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ripzay
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Re: Auton, The Autonomous Sail Boat

Fri Aug 10, 2012 11:53 am

Another option is to use short - medium wave radio and 'bounce' the signal off the atmosphere - however this is pretty difficult to get right, and there will undoubtably be regulation around the use of the radio frequencies required to perform such a feat - i believe this is how the very first trans-atlantic radio transmissions were done, so i'm unsure if this can be done without the two endpoints being at fixed distances from eachother....

Only issues i see with this - other than the complexity of the transceiver modules, would be antenna size and construction, as well as reliability.. also depends just how much data you want the vessel to send back to you!

Food for thought :P

nabberuk
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Re: Auton, The Autonomous Sail Boat

Fri Aug 10, 2012 11:56 am

ripzay wrote:Another option is to use short - medium wave radio and 'bounce' the signal off the atmosphere - however this is pretty difficult to get right, and there will undoubtably be regulation around the use of the radio frequencies required to perform such a feat - i believe this is how the very first trans-atlantic radio transmissions were done, so i'm unsure if this can be done without the two endpoints being at fixed distances from eachother....

Only issues i see with this - other than the complexity of the transceiver modules, would be antenna size and construction, as well as reliability.. also depends just how much data you want the vessel to send back to you!

Food for thought :P
certainly food for thought! Need to factor in power requirements too. Regarding the data, it would be compressed text files (well compressed if it makes a difference). I'd like an image to be sent but i think that might be too expensive to transmit.
the autonomous sailing boat: www.autonboat.com

nabberuk
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Re: Auton, The Autonomous Sail Boat

Fri Aug 10, 2012 11:57 am

ripzay wrote:
nabberuk wrote:
SladerZ wrote:How are you communicating with the boat in sea?
It's looking like the only way will be satellite link. But it is rather expensive.
How are you intending on doing the satellite link ?

The only way i would know of being able to do this and keep the cost down is to rent a satellite phone and hold it on board the vessel - lots of the modern satellite phones have a USB port on them for data linking.

Just interested that's all!
Certainly a possibility, any idea's are welcome as i'm pretty sure i won't have all the answers!
the autonomous sailing boat: www.autonboat.com

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SladerZ
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Re: Auton, The Autonomous Sail Boat

Fri Aug 10, 2012 12:09 pm

but you are alone on this project ?

because I saw it (School project i think)
http://www.kelrobot.fr/2011/07/06/iboat ... ot-bateau/

and this one (Ifremer : http://wwz.ifremer.fr/institut/)

http://websites.isae.fr/objectif-microtransat-1/

nabberuk
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Re: Auton, The Autonomous Sail Boat

Fri Aug 10, 2012 12:15 pm

SladerZ wrote:but you are alone on this project ?

because I saw it (School project i think)
http://www.kelrobot.fr/2011/07/06/iboat ... ot-bateau/

and this one (Ifremer : http://wwz.ifremer.fr/institut/)

http://websites.isae.fr/objectif-microtransat-1/
yeah i've seen a few of those already. I'm not doing this alone at the moment, there's already one other person on the team but more are welcome.
the autonomous sailing boat: www.autonboat.com

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Jim JKla
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Re: Auton, The Autonomous Sail Boat

Fri Aug 10, 2012 1:25 pm

This is a project rife for a sponsorship deal.

I was also wondering about SW radio link.

There are a lot of ships out there that may be willing to relay signals.

As for flexible solar cells you would be supprised how light and thin they have been made to make them viable for satellites.

I suppose it also depends on your vessel size.
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Mortimer
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Re: Auton, The Autonomous Sail Boat

Fri Aug 10, 2012 1:55 pm

In a sail boat that size I wouldn't want anything added to the sails that adds to their weight and stiffness. On a large yacht you might get away with it, but at this scale you want the sails as flexible and light as possible, without giving away too much strength to handle the worst wind conditions.

