, to make space for Goldsworth Park ones. i.e. our latest AP28X2F should be the same as that in Boat 6, other than the GPS. Boat6 then settled down into it's control cycle, steering to Bray Lake "A", saying speed was either 0.0 or 0.1 knots. This implies our old BR355 may have been accurate to 0.1 of a knot. i.e, direction errors no more than 45 degrees at 0.1 knots, decreasing to below 10 degrees above 0.5 knots real speed. Maybe the new BR355-S2 will be better: hence our wish for tests on this speed accuracy soon.
Boat 11 (in middle): IMPORTANT NOTE: THE RUDDER LEVER GRUB SCREW WAS COMPLETELY LOSE, WITH RUDDER FLAPPING ABOUT ! Perhaps I did this sometime, without remembering to tighten it up with the required Allen Key ? Now fixed, and all of this rudder linkage will be changed anyway. e.g. two clamped Z-links. It was easier to see that Boat11 had a new BR355-S2 GPS because of the blue transparent Autopilot box. When ordering they are referred to as "BR355-S2" but the plastic top is labelled "G-Star IV". The Autopilot starts up with "... 3rd May", so that means... AP28X2d - when working on Goldsworth Park waypoints. So Boat 11 can be loaded with the latest version AP28X2F. Spoken speed, after the system had settled into it's control loop, was "0.0 knots", which is promising, reguarding improved velocity ( and therefore direction ) accuracy of this later model of GPS.
Eric's IOM Boat 12 ( with blue sails ): This also has a Picaxe 28X2 + BR355-S2 Autopilot. It starts up with "12th May 2016", indication version AP28X2E, after correction of Goldsworth Park waypoints. This can also be replaced by latest version AP28X2F.BAS. It also gives "... 0.0 knots ..." when running on our front drive.
Last, but not least, little "Affinity", just 0.65 metres long, and Snoopy's most recent robot boat featured on Eric's Page including it doing the Bray Lake Test ! I could not resist copying the Youtube video to here: check it out on the right ! :-) Affinity has the same Picaxe 08M2 + old BR-355 GPS used in recent Atlantic Attempts, including that in October 2016. It settles down into it's control loop, speaking directions and steering to Bray Lake. It does not speak speed because memory was so tight - even the startup title was cut down to only "15 2" !
Boats 11 & 12 had the latest AP28X2F software loaded into their Picaxe 28X2 Atopilots. All four boats are ready for tests ! :-)
Wednesday 19th October 2016: Great progress today, and the most important work was done by other members of our Team. Click on the pictures to enlarge, or play video. We have a better Picaxe 08M2 based Autoplot for the 2017 boat in Affinity, but we are working on a better one, based on the Picaxe 28X2. Peter's test rig showed a bug that would have been fatal, and would have been difficult to find any other way. The picture on the left is from Peter's Software Test Rig, and compares the direction to waypoint between the good 08M2 Software used so far, and our latest experimental 28X2 version. In short: if the destination waypoint is in has different degrees of latitude/longitude as the Boat, the direction is wrong. Examination of the code showed this was due to a block of code that is not needed anyway ! It simply speaks the distance to the waypoint in this situation. Range is not used for navigation and steering - only information for us to monitor the progress. Removing this code will also free up a lot of memory. Well Done Peter ! Others are also helping, but the other sign of some visible progress was Robin's first "Tea Tray Test" near his home, with new test hardware like a wide angle Mobius camera. Check out the youtube video. Other such tests will follow, as we make software changes and test them.
Here is a plot of tt191016.nme from the GPS Logger on the Tea Tray, using GPSS on a Windows & PC. We can make the picture smaller later.
The latest 19Oct16 version of the experimental AP28X2F.BAS was given to those helping test it. It's now in the Tea Tray system. Changes include removing that unwanted block of code and using a software switch based on startup to always apply rudder trim: not just when the target heading error is greater than 30 degrees. Bray Lake Tests will see if it shows an improvement.
