Let's Make Robots! | RobotShop

Spin: 4 metre, 400kg robotic sailboat

Sails by onboard joystick, eventually autonomous
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Spin is a modified 2.4mR single-person keel boat. She has 4 onboard Parallax Propeller processors for motor control and system monitoring, 64 channels of A/D, 8 gear motors for winch control, a bunch of linear actuators, and lots of other cool stuff. I hope to finish up her wiring, waterproof her, and have her sailing around Auckland by March '09. She has a carrying trolley with twin 24V, 60A gear motors for getting her up and down gangways for launching.

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Impressive bot on the LMR scale! The guys here are going to really love this!

We are sooo gonna ask you for details! And video.

Welcome -errh- on board Northcove.

The battery bank is surprisingly small at this point, just three 18AH SLAs inside the keel to keep the centre of gravity low. Being a sailboat, the prime mover is wind not electricity. Maneuvers, like tacking or gybing, only consume a few watt-seconds. Once the sails are set entire zones can be depowered until they are needed again. The rudder and navionics remain continuously powered.
That is really really really cool!

I think I want one of these.

Which gives me an idea. I have a RC model sail boat - about 70cm long - that I built from a kit a few years ago now, but have never had on the water. There's space in the hull for a PicAxe and some other stuff. perhaps it could become a hacked toy.


One serious downside to small R/C vessels is a lack of wind instrumentation. Sailboats need to measure the angle of the wind to properly trim the sails. This requires an anemometer which is usually located at the top of the mast.

Spin is large enough to support off-the-shelf sailboat instrumentation and be sailed by an actual person onboard to help with debugging all the mechanical issues related to servocontrol of sheets, halyards, vangs, outhauls, traveler, etc.

Very impressive!  Have you conisdered covereing the deck with solar cells to recharge the batteries?