Standardization of form factors, interconnects and modules?

(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.

(K.R. Erichsen) #21


Thank you for the warm welcome. I would agree that many of the interconnects are standardized for boats, but not all of them. As for RV hookups, that might suffice for filling many of the gaps. However, whereas a houseboat/RV might use one type of fitting and hose, if the structure to be mated with is on the scale of say, an MDU with 250 units in it, the connections will undoubtedly be much larger and I doubt we’ll find any standards for anything above those commonly found on pleasure boats of 100’ or less.

That’s a good point about marina dock segments. I can’t say I’ve seen anything that struck me as ideal, most being supported on posts and rigidly mounted vs. what I believe would be necessary for structures oscillating on ocean waves without support from below. What chinaseapirate (bill mapezzi) posted earlier is closer to an ideal, but sans fluid, electrical and data connections between the cells.


(bill mapezzi) #22

Well to answer the first question, I would have to know something about the approval process (which I don’t). If that is what your experience would suggest, I would go with that, if I cared that the “world approved” of my design. Just out of curiosity I looked for an applicable ISO standard and the closest I could find was 7061:2015. aluminum specified for gangways under “seagoing vessels”. My experience tells me to avoid standards like the plague, governed by committee to the lowest common denominator.

There was a thread in here last week(probably got moved to Sibera due to argument - I missed that one)) some Danish company had a video of model, modular seastead design, in a test tank. If i recall correctly it was hinged on deck and probably had rubber “bumpers” just above the waterline. Assuming that project got moved forward and these hinges became “interconnects” and the had water,power and fiber optics running between modules through the “interconnects” they would just use land based standards or whatever “normal” class ships use. ISO 10303-218:2004 specifically states these things are outside if it’s “scope”.

If designed “properly” seasteads won’t need to be classified or documented because no ticket writers can penetrate the “outer fringe” without accidentally being eaten alive by famished bull sharks and no helicopter based investigators can land without breaking warrant procedures.

(noboxes) #23

TSI is not planning to do any seasteading. They do not design or build anything. They don’t study anything. If you build a seastead, it’s all on you.


“Officially”, nothing that I can recall,… “Unofficially”, of course. See They’ll build modular for sure. How else can you seastead, anyway? :smile:

I don’t know and I can’t speak for TSI. On a personal note, I doubt it. Seasteading is a non existing industry, for now. Nothing to standardize…

Hmmm, maybe bits and pieces of it. It was never a “proposal” actually,…

Yes, a work in progress.

Not that I can recall.

I have no clue either,…

I agree.



Or, if the “investigators” do land, without being eaten alive by the famished dingo dogs we keep as pets. :smile:

(Chad Elwartowski) #26

Everyone always wants to see the results of all of the engineering, prototypes, final design, etc.

Fortunately that is the specific goal of the current crowdsale being done by Blue Frontiers.

They are about $1.5 million away from their soft cap to get started on this. So it is very likely that it will happen.

(noboxes) #27

Do you have anything built?


No, not yet…

(Torrey Jones) #29

What I mean is that those would be the connections at the docks. The rest of the cabling/piping runs is already fairly well standardized within the individual industries by necessity. When you run electricity, you have to have a certain sized and shielded cable for a given capacity of current. For IT, again, it’s VERY standardized. Plumbing is a little less standardized, but any competent plumber with some commercial experience would still manage to do a good job of it. (as I’m not a plumber either, I can’t tell you what those standards are, I just know that plumbers do have standards that they work with.)

One thing that may help is some of the flexible connections, usually hydraulics fluids, between railway cars and between articulated truck cabs and their trailers.

As for larger vessels, I believe that they just dump their waste at sea and make everything else themselves from onboard supplies of fuel. (Burn fuel to make electricity, and use that to make water from seawater. That also provides electricity for lights and other typical uses, but also for propulsion.) I believe that large vessels refuel via larger diameter hoses with standard fittings. Large vessel garbage/trash gets compacted and off-loaded at port. I know that it’s possible (but not profitable) to process garbage further than is commonly done on-shore, and much of it could be used either as compost pile material for organic materials, and recycled for cans and bottles (even if that’s just to smelt it down into ingots and sell it back to the mainland periodically). Another option would be to use the organic garbage to feed incinerators which are dual purposed to produce electricity, something lots of smaller communities are looking to do, but out at sea, I think we have so many other options, wind, solar, wave, tidal, etc. that we will likely never need anything like incinerator power plants.

