On Wednesday 23 September at 7:43pm, the College launched their fourth attempt at the Microtransat Challenge. The competition was launched in 2005 to stimulate the development of fully autonomous model sailing boats capable of crossing the Atlantic in an east-west or west-east direction.
Bringing together students from various departments, Epsom has participated actively since September 2015 as part of a student-led STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) project. We remain the only school to do so.
The software and hardware has evolved over time and we have seen every new boat show substantial improvement over the previous attempt. Whilst Alexander Ukrasin and Thomas Cross (departing U6) were the main drivers behind this latest attempt, over 100 students have been involved in various ways over the last four years.
Equipped with a self-designed and programmed USB datalogger, which logs latitude, longitude and temperature data, and a GPS module to calculate its position and determine a heading to the next waypoint that is stored in its memory using software the students have written themselves, the boat has the ability to transmit its location every hour, from anywhere in the world, directly to its own Twitter feed (@Epsom_Transat) via the Iridium satellite network.
Sadly, several days into the challenge the mainsail linkage (triple redundancy) failed and Endeavour is now adrift. The pupils learnt a lot from this attempt, and it is our most successful year yet. Both homemade trackers are doing well and hopefully will aid recovery and our next attempt.
More info at www.microtransat.org or rehash one of the previous articles