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Monthly Archive: September 2014

9

Maritime Robotx Challenge & the WAM-V USV, heads up!

QUT Maritime RobotX challenge WAM-V courtesy QUT.JPG

Right now it’s possible to come upon an unmanned surface vessel (USV) like this trying to navigate waterways all over the world, though rest assured that there will be a boat load of attentive geeks nearby. That’s because fifteen student/professor engineering teams from five countries have been given a basic 16-foot WAM-V articulating catamaran to which they are adding propulsion and control systems for the upcoming Maritime RobotX Challenge in Singapore. The contest strikes me as a great way to accelerate robotics development, but of course one eventuality is unmanned vessels roaming the coasts. In fact, that may already be happening…

17

Appreciating fuel management, wanting more

Gizmo_running_down_LIS_cPanbo.jpg

Gizmo is fenders down, awning up, in bustling Baltimore Harbor, and I have tales to tell. This old powerboat sails! That’s no surprise given her windage, but now I have precise data about how much wind (and current) can help her along thanks to a fuel management system. In this photo, for instance, we were making around 10 knots over the ground at 1,350 RPM but still getting over three miles to a gallon thanks to a stiff easterly wind pushing us down Long Island Sound. That’s a wake-pulling, inefficient RPM when running on flat summer water in Maine, but is much easier on crew and autopilot when in following seas like these. While I’m usually willing to spend more fuel money to shoulder through conditions like this, I was pleased to learn that the dollar difference wasn’t great…

7

Antenna masts: Edson Vision & more

Gizmo_10-2014_antenna_farm_cPanbo.jpg

So far, so good. Finishing up Gizmo’s antenna mast was the last minute task before heading south, but nothing fell on our heads during the often lively passage to the Cape Cod Canal and around into Long Island Sound. Most of the new installs up there worked too, though we experienced a couple of very odd MFD issues that I’ll write up once I understand them better. For the time being I’ll just repeat a venerable adage: Do not rely on any one source of navigation information. Now let’s discuss the Edson Vision and custom mounting hardware I used for the antenna farm…

8

Gizmo south: TFU, IBEX, NMEA, HSR & other self promotions

TrawlerFest_U_Baltimore_electronics_cPanbo.jpg

I didn’t write the seminar title, but I do understand the value of a grabby headline and I’m excited about being part of the entirely revised TrawlerFest in Baltimore. Paul Comyns and I will make a valiant attempt to cover all the important electronics bases for the knowledge-hungry long-range-cruisers-to-be that tend to take the all-day “TF University” courses. An interesting added challenge for the presenters is to provide money-saving tips. I’m already working on concepts like how GPS, AIS, and improved signal processing have made it possible to “make do” with a smaller radar, but please suggest other reasonable cost-cutting strategies. And TFU is just the beginning of my fall speaking engagements, one or more of which you might want to attend or at least kibbutz about…