Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Nikola Wav - All Electric Wetbike

It would seem the time is here. It was inevitable that someone would try to design, produce, and sell an all electric wet-bike and the electric vehicle company Nikola has done it. At lest to the point where you can get on a waiting list (for free no less!)

Nikola (as in Nikola Tesla, but not as in Tesla vehicles) has been making ATV style electric vehicles for some time with promise that a water sport vehicle was coming. Well, it's here. There are a lot of questions I have as an armchair boat designer and engineer, not the least of which is how do make an all electric power plant safe in the water, but for now, let's see what Nikola is saying about their new toy.

Not much. But on my concerns about safety, Nikola seems to be touting the IP68 standard of waterproofing. This waterproofing standard is not really made for things like wetbikes, but more for small devices like mobile phones and requires a device be able to handle being fully immersed in up to 1.5m (a smidgen under 5 feet) of water. So the Wav is rated about the same as your Galaxy S10 for operation under water. Of course, that's just fine for the occasional roll-over and usage and I'm guessing that Nikola is banking on their design never sinking below the waterline.

Another point feature is "Instant Torque". That's an interesting angle. Instant torque is a feature of all electric motors. In actuality all electric motors exhibit maximum torque at zero velocity (which is why train locomotives tend to use electric motors powered by generators driven by diesel engines). So I suppose it's reasonable to equate that to "instant". But what does that mean for the performance of the wetbike? Answer: That depends. There's nothing inherently performance enhancing about having maximum available torque at the prop(or impeller in this case). It's can be an advantage, but many other factors would need to be examined in the design of the propulsion to determine any specific performance boost. But that's a completely different discussion.

The Wav apparently goes full digital for display with a twelve inch 4K dashboard but from the image below it looks like you could watch a movie or something.

And then there's my favorite, the front LED headlamp (not a bad idea), and the rear taillights. Taillights? Do they work like brake lights or somethings?

There are no other details regarding performance, run time, charge time or pricing at this time.

But you say hey! Why so snarky? I mean these guys are doing it aren't they? Sure, but I think you're going to have to bring a lot more to the table then just an electric power plant, better storage and a curious hull, to get people to buy these things. Take a lesson from Tesla, Nikola. Early adopters want a compelling reason to go electric. Elon Musk gave them super-cruise and auto-pilot with brain melting performance. What does the Wav provide but novelty and dubious performance enhancements? I wish them luck though, I really do, but the consumer is king on this battlefield.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The United States Coast Guard - 227 Years Old

The oldest military service of the United States turns 227 years old this month.  I've been a little harsh on the Coast Guard lately in regards to Lake of the Ozarks, so let me make some amends by saying Happy Birthday to what I consider the finest branch of the military this country has ever produced. Certainly not the most lethal, but that isn't their mission, which is why I was proud to have served. Saving lives, protecting our country, and ensuring free commerce along our waterways is just as important as projecting force abroad. Any damn fool can pull a trigger, but it takes something a bit more to put your ass on the line to save another.

From Alaska to Key West Florida, and on three separate ships, my four years were probably the most memorable years of my life. To the great men and women I served with, and those that serve today, a heartfelt salute.

To the U.S. Navy.... Phhhht!
To the U.S. Army...... Phhhht!
To the U.S. Air Force.... Phhhht!

To the U.S. Marines.... You guys are great! Remember D-day!

All in good fun lads. You know we're all in this together.

Semper Paratus!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Large Prop Casting

Pretty cool!

Monday, April 17, 2017

New Durable Hydrophobic Material

The folks at Liquiglide may get a little nervous at this demo of a new hydrophobic material developed by the University of Michigan.

Hydrophobic material has been around for quite awhile now and there are many impressive videos of this material and how water behaves on it, How about a pair of jeans that never get wet?  Or a windshield that needs no wipers?  Or a marine vessel with extremely low skin friction(the major source of drag)?

The problem has always been the durability of the hydrophobic material itself. Apparently it easily rubbed off or scratched, and overall not very durable.  Until now.

This new material can be sprayed on and has self healing properties.  According to the paper presented by the University this new material can recover "even after being abraded, scratched, burned, plasma-cleaned, flattened, sonicated and chemically attacked,".

This durability is very important for applications in the marine industry in terms of the need for re-application over a period of time, especially for larger vessels where drydock time is few and far between, and very expensive.

For a more detailed explanation go to the Michigan News page.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Lexus Amazing Sport Yacht Concept

Not only is this concept boat by Lexus stunning, it looks extremely seaworthy. This is no rendering either, the boat is on display this month at the Miami boat show. Simply named the Lexus Sport Yacht it is 42 ft long and powered by twin Lexus V-8s producing a total of 885hp, a modest output for such a large runabout.  With a top speed of only 49mph and an 8 passenger capacity it's not exactly a speedster nor a crowd hauler so the emphasis here is on luxury, and it shows. While it remains a concept, feedback on the design could prompt a retail version but honestly these things rarely hit the streets. What they do however is demonstrate marine design trends for the future, in this case a center helm, smooth lines with little or no rigging protrusions, and lots of curves.  I'm in!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Coast Guard's Nazi Ship

The Coast Guard Cutter Eagle is the last of the tall ships in active service, but did you know she started her career as the "SSS Horst Wessel", a training ship for german sailors in WWII?  She's even seen battle.

Here's the story.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Record Wave Height of 19.0m (62.3ft)

There are lots of headlines today over an announcement by the World Meteorological Organization of a record wave height measured by a sensor buoy.  It was 19 meters (62.3ft) high, and not just some "rogue wave".  More interestingly, everyone is reporting this as if it just happened, when in fact the data point was collected on April 2, 2013.

Buoy Location 59°07.3'N, 11°42.5'W
The actual measurement is called: "Highest Significant Wave Height as measured by a Buoy", but what does "highest significant wave height" actually refer too?

In this instance, "Significant wave height recorded is four times the RMS value of the water level above the average level of the water surface measured over a 17½ minute period. The factor of 4 applied to the RMS value is because the waves are trochoidal in nature. (Waves at sea, especially those growing under the influence of the wind, tend to be short-crested, i.e. the wave crests project further above the mean level than the troughs are below it.) The ‘average’ wave period, again over a 17½ minute sample, is the average of the periods over 7 successive 2½ minute samples (each determined from the number of wave cycles in the sample)." - WMO

Okay, that's not just some single wave calculation.  For all the non-math nerds, what this essentially says is that the number represents a sampling of waves over a period of time, and the "root mean squared" (RMS is a calculation typically used to find peak magnitudes for a set of numbers) value of those wave heights was multiplied by a factor of 4 to account for the shape of the waves (wind driven in this case) and the buoy's heave sensor sampling rate.  So what we're talking about is not a 19 meter rogue wave, but a brief series of waves that statistically calculate to be of that average height.

Those are monster waves. I've been in 40ft seas in the Pacific and can say it was an amazing, if somewhat frightening experience. Not one I'd like to repeat.