Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Hatches and Homework

We managed to get over to the shop today and get the hatch rims glued in. We spent some time insulating the storage unit so that the space heaters we bought (and will return soon) won't be so useless. We got the room up in the high 50's at the farthest point from the garage doors which is good enough to epoxy. Note the space heater in the background. We did not get to the crossbeam mounting blocks tonight so that will wait until tomorrow. Chris also picked up a can of primer paint for the amas and hulls this morning which we hope to be using by the end of the day tomorrow with any luck.

We will also be heading over to Great Outdoor Provision Co. sometime tomorrow to pick up some Thermion base layers courtesy of GOPC. In case you had not heard, GOPC is helping us get to the starting line for the Everglades Challenge with all the necessary equipment and then some.

Finally, after getting some boat work done, Mike, Matt and I hit the books. I thought I would let everyone in on the everyday world of an aerospace engineer at NC State University. That's right folks, if you thought that we were building two awesome sailing canoes like it was a full time job (moms and dads) you are mistaken. We are actually secretly learning stuff by day. Tonight's aerodynamics homework was a simple exercise really...

We started off by using a binomial expansion to show that that when dealing with isentropic, one dimensional, subsonic flows, where the mach number is much less than one, you can prove that the stagnation pressure definition reduces to Bernoulli's equation of course.
In between problems, Mike chose to sort his M&M's by color and arrange them in a nifty pattern while I slaved over paper and pencil and nearly lost a finger in a freak interpolation accident. In general, the average aerospace engineering students future is described by an equation that we got a kick out of the other day which reads:

The limit as GPA goes to zero of aerospace engineer from freshmen to infinity approaches business major". Good thing we are not average aerospace engineers.

Work Hard, Play Hard.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Five days till launch

Team RAF would like to announce a new sponsor, Great Outdoor Provision Co. of North Carolina. GOPC is one of the best outdoor clothing and outdoor sport outfitters on the east coast with an extensive line of name brand products at great prices. When we contacted GOPC about the Everglades Challenge they responded with excitement and have been working with us to get us geared up and ready for race day. With spray skirts, PFD's, paddles, base layers, as well as a generous discount for all of the other items on our wish list.
We are really glad to support our local outfitter and they are glad that we are out there doing the stuff that they are all about. A great big thanks to Chuck Millsaps who has been great in helping us get what we need for our first water trials this weekend.
Today, Mike and I were over at the GOPC store in Raleigh to check out some spray skirts and cockpit rims for the boats. We are thinking about using a prefab cockpit rim from Hurricane kayaks that GOPC is helping is obtain. This would cut down on the build time for the cockpits considerably. After borrowing a cockpit sizing form, we headed over to the shop and cut out all of the hatches on both boats.

After that we bought some insulation and space heaters so we can heat the shop and do some epoxy work tomorrow. We finished up with some dry assembly of the crossbeams and amas on the hull. They sure look good. Make note that the cockpits are not to their final shape yet but are instead the size of the inside hatch rims. We cut the hatch rims out of the cockpit locations to save wood and since they already had the approximate curve in them.
This also let us make some measurements on the inside width where the seats will go so that my dad can start working on the seats. Here are the hulls all full of holes. It was nice to see the inside of the boats again. Soon we will be gluing on the crossbeam supports and finishing the hatches. In other news, my dad took some time today to pick up the hobie rudders that we will use from Vlad (AKA Crazy Russian). He drove up to deliver the rudders to us. We really appreciate his help.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Have a Krispy Kreme Day!

Saturday morning, Mike and I joined the 1,380 doughnut lovers at the NC State belltower for the Krispy Kreme Challenge. (Left: Mike, Alan, Adam) Mike and I both finished in under an hour (Mike: 44:41), (Alan: 48:36). See official results here. All said and done, the race raised $10,300 for the NC children's hospital! The event was a huge success and a great time was had by all. The fastest time was an incredible 24:32 which just blows our minds.

The physical and mental challenge of running, eating and entire dozen doughnuts and running again was too much for some competitors as you can see. To give you an idea of how unique this event was, instead of water stations for the runners on the return trip that you might find on a normal running event all that could be found were doughnut stations where all you could get was a hot glazed doughnut.

