Sunday, October 30, 2016

Quadmaran model testing 10/16

With the latest 3D printed floats we have a new model and tested it in several different wave conditions.    These videos were shot at 8x and then slowed by 1.5 for a net slowdown of 5.3.  This is about right for the scaling factor of this model.  So how fast you see the model tipping is how fast the full scale boat would tip in full scale waves.

We put either my Tiva shoes or a sandwich bag of sand to get the boat to float at the right trim.

First in small waves.   This design does not move much in small waves.  This is good.

Next in small waves but there was some swell or passing boat that caused some rocking.  This is not ideal and I think if the center part of the float were to smoothly curve from the bottom to the top instead of just going straight up that up down motion would go away as waves more and so the boat would stop rocking faster.   We will experiment with this new float shape in coming models.

Next tested in a pool.

Then what are sort of medium ocean waves for this sized model.  Still looking good.
And the same medium waves but also two large waves coming by.  It handles these 2 large waves very well.
Last some large confused waves.   These are large enough that in real life you would try not to be in them.  Like you would stay in a harbor if the full scale ocean was going to be this rough, or navigate to avoid a storm like this.  But the boat must be able to survive these and probably even worse.  I think it does fine.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Quadmaran 3D taking on water

Teryn modified the 3D model so it has more waterline area. These are not as thin in the middle.  These are a little bigger than the last set.  However, we had not fix all the overhangs of more than 45 degrees and so it leaked.  We put on some waterproofing but it was not enough and some still leaked.  The test below was this morning and Teryn has since fixed the design and we started printing on the next set of 4 floats.  These will be even bigger.

Look what is at the end of the rainbow

Taking on water in the front
Slow-mo but since the front edge is touching water it is not really working the way it is supposed to yet.  Next version in a few days (about 1 day to print each float).

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Starting on Aluminum Quadmaran

Teryn cut the first piece as we started work on our aluminum quadmaran.

I did the first welding on our aluminum quadmaran:

However, it did not go so well.  Our training welds (see below) were much different.  The first boat weld was in a corner unlike any of the training welds.  I was not as prepared as I thought I was.  Probably need some more practice.

Anyway, aluminum is cut and we have started!

Aluminum is cut

Started welding
So earlier key lessons are:
   1) Must clean aluminum surface with stainless steel wire brush to get off aluminum oxide.
   2) Power level to use depends on what exactly you are welding.  Should be an app for this but
         there is a sliding card.
   3) Wind matters.  Want to block as much as you can.

And from this new stuff we learned:
    1) for welding inside a corner you should use different electrodes that can hold a point,
         like red ones.   The grey ones we have melt and ball up.   This does not reach into the
         corner so well.
    2) May want a smaller gas shield to reach into the corner

We have ordered some red TIG electrodes and will start welding again when they get here in 2 or 3 weeks.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Quadmaran 3D with patch

Amoni and I made some thin pieces of foam with the hot-wire cutter.  Then we attached them to the very thin part of the 3D printed floats with quickties.  This made the model work really well.  All it needed was a bit more flotation near the waterline. We took the SWATH idea too far and had to back off a bit.   See video below.

The batteries were dead on our good slow-mo camera so we had to use my cell phone.  The sun was bouncing off the water to the camera.  So this is not great video but the model worked really well.

Update next morning with slow-mo video:

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Welding delays and rats

So it turns out these "gas shields" on the welder get red hot and break easily.  An experienced welder would know this and have a number of boxes of replacement parts.  We, on the other hand, will be getting boxes of these from Amazon soon.  We can't weld till they come.   On tropical islands Amazon does not have 1 day delivery.  Anyone know why Amazon does not make it easy to pick DHL or FedEx for overnight delivery to anywhere in the world for urgent things like this?  

A rat was in our welder.  Now we have rat poison.

And glue traps.

And mechanical traps.  And new "Rat Zapper" electronic traps on the way from Amazon.  Old Rat Zapper gave up the ghost.

Rats are a problem with having the welder outside that I had not thought of.  There is a water tank and cooling system that a rat could damage to get at the water.   This is troublesome enough I am thinking some of moving to someplace where we could have a nice shop/work area.

3D printing our own hull shapes and testing model

We can now print nice parts on our own printer

This has a lot of plastic in the hollow areas.  It is heavier than it needs to be. We will experiment with the settings for filling in and reduce the weight on future prints.

