Standardization of form factors, interconnects and modules?

(K.R. Erichsen) #1


I’m new to the forums and have read many of the engineering posts with great interest. I examined many of the design proposals in the engineering section (, some of which I found quite intriguing. However, I have not been able to find anything specific as to how the institute plans to go about standardizing the “modular” approach often mentioned or implied in the various proposals. If there is an intent to do so, is there a design guide for how these standards will be proposed, reviewed, approved and maintained by the community somewhere?

For example, what sort of interconnect will join floating platforms together, and what sorts of mechanical, electrical, hydraulic and other functions might such an interconnect provide? It would seem logical to me that if we were to expect a module or platform manufactured by vendor A to interconnect with one manufactured by vendor B, or even self-built by the owner/inhabitant that first and foremost, this mandates that there be some applicable compendium of standards upon which to build such an interconnect. There might also be a need for testing such interconnects to certify that a particular interconnect complies with one or more standards, particularly important when such components have safety implications.

It appears to me that it is at least an aspirational goal that platforms interconnect in a way which is intuitive, resilient and easily coupled and uncoupled in order to say, share power, fresh water, provide data interconnects and so on. I would presume that once workable designs are selected amongst the various proposals that at least some of these details would be formalized and disseminated, but I don’t see specific mention of these details or the process that might be utilized.

In the industry I come from, substantial cost reductions were realized by standardizing protocols and interfaces. If a given product could meet the electrical and signalling requirements, it didn’t matter if the product was manufactured with one kind of material or another, look and feel really didn’t matter but for customer preference or marketing purposes. I believe similar cost efficiencies would be realized applying a similar approach, from window panels to fire-rated pass-throughs, using as much as possible that has already been standardized by ISO and the various other organizations that seem to have a hand in marine architecture.

Has anyone begun analyzing and characterizing the component sets comprising a floating platform that might require application-specific standards to interconnect it to other platforms that fall outside of what has already been standardized by some standardization body?

Thank you.

(Larry G) #2

While I (and many others) agree with what you’ve said here, the Institute hasn’t published specifications and apparently does not intend to. The Institute promotes the concept of Seasteading, and the forum here is merely a discussion forum for sharing ideas.

Check the Wiki for some exaples of existing standards:


I’ve been doing that for a modular design I’ve been working on, but, as Larry mentioned, nothing sanctioned by the TSI, yet.

Also, there is very little consensus here regarding the shape, size and functionality of such “seasteading modules”, therefore not much in terms of standardization…

(.) #4


Welcome! We need new people here. Write some more. I am interested.

Best regards;


Welcome to the forum.

As was said, there are many ideas and no current projects to standardize modules, or connections that do not exist. I even suggested some form of the docking mechanism used by the ISS.

(bill mapezzi) #6

Yes, I briefly and successfully ran some analysis through my conscient faculties and characterized a flexible gangplank made from used tires. later a sleeker version of it was introduced here through you tube.
As far as I am aware the ISO only creates documents which provide regulations that ensure they get paid only after a product makes money for the wrong people. As of yet no mention of ship to ship interconnects that have been standardized…I think the idea is that you go to shore first on standardized gangplanks, and submit to some form of processing, before being allowed to continue on to a new ship.

(K.R. Erichsen) #7

Larry G,

I follow that the forum may not be the correct location for such work to be undertaken, but if the effort isn’t underway on the wiki, or some other document repository on TSI, and there is no mission statement within TSI which includes such standardization within its scope, then where would such important work be undertaken and by whom?

I reviewed some of the ABS and Det Norske Veritas GL standards and while there a large number of standards for passive fire protection, bulkheads, doors, windows and structures, there appears to be a delta with respect to interconnecting platforms intended for the high seas in the manner that I understand the platform modules/cells to be integrated together. I suppose that isn’t too surprising considering that platforms developed and launched in the manner envisaged have as yet not been produced.

In that vein, is there an expectation that ISO, ABS, or DNV will undertake this effort on behalf of the TSI, with one or more vendors eyeing the prospects of selling their wares to the burgeoning seasteading/aquapreneur industry? I haven’t worked with the various marine standards bodies, but I’ve done enough in telco to know it is often best to develop such concepts and present them largely fully formed into committee where it might be further developed, or approved/ratified as-is whenever it appears there is little likelihood that some other body will do the work that has largely the same problem statements as one’s own.

Unless there are similar approaches already extant with similar challenges to those faced by a modular floating platforms consisting of many discrete buoyant cells in close proximity to each other, then every proposal presented will have to undertake such details within each proposal (perhaps as part of a very extensive appendix, one which defines what it must and cross-references where possible) rather than allowing the architect to focus on the larger, macro-level engineering problems.

For example, is there any interconnect standard that would allow platforms to share resources as part of a distributed infrastructure (where your interconnected neighboring peer is also the redundant member in your own power production, desalination, waste processing, etc.)? I don’t believe ABS or DNS have such a thing, though I’ve only examined their compendium for a little over an hour and it is possible I may have overlooked it.