A bit late now, but a wide catamaran hull with the deck plastered with solar cells might have been an idea. It would also have improved stability and reduced the required sail area to maintain a given speed. On the other hand, building a self righting catamaran would be very difficult, if not impossible, challenge.
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colinsauze
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Re: Auton, The Autonomous Sail Boat

Tue Aug 14, 2012 3:57 pm

If you want to do satellite comms you could try the Spot connect (http://www.findmespot.com/en/index.php?cid=116) which lets you send custom 40 character messages via its bluetooth interface. It won't be enough to do images, but could be ok for sending back position reports and some other basic info like battery state, wind direction etc. The downside of this is that its a one way transmit only system, so you just have to send the message and hope it gets through.

For about double the price you can get an Iridium 9602 (http://www.satphone.co.uk/hardware/irid ... ransceiver), this lets you send a few hundred bytes at a time and arrives as an email at a predesignated account. You can also send an email to the device. As its a two way system you can actually get some confirmation that your message has been transmitted. Iridium has true global coverage, unlike Globalstar network used by Spot.

The last team to try the Microtransat (ENSTA-Bretagne from Brest in France) just used a Spot which was only transmitting internmittently to begin with and then stopped all together after a couple of days. Their boat might still be sailing the correct course, but they now have no idea where it is! Just shows how important a good tracking system is. Might be worth having two or three different systems if you can, perhaps GSM near the shore, Iridium at sea and some kind of radio beacon based system too.

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Mortimer
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Re: Auton, The Autonomous Sail Boat

Tue Aug 14, 2012 4:57 pm

It will be a stretch, but it might be possible to get an organisation like SarSat to allow you install a PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) and forward the information to you. The system is intended to aid in the recovery of people and craft in distress, but they might be interested in a project like this, if only to evaluate continuity of cover across the areas of ocean you intend to sail.

The kit isn't cheap though, so you would probably need to have them fully involved in the project and willing to sponsor the PLB part of it.
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Jim JKla
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Re: Auton, The Autonomous Sail Boat

Tue Aug 14, 2012 8:17 pm

I know there's some stuff that tracks wide ranging sea animals like turtles and also some of the deep divers that they attach recording devices to that stay on for about a year these eventually detach and float and they then upload the data.

This equipment has to be cheap to be used as throw away.

NASA and JPL have equipment uploading data from the surface of Mars they are sending full colour pictures all you need is a signal akin to a shortwave morse signal providing location.

Maybe some of the HAM Radio community could be of help? ;)
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colinsauze
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Re: Auton, The Autonomous Sail Boat

Wed Aug 15, 2012 11:19 am

The system for tracking animals is called Argos http://www.argos-system.org, but I think its reserved for scientific uses like animal tracking only. They aren't cheap though, this site has them on sale for over US $3000 http://www.microwavetelemetry.com/bird/ ... prices.cfm.

If you want to go down the amatuer radio route, something which has been discussed on the Microtransat list is using QRSS, WSPR, both of which transmit at very low bandwidths but using very low power and long range transmitters. see http://wsprnet.org and http://www.w0ch.net/qrss/qrss.htm.

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Jim JKla
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Re: Auton, The Autonomous Sail Boat

Wed Aug 15, 2012 12:41 pm

Put an animal on the boat. :D
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Mortimer
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Re: Auton, The Autonomous Sail Boat

Wed Aug 15, 2012 12:53 pm

Boat tracking device and service : http://www.advanced-tracking.com/PBCPPl ... ID=1147722

Quite expensive : €399
Plus monthly fee : €15, which includes 90 position reports a month.
Quite big (for a very small boat) : 82 x 165 x 25mm and weighs 385g

It does however contain its own batteries, which apparently last 3 years.
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tech_monkey
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Re: Auton, The Autonomous Sail Boat

Wed Aug 15, 2012 3:32 pm

Great idea by the way.
Why not make it a trimaran. With mission critical stuff in the centre hull, like comms, pi , GPS and power. Outer hulls would have aux power and sensors.
Since the boat is moving why not have a small propeller in the water which turns as the boat is moving and then use this to generate power or to charge batteries. I have used larger versions to power towed equipment at sea.
The whole system needs to be able to power itself up if for some reason there is a loss of power. Or to conserve power because the batteries are failing to keep up with demand, so it switches off then once power is at a suitable lever switches back on. another reason for aux power, as you could divert power from the sensors to power the Pi etc. Ok you loose sensors, but if it means your boat can keep going its better than nothing. So I think power should be able to keep mission critical things running for at least 3 to 4 days if the charger fails, maybe longer if you go into a low power mode.

