GPS Guided Trans-Atlantic Robot Boat

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Blog7: Snoopy Sloop robot boat tests, repairs, and changes
after Atlantic Attempts in December 2017 and June 2019.

"I always wanted to be an engineer, and now I are one !"

Updated 1645 Z/GMT/UT Thursday 31st October 2019 UK time ( & 0825z on 22Oct21 for UC->LC GIF correection )
You can Skip to near end of this Blog for latest news Untidy layout of pictures? - then try a "Refresh". You need fast scroll for this page ! :-)

You probably reached this "Blog7" page from the Snoopy page, or the 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.

Origin of wheels for Snoopy's trolley click here for more on the Horse who snatched Snoopy 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.

December 2017 : problems solved such as EMC interference with GPS and under-steering ...

Following is extracted from Blog6 - final Bray Lake Tests showing that Boat 11 is ready.

Friday 1st December 2017: The Youtube video is below, for those who want to see it. Robin and June tool a very early trip to Slough today, for an 0630 hospital appointment: full anesthetic to fit a plate into her broken wrist. He took a printout of "Quebec" while he waited, and saw suitable changes for new version "Romeo". Increased rudder gearing as function of direction error, which should reduce zig-zag; The better TTS handling, such as "Left 15" more often can be left as is. Not a software bug but just a constant that needs to be changed: symbol MAXDERR = 120. This is the error angle for full rudder. We will try 30 and test again. If it is too small, we may see over-steering, reflected in a faster zig-zag rate of ~ 14 secs/cycle. We now have version "Romeo" ( AP28X2R.BAS ) in the test box, and testing has started. June and Robin placed their food order before lunch: see the menu below. However, Robin left before they ate, and returned to collect her mid afternoon. She was not given a doggy bag, but they did get these Wallace and Vomit hats. THEN she dragged Robin out to The Dog and Partridge, for the Royal Ascot Tennis Club Christmas Dinner ! :-) white strip video of 30th November 2017 Boat 11 GPS Loggers on 30th November 2017 Woodstock on 30th November 2017 Posh Slough Menu 2017 tough as nails :-) Ascot Tennis Club Xmas 2017

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Wednesday 6th December 2017: Click on pictures to expand. Peter, Dick and Robin to Snoopy's Boats 11 and 12 for Bray Lake Test with software version "Romeo" on 1st December. This gives much more rudder effect as explained earlier. It risks oversteering zig-zag, but also poor upwind performance, since the "natural taking" relies on the boat gathering speed. The GPS Plot is from GPS Logger #1 data, in the latter part of ra061217.nme for Autopilot GPS followed by GPS Logger #1. Both give similar plots. Both boats, with the same software, failed to do well upwind. They were re-launched from further along the bank, to get a better cross-wind path to Alpha. Boat 11 sailed reasonably straight cross wind, but with a fast zig-zag indicating over-steering. Boat 12, carrying Peter's TTS telemetry and Compass Logger, seemed to behave similarly. We were all confused by Boat 12's new "Rudder Dial": it moved in the opposite direction to that on Boat 11. See the picture. Is there a simple solution like a mirror ? :-) Boat 12's GPS LOGGER #2 IS FAULTY ! Sorry Peter, but we have no GPS Logger data for today ! It seems Robin did not test it properly after replacing the GPS, after it got wet. The Ardulog orange LED flashes, but not the green LED, as GPS Logger #1. Robin should have replaced the Ardulog and tested it properly ! Videos from the three cameras has yet to be edited and processed. SOFTWARE CHANGE ! Boats 11 and 12 Autopilots are now loaded with version "Romeo 6th December 2017", in AP28X2R.BAS, known to Team-Joker guys. Robin made an inspired guess of DIRERR=60 from 30. i.e. half the rudder gearing as the 30 that sailed today, but still twice the 120 of recent days before. Why the rush ? Because there is not time to analyse the video before tomorrow. i.e. the ammount the boat turns, for a given rudder movement. But as is often the case, Robin has probably guessed wrongly :-) white strip Inside box of Boat 12 on Wednesday 6th December 2017 GPS Plot of Boat 11 on Wednesday 6th December 2017 Video of Wednesday 6th December 2017 white strip

