StrongArm helps load boats onto cars

By Ben Coxworth

09:02 March 29, 2011

The StrongArm Kayak Loader levers a user's canoe or kayak onto the roof of their vehicle (...

The StrongArm Kayak Loader levers a user’s canoe or kayak onto the roof of their vehicle (Photo: BoatHoist International)

Sea kayaks are quite possibly one of the finest things ever created by mankind, but they can be rather difficult to load onto the top of one’s car – this is particularly true for people who are trying to do the job single-handed, or who have a tall vehicle. Australia’s Steve Scott identified this problem as an opportunity, and invented the StrongArm Kayak Loader.

The StrongArm consists of a sort of Y-shaped adjustable-height aluminum bar that pivots on a steel base, which attaches to a vehicle’s tow ball. The bar is pulled back to rest at a 45-degree angle from the back of the vehicle, and which point the user places the hull of their kayak (or canoe) on the bar’s upper surface. As they proceed to push forward on the back of their kayak, the spring-loaded bar swings forward and upwards, levering the boat up to the roof of the car. Mechanical stops keep the bar from hitting the back of the vehicle.

When unloading the kayak, users pretty much just perform the process in reverse.

The bar can be strapped in place while in transit, although a simple Tee bolt hand-mounting system reportedly allows it to be removed from the tow ball within about 15 seconds.

“Many people love the idea of kayaks no matter where their interests lie, however have forgotten in their haste just how tricky, awkward and heavy they can be to transport,” Scott told us. “We have had many females purchase the StrongArm Kayak Loader, as often they are alone and lacking that extra pair of strong arms to help out.”

While the Kayak Loader can manage boats up to 6 meters (19.7 feet) long and weighing up to 65 kilograms (143 lbs), owners of heavier types of car-toppable watercraft can instead use the StrongArm Boat Loader. Basically a stronger, wider version of the Kayak Loader, it can handle boats weighing up to 80 kilos (176 lbs). An optional winch helps pull them into place.

The Kayak and Boat Loaders sell for AUD$495 and $795 (about US$507 and $814) respectively, and are available online via Steve’s company, BoatHoist International. So far, they are only available to residents of Australia and New Zealand.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

Pathfinder subs would crawl

along the ocean floor

By Ben Coxworth

13:57 March 8, 2011

Philip Pauley's proposed Pathfinder submarines would be able to crawl along the sea floor,...

Philip Pauley’s proposed Pathfinder submarines would be able to crawl along the sea floor, or move through the water when necessary

The Transatlantic Seafloor Research Challenge is not a real competition, but that hasn’t stopped British designer Philip Pauley from envisioning it, and the watercraft that would take part in it. If it were to exist, the challenge would require underwater vehicles to cross from the UK to the US using whatever route their team members thought was the quickest, but they would have to stay in physical contact with the sea floor for as much of the distance as possible. Pauley’s Pathfinder submarines would be equipped with wheels or tracks for trundling along the bottom on most of the crossing, but would also theoretically be able to propel themselves up through the water when necessary.

  • Philip Pauley's proposed Pathfinder submarines would be able to crawl along the sea floor,...
  • Philip Pauley's proposed Pathfinder submarines would be able to crawl along the sea floor,...
  • Philip Pauley's proposed Pathfinder submarines would be able to crawl along the sea floor,...
  • Philip Pauley's proposed Pathfinder submarines would be able to crawl along the sea floor,...

The designer estimates the trip taking between two and four weeks, during which time the submarines would maintain an average depth of at least 4,000 meters (2.5 miles). They would not be allowed to surface, but would instead be followed by topside support vessels that monitored their activities, and supplied life support and battery recharging power via umbilical cables. The support vessels would also be equipped with ROVs (underwater remote-operated vehicles), to assist the submarine crews in emergencies.

The Pathfinders themselves would be 10 to 15 meters (33 to 49 feet) in length, and would support a three-person crew. A lithium battery system would provide power for the wheels/tracks, and for the two-to-four side thrusters and rear propeller. All waste generated by the crew would have to be contained within the vehicle.

While the Transatlantic Challenge will presumably never happen, Pauley told us that he invented it as “a narrative to try to drive interest into the concept and engage investors.” Instead of winning races, he sees the subs being used more for scientific research and exploration.

When we asked about possible positive buoyancy issues with all those big fat tires, he replied that his hope is that they would be semi-solid. He admitted, however, that the optional heavy tracks could pose a negative buoyancy problem, and were pictured mostly to grab the attention of potential military customers. The windows, he added, were just included for wider audience appeal, and would not be part of an actual Pathfinder.

Given how such large windows would likely stand up to the pressure two and a half miles under the sea, that’s probably for the best

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

Eyes, ears and brains being developed for underwater robots

Engineers from Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Optronics are working on an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) that would be inexpensive enough to use for industrial applications such as hull and dam inspection, yet independent enough that it wouldn’t require any kind of human control. Typically, more cumbersome but less costly remote operated vehicles (ROVs) are used for grunt work – they are connected to a ship on the surface by a tether, where a human operator controls them. The more technologically-advanced AUVs tend to be used more for well-funded research, but according to the engineers, one of the keys to creating “blue collar” AUVs is to overhaul the ways that they see, hear and think. Read More

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha