You can Skip to near end of this Blog for latest news Untidy layout of pictures? - then try a "Refresh". You need fast scroll for this page ! :-)
You probably reached this "Blog8" page from the
Design of Snoopy Sloop page
If not, click on a link to know more.
Each "blog" page describes detailed work preparing for the next Atlantic Attempt. i.e. covering a period in the region of a year: less if more than one attempt is made. The Blog pages were started after the first 2012 Attempt, where Snoopy's boat was lost. All later attempts were with the same boat, sometimes after major repairs. The blogs provide online "Engineering Notebooks", providing a day-by-day account of repairs, changes, and testing: mostly testing.
These blog pages are mostly about numerous repairs to the boat, results from "BRAY LAKE TESTS", or 24/7 reliability testing on Bray Lake. i.e. Snoopy sailing back and forth over a 24/7 waypoint in "Snoopy Corner". This is typically for several weeks, in all weather, including gale force winds. Sometimes, a few things happened which resulted in amusing pictures or stories, such as countering human-intervention, or testing the wheels for Snoopy's trolly. Click on the pictures either side for larger versions, or visit earlier blogs above. BlogX, the "blog of experiments", shows ideas and products, some of which may appear in future boats.
The following appeared at the top of the Snoopy page, in early 2020: Snoopy is in Robin's back garden, and needs proper checking and test before the 2020 Atlantic Attempt. Robin and June have other things taking their time. e.g. the Flat Roof work. Coping with Covid19 ; Health problems; June likes her tennis; Robin likes minimum hassle and spending time with Grumpy Old Men :-) Click on pictures to expand, play, or visit the relevant page.
Robin claims that some of his friends, and work-mates over the years, are crazier than he. We all have our "crosses to bear", be it recent bereavement, physical health, addiction, or stigma resulting from mental health problems. Sometimes many things overlap, such as helping friends, making new ones, or doing work in the Garden . Robin prefers to just oversee work ;-)
4th September 2019: This documents test and repair work on Snoopy's Boat 11, after that "Good" June 2019 Atlantic Attempt. Snoopy certainly surprised us, yet again, in racing Dick south, to the French coast, near Cherbourg, then returning north to end his adventure in Lulworth Cove. Robin's best guess at an explanation, of why Snoopy was not simply been swept westward, by the strong wind, was we must have a remarkably well balanced boat, with lots of "weather helm". We don't know when Snoopy's Boat 11 lost it's rudder, but with hindsight, it was a daft idea to use carbon fibre rod. It now has spring steel ! Thanks Peter for the check on the Autopilot software AA28X2R.BAS , to give us confidence that the autopilot would have being try to steer westward, after getting south of the "Channel" waypoint. Perhaps the boat was rudderless long before then ? Click on pictures to enlarge.
13th September 2019: Click on pictures to enlarge or play. Photo shows box at back of Snoopy Sloop 11, after repairs related to the Autopilot. Only the servo reverser had failed - corosion and overheating ? Robin had a spare, but decided to remove need by change of the servo linkage geometry. The IGgotU GPS logger is back on test after a reset. Work was needed on it's solar panel ! Saturday 14th September 2019: The 4 minute video shows the Autopilot working OK with the new rudder. The I-GotU is seen having it's GPS tested by Robin's old GPS Software, GPSS. Sunday 15th September 2019: Robin saw the SpotT tracker, in Boat 11, had stopped giving it's daily status report, after 5 days earlier. Voltage was 5.53v and it was restarted ~ 1930. ( See Snoopy's position on the SpotT map. e.g. at home in Sunninghill. See the spare SpotT2 tracker also under test. e.g. within Robin's car ). Robin needs to check that both small solar panels are working: a) that for I-GotU GPS logger and b) that for SpotT . Tuesday 24th September 2019: More pictures added to show replacenent of the LHS Solar Panel of the I-gotU, and reinstalation of the box contents.
Friday 4th October 2019:Faded plastic flag replaced. But have not replaced skeg, added on 13 November 2017 ( See Blog7 ). This MAY improve steering. Note all those problems like EMC in 2018. We need to do a Bray Lake Test sometime to confirm Boat 11 is still OK.
