Races for day two of Sailbot 2013 were cancelled because of inclement weather so TRST delivered their presentation to the Sailbot judges. Duncan Swain, Dominic Guri, and Joshua Prince explained our philosophy and approach to Sailbot: Because of our time constraints, we choose more conservative and reliable strategies. Rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, TRST wanted to create a more reliable wheel.
We tried to make our electronic system modular, using an Arduino Uno and Teensy 2.0 as our micro controllers. We used the Teensy to parse and clean up our sensor readings (GPS, magnetic compass, and wind direction). However, we opted to have our homemade wind sensor send information to our Arduino because our waterproof system would not allow more room on the Teensy circuit (a breadboard with the Teensy, GPS sensor, and magnetic compass). As Sailbot progressed we continued to revise our original strategies to make F-dash sail.
On Wednesday, races continued for TRST with our second fleet race and a long distance race. After a terrible start, F-dash lapped the first place boat, Duckling to retake the lead on the final downwind leg. Unfortunately, the RF receiver stopped working and F-dash drifted off-course. We recovered F-dash to try to recover our electronics, and did not finish the race.
The long distance race didn’t go any better. After spending hours drying our boat and electrical equipment, we prepared to sail the long distance course in manual mode. Although we would only get half of the total points possible for the long distance course, it was the only option without a working autonomous system. During the long distance race the winds and current picked up–at times the wind gusted near 20 knots. The sea state was too powerful for F-dash and the rest of the 1-m boats. After trying to tack to the first windward mark for over an hour, Joshua Prince retrieved F-dash and returned shore side. The servos were non-responsive and we feared the worst. Then we confirmed that our rudder servo and RF receiver sustained too much water damage and were no longer working. Without a working autonomous or manual electronics system it was time for Plan D…