I am glad to report however that Mike and I held down the full dozen like the real men we are. Thats 2400 calories, 120 grams of sugar, and 48 grams of trans fat. MMMMmmm good. We then proceeded to sleep late into the afternoon. We will definitely be back next year when the event will undoubtedly be even bigger.

Make yourself at home

We are all moved into our new storage unit as of today thanks to Ample Storage on Bush Street in North Raleigh. A huge thanks to Loretta and Jeff for making this happen. We really appreciate it. The unit has been donated to the team for the entire month of February.

If ever you find yourself wishing you has that extra space or wish you could keep your car in the garage again, then consider Ample Storage. The best deal for storage space around!
Mike and Chris and I spent the evening today cleaning the floor and doing some organizing. This is where we will finish construction of the boats and store them while training. The space is 25' x 25' with outlets all around and a single door so we don't let all the heat out. Ooooo Ahhhhhh!

The space was previously occupied by a mechanic who left some nice spots of grease on the floor. Scrub scrub scrub. Now that we have a space to work we will finish the cockpits, install the seats, get the rudders knocked out and glue on all the crossbeam supports. After that it will be time for paint and the we hit the water for some paddling.

Thanks again to Brian Weber (daBiscuit) for donating over 400sqft of sailcloth in the form of two C-scow sails for us to use. Visit his website at.... and also at Captain of the "O" dark 30. The sails look awesome! We hope to be using them soon.

More to come. Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Space...the final frontier

Tomorrow, we will head up to the Ample storage in north Raleigh to pick out our shiny new storage lot (SWEEEET) that is being donated to the team for us to use during the month of February. Finally we have a place to call home again. Add some space heaters, knock out a wall or two and add in a kitchen and bath and it will be just like Charlotte.

In other news, the sails are in, the rudders are on their way thanks to Vlad (AKA Crazy Russian), and the Duckworks order my dad made a few days back just arrived in the mail back in Chapel Thrill so the seats are well on their way. Look for some real work in the next few days as we wrap up the boats and gear up for a day on the lake.

Have you heard of the Krispy Kreme Challenge??? well its an annual race in Raleigh right on campus to support the children's hospital. This is "officially" the 2nd annual KKC. Last year there were 140 registrants. This year there are OVER 1000!. Including Mike and myself. This amazing race requires challengers to run two miles from the NCSU Belltower (on campus) to the Krispy Kreme factroy downtown upon which you will consume one dozen fresh hot doughnuts as fast as possible before running the two miles back. Oh yeah, the time limit is 1 hour. Look for updates on how we did later this weekend. Wish us luck. After the guessed it, back to boat building and a flight test on Sunday.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Are we wet yet?

Well, no. Not quite but we are darn close.

Big things are happening behind the scenes for team RAF. It looks as though our persistent phone calls and e-mails might soon equate to some new gear for the whole team! Gosh we hope so. But I will keep you on the seat of your pants again until all the details are worked out. We are pretty exited.

Hey, also check out who just posted an article we wrote about the EC and our team. Thanks Scot, for helping us get the word out.

The schedule has us in the water by the end of next week. In regards to the boat we need to (as we like to say) DOOO IIIT! We are working hard to finish up the crossbeam mounting points, cockpits, and seats but in order to do this we need to get the boat out from under the terrible tarp which means getting a storage unit pronto. We are patiently awaiting the word from our friendly neighborhood storage unit manager who is really a nice guy and is doing his best to locate something for us free of charge for the month of Feb. Keep fingers crossed.
After painting; rudders, hatches and leeboards will have to wait until after the first sea trials (lake trials). I was messing around a bit in paint and I think I got a little carried away but these two pictures do demonstrate some of the design changes that we made to the "stock" Wa'apa.

Notice that the crossbeam location has been shifted 4 feet forward essentially which allowed for better distancing between sailors and will help with stability in the long run. The Ama's are also a bit shapelier. Rudders with footpedal control will be used for hands free steering. The top of the hull is also fully decked with "kayak" style cockpits that will use conventional sprayskirts. The mainsail is also different. We would ideally like to use a roller reefing sail design in which the mainsail rolls up around the unstayed mast. This allows the mainsail to be continuously reefable and it also keeps the deck clean when the sail is fully furled. We are also toying with the idea of a jib and we would definitely like to have a spinnaker for downwind legs. For this we would probably employ a temporary backstay that went from the top of the mast to the crossbeams.