Thursday 17th October 2019: Click on pictures to enlarge. Stripping apart Snoopy's solar powered navigation lamp revealed wiring, the two small solar panels, and 3-cell battery pack, need replacement. However the LED lamp itself, and the electronic switch, seem OK. Robin's desk diaries back to 2016, and Blogs proved their worth. e.g. Search on "lamp" to find the January 2017 work in BlogX , but particularly the words and pictures above, in this Blog7, for Wednesday 6th March . Thursday 31st October 2019: Navigation light reassembled and solar panels glued back on boat with white silicon sealant.
Sunday 20th September 2020: The rudder was re-centred, after it had slipped during a test, and araldite put on the top of the rudder post / servo arm. The plastic Union Jack flag has faded, after all those days in the sun, so that was replaced too. We need to wind-up the Yanks :-)
Monday 21st September 2020: Major Problem seen ! I should have had Roy looking over my shoulder when I started repairs to the boat last year ! Click on the pictures to enlarge. Part of the RHS power rail is completely missing. Maybe the result of corrosion and that collision when the rudder was lost in June 2019 ? I had already thought that those four main 5v solar panels might need replacing - and this confirms the deck of the boat needs a rebuild. The good news is that I still have four identical spare panels. So next it's stripping off and replacing the old 5v panels and power rails ! The boat should then look like that below.
Wednesday 23rd September 2020: Dick's picture from 4th July 2019 added. Did more shopping today: Mantua Models for four new 4.8v 2000 mAh R/C batteries of type "encloop Overlander 2000 mAh" - more expensive but they said "better quality" :-) Also, Ascot Hardware for more Fastglass resin.
Wife June's kitchen knife was used to lift those 5v solar panels - and reveal that mess of corroded and broken wiring !
Friday 25th September 2020: Click on pictures to reveal detail. Four spare 5v "Solar Panel GH165X135" ( from China, years ago ) were soldered: duplicated isolation "1N5819 1A 40V Schottky Diodes" from partcompany.co.uk, and multi strand tinned flexible wire from my junk box. This should be better than those brass rods ! The underside was then coated by Fastglass resin ( yesterday ), then yacht vanish.
The hull received a clean then a coat of two part International Perfection Snow White gloss paint, ready for replacement sticky lettering. Only "Snoopy Sloop" needed to be ordered ( from www.stickylettering.co.uk ), because there are still enough spares from Humberston Signs, used for years. Steve has now retired. Thanks Steve :-)
A good day to watch paint dry: sunshine and a breeze. So Robin did just that, and had a conversation with Snoopy :-)
Saturday 26th September 2020: Another good drying day: Glueing of 5v solar panels onto deck with silicon sealant almost done. Sponge poked under panels to limit ingress of sealant. Used last of transparent "Wickes All Weather Sealant" on front ( RHS) panels, then started new white "EverBuild Bath & Kitchen Sealant" for rear ( LHS ) panels. Will finish in white for appearance. Pity that panels are not completely level in photo. Duck tape was used to correct panel positions before sealant dried.
Later update: I have added stickers "Robot Boat", Snoopy cartoon, and "ROBIN@GPSS.CO.UK" on each side of hull. See below. Then I applied three coats of "Rustins Outdoor Clear Varnish", allowing each coat to dry. It had a milky appearance, but seems to dry truely transparent, unlike the earlier year's use of Ronseal Yacht Varnish, which dried leaving yellow stains. Snoopy had been taken back indoors, because of rain showers. White sealant was used to finish fixing of the 5v solar panels. "Snoopy Sloop" stickers are expected to be delivered Monday, along with bits for outstanding electrical work. e.g. brass bolts to monitor and charge the duplicated 5v NiMHd battery supply.