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Thursday 7th December 2017: Click on pictures to enlarge or play. Yesterday's video is above, with cross-wind extracts from Mobius at end. Today Peter, Dick and Robin, took Snoopy's Boats 11 and 12 for good Bray Lake Tests: see results below. Boat 11 GPS Logger data is in rb071217.nme , and Robin was very pleased with the result: the whole trip in 38 minutes. Eric's Boat 12, with the same software, did two trips, even faster, as expected. The Boat 12 GPS Logger data is in rx071217.nme and ry071217.nme . There is a LOT on our video to see, including first water tests of Peter's Team Joker's "Woodstock", and glimpses of bungee jumping for filming of a Channel 4 TV Pilot. Enjoy the video :-)

white strip Video Thursday 7th December 2017 GPS Plot of Boat 11 on Thursday 7th December 2017 GPS Plot of Boat 12 trip #1 on Thursday 7th December 2017 GPS Plot of Boat 12 trip #2 on Thursday 7th December 2017

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Snoopy's Boat 11 Brief Atlantic Attempt on Friday 15th December 2017...

The details are in Snoopy's Brief 2017 Attempt page: In short: Snoopy tumbled in the surf and broke his mast ! - but nice video :-)

2017 Brief Atlantic Attempt

white strip Saturday 16th December 2017: Mostly editing yesterday's video and updating pages such as this. However, Boat 11 has been repaired, using 4mm carbon fibre rod inside the broken c/f mast tube. The brass mast guide tube was replaced, since the other had bent and was not a sliding fit. Most of the work was the string stays, etc.

Snoopy's "Recce" Seaside Trip on Sunday 7th January 2018 ...

Details, including a video, are here . The surf stopped an attempt, but we learnt some lessons. e.g. Magic Seaweed is fallible; Difficult to find a better launch spot than Groin 18, west of Boscombe Pier. Surf seen offshore of Sandbanks; Peter found a snag in his SPOT tracking mapping support software, which is now fixed.

Sunday 7th January 2018

Preparing for the 2018 Attempt ...

Monday 25 June 2018: After lots of other things, including Holidays , Boat 11 has just been switched on, at 1230 BST (1130z), after months indoors switched off. It is now in our front garden. It all seems to be running OK, including the Autopilot and SPOT Tracking . Main Autopilot power was (5.11v,5.14v)->5.00v and SPOT Power 5.7v. i.e. plenty. We now await everyone being ready, including our Team-Joker launch team, Aberwystwyth University - and that important "weather window".
Sunday 29th July 2018: All is ready, but we've been waiting for a little wind, so Snoopy's Boat 11 could be given a Bray Lake Test and a day or two of 24/7. The Blogs show that little was done last year. Yesterday's test was in more than "a little wind" :-)

Boat 11 Rudder linkage Boat 11 Rudder linkage Tuesday 14th August 2018: BIG lesson learned today: there was far too much backlash in Boat 11's rudder linkage. This has now been fixed, by adding two sliding fit brass tubes between the carbon fibre rudder rod and tube in which it fits. Peter, Dick, and Robin met for a Bray Lake Test of Boat 11 in gentler wind of perhaps 9 mph form the West or WNW. Boat 11 behaved badly, drifting backwards, much as it had in strong wind in July. Boat 12, with exactly the same software, eventually went round. After Dick recovered Boat 11, from near the Clubhouse, he and Peter noticed how poorly the servo controlled the rudder: roughly central, but LOTS of backlash. When Robin got home he conformed two sources of the problem: 1) the sloppy fit of the rudder rod in it's tube, let into the hull, and 2) twisting of the carbon fibre rod. The solution was to surround the rod by brass tube - #8130 7/32 x 0.014 (5.56mm), a sliding fit (withy grease) in brass tube #8131 1/4 x 0.014 (6.35mm), fast-glass resined into the c/f tube already in the boat - that needed a drill run through it. The brass tubes were purchased from Mantua Models and the American source is KSMetals. The result is a much more tightly controlled rudder. Boat 11 is ready for another Bray Lake Test. Click on pictures to expand.

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Tuesday 2nd October 2018: Click on the pictures to expand or play: Snoopy's Bray Lake Test was good, and he is ready for the Atlantic ! :-)

GPS Plot of Bray Lake Test Youtube video of Bray Lake Test white strip

Monday 15th October: Snoopy and friend Woodstock test their boats in strong winds on Friday 12th October ! Snoopy IS ready for the Atlantic ! :-)

GPS Plot of 24/7 Bray Lake Test Youtube video of 24/7 Bray Lake Test and Storm Callum white strip

Saturday 27th October: Robin and June with Snoopy, Peter, and Dick HOPE to meet at the zig-zag steps near Boscombe Pier by 1000 BST, but it is very probable they will get delayed.

