Mario's Lego Robotics Archive

Duna Rossa

In the wake of the great success of Luna Rossa, the Italian sailboat that won the Luis Vitton Cup 2000, my brother Giulio and I decided to build this rather unconventional robotic vehicle. The name Duna Rossa (Red Dune) mimics the original Luna Rossa (Red Moon), and the sail has been obtained from a Prada shoes bag (Prada was Luna Rossa'a sponsor).

Building this sail tricycle has been a lot fun, though I must admit that the performances are less than exciting. Let's say that with a strong wind, going downwind or broad reach... it moves!

The architecture is very simple: the RCX controls two motor, one to steer the rudder and the other to activate the winch for the mainsail. The wind direction is detected through a vane on the masthead connected to a rotation sensor. A second rotation sensor monitors the position of the boom so as it can be adjusted for the proper angle. Finally, a touch sensor is used to check when the rudder is centered.

Duna Rossa may be programmed to adjust mainsail according to the course, or to adjust the course to mantain a specific sailing point.

In this picture you may notice the main problem that affects the performances of Duna Rossa: there's no sail slide in the mast so the luff of the mainsail is not ridden (and this is really a *bad* thing for efficiency).

Non-Lego components: the cloth for the sail and the vane; all the lines (ropes), including stays & shrouds and exluding the sheet.

The left side. Shrouds, forestay and backstay are controlled by pneumatic cylinders. This allows to set them up separately, to provide proper tension, and finally to release them after usage not to keep the structure under stress.

The "rudder". You can see the motor that rotates the directional wheel, the touch sensor and the cam that closes it when the rudder is centered, and the pneumatic cylinder that sets up the backstay.

Detail of the pump and the valves that control the four pneumatic cylinders.

The heel and the surrounding area. The blue rotation sensor in the middle of the picture detects the position of the boom.

The masthead. The rotation sensor is connected to the vane with a 3:1 ratio to increase its resolution from 16 sectors to 48 (7.5 degrees each).

Detail of the winch that controls the mainsail.

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