There are 4 places in the current design that went straight sideways over open space.  This is not something our 3D printer can do well.   Some printers with 2 print heads can make support structures out of a material that you can easily dissolve later.  Because of this these 4 sections on our part are messy and and had holes in them, so they were not waterproof.  It is sort of amazing that they printed at all.   We use gorilla-foaming-glue and then also painted the parts with Styrospray to make them waterproof.  Then we used quick ties to attach the 4 printed floats to a platform.
It can tip to either side and stay there
When the model tipped there was enough more weight on the down side that it would not come back up.  So we need more flotation at the waterline.  This is also very sensitive to the amount of weight.  The next shape we want to try is with the thin part as long as the rest of the float.   This will give more waterline area but no more drag.

We now have the ability to 3D print floats but we do not yet have the perfect float shape.  We can keep trying different shapes easily enough now.   If we do the designs right they should be waterproof without any glue or painting.

Note that this float design did not work well enough to even try in waves.  We will get further along soon.

If we rotate the part 45 degrees in the printer so it is going diagonally across the print bed we can print rather large parts.   We will do this at some point.   The bigger the floats the more weight the model can carry.  So we want bigger floats if we are going to put on batteries, solar, motors etc.

Along with testing float shapes we also want to eventually make 3 models that we make into drones so we can develop software for a train of our boats connected together.   Turning in a train of boats will be different than for a single boat.  The boats need to work together.   We want this software working well before we get to full scale and far more expensive boats.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

3D Printing Learning Curve

 Last night we made our first attempt at printing a boat part.    It was not completely successful.  :-)   First, we intended to print something about half this in each direction or 1/8th the total volume.  Ooops.  Second, the base seems not to be strong enough and the object seems to have wobbled as it got higher.

There is a learning curve on using new tech, so one should not expect everything to work perfectly the first time.  :-)

We can make the base and float merge together so it is a stronger connection.
We can have the heating pad go off after the first few layers, which might make them harder and less wobbly.  We can have a honey-comb structure inside so it is not just hollow.   There are lots of other things to try as well.  Of course printing a smaller object should help.

We put the  printer at work for several reasons.  There is more free room at work.  There is a cat at home that I could imagine attacking the machine or scratching it or at least getting hair into something.   It makes noise but in the office it is far enough from where I work not to bother me.  Also it seems a fun window display that people might find interesting.  However, we may need to set up a web cam so we can check the progress of 3D prints from home. 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Welding and a Workbench

 Ethan, Teryn, Morrel, and I are trying to learn how to TIG weld.  Morrel has welded aluminum using MIG, so he is kind of a ringer.
 Teryn is playing with 200 amps of current.  Ethan in orange.  Need to tighten the side things so that mask does not fall down.
 Morrel and I made a workbench.
 So we had a place for a chop saw and a grinder.
Amoni and I painted it.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Welder and 3D Printer on same day!

We were delayed because the tank delivered to us was not really Argon and then the guy going to teach us how to weld was busy carnival week.  But today we really started welding. 

Also got our 3D printer yesterday and got a test print going today.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Parts for Quadmaran 14

We have collected parts for building our next Quadmaran.  The floats, solar panels, trolling motors, and aluminum.    Also have a welding machine.   Had to get the machine here, get it wired up, and get some Argon gas.   But learning to weld aluminum and making this boat is our summer project.

Monday, July 18, 2016

First 3D Printing Experiment

3D Test 1
We are getting into 3D printing.  It is nice for testing ideas with scale model boats.  Also, if we want to make multiple models to test out software for a train of boats it would be nice to be able to just 3D print parts for the boats.

For our first 3D printing experiment we just paid to print the design.   We also got a new friend in their forum that did the 3D design.   We are now learning FreeCAD since that is what he used and it looks good.   We can open his design and make small changes so far.   The ShapeWays price goes up fast with the weight of the object so we printed 4 very small floats.  

The idea we are looking at here is a sort of 4 float SWATH design.  There is minimal flotation at the waterline so the waterline can go up and down with waves without changing the lift of the float very much, so not much tipping.  This should make for a very stable platform.   I think the idea is very promising and we will explore this more.

This model is really too small to make a good test in the winds of Anguilla.   I have always used outdoor wave tanks (pools and ocean) and so don't have control over the wind.   This means winds are always very high for my scale models.  When I get to 5 foot models it is like we are testing house size boats in simulated hurricane conditions, which is ok.  But smaller than that does not really work. But the point this test was really to test 3D printing.  That did work.

