||Human Powered Submarine
Controls Development and Testing 2006-2007
The creation of a human powered submarine worthy enough to compete in national competion has been in place since the Fall of 2001. Since this time, great progress has been made and the University of Maine can be considered a contender in the Human Powered Submarine Contest held each year. At the competition held last July in San Diego, UMaine put up a great showing, and placed in the top three for most innovative sub design (first) and best submarine design (third) However, there were certain obstacles that must be overcome in order to launch UMaine to elite status in national competition.
The biggest issue that affected the team last year was the inability to control the submarine. During competition, the fly-by-wire autopilot system was ineffective due to waterproofing issues leaving last years team little control of the submarine. This was a downfall at competition last year as the electronic controls failed due to improper water proofing and there were no manual controls to overcome the issue. We feel that the addition of a stuffing box in order to keep the servo's and electronics dry as well as the addition of manual back-up controls will allow for the submarine to be successful in future International Submarine Race competitions. The completion of a waterproofing system and back-up manual controls will allow next years team to develop and perfect a fully functioning autopilot system that will be the greatest asset necessary in order to prepare UMaine for successful competition. For the electronic controls, we are altering a concept applied by last years team. Since time restrictions kept this years team from working with an autopilot system, we have used a analog joystick control to send signal to the servos inside the stuffing box. From there, these servos will register what the driver would like to do and turn the fins accordingly. Should such a system fail, manual controls will be installed during downtime of the competition which will hopefully guide the submarine adequately through the water. For the manual controls, we are constructing throttle-type grips similar to what you would find on a dirt-bike and connecting them back to the fins using a series of push-pull cables.
Another problem encountered by last years team during competiton was that the submarine had a tendency to "nose up" when accelerating through the water, costing UMaine valuable seconds when running time trials. This years team is investigating the issue through lift testing in the University of Maine Tow Tank. Lift will be determined based on the speed of the submarine, and upon completion, the UMaine team should have recomendations about how next years team should approach such an issue, including lab data of the tow tank testing as well as some fabricated bow planes.
In addition to three University of Maine seniors (Randen Baker, Tyler Jolicoeur, and Lucas Soo), this year's team also includes junior, Andrew Tonge, and Maine Maritime Academy senior, Andrew Dion. This is the first year that the University of Maine and Maine Maritime Academy have collaborated on the Senior Capstone project, thus there is much excitement on what both Universities feel can become a successful merger. We feel that working with Maine Maritime Academy on this project will greater expand our abilities to test the sub to see if all controls are up to satisfactory standard. In this regards, the goal is to make our control systems dead reliable through our testing before we head to competition in the summer.
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