Tuesday 29th September 2020: "Snoopy Sloop" stickers have not arrived yet, but the picture below shows important work on re-wiring has started. The brass bolts should be more suitable than those nickel plated steel bolts. The solar panels are now wired through to the 5v 4xAA NiMHd battery packs. The LHS and RHS are duplicated: each two 5v packs in parallel. Now major work is needed in re-wiring towards the rear, including use of Schotsky diodes to combine LHS and RHS 5v supplies, and wiring through the duplicated power switches at the rear. This power is fed into the Picaxe Autopilot computer, but also used as a backup to the SPOT Trace power, which has it's own 5v pack. LOTS to do carefully, including checking for dry soldered joints !
Thursday 1st October 2020: Other things took priority, but here is Snoopy being weighed - just 14.75 kg, little more than the previous 14.6 kg. Probably due to the more substantial solar panel wiring, and perhaps also the extra paint and varnish. Robin did a little "touching up" using CROWN Quick dry gloss, instead of the usual two-part International Perfection. Then several coats of that Rustins Outdoor Clear Varnish, over these little areas, such as near "Snoopy Sloop 11" and the navigation light. He needs to find suitable tinned multi-strand wire for inside the box - and check the existing connections and re-wiring carefully !
Wednesday 7th October 2020:
I had put in better brass 5v test terminals, and have been monitoring 5v power levels.
I decided to check the blogs, to make sure that I got the re-wiring correct, inside the box.
Its good that I did.
AN IMPORTANT MISTAKE DISCOVERED TODAY. Pictures below explain all. My repairs last year included removing that servo reverser,
and changing the servo-rudder steering geometry. I SHOULD HAVE CHECKED
. It exlains why I introduced the servo reverser - to fix that "rudder flip" problem.
Here is an August 2017 extract from BLOG6 below.
What a coincidence that August 2017 was when the most significant design changes were made, like the last Picaxe 28X2
Autopilot software change, and this servo geometry.
There were other coincidences today: e.g. discussions and visits to St Michael's Church and war graves, including
QUOTE from BLOG6 :
Friday 18th August 2017: That Tea Tray Test video above shows the first test of MicroMite software changes resulting from last Wednesday's sail at Bray Lake. i.e. The computer speaking time. e.g. "GPS Time is 16:20 and 35 seconds". Why say "GPS Time" ? It's primarily to trigger transmission when using CB radio in VOX mode ( seen in old Snoopy videos ). The other important change was to stop over-steering, seen in the extract from Wednesday's video. i.e. the rudder is held for a time dependent of boat's speed: 1.5 seconds if fast, through to 3.5 secs if slow. This has been used in Snoopy's GPS-Only autopilots for years, and is described under "software" on the Design page. Some nice clips from Wednesday appear at the end. More important work today involved checking Boat11's Picaxe Autopilot software "Quebec" ( AP28X2Q.BAS ) to make sure it limits rudder throw to plus or minus 45 degrees ( that "rudder flip" problem discussed earlier ). It looks OK, but anything could be going on within the lower level firmware, so mechanical solutions should be explored - perhaps aided by those "servo reversers" above. This morning I also approved the page appearing in our local church magazine being printed today. See Jack .
Saturday 19th August 2017:
Mr Postman delivered the four FM Bugs from China and the four servo reversers ordered last Thursday from Barry at KC Model Accesories.
They look perfect and I did some tests: they reverse the servo throw, with same 45 degree angles, and simply plug in between
the servo and computer;
draw only 6mA when connected direct to 5.79v battery; Our total BR355-S4/Picaxe-28X2/AS17 Servo drawing 66mA rises to only 73mA,
plus the brief ~200mA pulses when the rudder servo moves, typically every 7 seconds. So average GPS-Only autopilot current
draw is still in the same ballpark: say 70mA to 80mA. i.e. within the capacity of our Boat11 5v solar power system.
One of the reversers was put in our 24/7 servo test rig, with the Carson servo.
See 27th July in
for more about servo testing.
Click on the pictures on the right to expand. At first I though it would be a major layout change to end up with
the servo lever and rudder post lever on the same side - but I JUST managed it.
A mechanical stop is also easy: just a screw into the wood; or perhaps something fixed around the servo.
