After about three weeks of hard work, Avalon is now fully assembled again. With its completely redone and fully waterproof interior, new sail transmission gear, and a slip ring contact that enables the mast to spin infinitely, Avalon has gained great capabilities.
In the last days, we went out to test these new features and the matching pieces of software. Unfortunately, this did not go as well as planned. At first, we had problems with our new GPS antenna. The old one was ripped off the deck by an entangled towing rope in Portugal. The new one was supposed to be the same as the old one (only with different looks), but for some unknown reason it did not catch any satellites. When we bought one of the same model as the old one, it worked again.
The next problems were caused by our magnetic compass. In the redesign of the interior the compass was moved to a new position inside the boat. During the second exhausting day on the lake with nothing working, we discovered that this new location was a poor choice, because it was heavily influenced the the sail motor's magnetic field. As a result, the compass swings back and forth between -10° and +10° (north), independent from boat attitude.
Now, testing time is running out and there are still a lot of things that could and should be done before sending the boat over the Atlantic Ocean. For that reason, we have decided that we want to step back from the Microtransat Launch this year and aim for a launch in 2010. We want to use the time until then to test and improve the boat. We are also looking for students who want to do their bachelor or master thesis with the boat.
We are sad not to be able to launch this year, but it would be even worse to lose the boat because of some error we just didn't see. Nevertheless, we wish good luck to the team from Aberystwyth University and are excited to see how their boat's journey goes.