Today we received our temperature sensors (five DS18B20), humidity sensor (DHT11) a new Arduino Mega, and a bunch of wires and other little components.
With five sheets of plywood. Dan is beginning work on the strongback for the new hull while he’s down at bucknell. In early May he’ll return to Tiverton where we’ll complete the female mold construction.
The boat will not be departing from New England. Neither will it be departing next week as planned.
When we began SCOUT, we thought that we could sail hard and finish the hull in a month, the programming in another month, and iron out all the bugs in a week or so.
Nothing went as planned.
There is no “how-to” manual for a project like this. Every step that we make could be either forwards or backwards. To install the keel (which we never planned on having) we had to cut the boat in half. To shape the boat, we had to remove much more foam than we expected. There were late nights (some of these photos were posted at 5am) and there were nights which we didn’t sleep at all. There are four layers of fiberglass on that boat; one of carbon and the nose is carbon–Kevlar. What you see when you look at this boat is a tiny sliver of what went into it (as are many engineering projects). For lack of money, we had to befriend the president of a machine shop so that he could help us connect the drive shaft to the motor and to the propeller. On paper, simple tasks. But the drive system in this boat has given us more trouble than I could have ever imagined. Last week, the boat caught on fire and destroyed a significant amount of wiring and electronic systems. The water pumps leak. The motor is having trouble running at low RPM. Magnetic declination still poses a huge hurdle. All of these problems will be addressed in time. We just need a bit more of it.
We are going to launch SCOUT. We are going to honor our promises to our Kickstarter backers. But we do ask for some flexibility. We all work forty hours a week (much of the money goes into the project), and in a few days we will quit those jobs and go back to college full time. We realize that it’s taken much longer than we originally thought, and so if you are a Kickstarter backer and want your things at this very moment, send us an email and we’ll send them to you. But the pictures won’t be of the finished boat, your name won’t be on the side yet (so those pictures won’t exist) and the poster will have big question marks in the schematics and paragraphs of comments in the code.
I think that the reason that you pledged $30 to this project wasn’t so that you could get some stickers or your name on a website. After all, who will go to the website if the boat doesn’t launch? You pledged this money so that you could see the boat go across the ocean. Track it online. And then your name on the website will be viewed by lots of people who hear abut the project as it sails across- not our grandparents or other backers who check the website now.
And if you’re really upset that it hasn’t left yet, or that we haven’t communicated our objectives effectively, and want your money back, I can do that for you. Send me an email.
After coming home from Spain, Max was eager to get back to hanging out with his friends. But once again he pulled through and built Scout’s rudder. It’s made of quarter-inch plywood, a strip of carbon fiber to reinforce the pintles, and a layer of very fine four ounce fiberglass over the rudder itself. He then epoxied and vacuum bagged it. In this photo, he’s showing us how it mounts (the boat in this picture is upside down, of course). As of September 2nd, the rudder is mounted but the rudder linkage hasn’t been finished. We’re trying to bring Scout up to WPI to get some work done this month.
Hey everyone, its been a few weeks since the last proper update so its about time for an update.
Firstly, the Kickstarter campaign was a success (thanks everyone!) and the website has been updated with the names of everyone whom donated on the designated page. The other rewards are being worked on and in the case of a reward at the $50 tier or higher, they’ll be sent out after the boats finished, since they include pictures of said boat. We’ve sent out a request for some information like names and mailing addresses so check your email for that.
In other news, we’ve been working on the project! We have almost all of the materials we’ll be needing, Max has sent the final CAD files to us, and our buddy David is doing quite a bit of work on my programming. A lot of progress is expected in the next few weeks. Unfortunately at this time there’s not a grand photo or two that we can show you guys because most of the work has been logistic or with computer files, or boring stuff that’s hard to take pictures of, like emailing, soldering, and talking on the phone. But here’s a picture from my trip to Spain in which I took a bit of time to locate a nice spot to land……
On that front, while I was over there my relatives insisted that if the boat gets close to Spain and a few of us fly over there to pick it up, they will drive us around and have a big party when it comes ashore. It’s just more motivation for us to make the trip successful!