Here is a picture of the second leeboard. The first one is already finished. It will be shaped this way front and back for a symmetrical cross section. Since Mike, Matt and I are Aerospace engineers after all, there was much discussion about how the leeboard should be shaped for maximum lift through the water. In the end we decided that simple was best and so symmetrical it is. We also were thinking about using dual leeboards (one on each side) but again realized that we can add another one later if we want to. Right now we just need to get on the water.

Stay tuned for more updates and keep an eye on if you don't already.

Thanks for checking in.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Crossbeams, leeboards, and outriggers galore!

After yesterday's long night, we stumbled back into the lab around noon. Chris was busy with studio work all day, so our crew consisted of Mike, Alan, and me. With crossbeams cut to length (4 10 foot pieces), we aimed to complete the attachment points on the outriggers and the main hulls. On the outrigger side of things, we needed to construct a sort of pylon to rise and meet the crossbeam, which, depending on our actual waterline, will probably be about 15 inches above the water. Since we are using foam outriggers, we decided to go with foam pylons. Using some of the stronger blue foam, we made 5 inch blocks that matched the contour of the outrigger on bottom. We left them flat on top ; they'll also get a 1.5 inch layer of foam rubber we salvaged from some shipping pallets. This squishy foam will take the shape of the crossbeam nicely, while ensuring that nothing slips around unintentionally. To complete the joint, we'll embed a wooden dowel or aluminum tube through the pylon, to serve as a lashing point. We added some wooden reinforcing disks (cut on the lathe) to spread the load throughout the foam. The whole assembly (minus the softer foam) was fiberglassed to the amas. The blended joint should be just as strong as the rest of the outrigger.

On the main hulls, we decided on a set of contoured laminated plywood blocks. The bottom of these pieces will be glued to the side and deck of the hull; the top will receive the streamlined crossbeam sections, with a thinner strip of the shock-absorbing foam in between. The blocks themselves were constructed out of laminated 1" thick spruce plywood, also part of the same shipping pallets. You never know what someone might throw away! We suspect the whole vibration-isolated pallet must have carried some sensitive scientific equipment, like a new mass-spec for the chemistry department. We finished all the rear brackets today, the rest will have to wait until the Design School shop opens back up on Monday afternoon.

We started work on the leeboards, cutting out the rough shapes. These will be made out of the same salvaged plywood, perhaps with fiberglass reinforcement if necessary. We spent a while discussing the possible hydrodynamic and structural costs and benefits of a pair of asymmetric leeboards versus a single symmetric leeboard (we are engineers, after all), and finally just went with the simplest option - a symmetric profile with a streamlined shape. They still look pretty rough, so pictures will have to wait until they get some more attention.

By the way, the weather in the area has been horrible this weekend. The 'wintry mix' of rain, sleet, snow, and more rain has been a real pain. Of course, we wouldn't have gotten nearly as much work done if our Aerial Robotics flight test wasn't cancelled, but that's neither here nor there. This has been a productive weekend, and we're knocking out tasks left and right.

Alan added a new feature to our sidebar, a map that displays the rough location of each of our individual blog visitors. We've gotten hits from all over the world!

Enough for now, leave us some comments if you get the chance.


Sunday, January 21, 2007

Weekend Warriors

A day truly devoted to the challenge. Here we see the Mike (AKA MikeMike or Kotzebue) in this natural habitat surfing around on the WaterTribe forums and planning our route through ten thousand islands in the background.
The team fell back into the groove today and got some great work done. Read on.

Yesterday we got the final word on the unused project rooms on the west side of campus that we were hoping to move into for a couple of weeks...or just a week.... or hey how about just ONE weekend! The answer...."NO". What a bummer. So it was back to the Aerial Robotics Lab (Oh yeah, that's what Mike, Matt and I do when we are not building boats, we build UAV's) for workspace while the boats sit outside in the cold under a tarp and will no doubt be covered in about a quarter inch of ice by tomorrow evening.