There is now a "reverser" between rudder servo and Picaxe 28X2 computer.
Wednesday's sail broke that rubber water balloon ! :-)
Sunday 20th August 2017: "A proper job" was done on the contents of Snoopy's Box as seen in right-most photo above. Click on it. More explanation later :-)
Back to Wednesday 7th October 2020: Click on this pictures below, starting with those from August 2017, and ending with that from today. I do have a spare "Turnigy Signal Reverser", but I thought it wise to order more, since they are less easy to find. I ordered 6 from "Rapid RC Models" at just 33 GBP including fast delivery. I was delighted that the office, and Bob and Shiela Lawrence, live in north Kent, not far from where I had visited, on that first GPS Bottles project in 2005 ! :-)
Saturday 10th October 2020: Click on pictures below to expand. I may add more soon. As the words on the picture say, the Box at the back is getting tidier than it ever was ( from several years of this "Snoopy Sloop 11" build ). Test point labels have been added. So it's not only Robin who knows where to measure voltages, if and when the boat washes up on Bray Lake, coastline, or even at sea. Robin visited Bray Lake and spoke to Simon, the proprietor of Bray Lake Watersports. No Problem in us doing more Snoopy tests, when we are ready. Also: the important subject of what tools they use for video chats. e.g. Skype / Whatsapp / Facebook / Zoom / Instagram, etc. See Robin's recently updated Contact page. I can see several guys looking over my shoulder, at Snoopy being tested at home, and pointing out what I've done wrong :-)
Sunday 11th October 2020: Thanks Duncan, on the private Microtransat Google Group , for the screen shots from this page. It reminded me to put up that line of text at the top of this page, already on others. This information will probably not display clearly on a small screen, such as my little Alcatel U5 smartphone above. For any serious business, or pleasure, most of my friends and I use a larger screen, such as tablet, laptop, or desktop.
I've added another picture, as promised, taken at Bray Lake yesterday. It does not show the new fence, for spectators, that does not impeed "Snoopy Testing". I must confess, that things are so busy, I had to consult that public SpotT2 tracker link, to confirm it WAS yesterday :-)
For those whose English is poor, and who use translation software ( or my flags if they work ), here is the text on those pictures: "Bray Lake Watersports Saturday 10th October 2020 from Snoopy's "Base" near the drain; Saturday 10th October 2020: Snoopy's Blog8. Box at back getting tidier than it ever was. e.g. Test point labels. Other supporting work more important. e.g. Video chat capability - to support direct communication with those helping :-) Then: Robin's car C4 GPS on SPOT Tracker; Sunday 11th October 2020. More progress on rewiring box. Wiring yet to be completed. Rudder servo system too.
By "Rudder Servo System" I mean the servo itself, to be replaced, it's wiring, including monitoring and test points; the mechanical servo arm, adjustable "push rod", rudder post arm - all suitably adjusted, "locked" ( e.g. fastglass resin ), and lubricated. At each step, the autopilot is switched on, to check I did not make a wiring mistake. Right now, neither of my Text-To-Speech (TTS) work, but I hope that will soon be diagnosed and fixed.
Today, most of my time was involved in "Support" activity, including augmenting my existing computer "tools" here: Updating the latest version of Windows 10 on my Lynx Laptop ( see link from "Home" page ). Other PC include Windows 7 and XP. We normally check pages on several O.S. platforms and O.S. but the main activity is my installation and - very limited time to learn - different "video chat" systems. So far, I have Whatsapp, Skype, and Facebook Messenger working, with others like Zoom to be tested. I will be surprised if Snoopy's visit to Bray Lake is not available as live video to several guys. We may even do what we did a few years ago: have a live public webcam that anyone can watch. We have the tools, if not the time ;-)
Saturday 17th October 2020:
Tap or Click on pictures to play the video or expand the pictures.
Important changes were made to Robin's
page, related to our recent testing of video "chat". This is a useful tool for Snoopy's Robot Boat hobby project.