Comms is a tough one, as anything with the word satellite in it means add a few zeros. Best would be some form of text based message service. and try and compact the message as much as possible. Plus you need to think about what is important and what is not. So to send say
24º 50' 19.2" N 48º 00" 10.2"W Time 15:00 Date 15/08/2012 Air temp 22º water temp 17º
You could send it like this
02450192N04800102W@1500D150812AT2217
Then decode it when you get the message. You could use letters of the alphabet to send temp, a=0º j=10º etc.

Using Short wave radio may be possible but downside is atmospheric conditions can play havoc.
GSM not really possible since the time you need to know where the boat is its out of GSM range.
These links might help http://www.telemetrysolutions.com/gps-d ... -birds.php
http://www.satellitephonestore.com/cata ... -telemetry
I think you will need 2 way comms as you may need to adjust the boats course due to weather or make the odd course correction manually.

Sail needs to be hard wearing. Or you could use some form of solid aerofoil (think vertical aircraft wing). Or thinking really outside of the box what about a vertical axis sail rotor or two.

Will need a radar reflector, Navigation lights, and nav beacons.

Oh and everything needs to be more waterproof than a waterproof thing. Plus it will bounce around a fair bit. So some form of shock absorption, then there will be heat problems. Oh and what about barnacles and seaweed. Don't need too many goose neck barnacles before the boat struggles to move. These things grow at an alarming rate, about a week for them to start causing drag.

Get sponsorship, you never know you could get some really big names behind it.

Oh and lastly stick a sticker on it saying if found please phone 1234567
http://www.casatech.eu

tech_monkey
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Re: Auton, The Autonomous Sail Boat

Wed Aug 15, 2012 3:39 pm

Just had another thought. Solar cells won't actually last very long as they will get covered with salt water, which will dry and possible leave a nice salty crust so efficiency will go down.
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Ravenous
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Re: Auton, The Autonomous Sail Boat

Wed Aug 15, 2012 3:59 pm

I have always wondered about the wing sail idea, I think it might be worth trying for an automated model (maybe less rigging to handle), but not sure if it would work. Some problems I see are (1) maybe it can't be retracted in really rough weather and (2) it might not be possible to trim it fore-aft, if that refinement is necessary.

Using a propeller (turbine?) to generate electricity would probably work for a big boat - but it must introduce some drag, and this thing might have trouble tacking upwind already...

Switching power back on for a reset - maybe such a thing would be possible using the solar panel - i.e. the battery manager can flip the power back on if the computer is down. The panel will always power on daily, weather (and salt) permitting. Maybe... (I thought something similar of the FishPi project.)

colinsauze
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Re: Auton, The Autonomous Sail Boat

Wed Aug 15, 2012 5:07 pm

While salt on solar panels will reduce their efficiency, it shouldn't be enough to stop them working all together. They use solar panels on buoys and wave gliders (see http://www.liquidr.com. Unless its really clam you can expect the panels to get washed over fairly often.

Putting a propeller (or wind turbine on) will cause drag and could get covered in seaweed/barnacles.

On the subject of stuff growing on the boat, make sure you paint the hull in anti fouling paint, it won't stop stuff growing but it will slow it down.

If you do a trimaran (or catamaran), you have to worry about its stability, they have a habit of being more stable upside down!

p.s. if you want to discuss this sort of thing with others who've been thinking about it, trying to solve it or have tried to do it, sign up to the microtransat mailing list http://www.microtransat.org/mailing-list.php.