We are pursuing a storage unit which may be donated to us until the start of the challenge which would at least give us a big place to store all of our gear and stuff between training days and a place to sprawl out and unload all of this boat building tools that I have been hauling around in my truck for the last 3 weeks.

On a brighter note, I finally got in touch with (by e-mail) a potential sponsor (not telling yet) who we hope with come through for us in a big way. More details to come I hope.

My dad came over to Raleigh and Mike, Chris and I helped him use the Vacu-form machine in the design school workshop to make a plexiglass mold of my mom's Dreamcatcher seat. My dad has offered to build four fiberglass seats for us to use in the Wa'apas. THANKS DAD! I guess you could say that "He's got our backs" (backsides in this case).

After saying goodbye to the clear plastic butt bucket as it came to be known, the team got to work on some of the major "TO DO" items like...the akas. We are using extruded aluminum mast sections from two long since departed hobie 14's that my good friend, occasional business partner, and Nacra 20 racing teammate gave to us free of charge. Thanks Trey.
If you get a chance, check out, this is the Velocity Sailing homepage that documents team Velocity (See the team Bio for names) and their quest to become pro catamaran sailors. If you ever are in need of sailboat parts, rigging or equipment at a good price give Trey a call.

We got to work cutting the akas using a chopsaw with a metal cutting blade which was very satisfying. After making a final decision on where the crossbeams should go (at least initially) we started working on the ama pylons that will lower the amas down from their high perch on the straight akas. These blocks are made of dense blue foam and will be fiberglassed over with multiple layers of fiberglass tape. A dowel rod will run through the pylon and a chunk of squishy foam will cap the pylons and the aka will be lashed to this top surface with bicycle tube. Very exiting. We will do the fiberglassing tomorrow.
Also on our plates for tomorrow are the leeboards which will be made out of 1" think 8ply plywood that we found outside in the dumpster, SCORE!! As well as the thick aka mounting blocks which will be glued to the side and deck of the hull to support the aka above each side of the boat. Since the decks are curved and the akas are straight this piece will be very important and will be very strong. Look for more updates tomorrow.
And now some much needed Thanks:

A big thanks to Brian (AKA Capitan of the "O" Dark 30) for his unwavering support. He has graciously sent us two C-scow sails (over 200sqft each) that we will be able to use to construct any size sails that we like. SWEET! Thanks again Brian. Check out Brians Blog (Captain of the "O" Dark 30) its a good one.

Thanks also to Stan Hanson for lending us his EPIRB to use on the challenge since the CG pushed their new regulations forward on everyone. What a HUGE time and money saver for us. Thank you, Stan.

One more thank you to Vlad (AKA Crazy Russian) for shipping us two hobie rudders to use on the boats. We will have foot pedal control of the rudders from the aft sailor in the canoe similar to a regular double kayak. Thanks again, Vlad.

Assembly Line

Practically from sun-up to sun-down, I've been working in the NCSU Aerial Robotics Lab, making parts on the student lab's little lathe, the Smithy. This machine (serial number 3023) has seen better days, and usually I end up frustrated with the output. But not today. With a lot of TLC, I'd been cleaning and tightening up the whole thing, and finally got it working well.

So today I used it to make (in order,) almost all the parts for an automatic tracking antenna mount for the Aerial Robotics Club, a pair of lovely Delrin mast steps for our sailing canoes, 16 wooden reinforcing disks for the amas, and a small plastic valve that will be part of another side project I'm working on. By 3:00 AM, my hands were getting pretty weary from cranking those little handles back and forth.

For your viewing pleasure, I've uploaded some images detailing the construction of the mast steps. We're planning to use a roller-furling mast setup, meaning the mast needs to be able to spin in place. Originally, we thought we'd need to make or buy complicated bearing supports like in the Hobie Mirage Adventure saling outriggered kayak. Turns out it was easier than we thought. For now, it looks like we can get away with a smooth Delrin cylinder just slightly (~.01") smaller than the inside diameter of the mast. The photos show the construction of these simple pieces. They're about 2 inches long. It feels good to have the right tools for the job! These will hold the base of the mast, slipping inside the hollow fiberglass. The deck will get a thick piece of Teflon where the mast passes through. We'll be adding a sort of windlass to the masts so we can rotate them from in the cockpits, reefing our sails without leaving our seats!