Aborted October Attempt Gian Piero Monday 29th October: Snoopy's attempt was aborted before launch, because of a flaw in the SPOT Trace tracker. Launch conditions were perfect, with no rain, flat water, and offshore breeze, from at least our arrival to meet Peter and Dick, until sunset. The flaw in SPOT Trace was seen during our journey down the M3, the last report being 1142 BST 10/27/2018. Peter and Dick, were anxious to launch within an hour or two, rather than waste valuable launch window time. They returned home, soon after Robin and June booked into the lovely Spyglass Kettle, and intended to call SPOT Service in USA to see if the problem could be fixed. This problem appears in earlier blogs ( more later ). June and Robin decided it unwise to attempt a launch, even if SPOT Service found a solution. Instead they followed their original intention and enjoyed the hours until sunset doing a thorough video recce of the beach, including groins, from the zig-zag steps Groin 18 to Boscombe Pier and east. Under these perfect conditions, there were many safe spots. In the process they also found two excellent hotels, with sea views, for watching Snoopy go out on future attempts. At Groin 18a, they met two Bounemouth University Media Studies students, there to see the sunset. This "recce" video will probably be the first to appear here. That Saturday evening was spent doing this and enjoying the atmosphere within their hotel. This including time with the Italian waiter, Gian Piero, in Haloween costume, from Beluno in the Dolomites, close to a "GPSS Friend" seen Robin's Birthday visit on the "Holiday" page. Robin, June, and friends will certainly return to this hotel, probably with Snoopy, later this year, AFTER the SPOT Trace problem is fixed. e.g. Woodstock test the solution suggested by Roy, involving a Picaxe Timer and Vibrator, that started tests, not followed through. Sunday was spent enjoying our journey home, including with David and Jeanette Gibby, in Hythe Marina, where Robin dried out after the 2012 Attempt. David and Robin go back to the 1970s, working at EASAMS and SHAPE Technical Centre. David taught Robin "KISS". Much of the time was spent chatting about other things, such as Sunninghill being where NATO was born, and health problems of friends. Earlier, Robin and June had visited a John Silvester's house, to see his boat "Joker" moored outside, and white Tesla car. His neighbour Richard explained John and Marian had gone to the party nearby, then moved on the other get-together. Chatting with David revealed that he had met John, without either of them recognising each other. June, Robin, and Snoopy arrived home at 1840 GMT, as their Chobham friend Paul phoned to see how their trip had been; June told him, and Robin hopes to meet Paul Monday morning for two related projects, including the "Sunninghill SACEUR Snoopy" video. All of the above is captured on video, and you can expect first pictures, the videos, to appear in the coming hours and days. Robin and June will soon be walking down into Sunninghill village, to their Costcutter Punjabi, Flame Cafe Turkish, and La Sorrentina Italian friends :-) More here soon - click on pictures to expand or play video ... white strip Aborted October Attempt Aborted October Attempt groin18a Aborted October Attempt Groin Recce video white strip

Tuesday 26th February 2019: Bad news here at the end ... Boat in Robin's Garden with Spot Trace sending at least one status message every day. Yesterday a soldered joint for the I-GotU GPS Logger was fixed, and the I-GotU charged up. It seems to be running OK with regular blue LED. The Autopilot was switched on at 1340 yesterday, for over 24 hours, with good sunshine, to confirm the main 5v duplicated supply was OK. Measurements on Monday and Tuesday for LHS,RHS power were: 5.61v,5.59v @1340; 5.6,5.62@1500; Today: 5.06,5.06@0940 before sun; 5.39,5.54@1400; 5.42,5.32@1540 then autopilot switched off. The broken bit of leading edge keel was removed, and the faded Union Jack flag replaced: essential to wind up Yanks :-) Now the bad news: I posed for this photo of Snoopy Sloop 11, and seconds after, it fell over and the mast broke ! Those side strings clearly did not do the trick. I do have suitable c/f materials, if not the time. Another thing to check: Spot Trace gave a low battery alert email at 1607, shortly after the movement alert, when the boat was moved indoors We are reminded yet again of an old lesson: don't waste time playing games with new ideas and technology if you don't have the time to do important work: like BUILD WELL and TEST WELL ! :-) white strip Snoopy Sloop 11 on 26 Feb 2019 Snoopy Sloop 11 on 26 Feb 2019 Snoopy Sloop 11 on 26 Feb 2019 Snoopy Sloop 11 mended mast on 27 Feb 2019 white strip