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Jim JKla
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Re: Auton, The Autonomous Sail Boat

Wed Aug 15, 2012 8:00 pm

colinsauze wrote:If you do a trimaran (or catamaran), you have to worry about its stability, they have a habit of being more stable upside down!
Build it upside down put the sail into the current. ;)
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nabberuk
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Re: Auton, The Autonomous Sail Boat

Thu Aug 16, 2012 4:10 pm

Jim JKla wrote:This is a project rife for a sponsorship deal.

I was also wondering about SW radio link.

There are a lot of ships out there that may be willing to relay signals.

As for flexible solar cells you would be supprised how light and thin they have been made to make them viable for satellites.

I suppose it also depends on your vessel size.
I'll be contacting some of the bigger companies to beg, i mean ask politely for the satellite side of things. Not sure if anyone will be interested but certainly worth a try.
the autonomous sailing boat: www.autonboat.com

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Jim JKla
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Re: Auton, The Autonomous Sail Boat

Thu Aug 16, 2012 5:47 pm

Noob is not derogatory the noob is just the lower end of the noob--geek spectrum being a noob is just your first step towards being an uber-geek ;)

If you find a solution please post it in the wiki the forum dies too quick

nabberuk
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Re: Auton, The Autonomous Sail Boat

Fri Aug 17, 2012 9:04 am

thanks!

I'm currently looking at additional ways to generate power. One idea was to drag a reversed propeller behind the boat. This would turn a motor on the boat to generate the power.

Does this sound like a crazy idea because i like crazy ideas!
the autonomous sailing boat: www.autonboat.com

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Mortimer
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Re: Auton, The Autonomous Sail Boat

Fri Aug 17, 2012 9:52 am

On yachts that I have sailed, nothing like that has ever been installed, mostly because I have only ever sailed racing yachts or racing/cruisers. I hear that driving generators from free wheeling prop shaft is fairly common in non-racing cruisers, where speed isn't so important. One racing/cruiser I sailed had a wind generator. I do think that like many things, these types of power generation don't scale down very well. At small sizes, they become quite inefficient, and may not produce enough power to be viable.

As an example, the racing cruiser was a 41 foot yacht, which had a 200W wind generator, a 50W solar panel and of course the main engine which had two 200A alternators. We were sailing non stop for 11 days, and we still had to run the engine every couple of days for a couple of hours to ensure the 800Ah of leisure batteries were kept above 50%. We were running a water maker though, which eat power, but this was only use when the engine was running, and I think was powered by one of the alternators on the engine. As an aside this was a neat trick. The boat used to have a 200l diesel tank and 800l water tank. The owner had them swapped around, so he could take 800l of diesel and just have a 200l water tank. The reason being that running the engine and burning 1l of diesel produced 5l of drinking water, effectively multiplying the water capacity.

If you go with something like this, you would probably need to have a way of disabling a towed generator or wind generator, when the drag is too much in the wrong direction. The wind generator is on a folding mast for example, so it can be lowered out of the wind.
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Jim JKla
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Re: Auton, The Autonomous Sail Boat

Fri Aug 17, 2012 11:58 am

I wonder if you could utalise the salinity of the water in some way?
Noob is not derogatory the noob is just the lower end of the noob--geek spectrum being a noob is just your first step towards being an uber-geek ;)

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nabberuk
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Re: Auton, The Autonomous Sail Boat

Fri Aug 17, 2012 12:25 pm

Jim JKla wrote:I wonder if you could utalise the salinity of the water in some way?
I've looked into it, but i think we'd need some sort of reactor and that would eventually wear out.

I could wrong on this though.
the autonomous sailing boat: www.autonboat.com

AndrewBuchinger
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Re: Auton, The Autonomous Sail Boat

Fri Aug 17, 2012 4:20 pm

nabberuk wrote:I did look into putting solar cells onto the sail but bendable cells aren't really available.
Not true. Thanks to the research of a New Hampshire company (that is now bankrupt) there are a ton off flexible solar alternatives.

http://www.powerfilmsolar.com/rollable- ... oducts.php

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