We've got more work planned for tomorrow, so stay tuned!

Matt Hazard (aka RedBeard)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Homeless but not helpless. After talking to one of Chris' professors that had shown interest in our project earlier last year, the team now has an official academic advisor who will let us work on the project as an "independent academic study" (we are basically all engineers and we are building two big boats so I think it counts). This will be our backbone now when we go ask to use one of the very large indoor workspaces on west campus that are vacant.

In other news, yesterday morning, Matt and Mike went over to the Aerial Robotics Lab to straighten up the mess we had made over the weekend and get the room back to normal. Last night, Mike and I transported the Amas and all the tools back over to Mike's apartment on campus with hopes that soon we will have our own workspace.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

AMAS ATTACK !!!!!!!!!!! the end Team RAF & friends prevail!

Yes that's right folk we have finished in the fiberglassing of the amas as of 23:45 EST. Things started off relatively quickly due to the previous nights work and fuller night of sleep. By 3:30 Matt, Chris, and I had finished the first half of the second layer for each ama and were off to the grocery store. Chris and I, but especially Chris, were enlightened by a new recipe which was a blend of the finest cottage cheese and the most exquisite apple butter; we have to thank Chris' girlfriend, Cynthia, for this lovely concoction.

After the late lunch we split up until 6ish when Alan returned from his sailing races in Florida and the rest of us were ready to finally finish the whirlwind of a weekend. Matt and I left to cook dinner for the four of us while Chris and Alan were left to sand away in preparation for the final covering. We returned with the ziti and meat sauce when JB (from Aerial Robotics) showed up. All of us took the time to enjoy the cooking and then it was game time.

It turns out that we estimated the amount of glass cloth that we needed quite well; a picture at the bottom of the page documents this with about 6" of cloth left on the roll. We still have plenty of glass tape, and a free sample from Thayercraft left for any remaining reinforcements.

We have to thank 'the other' Chris for helping out again today and also thanks to JB who in combination with Alan help us to set a World Ama Fiberglassing Record.

On to the pictures. The final picture is of Puta, per Matt's request for visual reference.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Ama Rama

The day began early for Matt and I with sanding the fiberglass of the first day's work. For the most part everything worked out fine with the glassing, but there were a few sour spots. Anyway we got the sanding done, and then began the itchness which still persists.

Chris showed up around 11:30, just in time to start helping out with the second half of the first layer. By this time we had everything in a decent order of production. In the middle of our covering job another Chris, from Aerial Robotics, dropped by and gave us a hand with the last two amas; thanks Chris!

We finished the the job and then headed over to the IM fields to play some ULTIMATE! Yay ULTIMATE! And there was much rejoicing. Then everybody went their own way.

About 9:30, I showed up back at the lab (homework gets old) to check on the amas. The last one we did was dry so I started trimming off all of the stray fibers. by the time this wasa done Matt showed up and we sanded the amas down, this time with body protection, for the beginning of the second layer.

As promised from yesterday here are some pictures, these are of the evening events.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Ama Wrap

Today Chris, Matt and I got to work on the fiberglass covering of the amas. It took awhile to get everything in place, but eventually things started to flow.

To begin the day we moved one car load of materials in to the Aerial Robotics lab in the Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering building. After that we had to find Alan's truck (Puta) to get some more tools; on the way back to campus from Puta we picked up the amas from my place.

Once everything was at the same place, Matt and I began smoothing down all of the (not so) Great Stuff foam filler. Now it was time to start glassing. We had the new epoy from Chuck-the-Duck, but we didn't have the pumps to pump it with, so we had to go get some other pumps; we don't know where the good pumps are, do you?

Being odd shaped objects, the fiberglass to cover the amas needed to be cut down; we were able to do this in short order using a roller cutter from the Aerospace senior design folk. After the glass was cut we covered one half of each ama. Tomorrow we hope to get at it early to get the other half done, and then come back later and put another layer of glass on top of what we did today.