Friday 11th November 2016: Three weeks without time spent on robot boat 11, other than the valuable chats with our extended Team-Joker. Click on the animated picture on the left for my Bigger Picture page. I guess the time I have available for Snoopy's robot boat averages less than a day per week, over the year, including discussion, building, and testing - mostly testing. I need to spend my time where it matters. Although priority is given to discussion over a coffee or beer ;-) Chats with Eric, John and Terry prompted me to change that rudder servo linkage on Boat 11 - while I remembered ! The rudder shaft has not (yet) been changed, for a bigger diameter one, but it DOES now have a flat filed on the shaft, to receive the grub screw. It has also been changed to the double Z-bend, clamped by terminal block parts. Camcorder problem fixed - found a hidden switch. I have updated the firmware in four new Globalsat BR-355 S4, including applying the patch (www.gpss.co.uk/rbpatch.zip), setting Static Navigation OFF, and setting to NMEA at 4800 with only $GPRMC sentences. See documentation near end of BlogX. I did find that cable, but only after returning from Maplins (and Bray Lake) with parts to make up the cable ! I've ordered another SPOT Trace, at 84 GBP delivered from Globaltelesatcoms. I put together a Picaxe 08M2 / BR-355 S4 based Autopilot, and this is now in Boat 11, loaded with AUTOP10.BAS.
Monday 14th November:
As is often the case, it's not the technical stuff that requires time: click on that picture on the right.
An enormous crack has appeared, in the weeks that Boat 11 was left in the back garden. It seems that
the fibreglass deck, so carefully put down, and glued with fast-glass resin to the original fibreglass hull,
may have lifted, allowing water to seep in to the foam that fills the hull. There is probably no alternative
than to strip off the whole lot, including the solar panels - tempting as it may seem to simply fill the crack.
Fedex just delivered the spare SPOT Trace, ordered from Globaltelesatcoms, so now I can risk modification
to the one I have. e.g. drilling into the case to supply 5v power from external solar power.
Tuesday 15th November: Terry visited to discuss his "GPS Simulator" work. Gave him a BR355-S2. His is USB, not serial. Patch ZIP URL now above.
Wednesday 16th November:
Soldered up another Picaxe 08M2 Autopilot, but with the later Globalsat BR-355 S2 GPS. It all fits in the lid
of a plastic pill box, the remainder simply acting as a "stand" to keep it above any water that gets into
the main box of electronics. The only difference
with Autopilots in earlier years is the GPS, and a minor Autoplilot Software change.
AUTOP10.BAS 18th October 2016, is based on AUTP9TTS used in earlier Trans-Atlantic attempts.
The startup speech says "18 October", and limiting of rudder bias is removed.
This is now in Eric's IOM Boat 12, for tests on Bray Lake. Another 08M2-BR355-S2 Autopilot
was squeezed into little Affinity, and the failed servo replaced.
This 08M2 based autopilot will be given a good testing, as the "minimum change" solution.
We can quickly swap to the the Picaxe 28X2 Autoplot, that has "a lot to say for itself",
for demonstrations to journalists.
There is plenty enough other work on Boat 11
to keep us busy ! :-)
17th November: Soldered up the expensive but essential Parallax Emic-2 Text-To-Speech (TTS) board.This time the loudspeaker and Emic-2 were mounted inside a plastic cap, sealed with silicon sealant, after wrapping the board in plastic. The test with a 28X2 Autopilot spoke "Terry's stoopid test program" (see 15th November above) so I reloaded AP28X2F.BAS.
18th November: Eric's IOM Boat 12 was given a Bray Lake Test, to check out the modified 08M2 Autopilot. Click on the pictures to see the details. It was not intentional, but the results showed clearly what happens if the sails are not trimmed correctly. Normally sail booms on both Jib and Mainsail are about 30 degrees from centre. The Jib was at 20 and the Mainsail at 40, resulting in "Lee Helm", and the steering failed to turn the boat against the wind, towards the waypoint. The first attempt caused Waypoint "D" to be hit, so the boat returned to "Base" - at about 1.85 knots, cross wind. It was re-lauched immediately, eventually hit waypoint "A", but ended up needing a rescue off the island. Next attempt will be with the sails trimmed correctly !