As I type this, I can hear Brendan cutting something with a jigsaw- for the many days of testing that we are going to do, we need a land-based support vehicle that we can program in, communicate with the boat, and at times sleep in and make breakfast (for those overnight trials). Brendan has decided that he’s take some time to convert my minivan into this support vessel, and I think he’s making shelves or something right now. Probably a bookcase. Anyways, that’ll be something to post a picture of once its done. Our other support and chase vessels consist of the Astraea- a 38′ sailboat, a 14′ Boston Whaler, and a canoe. The boats have been outfitted with 120VAC power, miscellaneous antennas, and a few coolers for their future duties.
Many new developments, and few blog posts and website updates to explain them.
First of all, we’d like to sincerely thank Mike Desousa, who’s made an incredible financial contribution to the project and has offered sincere and steadfast support for the project since its conception.
Secondly, we’ve found where the boat’s going to end up [hopefully]. The last waypoint will be one of the points from which Columbus left Spain more than three hundred years ago, Sanlucar de Barrameda. This has to be finalized by the guy doing the plotting, but we think that it’s a fitting target so we’re going for it. Also, there are nice beaches there, and as picking up the craft might take a week or more (can’t rush things like that) if it gets to Spain and we go to pick it up, we want it to be somewhere nice.
People have been asking if we’re going to pick it up ourselves and at what point we buy a ticket. At a speed of four or five knots, we’d probably get tickets when the boat gets within three hundred miles (90% of the trip completed). Yeah, those would be incredibly expensive tickets, but getting this boat back after a successful trip would be worth every cent.
Aside from that, David’s working on the software, we’ve bought all of the things on his list- current sensors, water sensors, some new boards, and a digital compass.
The Kickstarter backers have had access to this video for the last two weeks, time to release it to everyone. We’ve been working on a second-generation test platform (six feet long, picture on the facebook page) that’s much more stable (and longer, and properly built) than the dinky little one in the video. Pictures to follow.
We fixed the oscillation problem rather quickly by fastening the keel to the boat properly, instead of using duct tape which let it fall off and sink. Go figure.
A number of exciting things have happened over the last week or so.
1- We started our Kickstarter campaign
2- We raised $1,000 and counting with Kickstarter!
3- I was able to go back to Tiverton last weekend and do a test of the electronic systems on Nonquit pond. If you’re a Kickstarter backer you can see the results of this at http://www.GoTransat.com/sponsor (you may need to log back into your Kickstarter account). Click on the “Updates” tab, and there’s a video available there. Progress is being made!
4- The batteries are on their way; a big hurdle that we’ve overcome.
5- Ricky’s busy with posters, stickers, and all of the other rewards for our Kickstarter backers
6- The navigation software- it’s always getting better!
7- We’re talking to a rep from a company that sells solar panels- they’re thinking about giving us some for free!
8- Various other little things are happening- website updates, systems mapping, research, etc.
9- Tested the tracking software that we’re using!
Only a few more weeks of college, then it’s onto this project, full time!
Ported some of the blog entries over to this new one! The last blog page was embedded too deeply in the old website to transfer to the new one so we decided to do this instead. The pictures didn’t transfer over so I’ll fix that soon, but there are other fish (and batteries) to fry!
This past weekend we spent quite a bit of time on the project. Significant progress and anti-progress was made this weekend, going in the anti-progress direction when I plugged a little (2AH 6V) battery in backwards and smoked it (some new wire and it works like a champ), and when Brendan was soldering solar panels and broke some things. In the positive direction, however, I can say that the navigation hardware and software are in good shape and will soon be mounted in a test rig that we’ll start to do on-the-water testing with. We have batteries nailed down and are working on a propeller. Things are coming together relatively smoothly and we think that we’re in pretty good shape looking forward. We’re starting our Kickstarter campaign later this week so hopefully we’ll be able to cover a few significant upcoming expenses. We’d like to thank the people whom have supported this project since its infancy:
Dan & Kate O/’Brien
George & Carol Knorr
By the way, navigation on Scout is just like any other boat (>30 foot boats). Waypoints are plotted. When the onboard GPS tells the computer that the boat is within X feet of the waypoint, it marks that point as satisfied and moves on to the next one.