Introduction: Protei Cardboard Model
The goal of Protei is to deploy ocean sensors on a shape-shifting wind-powered modular platform. Global warming, ocean pollution (plastic, oil spills, radioactivity) depletion of fish and coral, acting as a data link between satellites and underwater devices... There are plenty of reasons to build autonomous surface vessels. So let's do this open-source. Here some past prototypes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GxxJBgC2kLE
This is just a cardboard model, a "research note" - not a functional sailing robot. This is just to explore a new design direction. Also, a way to show how to turn an idea into something tangible. This model was built in 6 hours with basic tools and recycled materials. Budget is 0$, Only a bit of wood glue.
For my part, I had to put this shape-shifting sailing robot "Protei" development on hold for almost 2 years in order to build MakerBay, a MakerSpace in Hong Kong. But now, I am back at developing it, and so excited about it. As an Open Hardware project, I want the entry bar to be as low as possible. For this reason, I have drafted a development roadmap while being an Impact Resident at Autodesk Pier 9 (next step). The world of autonomous robotic sailing is moving fast and I want to develop a design that opens that field for everyone, from the kids, to the researchers.
I made a quick search of some really interesting recent development in autonomous robotic sailing and tried to compare the superficial features. Please dig in these links, so many amazing projects / companies:
- Saildrone: http://saildrone.com/
- Wave Glider: https://www.liquid-robotics.com/
- Datamaran: http://www.automarinesys.com/
- Ada from UBC: https://ubcsailbot.org/
- PilotHouse : http://srlm.io/2015/07/02/introducing-pilothouse-a...
- A-Trima: https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-73tqwqNt_d8/WAZV3n6bStI...
- ArduSailor: http://forum.arduino.cc/index.php?topic=241548.0
- Green Powered Sailbot: https://hackaday.io/project/10652-green-powered-sa...
- Epsom School Sailbot: http://www.rock7mobile.com/case-study-epsom
The top 3 ones are companies, they seem to be doing good but their products are very expensive, or / and not publicly documented. Below #3 these are mostly universities efforts and are either not super stable or not fully sharing their documentation - some are open source (hi5!). I would like to bridge that gap.
Also because the sailing robot I am interested to develop has many similarities with a snake robot, I also did some researches about snake robots:
- Sneel, by my friend Gabriella Levine: http://gabriellalevine.com/SNEEL
- Titanoboa: http://titanoboa.ca/
- NTNU University Norway Research of robotic snakes: http://robotnor.no/our-robots/ and http://folk.ntnu.no/kyp/?id=ansatte/Pettersen_Kris...
- SnakeRobot S2: http://www.snakerobots.com/S2.html
- EE 125 Robot Snake: https://sites.google.com/site/ee125robotsnake/pro...
- Kraken: http://www.sgsphysics.co.uk/projects/the-poseidon...
There are many many robotic snakes projects out there, I definitely don't know all of them, but I love seeing more of them - staying up to date with them. Please comment and suggest inspirations with images and links :)
Step 1: A Roadmap to Get Back on Developing Protei, Short Term
This is my roadmap for the next few weeks of work:
- "Protei Cardboard Model" to see and feel the size of the components. Built entirely from waste and recycled materials. That this instructables!
- "Protei Mini-RC 001": small, simple and affordable, that can be made as an activity for kids and control via standar RC transmitter. The goal is to make it under 100 USD per unit.
- "Protei Mindstorm 001": using a standard that kids know and love, that many schools already have and use as a STEM education tool.
- "Protei Particle Pi 001": using Particle and Raspberry Pi for coastal mapping in a GSM range.
- "Protei RockBlock 001": using RockBlock for satellite communication. Probably on top of the previous ParticlePi. But honestly, if I get to #4 and things work out ok, I would be so happy already.
So let's go : "Protei Cardboard Model" step by step :)
Step 2: Collect Free Materials, Aim Far and Walk Back
I try to minimize the use of materials for environmental reasons, and also because i think many people don't have access to fancy materials and tools, so that's a constructive voluntary constraint I believe would help me make a product that is more relevant to more people. I collected cardboard from the bins around the workshop and scraps, and slightly changed the dimensions of the box so they would be close enough to the Pelican Case 1200, that I want to use as "standard" building my modular sailing robot. But.. wait, what is a "modular sailing robot" If that is not clear yet, it will become more clear in the next steps.
I love to the Pelican 1200, but I am not ready to buy multiple units if I am not exactly sure what I am going to do with them.
Step 3: Napkin Drawings, Rough 3D Design, Better 3D Design
I made this 3D model after I built the "real -cardboard- thing". It's just how I work - I think faster with materials in my hands than on a computer. But I made these models to test it later...
If you are a Fusion 360 user, you can download the model here : http://a360.co/2fJz4UW
If you are a Sketchup user, the file is below attached.
I put the 3D file upfront, in case you want to use it for your own design.
Step 4: Make 3 Boxes
The Pelican 1200 is 9.25" x 7.12" x 4.12" (23.5 x 18.1 x 10.5 cm). So that's the size I cut my boxes. 3 of them.
Step 5: 3 Decks That Can Be Chained
Next was to build 6 identical decks that could be chained. I added arbitrary values here, roughly 30mm on the sides, and 50mm in the overlapping deck front and back. I found some pieces of round wood that I borrowed as masts.
Step 6: Adjusting the Height of the Hulls to Match the Boxes
I adjusted the height of the hulls and stuck the keel underneath. I tested the masts but soon realized they were very unstable. In the finished "product" the masts are still unstable, but hey, that's ok, it's just a model :)
Step 7: Let It Dry!
I used clamps that helped me stabilize the modular hull.
Step 8: Play With It!
Why do I make a physical prototype? To play with it. To feel it. To imagine how it would feel with different materials, at a different scale. Perhaps try parts inside the box, try different configurations... Imagine how I could build this better.
In just 6 hours of building I had a lot of fun and now I have a much clearer idea of what I am going to build next!
You can see some previous Protei prototypes here :
Also, I will soon bring back the Protei website and consolidate the documentation in a new wiki - my apologies for the long silence! You also want to check Protei 007 by Gabriella Levine instructables here, and Protei 009.1 by frits297.
I am looking for your feedback and suggestions - how to make this boat better.
I can't wait to build the real thing, throw it in the water and tell you how it goes. Thank you very much !!!