19th November 2016: Lots of SPOT Trace experimental work will be found in BlogX. In brief: SPOT Trace is a much neater solution than our modified SPOT Messenger that I've used for years. I'd used two NiMe AA cells, each giving ~1.82v fully charged. Now is the time to risk blowing at least one SPOT Trace up, in our quest for a simple and robust solution. Don't forget that we are not using the manufacturer's reccomended batteries ! Click on pictures to expand. My approach was to replace the two 2M screws that hold the USB socket cover, by two 2M studs, soldered to the power pads. Nuts and washers clamp the cover on, but now we can access the power. I used a 1.5mm drill to get through the plastic, but I also had to remove some plastic from where the two springs come from the 4 x AAA battery holder. Now when the SPOT Trace is assembled, you can measure the voltage of any internal batteries, and supply external (solar) power. It might be sensible to try 4 AAA NiMH cells, that fully charge to only 5.6v. However, "being sensible" was never my strong point, so let me try 4 AAA NiMe cells, giving nearer 1.82x4 = 7.28v. ... Mercifully, I had not fully charged the NiMe cells, and the voltage rapidly dropped. I put in 4 x AAA NiMH Maplin cells, and connected a female Futaba connector, so the SPOT Trace could easily have a small solar panel plugged in. This is now in the car, until I can find a better way of stimulating transmissions with movement.
Tuesday 22nd November:
Eric's IOM Boat 12 has it's sails trimmed to the more normal settings of both Jib and Mainsail booms being 30 degrees
from centre. The results were much better, with three Bray Lake Tests being done in rapid succesion, within the hour.
Two tests did the whole trip, Base-A-B-C-D-Base, but the third cut it short, Base-D-Base, after hitting D by accident.
Click on the pictures to expand them or play the 10 minute video. Smaller adjustments are still needed
to the sailing balance of the boat, to reduce that "wobble" in the path cross-wind.
Wednesday 23rd November: Text-To-Speech box moved to below Mobius camera, so it will be heard on video better.
Sunday 27th November 2016: Boat 11 had 0.4 kg of bad deck removed: it consisted of fibre glass mat and Fastglass resin which had not bonded to the fibreglass hull, but had simply lifted away. See the cracked paint photo on 14th November above. Rig removed and hull left upside-down to let some water drip out ! Purchased at £30, from friendly Penton Hook Marina, a West System Epoxy Glass Fibre Boat Repair Kit. Sanded F/G areas and then put whole hull into our boiler cupboard, to warm it up and dry it. After an hour it was taken out and new fibreglass laid down with the West System epoxy - there is still some left.
Monday 28th November 2016: Epoxy had dried well overnight, so gave the new deck a coat of white International Perfection, from that left in an old can. It will be covered by sealant to glue down solar panels.
Tuesday 29th November 2016: Purchased three lengths of 2mm brass rod from Mantua Models as 5v power rails, for below the duplicated 6v solar panels. Replaced three bolts in rear box by larger nuts and bolts to pass power into the box. Next task will be to prepare the four solar panels: each with isolation diodes and good water protection with epoxy and yacht varnish. After soldering to the rails, they will then be glued to the deck with a liberal ammount of silicon sealant.
Wednesday 30th November 2016: Isolation diodes ( two in parallel for redundancy ) and tinned multicore copper wire was soldered to the four solar panels and they were given a quick test outside in rare sunlight: ~ 6.5v o/c and > 200mA s/c. They were then soldered to the power rails, the two rear being on RHS and the two at front on LHS. New soldered joints were covered in West System epoxy. The underside of the solar panels was pained with yacht varnish. When dry, clear silicon sealant was smeared all over.
Thursday 1st December 2016: The solar panels were glued to the deck with silicon sealant, and held down with full bottles of wine - to be emptied later ;-)
Friday 2nd December 2016: Spent some time with experimental AP28X2G software, a "hybrid" which attempts to combine the advantages of GPS-Only and Compass steering. This is reported in BlogX. Our fall-back is still the trusty Picaxe 08M2 with later Globalsat BR-355 S2, loaded with Autopilot software AUTOP10. The old rig with rumpled sails and faded flag was put back on Boat 11. Time to make a new rig with those spare sails from Frank ?
