Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Arduino autopilot that Jack built

Autopilot kit for sale. Only $350, some assembly required. Jack Edwards, a mechanical, engineer, loom builder (yes as in weaving), and many other things in his professional career has built a functioning Ardunio based sail boat auto pilot system. The little Ardunios have piloted his aptly named boat the Wile E. Coyote over 400 miles this summer using both heading, and GPS track mode with cross track error correction. There are some chores left to complete such as wind instrument integration, but it's an impressive success with such a tiny capital outlay. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

December 25th

“I once bought my kids a set of batteries for Christmas with a note on it saying, toys not included.
-Bernard Manning

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Boaters "Twelve Days of Christmas

On the twelfth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
twelve bankruptcy attorneys
eleven plumbers plumbing
ten canvas stichers
nine genset repairmen
eight mechanics wrenching
seven electricians shorting
six gelcoat fixers
five golden props
four Sea Tows a towing
three insurance agents
two bottom divers
and a boat in a marin a

Merry Christmas to all from Bill, Kate, and the greyhound girls.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Marine Concepts facility visit.

Building a production boat is like a recipe for Cajun Gumbo. First you start with a roux, or in our case a boat plug and mold. Most production boats are now designed using CAD (Computer Aided Design) software. This process yields many advantages. The design output is very precise. Hydrodynamic and stability characteristics are modeled, along with displacement, water resistance, and much more.

If a mold's plug is going to be CNC/robotically milled the design complexity of the plug can be increased well past the point where humans can efficiently hand make them. For example bait wells, storage compartments, anchor locker, or console can all be integrated into one deck mold.

More complex hull shapes, steps and strake designs are now possible. Some CAD software can model pulling parts from a mold by checking for interference problems before construction. This answers questions like, "Can my design with a reverse transom actually be released from the mold?"

The first thing I noticed about my visit to JRL Ventures/Marine Concepts is the vocabulary. The main term used is "Tooling". Using this word is a reflection of the way they see their business, and technologies they apply.

Boeing and Lockheed use tooling. The boat builder historically uses molds. They're exactly the same thing, but the mind-set between these two words can often be huge. Tooling in my mind immediately implies aerospace grade precision, and this is what Marine Concepts is all about. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Verado/Uflex Autopilot Hydraulic Plumbing DIY 101

Installing a autopilot with a Verado or the Ulex equivalent steering system is not difficult, but it does come with some nuances. These systems come with a proprietary high pressure power steering assist pump, and helm pump. Despite this, the plumbing is pretty straight forward, but the fittings and hoses are different. In this case we are installing a Raymarine system, but the process is similar for the other systems.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The saga of Bob's Boathouse restaurant

The permit application for the new Bob's Boathouse restaurant in Sarasota was applied for in April 2010, and granted in September 2010. Construction moved at a pace not unlike the slow drift of continents apart. With great fanfare though they finally opened after over three years of construction in November. Bob's Boathouse restaurant was back in Sarasota after a decade long hiatus.

The building site selected for Sarasota's first Bob's Boathouse restaurant was a pastoral piece of waterfront property at the end of Old Stickney Point Rd on Siesta Key. It consisted of a small retail building, a tiny stand alone wine and beer bar, and a half a dozen quaint (spelled dilapidated) wood framed cottages, one of which I lived in during the early seventies.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The reverse polarity light AC leaking musing

If white touches green, your boat can get mean. What this freshly made up maxim means is the neutral white AC wires are never supposed to be connected to the green grounding wires on your boat period. Well almost, the gods of technical details say there is a small exception to this rule, and it is the reverse polarity light.