Tabletop device teaches students the basics of sailing before hopping on board a real boat
Sailing is a great way to get outdoors and explore the open waters, yet it can also pose some risks to the pilot and passengers if they are unfamiliar with how the boat handles under different wind conditions. As Kif Scheuer notes in his project write-up, traditional instruction relies on simple 2D illustrations, so he decided to take it a step further and build a hands-on demonstrator with a model sailboat to teach students the fundamentals in a more realistic/physical manner.
Because this device is meant to simulate sailing, Scheuer needed some sort of wind generator in the form of a 5V PC fan that was powerful enough to move the boat’s sail. It’s mounted onto an aluminum arm that is positioned on the output shaft of a NEMA17 stepper motor, thus allowing the Arduino UNO Rev3 to pivot its direction. Similarly, the boat was also hooked up to another stepper motor so that it could turn according to the fan’s updated position along its arc. The other electronics include a display for showing the current mode, a potentiometer for user interaction, and several buttons that control the mode/fan angle.
Once assembled, the user is able to switch between the various modes: manual, selective, random, and wind, with this last mode enabling the user to pivot the fan rather than the boat to observe how the sail reacts. You can read more about the sailing demonstrator on Instructables.