Sunday 4th December 2016: After lots of materials shopping yesterday at Slough Radio Control Models, Model Junction, and Maplins, the main Autopilot 5v power switch was duplicated, using a Maplin IP67 Toggle Switch DPTT (N25KA) protected by a rubber Toggle Switch Cover (YL01B). Extra protection is provided by the soft drink bottle top, shaped on June's electric cooker hob (smoke did not quite trigger the alarm). Other materials include carbon fibre and brass rods and tubes, for things like the rig and non-ferrous rudder linkage. Note the change of marker pen "artwork" on the bottle tops, to provide a rearward looking friendly face.
Monday 5th December 2016:
We have a problem getting our trusty Humberston Signs sticky letters to stick onto the nice new "Atlantic" IOM #3 sails from Frank of Nylet.
I've used this combination on all Snoopy's boats for years, but it seems the sails are now protected.
I tried superglue, but that didn't help.
I did one side, followed by a thin cover of clear silicon sealant, which may hold
the letters down. On the other side, I tried Bostick on the "ROBOT BOAT", but that was no better.
However, I also covered this with clear silicon sealant.
Tuesday 6th December 2016: I tried cleaning the sail with June's Tesco Nail Polish Remover, then applying the "GPSS.CO.UK" direct - no better. Hopefully I can find a work-around. Looks as if we may then be doing weather tests, as we did years ago, with samples of labelled sail attached to our car roof rack. My last order from Humberston Signs / Snappygrafix was early in 2016, and Steve sent me a free Snoopy sticker. I've yet to decide where to stick it, but I expect my wife June will suggest somewhere ! :-)
Thursday 19th January 2017:
Background "experimental" work, on things like the SPOT Trace tracker power, and navigation light, is reported in
Today the carbon fibre tube for the mast and sail booms arrived from East Coast Fibreglass Supplies
two 2m lengths of c/f tube, 8mm OD and 4.7mm ID. Brass tube already purchased from model shops was
a nice sliding fit. The mast c/f tube length was cut to 105cm, with 10cm below deck. The top of the mast
is ~ 95 cm above the deck, and the mainsail boom is about 10cm. The boom length is 32cm.
A triangle of brass sheet was cut, using the wife's scissors, and her kitchen hob heated the brass assembly
for soldering. This holds the boom at 90 degrees to the mast, and was then filled with scrap plywood
and Isopon P40. A hole was drilled to assist lacing of the mainsail.
Wickes SCREW EYES 45 x 10mm, with a little duck tape, were a push fit into the c/f tube, at top of mast
and end of mainsail boom.
Friday 20th January 2017: The jib with a c/f boom was added, but without the sticky letters. I placed a repeat order with Humberston Signs, because our "Christmas tidy-up" seems to mislaid the latest, stickier versions.
Monday 23rd January 2017: Click on the pictures to enlarge: they show the final Boat 11 Navigation Light system, before glueing it to the deck with white silicon sealant. The upside-down plastic wine glass is mounted on the sawn off top of the beer glass, to surround the 3 x AA NiMH cells and electronics. CCTV showed the light still glowing faintly after 12 hours on. To the right you see where the SPOT Trace sits in the waterproof box, with the dedicated small solar panel on the side, facing a low sun when travelling westward.
Tuesday 24th January 2017: The sticky text arrived, and despite not being quite sticky enough for Frank's sails, they should stay down after I covered them with clear silicon sealant. The Snoopy cartoon sits proudly on the hull, and Boat 11 is now outside, to see how the solar power systems behave. The boat is now ready for Bray Lake Tests, with minor tasks to do, like install the I-GotU GPS logger and batteries.
Thursday 26th January 2017:
The main 5v power for the autopilot will be supplied, as in earlier years, by duplicated solar panels
and N-MH packs. This time I am using Maplin AA 2400mAH cells, and putting each 4 cell pack in parallel.
i.e. duplicated 4800 mAH power -> 9600mAH total. Four 4 cell packs were soldered up and glued together
in a messy manner: super glue, silicon sealant, and Fastglass resin.
Friday 27th January 2017: The four Ni-MH packs were put inside the box and wired into the three terminals providing duplicated solar power. The two sides were brought together by two pairs of diodes in parallel, for redundancy, to a fourth bolt as a 5v power monitor point. e.g. 5.06v final 5v output after diodes from 5.48v. A holder was made for the I-GotU GPS Logger, which plugs into a USB socket lead, soldered to the 5v output. The boat was put outside at 1830 to see how well the solar powered light works: we expect some sun tomorrow !