On Friday, June and Robin had an appointment for a Zoom video chat with several work-mates from
This does not appear in the video, but I've inserted a picture, with an amusing story you can read on the page.
The Zoom meeting was 1550 for 1600 BST, and we decided to do a recce of Bray Lake earlier, to make this video,
and show that the place is still suitable for testing Snoopy's boat. The first picture is from the spare
Spot Trace Satcoms tracker, currently in Robin's car. It also appears in our trip to check out Jim Lovelock's old place in Cornwall.
page has the link
The next is from Robin's Pocket Cam, on the
Robin took his cheap Alcatel U5 smartphone, and June had her better Samsung one. It was used for a Whatsapp call to Dick, but he was
otherwise engaged with a young grandchild :-) On the way home, we heard, on BBC Radio 2, that our Windsor & Maidenhead Council had
asked the Government to go to the next higher level. You will see some TV news.
We did Zoom on June's Windows 10 Laptop. You will see the almost complete
wiring of Snoopy's electronics box, and also Robin testing the big roll of self-fluxing solder, that should last him and his friends for years !
Friday 30th October 2020:
Tap or Click on pictures to play videos or expand the pictures. More progress was made inside Snoopy's box: the servo and it's signal
reverser were wired in, and the servo screwed in place, and the linkage greased. When checking the I-GotU GPS Logger voltage, at the test points
in top left, I saw a lower voltage than the expected 5v. I must confess to consulting the block diagram on the
page - and saw that was to be expected. This is the voltage from the small solar panel, on the LHS of the box, which tops up the
internal I-Gotu battery. I've now updated the block diagram, on low right, to reflect changes since 2017, when we adopted the Picaxe 28X2 computer,
SPOT Trace, and better solar panels. Note that the fundamental design has not changed since before 2012: redundancy for reliability !
The Text-To-Speech (TTS), only used for testing, is not yet working, so needs attention, before it too is wired in more neatly.
This "work" had been delayed by higher priority "tasks", like fixing my Thunderbird <-> AOL Email problem - now done. Also, enjoyable
"recce" trips to the seaside, including where Snoopy has sailed: Hythe Marina, Barton-on-Sea, and - of course - near Boscombe Pier.
Videos will be edited, put onto Youtube, and publised here in due course.
The following extract is from the
Weather for Sunninghill in week ahead from BBC is on
. More detailed rain radar based prediction is on
Snoopy work done or in progress includes: 1) visual inspection
✔. e.g. mechanical path of servo to (replaced) rudder.
e.g. discoloration of the solar panels.
2) simple things like replacement of the Union Jack flag.
3) measure voltages of autopilot and SPOT tracker.
4) repeat this test after hours, then days, of the autopilot being on, and the
SPOT tracker sending reports.
5) Repair and replace anything seriously faulty. e.g. solar panels ?
6) Do a "Bray Lake Test". (NOT YET)
7) 24/7 Test on Bray Lake for at least one day. (NOT YET)
8) Check the Infrastructure, including exploiting new web sites, etc.
8) Investigate tools like the Microtransat and/or ROBINLOVELOCKSFRIENDS, or other Social Media, as a means of others
assisting monitoring Snoopy in UK bedtime hours. So Robin is less likely to lose sleep ! Much of this work should be done by
others, as it has been before. e.g. plotting Snoopy's track vs wind and tide.
e.g. monitoring of Snoopy's close approach to other shipping.
(SOME STARTED. e.g. Video via Whatsapp/Skype/Zoom).
9) Robin to set up a "Snoopy 2020 ( & 2021) Blog" page. That was the easy bit
10. Have others help. e.g. look over Robin's shoulder to check soldering, diagnose TTS problem, etc. See 8 above and
Social Media & Robin's U5 on
Work on Snoopy needs the right guys doing the right work, but we all have changing priorities: not just Robin.
The Bigger Picture
Into 2021, with no Attempt in 2020 due to effect of Covid19 on Team-Joker guys time.
Other stuff ...
