Monday, February 13, 2012

1 day prototype: Banana-boat

This is a one day prototype for the Protei project ( Made at the Eindhoven University of Technology (Faculty of Industrial Design). Photo's are made by Pieter Bron.

The idea

Exploring different ways of steering while maintaining the maneuverability of the boat was one of our first iterations to start-up our project. Brainstorming sessions resulted into the concept of the Banana-boat.
The idea is that the front of the boat is rounded and shaped upwards, providing lift when the boat is moving forward. Upon taking corners, the front will rotate 90 degrees to the left or to the right, putting a rounded rudder in the water, resulting into the boat taking a corner.

Parts List

Wooden keel (Filled with heavy weight-stuff -> approx. 1,5 kg)
Wooden cylinder
Iron bars (Sail)
Iron rings (Sail)
Fabric (Sail)
Tie Wraps
Duct Tape

Construction of this prototype

Cut an iron bar with a length of 55 cm. Cut another iron bar with a length of 30 cm. (Diameter of 2.5 mm was used on our prototype) Now solder the 30 cm iron bar on the 55 cm, at a distance of 10 cm at one end of the larger bar. Solder it 1 cm from the end of the small bar.

Measure the required size for the fabric. (Differs per fabric as some are more elastic than others.) Then, punch 6 holes in the fabric where the rings should go. (Look at upper picture for reference.)

Punch iron rings (Grommets) in the holes, leaving you with the following.

Note: One of the holes is still missing here. See earlier picture for sixth grommet position.

Use tie-wraps to connect the 5 grommets on this picture with the iron bars. Finally, solder a third iron bar right between the other two iron bars and connect the sixth grommet to it with a tie-wrap.

Use foam to construct the boat. Construct a shape that looks like the following picture.

Length is approx. 60 cm. Rudder is 10 cm, diameter of the hull is 8 cm. Next, cut this construction in half. Create a wooden cylinder with a thickness of approx. 3 cm, with the same diameter as the hull. Create a hole on top of this cylinder and punch your sail in it. Connect the cylinder with the rear side of the boat. Glue/duct tape/however you wish together.

Create two more slightly curved rudders. Glue these on the front part of the boat, in line with the curve in the boat itself. Glue them on a 90 degrees distance from the main rudder. Connect it up with the unused side of the wooden cylinder by sticking an iron pin inside the cylinder, then punch the foam front on this iron pin so it can rotate.

Create a wooden keel, fill it with lead (approx 1,5 kg) an stick it on the opposite side of the wooden cylinder compared to the sail.

Thats it, your boat is ready! Pimp it, should you wish.


- This boat does float
- It is possible to steer the boat with this type of rudder.
- The sail catches wind and creates forward motion of the boat.

Friday, February 10, 2012

1 day prototype: Shifting hull (robot snake)

This is a one day protoype for the Protei project ( Made at the Eindhoven Universitiy of Technology (faculty of Industrial Design).
Movie by: Pieter Bron

The Idea
With this prototype, we wanted to explore the shape changing hull as it was introduced in earlier Protei boats. To do this we decided to build a hull that moves its body like a snake. The hull is made of foam and its movement is controlled by servos attached to an arduino.

Parts list:
Steel rods
Elastic bands
Servos + wiring

We constructed six equal pieces of foam for the snake’s body, a head and tail where also added.
As shown in the sketch below, the servos are placed in a mirrored pattern.This was done for better weight distribution and it was easier create snake-like behaviour.

With a scalpel, holes for the servos where made;

Then a hole was made in every segment through which an elastic band was fed. This band keeps all segments together. In the back and front the elastic band is held in place by a rod that is pierced through the band.

For the joints, we tried different things;

First we tried making the joints form soft foam, this turned out to be to flexible. The joint being to flexible caused the snake to bend also in different directions as it should.

In version 1 of the prototype (see movie) we used square joints made of the same hard foam as the rest of the body is made of. These joints worked better but made the movement of the snake a lot less smooth. Therefore we chose to use triangular joints (version 2 in the movie).

From this prototype we learned about the mechanical properties a shifting hull needs (the importance of the joints)
If we are going to use this technique in the future we should look into using less servos to make a complete body move (with energy efficiency and simplicity in mind).

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Skype Meeting with Piem Wirtz

At 16:00 on Monday, we had our first meeting with one of the members of the Protei team. It was a fruitful session which has given us a clear view on what to do and what Protei expects from us. Important points are written below.

Getting contact with the community

There will be a weekly skype-meeting with the core members of the community on Monday at 16:00. We are free to tune in and chat along, or just monitor what’s been said in order to know the progress of Protei.

Interesting Points

- How do you remote control a Protei from behind your desk?
- Lots of practical questions about the prototype aren’t answered yet.
- Increasing the joy-factor of the end-user controlling a Protei (for PR-reasons.)
- Cesar currently lives in London. He’s the master brain behind it all. -> Contact him?
- Protei Headquarters are currently being build in Norway.
- There are tips & tricks and do’s & don’ts written in the manuals of the prototypes.


Everyone builds on his own version of a 1-meter-sized boat, accompanied with his own iterations on their concepts. On the 17th of May, there will be a festival organized by V2: The DEAF-festival (Dutch Electronic Art Festival). Protei will be there, and so should we.

Everything is open source, so is our collaboration with Protei. It is therefore mandatory that everything we produce is openly available for the Protei community.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Kick-Off Project

This project has started on the 6th of February, 2012. First encounter with our Client will take place at 16:00 this day. Meeting questions are set-up, while a small brainstorm is performed on which aspects we - as designers - can take on for the development of Protei.