Saturday, 8 March 2014

A Thank You to Trapper John's!

MUN SailBOT would like to thank Trapper John's for hosting us for our fundraiser on Saturday, March 1, 2014. In total we made over $250 at the event and a good time was had by all. The money will be going towards building our new boat as well as the competition costs.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

A New Member of the Family

As of early last week, the MUN SailBOT team has gained a new ally in their quest to solve science once and for all. 
Ladies and gentlemen... Petunia the Pump!

Petunia is a classy pump come up to help all the way from California, USA. She has thus far been a great aid with the development of some components for the new vessel Trixie. These components include a new rudder, a hatch prototype and a test section of the keel. There are sure to be many other items that Petunia will generously lend a hand with - and we look forward to each one!

Left to Right: Petunia and Liam Johnston

Monday, 27 January 2014

"If you can't fix it with a hammer, you've got an electrical problem"

Well it looks like we've got an electrical problem then.  After a long spell of debugging communication issues between the Arduino and the BeagleBone, we had run into another challenge: the GPS.
Pictured above the team has taken the Arctica (the boat) and her sensors outdoors to see if we can get a fix with the GPS.  The GPS is the eyes of Arctica and without it  she would loose all sense of purpose in her life. At the time we couldn't get the GPS to pick up any satellites and thus couldn't get a fix. Either the GPS itself (hardware) or somewhere within the many lines of code that Daniel has hand crafted (software), something wasn't working.

After some background research on the GPS and how it works, along with a new GPS, we managed to get a proper fix.  However nothing is ever easy and we are now faced with the task of sending the way points from the Arduino to the BeagleBone for course plotting.  This involves setting up the "mailing procedure" of the data. This procedure lets the BeagleBone know what it should be receiving (GPS coordinates) and tells it not to sign for the parcel if it thinks it's getting garbage data.

Guess we'll be giving the hammer a rest for a bit. Although some days I'm sure Dan feels that a little persuasion here and there wouldn't hurt.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Keel FEA

** Thank you to Patrick "Paddy" Barry for his help with ANYSY**

The cumulation of many people's work.  The photo below show the results of the Finite Element Analysis (FEA) run on the keel of the new vessel.  The keel was designed by Matt Davidson and lofted in Rhino by Sam Eisener.  From there is was exported to ANSYS where Matha Luiza Vilela Hermann and Plinio Ferreira-Pinto performed the FEA.  The results can be seen in the photo below, revealing 14 mm of tip deflection and a maximum stress of around 100 MPa.

Keel Stress

Keel Deflection

Although only one element of the vessel design,  this analysis demonstrates the amount of team work needed to complete even a small project.  All of the people mentioned above brought unique and necessary skills to the table and through collaboration were able to achieve a far better end result than any of them on their own.

From here the keel will move into the production design stage.  Stay tuned for more developments.

Thursday, 24 October 2013


In a shipyard, a major milestone is reached in when they start cutting steel as it marks the transition from the design stages into the production of the vessel.  While MUN SailBOT doesn't cut steel, we do cut balsa. 

The photo below shows 1/8 balsa sheet being cut into frames for the rudder using a laser cutter.  The rudder was design by Adam Day using XFLR5 (aerodynamic simulation software) and  Rhino (CAD program).  From the 3D Rhino model the shapes of the frames were extracted and exported to the laser cutter.  Although the process of cutting is quite fast,  we encountered numerous problems exporting the geometry of the frames in the correct format and required many test runs. It is thus a rewarding stage to reach as it marks surmounting technical problems and moving into the production of one of the many elements of the new boat.

Laser cutting balsa rudder frames

Monday, 23 September 2013

Wait... What?

Photo Credit: Ryan Williamson 

That is correct, St. John's with not a lick of wind.  After rigging up the boat and carting her down to Long Pond to shake the cobwebs out of the system -both mechanically and electrically- we found ourselves presented with an unusual situation: No Wind.  Although the mechanical elements could be tested manually without wind by using the hand controller, elements such as the GPS and the Autonomous code need vessel movement to invoke any response.  Never for lack of an idea, Austin and Gordo volunteered to tow Arctica around the pond to generate some sensor data  that would give us insight into how the boat is "thinking".

It was a strange sight all-in-all, a sailboat being towed around by a green punt, but a successful evening of tow-testing.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Out of the Box

Following a long rest after the 2013 competition, the Arctica is out of her box.  A preliminary test of her components revealed that all-systems-are-go and that testing can begin on Long Pond.  The preliminary testing is aimed at debugging the errors in the code that were discovered at the competition in Boston.  Once these bugs have been eradicated, the code will be refined to improve both our autonomous navigation and sail handling.

Stay tuned for future developments!