We have ordered a 3D printer so we can print our own larger floats and will do so as soon as it gets here.   Takes a couple weeks for stuff to get here.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Core Concept

This list is ordered starting with the most important:

1) Solar electric blue water family liveaboard yacht.
2) Yachts can connect together to form a train of yachts.
3) Want to maximize sq-footage-of-living-space/total-cost-of-ownership (maximize space available not weight capacity).  Should be much lighter and cheaper than other boats with this much living space.  For a solar powered boat we want lots of area for solar but not too much weight.
4) Shape and position of hulls makes yacht extremely resistant to capsize or sinking without any active stabilization.
5) Shape of hulls provides gentle and quiet motion both underway and in harbor.  Less sudden motion than comparable length/price monohull or catamaran.
6) Want simple operation and maintenance, no need to hire crew.  Also high levels of redundancy so there is no need to panic after a failure.
7) Relatively slow cruising speed, estimating 3 to 5 knots, but enough solar and battery to be able to keep moving 24 hours a day.

I think my Quadmaran design can achieve the above goals but their could be something even better.

There is also a long version of the concept.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Liveabord Quadmaran Concept

I wanted to put down some key ideas as we start thinking about building a boat large enough to live on.  I think after we finish the 2 person version with the red plastic floats we will next focus on the design for one large enough to live on.  This will be an all aluminum design.   This may be large enough after 2 or 3 are connected together or large enough as one unit.  Not yet sure what the size will be.

1) The design will be solar-electric.  This makes operating costs low.  No need to buy fuel.  It makes repairs few and easy.  Electric motors and solar panels are very reliable.  It makes it reasonable to have high levels of redundancy to where the boat is still safe even if something breaks.     It makes computer control easy.  It will be slow and quiet.  Unlike sail you will not need lots of knowledge and skill to operate with reasonable safety.   We could have a small generator to be used in case of too many cloudy days in a row but would not have any gasoline engines directly connected to propellers.

2) If you are going slow and don't have a sail to help stabilize the boat then stability is an issue.  We think the Quadmaran design is a good way to address the stability issue for a slow moving boat.   This also means that the boat will be particularly stable while at a mooring.  Most boats really spend most of their time parked.

3) We want unusually high levels of redundancy, which we think solar/electric makes easier. We will probably use 4 sets of motor/propeller and have a spare onboard.    The boat should be able to operate well enough with at least one working motor/propeller on each side.   The solar and battery will be separated into 4 units so that damage to one would at most take out one motor.  Individual solar panels could also be replaced, though they don't seem to fail often.

4) We want to be able to connect several boats together as a train.  This will make it possible to create a larger space by simply connecting some boats together.  It will make it possible for a few families to travel together with only one person on watch.  It will make working together on a project with other people possible.   It will make buying/selling/trading while in the ocean easier.  You could have a community of people traveling together.  There could be a doctor, a hydroponics boat, some canned goods store, etc.  Also note that several boats connected together can make for even more redundancy and fault tolerance.  If a watermaker broke on one boat you could run a hose from another, etc.

5) This boat will be fine for moorings and anchorages but not so good for marinas.  It will take up lots of space which is costly in a marina.   In the Caribbean moorings and anchorages are common but in very populated cities around the US coast marinas seem to be the norm.   It is ok if we are limited to markets like the Caribbean.

6) We feel that current sail and powerboats, on average, appeal much more to men than women.  We think this is partly because existing sail and powerboats have some thrill, challenge, adventure, and camping characteristics that appeal more to men than women.  We would like this boat to appeal more to women than the average boat.   We want the boat to feel safe, secure, calm, and like a home.    We want the usual comforts found in any middle class American home.   Things like hot water, dish washer, washing machine, dryer, full size sink, full sized kitchen, no hot pots sliding off the stove, toilette that operates with a simple flush lever,  king sized bed, plenty of closet space, plenty of water, etc.   At least the master-bedroom should have air-conditioning.   It should not be "roughing it" like camping.   The chances of getting hurt by ropes or metal object on this boat should be very low.  Regular boats draw blood far too often.

7) We would like to have plenty of space but easily operated by a family with no need to hire a crew.   Today it is too often that people get a boat smaller than they would really like so that they can operate it themselves.   This boat should be large enough and still easy to operate.

8) In order to get lots of solar we probably want solar panels that extend off to the sides.  These can have a support bar like Caribbean shutters so that if high winds are a danger these solar panels can be lowered.  To do this we would want to be able to reach all of the support bars.  This could be done through windows or a walkway around the outside of the boat.

