Thomas van der Pas – TU Delft Solar Boat Team

Writing software

It is almost Christmas break. The weather outside is turning colder by the day. Nevertheless, our team is devoted to get out of bed early, to be in the office five times a week. We are this year’s TU Delft Solar Boat Team, dedicated to build a solar powered boat in less than a year.

Every morning we start off with a 15-minute scrum meeting in which everyone answers the following questions:

  1. What did I do yesterday?
  2. What will I do today?
  3. Are there any impediments in my way?

Although these meetings are short, they are of great importance for communication between team members. As an example, this morning my answers to the questions above were as followed:

  1. I have been working on the connection between a sensor and a controller.
  2. I will start implementing software to read out the data from this sensor.
  3. Yesterday at the end of the day, the controller gave an unexpected error. I tried solving it with software, but it had more likely to do with the hardware (wiring) of the controller. I would like to get help from somebody with a better understanding of hardware than myself.

The solution turned out to be just shifting one of the jumper cables. Literally one of the most basic reasons for hardware problems, but (almost) unsolvable by software.

This brings me to a short overview of what I am doing in this team now. The boat uses a height sensor that calculates the distance between the boat and the water. To keep the boat as steady as possible on a certain height, given by the pilot, the following procedure is in place. A controller reads out the data generated by the height controller. If the measured height differs from the demanded height, the controller gives orders to wings under the boat to change angle and thereby lifting or descending the boat itself.

I am the one responsible for writing the software on this controller to create a properly working height control.

I hope this gives you a little behind-the-scenes of what we, as a so called “Dreamteam”, do throughout the year, and how you, as an EWI student, could be an addition to the team.