Gibbs 2.0 - On the water again

blend-micro   sailing   bluetooth   enclosure  

Mr Gibbs 2.0 had his 2nd shot at the water again last weekend, with a little more success this time.

The crows nest: In Situ

First, the good news. All the functionality we had in 1.0/2015 is working as it should again on the new bluetooth foundation. Pebble pairing etc had some snags but it's now working great, and the silly issue with the root console talking to the GPS via UART is obviously fixed so the GPS is working correctly again too. Work continues, however, on the wind sensor.

When doing testing on my bench everything worked fine, even with the sensor ~50 ft away. The real world, however, not so much. What I think we figured out is that while the great outdoors is great from a standpoint of low EMF, few obstructions etc, it's not so great at providing surfaces for the RF to bounce off of. In this case I originally hung the PCB right under the anemometer on the front of the mast. The problem with this approach is that that the RF needs to somehow get from the front of the mast, to the back of the boat where I am, and it doesn't have anything to bounce off of. More optimized BT antennas such as the one in my iPhone had no problem talking to the wind sensor, but the $5 USB bt adapter I'm using on the Pi had issues. We resolved this with a bit of a hack (literally).

Excuse the poor photoshop, I didn't get an actual picture of the hackjob prior to its destruction

The basic idea behind the hack is simple, we moved the PCB & bluetooth radio back to the crane so that the RF would have a straight shot from the mast to the cockpit. I sawed off the bottom of the mount to reduce the weight aloft. This arrangement, while ugly, did resolve our signal issues.

With 40 degree weather and winds gusting 25-40mph all day, we didn't get to sail, but the upside was that I spent the day sitting 30 ft from the boat, running in/out of the clubhouse trying out new code & configurations, so with that "tight loop" of being able to code and test in-situ I was able to accomplish quite a bit in terms of adding more robustness to the system. It will now handle a number of different disconnect/reconnect situations much better with both the pebble and wind vane, so I think that will come in very handy this season as we start using it more.

Unfortunately, the temp and wind were still a little crazy Sunday, but the sun was out, so we attempted to sail anyway. We were not out very long before we decided it was too crazy for us and we headed in, but not before a crash-jib and a capsize which quickly pounded the wind-vane into the mud at the bottom of the lake. It actually survived pretty well. The PCB & battery never got wet, they still work fine. The anemometer, while caked with mud, once cleaned off still works. The wind-vane however did pull loose and was lost to the depths. I have ordered a new one ($25! try ordering a part from B&G or Raymarine for that!) so it should be back to 100% in time for racing next weekend.

Despite not racing, we were able to capture some good data into a sqlite file (in which the accelerometer/gyro clearly show the capsize of course) so that was a small victory.


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