Thursday - Area Scanning

Welcome to Part I of the two-part series called ‘The Report on the Final Two Days of Portugal that are Way Long Overdue’.


Today’s rules were: 27 little squares arranged in an ‘L’. Get your boat to first sail to the start line which is along an edge of the ‘L’, then cross as many squares as possible, and finally sail to a finish line, which is a little bit away from the ‘L’.

To try and repeat the IMU error we got a couple times during competition runs - in order to solve it - we took the boat for a stroll on ground. Frustratingly enough, just like in previous attempts to coax the error to show itself, we failed to do so.

Having no choice we sent the Black Python to the waters for the test. On the first launch, it… just sailed off to a wild position. We double-checked our waypoints in the launch file, and they were all good. Yet, it sailed further and further away from the start line.


Confusion and worry continued to skyrocket, when Sebastien finally caught the cause - we launched the launch file for a different competition task. After making the switch, that error was fixed. But with that gone, another one arrived. Lo and behold, it was the IMU error, again. The RPi was rebooted - success was not achieved. Also we then had tacking issues.

The Black Python finally started sailing on course after we re-launched it to jibe instead of tack. But because we did not deserve to have a good time today, it started to veer again. Pier noticed that the sail servo winch seemed to have stopped working. Flipping on the remote control confirmed suspicion. We decided that then was really the time to take it back to land. Also, because we did not deserve to have a good time today, when we lifted it out of the water, it was palpably a lot heavier than when we dropped it onto the water. Once again, it was back to land to unleash the ocean within.

Silver lining in the storm was our electronics were safe from the sea water this time. Our waterproofing had worked! So at least we had that going. Both servos were replaced, along with a couple electrical wires that got wet. Later in the day, we got the chance for a second try. With our hopes high for a better performance this time, we managed to get nothing but disappointment.

Some squares did get covered at first, but then Black Python turned to a wrong heading angle and stuck to it for a good while, getting further and further away from the scanning area. Just as it was getting back towards the sailing area, another dramatic failure occurred: the thread controlling the main sail tore. That was when we had to call it for the day. In the end, the second try did not score us more points than our first.