(K.R. Erichsen) #8


You mention that nothing has been sanctioned by TSI yet. Does this imply that standards similar to what I have inquired about “might” be sanctioned in the future? Is there a process in place for this already?

Is your proposal to be found in the engineering pages of the TSI website, or are you still developing it?

With respect to lack of consensus, is there an evaluation process for reducing the designs approved to some workable number with the intention of tendering the components for manufacture? I’m unclear on how submissions and approvals work in the TSI context, but its been my experience that economies of scale tend to prefer a smaller number of options which can be broadly deployed.


(K.R. Erichsen) #9

Many thanks Spark, though I’m uncertain if there is anything I can offer, unless constructive criticism of what I deem to be omission on the part of TSI counts.


(K.R. Erichsen) #10


How are projects started? Is there an evaluation process and then some number of volunteers donate x number of hours for that project as happens in some opensource projects? I’m getting the sense that I’m asking about choices in carpet and drapes before the structure has been defined, let alone built.

Is it your impression the issue is deemed premature at this point, or that it is simply not an issue of interest to TSI more generally?


(K.R. Erichsen) #11


With regard to ISO, all I can do is grin. From what you’ve described, it is far easier to start with shore interconnects, then go through some re-submission process to seek approval for ship to ship? Do you foresee the need to certify these components and if so, is that contingent on whether the interconnect provides power/ground or some other hose fitting for air, water, gas, oil, etc? Is that an accurate characterization?

BTW, I’ve seen that flexible gangplank on Youtube before when I was looking for manufacturers of polymer interconnecting cells. Kudos for getting your design out there. I’ve now seen it, quite by accident, at least three times. That Youtube algorithm for sorting out likes and preferences really is amazing.



TSI does what TSI does. So far the venture in French Polynesia is the 1st physical project with any significant start. To date a couple of fancy art contests, that was limited to fancy graphics.

On the smaller, family-sized builds, I am in the process of working up a seed-funding grant proposal to purchase land off Matagorda Bay, for a Texas Incubator Site/Support Base, a first-step toward the DIY approach. Of course, launching from the US means they will have to meet USCG standards and pass inspection, but I see that as a major Positive Attribute for safe operations.

(Larry G) #13

The closest is probably the standard interconnections between articulated tug-barge combos.

I’m not saying don’t undertake that brainstorming and designing here, I’m just saying that this is a discussion forum with varying levels of expertise and is not any kind of official policy platform.

In a word or two: LOL, no. Until somebody starts to build it and asks to have it insured, there is unlikely to be any work done by the classification societies.

I don’t want to disillusion a new member, and I hope you maintain your enthusiasm. But this is not a coherent engineering project. It’s an enthusiast’s movement with a discussion forum. there is no approval or disapproval of projects (just lots of discussion and plenty of criticism.) It is my personal hope that some folks glean enough good ideas out of the bad to proceed on a successful project whether anyone else approves or not.

I have a couple ideas that I have been working on modeling, and I’m generally spending some time learning about related stuff like sailing and power boating, marine industry standards, and construction techniques. But that’s just me.

(K.R. Erichsen) #14


I suppose this as much an answer as to whether my area of interest is premature. It certainly seems to be.

As for the DIY approach, I’m all for it and if it has to comply with the US Coast Guard, as a bare minimum, that gives at least some peace of mind. Probably the biggest worry I have if the first generation platforms is electrical grounding and fire safety.


(K.R. Erichsen) #15


Could you point me to the interconnection you refer to that is in current use on articulated tug-barg combos? That could prove useful even if it’s not directly usable without modification. Do you know if this interconnect is more than just a mechanical linkage?

It would seem odd to create a new project home just to lay down standard connections that all designs are at least encouraged to use, something which if adopted voluntarily would save a lot of time for the designer. Choosing among a few pre-baked interconnect solutions (solutions which should be possible to scale from houseboat size to the scale of some of the larger barges and offshore oil platforms, labelled something like A through C, smallest to largest). There appears to be a need for two main versions, one version for wide shallow platforms and one for narrow and deep platforms. It would only take a few hours to list the attributes that such an interconnect would require, its form factor and physical characteristics. The wiki page doesn’t really provide this detail currently, unfortunately.

I suppose I could lurk for a time until it appears the Blue Horizon’s project has advanced far enough to start worrying about cost reduction of the individual buoyant units and how to interconnect them together.


(Wilfried Ellmer) #16

what is that industry - what is your trade within this industry… | submarine cable connecting the world |

(Larry G) #17,-towing-and-salvage/more-atbs-for-major-us-owners

I would encourage you to sign up as a Wiki contributor and add your thoughts to pages that interest you. I’ve done quite a bit of page mods, but not much recently. I would be very happy to see others working on it as well.