Saturday 28th January 2017: Boat 11 was weighed and was only 11.74 kg ! Compare this with Boat 10 at 15.9 kg in Blog5 - same size but with LOTS of repairs. I measured the waterproof box on Boat 11 to be 20cm long x 16cm wide x 10cm high, but saw that I have two spare boxes, 23.5cm L x 19cm W x 11cm H. Blog2 clearly shows that our last Boat9/Boat10 had the smaller box, Described as "FIBOX TA201610T Enclosure", when the boat had a major rebuild in February 2014. See old picture on left. Think of all those Atlantic Attempts it survived, 2013 ... 2016. No wonder it ended up being so heavy !
Sunday 29th January 2017:
The box lid artwork was kept simple, following those classic KISS Principles:
Keep It Simple, Stupid !
Tests on the new navigation light showed it not staying on for more than a few hours,
even after a sunny day. The three highly discharged 2000mAH AA cells were replaced by fully charged 2400mAH Ni-MH cells,
but these faded too.
Tuesday 31st January 2017: The 9 LED assembly was replaced by the lower power 3 LED one, used in recent years. However, the same two solar panels, switching electronics, and 3 x AA 2400 mAH Ni-MH cells were retained, rather than the 2 x AA 2000 MAH cells. This all fitted within the upturned plastic wine glass and was bright when switched on at 1800.
Thursday 2nd February 2017: The lamp now works well enough: was still bright at 0730 after over 20 hours on. Dropped by 0.5v from 4.12v to ~ 3.6v in 12 hours. Put outside in overcast conditions, to see how well the two small solar panels work. Autopilot "work" will be reported in BlogX. e.g. latest 08M2 based autopilot and the new "Hybrid" 28X2 version.
Friday 3rd February 2017: Boat 11 is ready for Bray Lake Tests with a Picaxe 08M2 Autopilot loaded with AUTOP10.BAS. For details see "BlogX" above.
Saturday 4th February 2017: The same test equipment will be used on Bray Lake as in previous years: 1) the Text-To-Speech (TTS) that makes the Autopilot talk. 2) the FM-transmitter "bug" that permits this to be heard on a transistor radio back on the shore. 3) the GPS Logger that records position and speed every second, onto an SD card, for GPS plots and analysis. 4) A Mobius camera to record video and speech on the boat. The TTS with it's loudspeaker was placed at the front of the box. 4 screw hooks were fixed into the deck, and a piece of light weight plywood waterproofed with fastglass resin and paint. The mainsail boom JUST misses the camera. Two large elastic bands hold the FM Transmitter bug and GPS Logger boxes. A minor software change was made to AUTOP10.BAS for the Picaxe 08M2 Autopilot, adopting the same voice as that in AP28X2G.BAS. i.e. louder, higher pitched, and faster. The only other change was the startup words, "4th of Feb 2017" instead of the old "18th October" (2016). I try to avoid software changes, but we should hear clearer speech.
Saturday 4th March 2017:
Snoopy's extended Team-Joker expands, and takes on a wider role, trying to spread a little "Peace and Understanding" in the World,
and applying smart car and drone technology into robotics for the elderley outside and inside the home.
But it's not just high ideals: Roy's discovery of the MicroMite, "PC on a chip", could have massive positive impact on robotics, including having fun with robot sailing boats, Worldwide. There is enourmous synergy, between the MicroMite and Robin's Pocket PC based GPSSppc. The iPAQ based GPSSPPC.EXE is not open source, but it DOES have an open Autopilot, documented for years on this site. In short, the user adds a text file, with the correct name, to specify the waypoints of the mission, for anywhere in the World. e.g. Sea, or even just a small local lake, used by Grumpy old Pensioners, to sail model boats. e.g. Goldsworth Park on Eric's Page . Three things coincided, to make things happen very fast, in a little more than three weeks:
Wednesday 5th April 2017: That's Snoopy's next Atlantic Boat 11 below. The video shows Aleksey's Sailing Saucer, sharing Bray Lake on 5th April 2017. We needed more wind ! This was Boat 11's first test this year, starting with our trusty Picaxe 08M2 Autopilot. The video shows that we did not have enough wind, it being less than 5mph from the North-West. The GPS logger worked OK - I just needed a better SD card reader on my PC - see the GPS plot below. The boat hit Waypoint C by accident, possibly because the wind dropped and/or shifted. However, it still returned to Base well enough, so will be taken out again soon. We may also take Aleksey's Sailing Saucer, for a bit of fun :-)
Thursday 13th April 2017: Another Bray Lake Test and still not much wind, but this time it completed the route, and in 30 minutes. This time the jib was let out to the normal 30 degrees, like the mainsail. It had been ~ 15 degrees, and the resulting Lee Helm may be why Wednesday's test hit Waypoint C by accident. The boat balance looks OK, so we are now ready to try the Picaxe 28X2 GPS + Compass "Hybrid" Autopilot, instead of the old 08M2 "GPS-Only" one. Click on the GPS Plot and/or play the video.