Wednesday 27th February 2019: See the new photo above right: Robin was lucky in having carbon fibre (C/F) rod of the same diameter as that (unsuitable?) C/F tube. The 1m rod runs, as before, 10cm into the hull, surrounded by sliding fit brass tubes. The old (broken) brass tube is used, with the alumium, at the very top, to give the required height. New brass tube K&S #8134 [ 11/32" x 0.014" (8.73mm) ] is a sliding fit, all smeared with grease, between the new C/F Rod and the old brass tube let into the hull. The same old bit of C/F tube, 2cm long, is used as packing below the mast. The result is no adjustment having been needed to all the strings used as front, rear, and side stays, or to the strings ("sheets"), used to allow both jib and mainsail to swing out just 30 degrees. Minor work is needed to add the extra "belts and braces" strings seen behind the mast. Had our original (poor) mast repair ever been tested or looked at closely by anyone else, after Snoopy's Brief 2017 Attempt ? Of course not - silly us ! :-) white strip

Boat 11 on 26 Feb 2019

Thursday 26th February 2019: Above photo shows boat after minor work on replacing string. There are now extra lower mast side stays. knots are smeared with silicon sealant.
Friday 1st March 2019: Watching the video of Snoopy Sloop 11 being 24/7 tested, I was reminded that the Navigation Light was not working. At the time I thought the two small solar panels had let the 3xAA NiMH battery go flat. Yesterday I discovered that there was corrosion on the small circuit I'd built to switch off the lamp in daylight. I've kept the old one, in case Peter or Dick want to test their electronics skills :-) This time I covered the board in Fastglass resin, before assembling with plenty of Wickes Silican Sealant. I've also taken more care with the two monitoring and charging terminals, following Peter alerting me to the significant power drainage through salt water. Click on photos below to enlarge or play. They show work on SPOT Trace solar power supply, to be tested before putting back in boat 11. Robin's car is here :-)
Saturday 2nd March 2019: See BlogX for supporting experimental work such as new GT-730FL-S GPS Logger and Boat 13. This could be be used on 24/7 at Bray Lake, to test the SPOT Trace solar power supply with identical solar panel, batteries, but SpotT2 . Lateral thinking is being applied, including strapping the SPOT sub-system onto sheep :-)

white strip Snoopy Sloop 11 SPOT Trace on 1 March 2019 Snoopy Sloop 11 SPOT Trace on 1 March 2019 Snoopy Sloop 11 SPOT Trace on 1 March 2019 Snoopy Sloop 11 SPOT Trace on 2 March 2019

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Youtube video of 24/7 Bray Lake Test and Storm Callum Wednesday 6th March 2019: Click on pictures to enlarge or play. Watching the video of 24/7 testing in Storm Callum reminded me that Snoopy's navigation light was not working. I had wrongly assumed that the two small solar panels had allowed it's 3 x AA NiMHd battery to go flat. After charging the battery I then found that the electronics were badly corroded. This board switches off the light in daylight, to conserve power. The board was replaced, following instructions in my desk diary, which in turn had been taken from BlogX for 7 Dec 2016. This time I covered the board in Fastglas resin, before it was assembled and held in place by Wickes silicon sealant. Peter had alerted me to the leakage of power through sea water, so I adopted a safer solution for the two voltage monitoring and charging points. I've kept the old (faulty?) board, in case Peter or Dick want to polish up their electronics skills :-) The trusty two part International Perfection paint, colour Snow White, was used to touch up some of Boat 11's hull, discoloured by yacht varnish drips. I mixed up too much, so used the majority on what will become Boat 14. BlogX also records details of testing the SPOT Trace : OK so far :-) white strip

Snoopy Sloop 11 Navigation light 6 March 2019 Snoopy Sloop 11 Navigation light 6 March 2019 Snoopy Sloop 11 Navigation light 6 March 2019 white strip

