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Dec 26, 2012, 02:31 PM
Pond Sailer's Avatar
Hello guys and I hope you all had a Very Merry Christmas, and that Santa was Very Good to you and you Hobbies. Grin. After a very busy few days we had a chance to sleep in this morning and I just finished my first cup of delicious coffee. Now this conversation about positive control over firing powder loads is really exciting. I like the larger contact area of ignition on powder area. In my one and only video for this year you had a chance to see two live fire of my guns. I was surprised that this did not have at least a 14 gun salute like I can get in my driveway. But I think I forgot rule number one that morning. Keep Your Powder Dry. I showed up lakeside at 7 that morning to have my 2 hours for rigging the sails and that morning it was 100% foggy and did not clear up for almost 3 hours. When I loaded the tubes to then add the powder to the guns I never gave one thought about the powder and cold metal and fog. What I am loving about this new approach to burning the powder is the larger contact area for the ignition. I think this will allow even these kind of damp mornings to be seccesfull. We don't get those kind of mornings a lot, but it is San Francisco and fog does happen. So I need to feed the pets and then hope to make a phone call or two today. Are you guys going to be home today? Grin.

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Dec 26, 2012, 09:47 PM
Pond Sailer's Avatar
Thanks for taking my call today Dan. A real pleasure talking with you. I hope to meet you one day soon.

I wanted to put something out here for some more input from all the Captains. Can I post it here or should I move this over to the the HMS parts section.

I want to look more into seeing if I can have made a Circuit Board for Fire Control of the guns. I am hoping to make a pwb that will control the guns with no moving parts. I have a plan for my use and it would be for 16 guns on the Starboard side and 16 guns for port side. I would like to have control of the fire rate say 10 seconds to 20 seconds per side. Now that will be a plus or minus timing at this point in that I wont know what values I can work with. I would like to have control of what side I fire, or both sides at the same time. I would make it 12vdc in that the boat already has 12vdc for everything else. All to be controlled by the transmitter of course.

So my questions to all who might be interested is how many guns should I put on the pwb? It will have at least 16 per side, now how many guns per side would be max for the SC&H models ? The pwb would have connecting points for each gun and if one did not need them all one would just leave that connection empty. So instead of 16 per side should it be 20 or more?

Making it a 12volt system going to be a problem with anyone? Does this need to be 6v for some reason? It would use 5vdc for fire control from the receiver + or - a bit.

A variable resistor or something like it should be used to control fire rate with a fine screwdriver. this would be a manual setting and then forget about it.

I cant think of much more to add, less someone thinks it needs a safety light to show that its armed that can be placed anywhere on the boat, like top of mast, or inside a lantern on deck, whatever. I can see this so that on each side of the ship you could see a red light showing danger or armed on that side of the ship and then green when that side has fired all the guns. But then this could be confusing if it were to interfere with running lights. Ideas?

maybe a common speaker wire connection to trigger a sound effect system for cannon noises or better yet to trigger the voices of the men during a broadside volley that could be of MP3 recordings.. Just saying... I could see using this if I got really into it and to have a trigger already on the pwb could be handy. most likely something around a momentary switch kind of thing.

In that I want to try and do this for myself I will not have a time frame for seeing if or when I can get this done. I will try to get it done soon if my connection is a good one. If another Captain is already doing this, then I would like to be added to that project then. At this time this would be what I call a blank check project. No idea of cost. The only thing I could do if I get it going is to report on costs during the steps and when it gets to the part where getting them made, I would get a finial tally for how many you want and we would all just share the cost equally. Once made that would be that. No more runs. I would for example get three of them for myself encase I have a failure down the road. They would be sold as is as a working board but once power is supplied to the pwb the warranty ends.

So all ideas will be enjoyed at this point.

Dec 27, 2012, 08:34 AM
Registered User
DanL's Avatar

Electronic gun control

My thoughts on the electronic gun control questions you ask:
GREAT idea. Mechanical rotary switch works, but is bulky, clunky, etc

I have a plan for my use and it would be for 16 guns on the Starboard side and 16 guns for port side. After experiencing loading and gun operation and maintenance, 32 guns is A LOT. You may want to plan for more guns, but 16 guns you have on one side is already a handful I think. That's a lot of BP aboard,,,,

I would like to have control of the fire rate say 10 seconds to 20 seconds per side. Even a bit faster than 10 sec for a 9 gun salvo would be good. Also, ability to fire single guns at a time would be great.