Friday 30th October 2020: Tap or Click on pictures to play videos or expand the pictures. More progress was made inside Snoopy's box: the servo and it's signal reverser were wired in, and the servo screwed in place, and the linkage greased. When checking the I-GotU GPS Logger voltage, at the test points in top left, I saw a lower voltage than the expected 5v. I must confess to consulting the block diagram on the Design page - and saw that was to be expected. This is the voltage from the small solar panel, on the LHS of the box, which tops up the internal I-Gotu battery. I've now updated the block diagram, on low right, to reflect changes since 2017, when we adopted the Picaxe 28X2 computer, SPOT Trace, and better solar panels. Note that the fundamental design has not changed since before 2012: redundancy for reliability ! The Text-To-Speech (TTS), only used for testing, is not yet working, so needs attention, before it too is wired in more neatly. This "work" had been delayed by higher priority "tasks", like fixing my Thunderbird <-> AOL Email problem - now done. Also, enjoyable "recce" trips to the seaside, including where Snoopy has sailed: Hythe Marina, Barton-on-Sea, and - of course - near Boscombe Pier. Videos will be edited, put onto Youtube, and publised here in due course.
The following extract is from the Snoopy page ...
Weather for Sunninghill in week ahead from BBC is on www.bbc.co.uk/weather/2636518 . More detailed rain radar based prediction is on premium.raintoday.co.uk .
Snoopy work done or in progress includes: 1) visual inspection ✔. e.g. mechanical path of servo to (replaced) rudder. e.g. discoloration of the solar panels. ✔ 2) simple things like replacement of the Union Jack flag. ✔ 3) measure voltages of autopilot and SPOT tracker. ✔ 4) repeat this test after hours, then days, of the autopilot being on, and the SPOT tracker sending reports. ✔ 5) Repair and replace anything seriously faulty. e.g. solar panels ? ✔ 6) Do a "Bray Lake Test". (NOT YET) 7) 24/7 Test on Bray Lake for at least one day. (NOT YET) 8) Check the Infrastructure, including exploiting new web sites, etc. (NOT YET) 8) Investigate tools like the Microtransat and/or ROBINLOVELOCKSFRIENDS, or other Social Media, as a means of others assisting monitoring Snoopy in UK bedtime hours. So Robin is less likely to lose sleep ! Much of this work should be done by others, as it has been before. e.g. plotting Snoopy's track vs wind and tide. e.g. monitoring of Snoopy's close approach to other shipping. (SOME STARTED. e.g. Video via Whatsapp/Skype/Zoom). 9) Robin to set up a "Snoopy 2020 ( & 2021) Blog" page. That was the easy bit - See Blog8 ✔ :-) 10. Have others help. e.g. look over Robin's shoulder to check soldering, diagnose TTS problem, etc. See 8 above and Social Media & Robin's U5 on Contact page.
Work on Snoopy needs the right guys doing the right work, but we all have changing priorities: not just Robin. See his Walks and The Bigger Picture :-)
See "BlogX", describing background experimental work from 2008 until now. See the Recce, Compass , Software , and many Blog pages, for details of the vast ammount of experiments and testing, done over the years. Yes, there is a lot there, and you need a wide screen to scroll through it. I wish I'd written the blogs tidier, but they are better than nothing, and my time is precious. Now WHERE are the details of the autoplots in Boat6 and Boat10 used for that race in July 2014 ?
Play the video to see how well Snoopy's 2014 boat 10 did against the smaller experimental boat 6 on 11th July 2014. The speech from the autopilot of Boat6 implies it was using experimental compass-based steering. i.e. "ahead, ahead, left, ahead", etc. Boat 10 used our old, trusted, GPS-Only steering. Why did Boat6 win ? Much less weight: see the Blog for Boats 11 and 12 having a race with identical autopilots on Thursday 6th July 2017, three years later. We can learn a lot from what we did in earlier years, if we write it down - or better still, film it :-)
How the web counters work - or don't work - is explained near the bottom of the Snoopy page. Times are accurate but location is often not.
© 1991-2020 Robin Lovelock. Please credit www.gpss.co.uk if you use material from any of these pages. Thankyou.