494ff0ea 3322 47fa bdf3 73d2445d5b90

Let the fun begin...

By Dermot Tynan, over 8 years ago.

I'm not sure when I first started thinking about entering the Microtransat. I'd love to say it was after much consideration, and the thought that "yes, this can be done."

The truth is, the first time I heard about the race, my immediate reaction was; "that'll never work..." The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to enter a boat. I still don't think it'll work, but this site is for those people who want to follow along, and find out if I was right or not.

I'll be joined along the way by some of the other team members, some of whom have sworn off blogging for the foreseeable future...'

5309f7f2 3d67 4e9a aa77 c5d41605b72e

The Main Systems Design

By Dermot Tynan, over 8 years ago.

In terms of the system architecture, we're planning on using two separate computer control planes to manage and steer the boat from start to finish.

At the lowest level, a custom Atmel (ATmega8) board will act as a basic "autohelm", driving the boat to a specific True Wind Angle or TWA. As the breeze shifts, so too will the boat, to maintain that TWA. This is a basic PID algorithm for controlling the rudder and mainsail in relation to the specified TWA and is very similar in design and implementation to your average sailboat autohelm.

Ba11f989 b9a4 4ab1 a1d7 ace2073c736f

Where in the world?

By Dermot Tynan, over 8 years ago.

So, the truth is, Iles des Saintes, just south of Guadeloupe, is one of my favourite places in the world. It was definitely a case of "love at first sight." If the Microtransat is an excuse for me to travel back there, and spend a little more time in Guadeloupe, then it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.

The islands, like Guadeloupe, are a "French protectorate." While many of the islands in the Caribbean are associated with one or other European country, the French islands are different. You can think of them as extensions to the mainland. The language is French (of course), the currency is the Euro, and the local flag is the Tricolore. If you're a European citizen, you can live and work here. That's way too tempting...

Ce28589e 6b88 4adc a27b f0e0fb342103

BB Phone Home.

By Dermot Tynan, over 8 years ago.

There is a race requirement which states that "Any boat which fails to transmit for more than 10 consecutive days will be disqualified."

While there are a number of ways of reporting position data back to Mission Control, from elaborate HF transmitters through to simple satellite position locators, we'll be using a Rock Block satellite modem. These devices can send byte sequences back to dry land via the Iridium satellite network. We will be sending four updates a day, of exactly 250 bytes each. Each message will include two or more payloads.

5309f7f2 3d67 4e9a aa77 c5d41605b72e

"Mother"

By Dermot Tynan, over 8 years ago.

The main computer on board Nostromo in the film Alien was called Mother. It seems only right that we should call our main processor by the same name.