I would like to have control of what side I fire, or both sides at the same time.
Choice of side is necessary.

I would make it 12vdc in that the boat already has 12vdc for everything else. All to be controlled by the transmitter of course. The boat is 6VDC, not 12. Most servos will take a max of only about 7.2VDC. They are typically all run at 5 to 6 VDC.

So instead of 16 per side should it be 20 or more? 16/side seems plenty.

Making it a 12volt system going to be a problem with anyone? Does this need to be 6v for some reason?
It does need to be 6VDC, per above comment on batt and servos.

It would use 5vdc for fire control from the receiver + or - a bit.
I never use the power routed thru the Rx. Iuse the signal and ground wire, and run separate , fused, power and ground to the servos directly from the battery. So if one or more of these big servos stall out and draw high current, teh rx won't be affected.
Plan to power it at nominal 6VDC

A variable resistor or something like it should be used to control fire rate with a fine screwdriver. this would be a manual setting and then forget about it.
Make it a set of contacts for an external potentiometer that could then be mounted off the board in a more accessible spot (eg from above deck)

I would for example get three of them for myself encase I have a failure down the road.
Definitely have a backup. Note to new builders: if you plan to sail a lot, make duplicates during the build of "parts at risk". Some PARS are bowsprit, topmasts, figureheads, dolphin strikers, any fancy yard hardware, etc. I'm on my fourth bowsprit....
Last edited by DanL; Dec 27, 2012 at 08:42 AM.
Dec 27, 2012, 07:02 PM
Registered User
DanL's Avatar

Brace slack

"What DanL's new servo setup does is correct for the way too loose/way too tight situation, that is the b) run/beat problem. What his setup won't do is correct for the a) situation, though. Since the servo sled will simultaneously tighten both sides, or loosen both sides, as it slides, it can't fix right/left problems. Those will still be handled by bungee ends on each port and starboard brace."

I completely agree with the two characterizations of sources of brace slack. The sliding servo actually does correct for both. It surprised me when I first did a layout on the floor to test the concept almost two years ago. We discussed it all at that time (old posts are somewhere...)

Again, I was surprised and just couldn't figure out how it worked. This is what I think is happening, both then on the floor and now with the two "sleds" installed and operating in Syren. ( Note that some bungee is still used, but only on the topsail yard to compensate for the geometry difference and imperfect drum diameter sizing differential between it and the course yard. There is also the geometry difference due to the vertical angle of pull - almost level braces for the course and vertically angled for the topsail. I've done the geometry - chords, angular pull, etc. It can actually work to advantage to get "spiralled" yards. Also posted in the past...) I'm off on a tangent now....(pun intended).

Back to sled observation....

For squared vs fully braced slack differential, it's easy enough to see the sled slide against the springs as the yard is squared. As the yard is braced over (forgive my probably inaccurate terminology), the sled slides back, pushed by the springs. Both braces stay taught. As the servo drum turns to fully braced, both braces are still taught. If I program the Tx travel to try to rotate the yard beyond the maximum, the unpulled brace does start to go slack when the servo pulling force exceeds the force of the springs. You can see the sled now move forward against the springs. The drum rotates a bit, the pulled brace stays very taught, and slack appears in the unpulled brace.
I think the reason the sled corrects for both conceptual explanations of slack is that as the drum rotates, say one unit, it should pull in one unit of brace AND should let out one unit of brace. I say "should" because the drum doesn't ever get to one unit of rotation - the sled movement provides a portion of that one unit of brace length change. It's hard to explain, and even hard to see on the model, but it can be seen. The spring force - energy stored by the rotation of the servo - interacts with the servo force/rotation to balance the forces and movement of the braces.
Bottom line, by observation, until the drum pulling force exceeds the counterforce of the spring (due to too weak a spring or a yard run hard against an obstruction), the sled will address both types of slack.
(Philosophical thought - how would the sled "know" which source, "a" or "b", were causing slack. It simply balances rotational force of the servo and linear force of the springs to take up any brace slack. If it addresses any slack at all, it must address both types - it can't differentiate source of slack)
My usual disclaimer - "I'm often wrong, but never unsure."
Peace and all the best in the New Year to all.

