AMPHIMAX: BOAT LAUNCH & RECOVERY SYSTEM
As with your own head, we need to protect the brain and eyes of the AmphiMax. We need to ensure good forward vision and protection from rain and splashed water from waves. Fortunately, there are many waterproof enclosures available online in a variety of sizes. The internet allows us to shop for some really hard to find components, all delivered to your door. In years gone by, these parts would have been hard to source. Thank heavens for Amazon, Ebay, and search engines like Bing, Google and Yahoo. The internet was another great invention. Copyright pictures © RD August 2021.
The 'Amphimax' will be the largest amphibious vehicle in the world when (and if) it is built full scale. I am developing the concept in 1:20th scale, and that represents quite a challenge in itself.
On this page we concentrate on connecting the 16 motors, using connector blocks that need to be waterproofed.
The motors need to be wired in two banks, left and right, to enable the tracked vehicle to be steered like a tank. Tanks do not have wheels like cars and trucks, that change angle to negotiate corners. They simply slow down, or speed up one of the tracks to describe an arc.
By reversing the tracks a caterpillar tracked vehicle can spin on it's own axis. AmphiMax presents a bit of a design challenge, in that both tracks of each of the four bogies on one side of the vehicle, will all rotate in the same direction and speed, while those on the opposite track are free to revolve at a different speed and direction. We will need to experiment to find out the optimum arrangement for loose shingle and sand. Hence, soil mechanics is important here.
The electrical wiring has to follow a logical (and neat) path and be as discrete as possible. Working out where and how to mount the electronics for switching, and the batteries and speed controllers, is also on this list. We must be able to access the lithium batteries quickly for balanced charging using special programmable chargers. Unfortunately, at the moment, that means taking the Lithium Polymer packs out. There is one pack and once speed controller for each bank of tracks.
We are thinking of incorporating switch-able operational modes, despite the additional wiring and switches. These modes might be:
1. Remote (radio or satellite [drone]) control with a human operator
2. R/C controlled, but with obstacle avoidance by simple sensors
3. Unmanned, computer programmed mode
4. Smartphone operation and monitoring
Just how many parts go to make up the Amphimax model? These are just the test drives. We have some much bigger motors and reduction gearboxes for when the going gets tough.
These are custom made swivel bogies. Many of the parts used are derived from robotic kits available online, but invariably, you'll have to make your own chassis in the world of robotics. The cost of building such a machine is not limited to the components. Workshop time and equipment has to be paid for somehow.
There is no longer any urgency to completing this project, and indeed - no need at all - since the shelving of the SeaVax project. But it may be useful to see the machine working, to prove the theory. When it might finally be mothballed, as a museum exhibit, as a lasting reminder to policy makers of the future, when confronted by food shortages and a depleted ocean economy, that the tools to repair the carcinogenic soup they made of the sea, was there for them if they had chosen to act diligently, or at all.
It is amazing just how many parts go to make up this scale model. Where the proof of concept model is powered by electric motors and lithium batteries, the real steel is driven by hydraulic motors, one per track and diesel engines, mated to pumps. Instead of electrical wiring on the model, high pressure hoses are used at full size.
I have seen hydraulic pumps and motors, as used on the Ford Transit test-bed, built in 2019 to get some kind of feel for the operation of the solar and wind harvesting apparatus on the Elizabeth Swann, and the SeaVax, subsequently derived from that platform.
This is what the Amiphimax is designed to carry. The amphibious tractor submerges in the sea, so that the (plastic) fishing vessel can launch, as in float off. This picture does not show the guides, or the cradles that the SeaVax rests on when being recovered.
Robotic parts like this we do not have to make, but we do have to modify them for our experiments. For example, the motors are not waterproof, so they have to be marinised. Same for the gearboxes and electrical wiring. We need waterproof grease for the wheel bearings, and even so, it is a good idea to hose down the vehicle after immersion in seawater.
AMPHIBIOUS LAUNCHER - This is a 1/20th scale model of a beach launch and recovery system, designed originally for the SeaVax, but equally useful for other large craft. Do you like my workshop? It is a bit chaotic at times, but we manage to clear enough space in this laboratory to get things done. I don't have space at home for such projects. Imagine building a large boat. You'd need a very large hangar, or outside area close to water. Or, an AmphiMax parked on a beachfront.
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