Friday 14th April 2017: We still have unsolved problems with our SPOT Trace tracker.
See the modifications reported on 19th November 2016 above.
Our problem has always been to adequately test the power modifications,
because of the logic inside the SPOT Trace firmware.
e.g. it staying in a low power "sleep" mode until it is shaken and moves tens of metres/yards.
The biggest problem is that it will switch off if the power drops below an unknown voltage.
I was reminded of this again by seeing that the SPOT Trace in my car had switched off again.
It had sent a "low power" email on 4th April. The small solar panel has now raised it to 5.49v,
but it still considers this as "low". We have 4 x NiMe cells inside, which could be limiting
it to 5.6v, so these have been removed. I temporarily added an external 5 NiMH packe at 6.41v,
boosting the Maplin pack to 6.33v. The small "6v" 115mmx70mm solar panel is giving 6.14v O/C
under a bright cloudy sky. This SPOT Trace is set to report every 5 minutes, at maximum rate,
to consume 4x (?) more power than if every 20 minutes. After two 25 minute trips, seperated
by an hour, voltage had dropped from 6.33v to 5.14v and the last report said battery state was
"LOW" instead of "GOOD".
A shopping trip, with 8 position reports dragged the voltage down to 4.39v, recovering to 4.56v
in 15 minutes ( overcast ).
Sunday 16th April 2017: Home after a family day out. SPOT Trace at 5.77v Had switched off on 14th. Only two reports on 15th. Any lateral thinking about testing out there ? :-)
Monday 17th April 2017: Andy in Bratislava sent some brilliant design advice, and I've put it into the bottom of BlogX because I've not yet diagnosed exactly what is happening, and what the simplest solution is - particularly how to test it. Today, after a run out to Slough and back, the voltage was 5.89v, but not one position report had been made since yesterday. It seems I may need to connect via a USB cable to the PC, to reset the 5 minute settings: not so easy after I put in those two bolts !
Tuesday 18th April 2017:
It was a challenge to find all the relevant bits, and I considered making a new "Hybrid" Autopilot from
components, including Picaxe 28X2 Module, Globalsat BR355-S2, and Devantech CMPS10 ( or CMPS11 ) tilt
compensated compass. I ended up using one of the early prototype boards, stripping out the superfluous
power switching components ( for servo and GPS ) and trimming the board down to a little over 3.7" x 1.6"
( 9.4cm x 4cm ). That very magnetic TTS loudspeaker is uncomfortably close to the compass,
so I'll probably put it outside the box. It was not that easy finding somewhere to test the system
inside the house or garden, away from things that influence a compass. We are not far from a Bray Lake Test.
Click on the picture to enlarge.
Wednesday 19th April:
Late yesterday an important fault was found and corrected with the SPOT Trace 6v battery pack.
That soldered up 5 x NiMH AA Maplin 2000mAH pack was replaced by a "2600" 6 x NiMH AA pack,
and results from a road test were dramatic: still 6.78v after 16 reports every 5 minutes.
Tests confirmed the old pack was faulty. Our SPOT Trace power solution for now will be
the new 2600 Pack, plus a diode from the 5v Autopilot supply, to reduce risk of the 6v SPOT Trace
power dropping too low.
Bray Lake Test of "Hybrid" Picaxe 28X2 + BR355-S2 GPS + CMPS11 Compass was in very light and variable wind, but
it shows a bug in the Autopilot Software.