The Slack Not Taken with apologies to Robert Frost

Two braces diverged from a yard of wood
And sorry servo could not ravel both
And be one servo, long it stood
Then pulled on one as far as could
To where it stopped, not due to sloth.

Then pulled the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was slacky and wanted care,
Though as for that the pulling there
Had tightened them really about the same,
Last edited by DanL; Dec 27, 2012 at 07:54 PM. Reason: added poem
Dec 27, 2012, 11:30 PM
Damp and Dizzy member
Brooks's Avatar
Great poem :-)
Dec 28, 2012, 05:18 PM
Registered User
DanL's Avatar

An explanation of brace slack control by sliding servo

OK - hard to conceptualize, so I did a floor model and took pics.
The geometry matches the dimensions of the Syren forecourse yard. The floor model drum is almost exactly the diameter of the Syren drum.

Pic A: The yard is squared
Servo is at zero rotation
Both braces taught and total brace length is at a minimum.
The servo is at 24" from point of yard rotation
This position represents the "sled" being fully forward against the springs

Pic B: The yard is rotated to 60deg (a bit beyond the 50+ on Syren)
Servo has rotated exactly 1.5 turns
Unpulled brace develops high slack
The servo is held stationary at the original 24"
This servo position represents a typical stationary servo

Pic C: The yard is rotated to 60deg (exactly as in "B")
Servo has rotated about 1.37 turns (1-3/8 turns)
Unpulled brace develops no slack
The servo has moved 1.5" back to 25.5" from point of rotation
The servo sled travel has both taken up slack AND also contributed to
some of the pull length of the pulled brace, as the drum has had
to rotate about 1/8 turn less (about 3/4" less pull)

The spring loaded servo can move non-linearly in combination with rotation of the drum. Since the servo is also moving, the rotation of the drum no longer has a linear relationship to the length of brace released/pulled. As long as the yard rotates with somewhat balanced side-to-side force, the sliding servo action and rotating drum action will autonmatically somewhat balance the tension on both braces, hence little to no slack.

Hope that clarifies it. It's cool to see in action.

Forewarned - it's not perfect. Unless the spring tension always exactly compensates for the servo pulling force, unbalanced tension in the braces can develop. I'm using springs - yhey are not a perfect match over full travel. That's why I may yet experiment with adjustable bungees. But the system on Syren does work almost perfectly. Video soon if desired.
Dec 29, 2012, 10:09 AM
Damp and Dizzy member
Brooks's Avatar
Great photos, and a logical explanation of what's happening. Thanks, Dan.

On a real square-rigger, the spring could be replaced by a hydraulic cylinder controlled by a strain gauge.

You have invented a patentable machine. Your dated posts would serve a proof of primacy. You'd have to ask a patent lawyer about the public nature of your reveal, but I am guessing that would not pose a fatal problem to your application. Scientific papers reveal patentable information before the patent is granted all the time.
Dec 29, 2012, 10:30 AM
Registered User
That's what I said. It is so cool and so innovative, it SHOULD be pattented. If Dan is so generous, he can allow free use to the modelers, but charge licence fees for commercial use. I bet a company like ServiCity might be interested in producing a square sail sliding winch.
Dec 29, 2012, 01:28 PM
Damp and Dizzy member
Brooks's Avatar
The way patents work is that anyone can use the method for personal purposes, no permission or payment necessary. Only when you want to charge others $ do you have to get patentee's permission (and probably buy a licence). This quirk is one reason drug companies don't often patent their discoveries - anyone is free to use it, the patent reveals exactly how the drug is manufactured, and, of course, the published patent opens the door wide to pirates in the 3rd world (where foreign patents are not well protected by local courts).