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4th September 2019: This documents test and repair work on Snoopy's Boat 11, after that "Good" June 2019 Atlantic Attempt. Snoopy certainly surprised us, yet again, in racing Dick south, to the French coast, near Cherbourg, then returning north to end his adventure in Lulworth Cove. Robin's best guess at an explanation, of why Snoopy was not simply been swept westward, by the strong wind, was we must have a remarkably well balanced boat, with lots of "weather helm". We don't know when Snoopy's Boat 11 lost it's rudder, but with hindsight, it was a daft idea to use carbon fibre rod. It now has spring steel ! Thanks Peter for the check on the Autopilot software AA28X2R.BAS , to give us confidence that the autopilot would have being try to steer westward, after getting south of the "Channel" waypoint. Perhaps the boat was rudderless long before then ? Click on pictures to enlarge. June 2019 Attempt Repairs after June 2019 Attempt Repairs after June 2019 Attempt white strip

Snoopy Sloop 11 Video and  I-GotU test with GPSS 13th September 2019: Click on pictures to enlarge or play. Photo shows box at back of Snoopy Sloop 11, after repairs related to the Autopilot. Only the servo reverser had failed - corosion and overheating ? Robin had a spare, but decided to remove need by change of the servo linkage geometry. The IGgotU GPS logger is back on test after a reset. Work was needed on it's solar panel ! Saturday 14th September 2019: The 4 minute video shows the Autopilot working OK with the new rudder. The I-GotU is seen having it's GPS tested by Robin's old GPS Software, GPSS. Sunday 15th September 2019: Robin saw the SpotT tracker, in Boat 11, had stopped giving it's daily status report, after 5 days earlier. Voltage was 5.53v and it was restarted ~ 1930. ( See Snoopy's position on the SpotT map. e.g. at home in Sunninghill. See the spare SpotT2 tracker also under test. e.g. within Robin's car ). Robin needs to check that both small solar panels are working: a) that for I-GotU GPS logger and b) that for SpotT . Tuesday 24th September 2019: More pictures added to show replacenent of the LHS Solar Panel of the I-gotU, and reinstalation of the box contents. white strip

13 September Repairs after June 2019 Attempt Repairs of Boat 11 afer June 2019 Atlantic Attempt Repairs of Boat 11 afer June 2019 Atlantic Attempt white strip

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Friday 4th October 2019:Faded plastic flag replaced. But have not replaced skeg, added on 13 November 2017 ( See Blog7 ). This MAY improve steering. Note all those problems like EMC in 2018. We need to do a Bray Lake Test sometime to confirm Boat 11 is still OK.

Repairs of Boat 11 afer June 2019 Atlantic Attempt Boat 11 with no skeg on 4 October 2019 white strip

Thursday 17th October 2019: Click on pictures to enlarge. Stripping apart Snoopy's solar powered navigation lamp revealed wiring, the two small solar panels, and 3-cell battery pack, need replacement. However the LED lamp itself, and the electronic switch, seem OK. Robin's desk diaries back to 2016, and Blogs proved their worth. e.g. Search on "lamp" to find the January 2017 work in BlogX , but particularly the words and pictures above, in this Blog7, for Wednesday 6th March . Thursday 31st October 2019: Navigation light reassembled and solar panels glued back on boat with white silicon sealant.

white strip Boat 11 Navigation Light on 17 October 2019 Boat 11 Navigation Light on 17 October 2019 Boat 11 Navigation Light on 17 October 2019 Boat 11 Navigation Light on 31 October 2019 white strip

Other stuff ...

See "BlogX", describing background experimental work from 2008 until now. See the Recce, Compass , Software , and many Blog pages, for details of the vast ammount of experiments and testing, done over the years. Yes, there is a lot there, and you need a wide screen to scroll through it. I wish I'd written the blogs tidier, but they are better than nothing, and my time is precious. Now WHERE are the details of the autoplots in Boat6 and Boat10 used for that race in July 2014 ?

Play the video to see how well Snoopy's 2014 boat 10 did against the smaller experimental boat 6 on 11th July 2014. The speech from the autopilot of Boat6 implies it was using experimental compass-based steering. i.e. "ahead, ahead, left, ahead", etc. Boat 10 used our old, trusted, GPS-Only steering. Why did Boat6 win ? Much less weight: see the Blog for Boats 11 and 12 having a race with identical autopilots on Thursday 6th July 2017, three years later. We can learn a lot from what we did in earlier years, if we write it down - or better still, film it :-) white strip

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

Bray Lake used for testing of the robot boats

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