(K.R. Erichsen) #18


I’m a 20 year veteran of the telcom/cable industry, with another 10 years before that in IT.


(K.R. Erichsen) #19


I will signup for Wiki contributor access as you suggested.

As for the Intercon ATB coupler, this is more like what I’d expect for at least a marketing level spec sheet. Something akin to this should be defined here:

Among the specs, I see they have differentiated the product line into five models by displacement (in tons) and barge length (leverage). They have a USCG classification for their coupler (USCG NAVIC 2-81).

My first impression is that it appears to be a fairly elegant solution to coupling a tug to a barge, but I’m less clear on applicability to platforms, particularly those of the hex variety, but equally so for square or rectangular platforms. In the case of the tug to barge, the bow of the tug nests within a recess in the barge where an electric motor and/or electric motor and hydraulic pump engage a toothed ram into a toothed slot to effect engagement. While ramming the engagement surface into the sloped, toothed slot is a simple way to do this and the system can be scaled up or down as needed, I do wonder about a few aspects of the design.

Gears clattering against each other on ocean waves are bound to result in wear and run-out and I’m not sure if its the ram or the teeth in the slot that will wear out first. One would hope the ram is the softer of the two in the arrangement since it is easily the more accessible and easily replaced of the two sides of the mating surfaces. From the animation it would appear to allow movement in the vertical plane, but little to none laterally. For a powered application like this, that probably makes sense, since the goal is to maintain control of the flat bottomed barge without the tug chasing it all over the waterway.

Looking at the prodigious amount of steel these assemblies are requiring, and even though they are not stainless steel all the way through, there is a good amount of material, a lot of weight and require a significant amount of machining to produce each of them. Not a low-cost component by any stretch even if you DIY fabricated and adapted the design, scaled down significantly. As for combined system costs, for houseboat scale components, you’d probably want to find a way to forgo the electric drive motor and/or hydraulic rams and the ancillaries to drive these components. Using a manual rotating wheel to advance the ram on a lead screw would suffice, with a locking lever or tab at the end of travel to stop it from backing out the ram.

I was imaging something simpler, with the platforms fabricated to have recesses that would correspond to what was essentially a fairly massive C resilient clamp that would be bolted to one side (clamper) through the top deck and captured on the other (clampee) through a recess in the top of the platform’s deck and along a reinforced side. These could be full length for smaller, shallow draft platforms or in two sections, a top and a bottom to control the platforms and maintain a reasonable distance between them, with one clamp on top and one below on the underside in mirrored configuration.

In situations exceeding their static load (the point at which they deform) the clamp would collapse, but you’d end up with a bump stop that would cushion the collision in identical fashion to what is ordinarily achieved with old tires to prevent hull material to hull material contact between the platforms.

Between these clamps would be good place to have a flexible cable raceway with a passthrough on either side, the coupling interfaces attaching both sides via quick disconnect fittings, with stress relieved loops with several meters slack on either side of the coupling between the platform modules. Spring wraps would be used to prevent kinks as is often practiced with conventional boats today when docked.

Fabricating the hull structures for standardized, watertight passthroughs either through the upper side of the hulls or through the upper top edge of the module where it could be concealed under the clamp (to prevent damage to lines) solves the physical interconnect of power, fluid and data connections.

This arrangement of raceway-beneath-clamp would still allow access to inspect the cabling and hoses without decoupling the hull, albeit with some straining over the edge of the hull and above the water to access. The resilient nature of the mount would give them the ability to rebound into position after being deformed and prevent hull on hull impacts between platforms without relying on much more than a low-cost monolithic component, a glorified used tire that is clamped between platforms rather than merely strung alongside.

Decisions still need to be made about what to convey in the couplings, the size of the fittings and hoses and how grounding issues between modules will be resolved. An electrical spec would be needed to describe it adequately, much of which is already covered in standards already in existence that could be re-purposed and cross-referenced for the application.

Note I haven’t seen anything like what I’m describing, but the KISS principal should apply for reasons of manufacturing simplicity, avoidance of heavy, costly materials, etc. The simplest of the recyclable resilient materials for a large clamp-like coupling and raceway ladder would probably be urethane, or perhaps silicone rubber, though I think silicone has an edge on UV resistance unless the urethane were further compounded, rendering it less recyclable. It would give decades of reliable service and when spent, could be freshened up by judicious application of heat, a de-ox of the melt, and then back into a prepared mold.


(Torrey Jones) #20

First, welcome to the forum!

Second, I believe that a lot of those standards already exist within the Yachting community. Shore power has been largely standardized, more so than home electricity anyway. I believe, after a small amount of research, that data links are similarly standardized. I’m not so sure about sewage and water connections, but if you want to go with a standard, why not a standard that already exists in the form of RV hook ups for water and sewage?

As for a physical connection, I suspect that the typical boat mooring is going to suffice for a while, at least for the more temporary connections. If you’re looking for something permanent, I would start by looking into how marina dock segments are connected.