We all know that Dan is not a grinch (by his willingness to help others here on the forum), so even if patent law were different, I bet he'd still let us use his invention for free on our own boats. Now, if you are building model boats to sell to others, then it's a different story, of course. A Dan patent would be the tool to demand payment for use of his invention.
Patmat has several patents. Ford's attorneys probably did the paperwork, but Pat would be a source of advice from someone who's actually gone through the process.
Last edited by Brooks; Dec 29, 2012 at 01:52 PM.
Dec 29, 2012, 02:02 PM
Registered User
DanL's Avatar
Wow. Thanks very much for the interest.
I worked for over thirty years in R&D, have patents and am familiar with them.
This won't be patented - at least not by me.
The idea was put in the public domain over two years ago in a number of posts I made in one of the threads here. And I think similar ideas were posted by others. I haven't done a search, but I'll bet a similar system has been posted on a ship model website somewhere.
That pretty much makes it ineligible for a patent. Also, it can likely be found "not novel", as spring loaded shuttle systems for controlling thread tension exist in the weaving/looming industry.
And patents end up costing a lot of money, with low likelihood of ever getting any financial return. And they cost a ton to defend if challenged or infringed. Anyway, it's a hobby, it's fun and that's how I want to keep it. If this rigging method helps RC boat modelers, that's great. Go for it.
Dec 29, 2012, 02:10 PM
Damp and Dizzy member
Brooks's Avatar
Your decision, of course, and you are speaking from experience. Since you already hold patents, I guess you don't need this one for the ultimate Geek Medal of Superior Honor :-)

I think the 2 year lag between reveal and application would not be insurmountable: "I did not realize this was unique. I wanted to confirm certain aspects of the invention. I did not have funds to pursue a patent at that time. etc." Unless someone else has already patented your idea, I think you would still have a valid claim. Many microbiologists had seen their cultures die due to "contamination",and it was widely reported/known in the microbiology world. It took Fleming to realize that penicillin, the contaminate, could be used to save human lives. As far as similarities to the loom industry, well, Amazon or someone patented the Internet "shopping cart" idea, and real shopping carts have been around as long as the wheel. Just because something exists in one industry does not seem to prohibit the same idea being patentable in another industry. Just because wheels existed on oxcarts does not prohibit Ford from patenting modifications to "my wheels" :-))

I've been looking at a lot of squarerigger models over the years (since around 1980). I've never seen this method of controlling slack. I know it's never been used on a real squarerigger - Jarvis winches are the only ones ever to go to sea, and they were not a perfect success. There is a website where the owner has tried to post a url for every RC squarerigger; I've looked at them all, about 50 or so. I think if this method were already known, it would have showed up there.
For anyone else interested in patents, there is a "provisional application" process in the US. You file a simplified description and gain a 12 month window to complete the application. Cost in 2011 was $125, according to Wikipedia. This gives you time to work up the formal application, seek legal help, etc. I think it's the basis for the "pat. pending" terminology you often see.
At any rate, Dan you've accomplished something that has been sought for as long as there have been squareriggers, Well Done!
Last edited by Brooks; Dec 29, 2012 at 02:35 PM.
Dec 30, 2012, 12:03 PM
Registered User
DanL's Avatar

New carronade barrel design and laoding method

An improved carronade igniter design was discussed a couple of posts back:

More details in the attachment on the mod's and on a new loading technique for use with an igniter placed at the muzzle.

The doc is a collection of modified old and new drawings and description of mod's.
Dec 30, 2012, 12:25 PM
Registered User
TBowman's Avatar
Neat Dan!

best regards
Dec 30, 2012, 05:12 PM
Paratrooper's Avatar
Dan--back in the old days I tried the scoop loading method at the lake and it did not work with the ship bouncing up and down in the waves. I had a lot of trouble getting the powder in and the scoop out without drawing out a lot of the powder. When you invented the cartridge system all of that difficulty went away.

It will have to be a cartridge system at the lake for sure.
Dec 30, 2012, 10:07 PM
Pond Sailer's Avatar
Paratrooper I agree with you on having the tubes. my reason would be weather. It gets windy lakeside and I am trying to hide what I am doing from the public and don't want them even to think I am using anything like BP. When or if they see the brass tubes being put into barrels I hope they don't think about what's inside the tube, rather that they just think how cute is that what he's doing. San Francisco I think would run me out of the city if they knew about my little red can. Right now its just magic.

Last edited by Pond Sailer; Dec 30, 2012 at 10:25 PM.

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