Quadriplegic sailor gains assistance in sail control using a specially designed pressure switch from Variohm EuroSensor.
Variohm EuroSensor has recently supplied World Magnetics DesignFlex pressure switches for a customised Sip-and-Puff pressure switch system that allows quadriplegic World Champion sailor Melvin Kinnear increased control of his servo-assisted Hansa Liberty sailing dinghy. Developed by Paul Bennett – a volunteer for the charity Tideway Sailability – the single-crew dinghy features servomotor driven winches for its main and jib sails which are normally reeled out and fine-tuned by a combination of joystick control and separate hand operated switches.
As a high level quadriplegic with limited touch sensation, Melvin finds it tricky to operate both sails together as he needs to keep switching between the two sails for race-performance fine tuning. As he cannot feel the switches, he has to look away from the sails when operating them which is really bad news when racing.
The Sip-and-Puff system completely overrides the jib circuit allowing Melvin to have simultaneous control of the sails via the two different systems. By using the joystick to control the mainsail, he blows through the Sip-and-Puff to move the jib out and sucks if he wants the sail to come in.
The new control system has been extensively trialled at Tideway Sailability who sail at Surrey Docks in London – and the great news is that it has turned out to be really intuitive and made a real difference to Melvin Kinnear’s sailing performance. He was the 2010 Liberty World Champion (Full Servo Class) and this year is lining up to sail in the European Championships at Rutland Water in July.
Variohm’s technical support team helped the volunteers at Tideway Sailability with the simple circuit required to interact the PSF102 DesignFlex switches with the existing joystick system. The compact components are packaged in a small weatherproof housing that includes an integral membrane to allow for atmospheric pressure changes.
With a wide range of standard mounting and porting options, modular Designflex pressure switches are widely used for mobility applications. Other areas for ultra-sensitive pressure, vacuum and differential pressure switching include medical and dental equipment, commercial appliances and HVAC; as well as use in demanding construction, agriculture, automotive, defence and eco-friendly equipment. The range covers pressure from 0.25 to 4137mbar (0.1″ H20 to 60psi) offering long working life and high reliability with a choice polyurethane and Teflon diaphragms. Application specific options include field adjustable set point, controllable hysteresis for precise deadband setting, and factory calibrated versions for tamperproof use as well as full military spec’ versions.