Sorry there aren't any pictures today, we'll try to get some tomorrow.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Back to School

We haven't made much progress this past week; the beginning of the semester is always a little crazy. We are working on finding a sheltered place close to campus to store our boats, especially for doing the fiberglass work on the amas. Alan is heading south to Multihull Nationals ("Tradewinds") in Florida, with Trey and his Nacra 20 beach cat.

Mike, Chris, and I will have our hands full with boat work this weekend. Depending on location, we'll try to get the amas fiberglassed and paint the main hulls. What colors, you ask? That's a secret until the paint is dry!

Also we have to give another HUGE THANKS to Chuck (the Duck) Leinweber of Duckworks Boat Builder's Supply. He sent us another round of epoxy to finish off construction. Thanks Chuck!!!

More updates soon, hopefully.


Sunday, January 07, 2007

Safe and Sound

We loaded up the boats on Saturday morning and I drove them to Chapel Hill for a birthday dinner and some needed sleep. Then today I packed everything up and transported the hulls to Raleigh. The boats are safe and sound now and we hope to wrap up the last of the construction soon.

So what is left to do you ask??? Hahahaa. Well not much really...just:

Put another coat of epoxy on the decks, cut out the cockpits, build up the cockpit spray skirt rims, cut out the deck hatches (x4), build up the deck hatch flanges, seal the hatches and install hatch closures, cut out the mast step hole (x2), install the delrin mast step block, cut a hole in the rear deck to install the rudder mounting hardware and rudder linkage exit locations, modify and install rudder for foot pedal control, install rear buoyancy bottles, install foot pedals/pegs, install rudder foot controls, construct and mount seats and backrests, construct sails, mount sailing hardware, install carry loops, fiberglass the Amas with two layers of glass and paint, construct and mount the crossbeam mounting pylons on the decks (x4) construct and fiberglass in the Ama to crossbeam mounting pylons (x8), cut the crossbeams from the hobie masts and make end plugs, install drain plugs and interior screw on hatches, install bungee hold down straps on deck, I forgot to mention painting the hulls after the hatches and cockpits are done but before the hardware gets installed.

Geez I hope that is all. We should be able to go paddling (begin training)before all of that is done but that is what needs to be done before we call them done. We are at another high point with finished hulls but I know the tunnel will soon start to narrow. As long as we keep the end in sight we will make it.

Thanks to everyone who is following our progress. Keep the good vibes coming in our direction.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Moving Day

Today was spent packing up all of our tools, and making preparations to transport the completed hulls to Raleigh (school) where we will be doing all of the smaller projects like crossbeam mounting, fiber glassing the foam amas, cutting out cockpits, and finally painting the hulls. We want to get on the water as soon as possible so hopefully we will knock that stuff out quickly.

The team owes a HUGE thank you to Hubert Whitlock Builders in Charlotte, NC without whom we surely would never have gotten to where we are so far in such a short time. Tomorrow, we will say goodbye to the workshop. It has been a very agreeable place to work to say the least! Who else can walk from their kitchen eating lunch into their gigantic warehouse, pick up a sanding block and build a boat? Truly IDEAL. Over these last few weeks, we have been met with much praise and everyone has been very encouraging. Thanks mostly to Matt and Chris's Mom who agreed to let us work here.

More to mention: Last week Matt and Chris were visited by their brother in law Jack who is also a watertribe acquaintence by coincidence. He is an avid sailor and had some great ideas about the design and even took off his coat to help us work on the boats for a day. His two daughters also seemed exited by the project and made for some very cute photo opportunities. Thanks a lot Jack and we hope to see you on the race course soon. Maybe next year.

Also, a great big thanks to Mike's Dad and Mom, from Matt, Chris and I for bringing us countless meals at the warehouse and helping us out in the shop with some of the more challenging parts of the construction. Thanks Mike's Dad for the delicious meals!!!!

Thanks also to Mike and Matt and Chris's family for taking me in these last few weeks in Charlotte and treating me as your own. Keep watching for more exiting updates that we hope will come soon.