Saturday 22nd April 2017: Yesterday's Bray Lake Tests by Robin and Dick concluded with a sailing test of Dick's Mavic Drone.
The two minute video below provides the evidence of Robin's (alleged) initiation of the test. More detail will be added here in due course,
but - in brief - the compass based steering failed miserably. Tests this morning seem to confirm the problem can be solved easily, by
the 5v power wiring, rather than some difficult software change. The good news was that snipping the compass power wire made the Autopilot
software ( AP28X2G.BAS version "Golf" 20th April 2017 ) switch correctly to the old "GPS Only" steering logic.
That GPS Plot is in
rb210417.nme including time and speeds.
Click on the pictures below
to play the video or enlarge them. The tea tray shows testing with a Y-lead, to power servo and Autopilot from seperate 5v supplies.
Random compass errors then disappeared. A voltmeter revealed 5v power had dropped to 4.5v ! Solution: replace those soldered 5v packs
and don't rely on a boat kept indoors to retain it's charge !
See "BlogX", describing background experimental work from 2008 until now.
July 2014 video of Snoopy's Robot Boat Race to see how well
Snoopy's 2014 boat 10 did against the smaller experimental boat 6.
How the web counters work - or don't work - is explained near the bottom of the
Snoopy page. Times are accurate but location is often not.
Thursday 20th April 2017: It took hours for my PC to process the video from the cameras, including an hour from the Mobius camera, and I now have this on two archive DVD. I thought it worth the time to make this much shorter youtube video. It shows why I've repositioned Bray Lake Test equipment: the FM sound transmitter is now at the rear of the box, so not too close to the TTS. The Mobius video will be valuable in identifying software changes to the "Hybrid" Autopilot. e.g. fixing bugs, adjusting steering logic, and speaking information to help test analysis. The GPS Plot is of the file recorded by the Ardulog GPS logger: rb190417.nme". Click on images below to enlarge or play the video.
Other stuff ...
Snoopy's Bray Lake Test ... sail 530 metres automatically, through 5 waypoints ...
Who is visiting this page ?
Wednesday 19th April: Late yesterday an important fault was found and corrected with the SPOT Trace 6v battery pack. That soldered up 5 x NiMH AA Maplin 2000mAH pack was replaced by a "2600" 6 x NiMH AA pack, and results from a road test were dramatic: still 6.78v after 16 reports every 5 minutes. Tests confirmed the old pack was faulty. Our SPOT Trace power solution for now will be the new 2600 Pack, plus a diode from the 5v Autopilot supply, to reduce risk of the 6v SPOT Trace power dropping too low.
Bray Lake Test of "Hybrid" Picaxe 28X2 + BR355-S2 GPS + CMPS11 Compass was in very light and variable wind, but
it shows a bug in the Autopilot Software.
Saturday 22nd April 2017: Yesterday's Bray Lake Tests by Robin and Dick concluded with a sailing test of Dick's Mavic Drone. The two minute video below provides the evidence of Robin's (alleged) initiation of the test. More detail will be added here in due course, but - in brief - the compass based steering failed miserably. Tests this morning seem to confirm the problem can be solved easily, by the 5v power wiring, rather than some difficult software change. The good news was that snipping the compass power wire made the Autopilot software ( AP28X2G.BAS version "Golf" 20th April 2017 ) switch correctly to the old "GPS Only" steering logic. That GPS Plot is in rb210417.nme including time and speeds. Click on the pictures below to play the video or enlarge them. The tea tray shows testing with a Y-lead, to power servo and Autopilot from seperate 5v supplies. Random compass errors then disappeared. A voltmeter revealed 5v power had dropped to 4.5v ! Solution: replace those soldered 5v packs and don't rely on a boat kept indoors to retain it's charge !
See "BlogX", describing background experimental work from 2008 until now. See Recce, Compass and Software pages. Play the July 2014 video of Snoopy's Robot Boat Race to see how well Snoopy's 2014 boat 10 did against the smaller experimental boat 6.
How the web counters work - or don't work - is explained near the bottom of the Snoopy page. Times are accurate but location is often not.
© 1991-2016 Robin Lovelock. Please credit www.gpss.co.uk if you use material from any of these pages. Thankyou.