9) The cost of a boat is roughly proportional to the weight but homes are valued by the square-footage.  We want this boat to have lots of square-footage for the weight compared to other boats.  We think this Quadmaran design can excel in this metric.  If we can offer more space than other boats in our price range it should give us at least a niche where we have the advantage.

10) This boat will be slower than most other boats.  The propellers will be very large to get the best thrust out of the smaller Hp engines we can power with solar.  The hope is that it feels like a comfortable home when in a harbor and also while moving on the ocean so that passages are pleasant and not something that must be tolerated.

11) When possible the design will keep heavy things near the corners of the boat.  This will give the boat more rotational inertia and help minimize tipping.  In particular the batteries will be distributed around the corners with 1/4 of the weight near each corner.

12) We would like this to be priced low enough that a large number of people could just sell their house and use the money to buy this boat.  Probably have several models starting at the smaller end and later making larger versions.  We don't need too many different versions since you will always have the option of adding on other units to give you more space.  So the size steps may be large.

13) All 4 floats should be filled with foam and enough nooks and crannies in the living area that there is no way this boat could sink.    I think if there was enough foam above the ceiling in the living area the boat could even have a chance to recover if it were tipped.  I think the boat should be very hard to tip.  There is no sail for the wind to push on.   A wave from the side can not make the side go up nearly as fast as in a catamaran and cruising catamarans, even with sails, hardly every tip.

14) Using a dishing machine the two halves of a float can be made quickly.

15) There are several reasons why a tube shaped body seems interesting.  It would be aerodynamic for the volume.  Sort of like an airplane body.   It would not catch more wind from the side if it started to tip (assuming any folding solar panels were folded down).   If a wave hit the bottom it could be strong enough and it would not pound like some catamarans.  If it is corrugated it will hold the round shape well and attaching metal running the length of it can reinforce the tube for stresses going along the length.   The tube could act like a giant beam for the forces of connecting boats together.   It could also handle twisting forces if the front two floats were trying to roll the boat left and the back two floats were trying to roll the boat right.  Also, it seems simple to fabricate.  Fewer different part types.  Easier to eventually get a robot to weld.

16) Older retired couples are a good potential market.  If they are retired and their kids are grown they really can sell their house and buy a boat.  However, they probably don't have much income so buying fuel for a powerboat is not easy and getting older it can be hard to handle a sailboat.   Something new like the Quadmaran could serve them better.   Many older couples would like a safe boat, with a gentle ride, that they could manage on their own, and did not require fuel.   So I think there is a sizable market niche with money.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Dishing Machines - forming metal plate into bowl shap

Starting with a flat sheet of steel this machine makes it into a bowl shape.   There are companies that do "aluminum fabrication services" that would have such machines and could make two halves of my float shape out of aluminum.  Also companies forming plate for ships.   Aluminum is softer than steel and so should be even easier to form.  So 8 of these and some welding and I could have 4 floats for a larger size quadmaran in the future.

There are also Phanishing hammers that are like small rapid dishing presses.  Since aluminum is softer these may work for thick enough size to be interesting, at least for small ones like the red plastic ones we have.

There are general aluminum robot welders:

Here is a page that talks about going from plate to nice dish ends.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Next Quadmaran design

Still figuring out the design but currently thinking of an aluminum frame like the black part below.  The red being the floats.  Center being a net that you would lay down on.  Want the design to be such that if we build 2 we can connect them together in a train as we did the smaller models.  Front would have a hitch but facing forward, not down like a normal trailer hitch.  Back would have a ball but facing back, not up.   Above all this would be some lighter weight frame for some very light solar panels.   People on the trampoline would be in the shade from the solar panels.  

Floats for quadmaran large enough to carry people

 Our floats came today!

 Now to unwrap them.

For packing there is a bar connecting two together and Amoni is sitting on that.

 The two pairs are connected together and Amoni is lifting one of each pair up.
 Easier to just lift a pair together.
 Looking past our Mars Experiment to the new floats outside.
 The volume is close to that of a 55 gallon drum.   Salt water is about 8.6 lbs per gallon.  So 55 gallons displaces 473 lbs.   We only want the float halfway in the water.  We were estimating about 200 lbs usable per float or 800 lbs total usable buoyancy.  This still seems about right.  This has to cover boat, solar panels, battery, motors, and people.
This boat will be large enough to carry people, but the people will be optional.  It will be able to go on its own.   It will use the same software as the smaller autonomous robot boat.

Thursday, January 28, 2016