OMG… I just found Bill’s post, that looks terrifying, or a hell of a lot of fun, not sure which really, but not what I would think to be community friendly. I used to live along the Hudson River (New Jersey side) and you’d see the big ships coming and going frequently to their concrete piers that smaller boats would never be able to use. While I would agree that a steading that focuses on tourism should have several places for such large passenger vessels to dock, and even berths for the massive container and tanker ships as well, most of the people who are going to be interested in living in these communities are going to be much smaller vessels, boats that double as houses rather than houses that double as boats. A Steading may get a few mega-yachts, and they used essentially the same piers as the smaller yachts. I’m not sure what Ideal would be really, since floating piers certainly seem more than adequate to the job. I may have been long gone when Sandy hit the Jersey Shore, but I was there for Grace, and I really don’t remember any of the modern piers taking any damage, but then, that’s getting uncomfortably close to 30 years ago… An industrial strength super-sized version of such piers, ones with all the necessary connections between segments, may well do the job a Steading would be asking of it. Of course, you could also make your pier segments quite long so as to basically ignore individual ocean swells. Not sure if this would be a good idea or not, but a possibility to look at maybe.

Sorry for rambling… :slight_smile:

(Wilfried Ellmer) #30

context : | the dark side of “standard conformity” |

…means you have insight in submarine cable laying and network handling ?- or limited to land based cable business…

(K.R. Erichsen) #31


Unfortunately, I have no such experience in submarine cabling. However, I know a guy who knows a guy.


(K.R. Erichsen) #32


I think this is a good re-use strategy and the only caveat may be saltwater resistant materials in the fittings, a minor deviation that may or may not even be necessary since I don’t know what’s defined in the train industry.

That’s mostly true, but there are certain complications that still have to be addressed. Most copper based medium have electrical distance limitations that limit the length of the network, so interconnecting means termination and decisions about topology. Once again, not insurmountable, but it should be documented somewhere.

For use in world-wide use, metric? That’s a question one might want to answer since there are only a small number of countries left using the Imperial system of measurement. If something were to break in say, Tahiti, one would probably not want to rely on the getting replacements from a more distant shore.

I had not thought so far into waste recycling as you, but clearly, a means of doing this should be done. Another purpose is using community trash to actually fabricate the parts and components needed. If you have sufficient energy inputs to reduce metals into ingots, then you might take that a bit further and fabricate fittings from the community machine shop, assuming the community is large enough to afford the overhead of building a fully equipment machine shop and keeping its equipment well maintained and up to date, a potentially large investment. This takes the waste recycling out of the cost vs. profits equation and is simply a question of offsetting costs for obtaining the parts from elsewhere, assuming the machinery to fabricate most of what the community needs are already sunk costs (no pun intended) and available

Imagine Bill’s design but with buoyant cells two to four times larger and sited in semi-protected bays or cove and I think you get some of the wobble out of the floating dock’s walkway.


(K.R. Erichsen) #33

Guilty as charged. That is a good reminder that deployment and implementation is in progress in Tahiti via Blue Frontiers.


(Torrey Jones) #34

From what I’ve noticed, there is some imperial/metric dispute, but for the most part, I agree, go with metric. What I was referring to though was how different jurisdictions allow and disallow any of the dozen materials used to pipe water from one place to another. What you’re allowed to use for potable water in Texas on your boat may well be banned in Polynesia. (That doesn’t mean that you can’t take your boat there, only that if you want to sell it there, you’re likely to have to refit it before you can do so.) If you find yourself in need of repairs and have copper pipes, it’s not that difficult to use PEX to make that repair, at least on a temporary basis, and make permanent repairs in copper later when you get back to wherever home base happens to be.

Very true, and even fiber optic network runs have distance limitations (though usually much longer). These limitations are already well defined and understood under the IEEE standards that are fully documented. Every limitation documented already has workarounds and ways to extend network runs to the point where we have actual physical network cable running 3000+ miles between end points, just within the Continental US. Basically, hire a network engineer to be a member of your engineering team.

Yeah, I just suspect that it would be far too flexible for the high seas, or anywhere you have waves. It may well work reasonably well in a cove or semi-protected bay, but as that gif demonstrates, the higher the waves, the higher you get tossed into the air. Potentially a lot of fun, unless you’ve got an infant in your arms or are helping an 80 year old get around. Forget about trying to use one of these in a wheelchair or to transport patients around on a gurney/stretcher. So, I suppose it rather depends on what your plans are. Are you going to build something that you are going to have to replace before you can move to deeper water? Are you going to keep your Steading in protected waters permanently? I suspect that if your answers to these questions are both “No” you won’t want to build with docks that are quite that flexible. I suspect that it will be more along the lines of Very Large Floating Structures so that not only are they rigid structures, but they are also unaffected by even 100’ waves.

(system) #35

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