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R/V Stormin' Norma II
This updated working 1:120 model of a medium-large marine geology research vessel is fully outfitted with functionally realistic deck equipment and makes a scaled speed of 8-9 knots.
About this creation
Please feel free to look over the images and skip the verbiage.

My marine geology research vessel R/V Stormin' Norma finally has her new blue City Lines hull (CLH, 57789c01)!

While in drydock, her outfit saw a few minor upgrades as well.



As you can see, the much smaller hull used in the original Norma led to some serious buoyancy, stability, and scaling issues.

The "R/V" designates a research vessel. "Stormin' Norma" is our affectionate nickname for my mother-in-law, as sweet and kind a woman as you'll find -- until you get her to a 49ers football game. We just cover our ears and pretend she's with someone else.



Typical outfit and activities for a marine geology research vessel are outlined here.

The inspiration for both Normas came from my own professional interest in marine geology -- specifically, the interactions among ocean floor topography, seafloor volcanism, plate tectonics, and related mantle flows. My research is based largely on the data ships like this collect.

On this page:
Overview
Superstructure
Foredeck and running lights
Afterdeck equipment
Deployable ROV and AUV
Deployable hydrophone stringer
Propulsion system
Specifications




Overview











An older version of the bridge appears in the oblique shots below, but the rest is current.







I liked the orange of original Norma's 51x12x6 LU Coast Guard hull (CGH), but it lacked the volume and breadth needed to support a top-heavy monohull model ship displacing 1.1 kg safely.



Hence, she had to be fitted with totally unrealistic sponsons (buoyant outriggers) to achieve the buoyancy and roll stability needed to make her seaworthy.

The old hull was also far too small for the level of detail I wanted for the superstructure and deck equipment.

The much larger 74x18x7 CLH -- better seen below in no-frills Nadine supports Norma's superstructure, equipment, and propulsion system loads with ample freeboard and stability without sponsons.



Norma II is also ~27% faster than the original (0.71 vs. 0.56 m/s) despite her greater displacement (1.4 vs. 1.1 kg). Much of the credit there goes to the CLH's much greater waterline length (~0.55 vs. 0.38 m) and ability to carry a much more potent (read "heavier") powerplant (4.1 vs. 1.4 W).




Superstructure

As seen in the overview photos, superstructure/hull proportions are almost plausible now -- even though the deckhouse got 4 LU longer to allow the equipment bay doors to close behind the stowed AUV.




As before, the white deckhouse covers the PF receiver and the AAA battery box below it. Battery changes are still a chore, and the door to the bridge still doesn't open. The empty airplane windows reduce deckhouse mass.



The top of the bridge still bristles with antennas and running lights. The antenna just to port of the IR receiver doubles as a remote battery box power toggle, as before.

Vessels like Norma II often work around the clock. Floodlights illuminating the foredeck and afterdeck at night are mounted on the bridge and on the scaffolding bridging the stacks.




Foredeck and running lights

Original Norma's illuminated bow lights were ugly and hopelessly oversized, but at least they were roughly compliant with US Coast Guard regulations surrounding visibility from various headings at night.



For example, the red port bow light should only be visible from 0° (dead ahead) to 105° to port.

Norma II's bow lights are no longer lit and less compliant, but they're also much less disproportionate.



Since TLG's never offered a suitably sized ready-made anchor, I had to make do with hooks.

Proper running lights allow seamen to estimate of the size and heading of distant vessels seen at night from the configuration of visible running lights alone.

In addition to colored bow lights, the USCG also requires ships of this size to have (i) 2 mast-mounted white lights atop their superstructures, with the higher one aft, and (ii) one or more white lights on their stern as well. Norma II complies on both counts.




Afterdeck equipment

The weather deck aft of the deckhouse features a starboard yellow and black knuckle-boom deck crane. At sea, this essential piece of equipment deploys and retrieves remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), and ocean-bottom seismometer (OBS) arrays. In port, it loads and unloads equipment and supplies.



The crane, here working over the starboard side, is much closer to scale on the new CLH. Its manual action remains quite realistic. Better views are available here.

Dual friction cylinders, some 3 mm bar, and a few strategically placed shortened 2L and 3L black friction pins allow the crane to hold its position against the weight of the AUV despite the thin-liftarm construction. The much heavier ROV is a different story.

The AUV carriage moves in and out of the deckhouse's aft equipment bay on DBG rails.



Farther astern is the white winch reel that stores, deploys, and retrieves Norma's single hydrophone stringer.



The fantail's trawler-like A-frame raises and lowers manually.






Deployable ROV and AUV

Norma II inherited her deployable ROV and AUV from the original Norma. The next 2 photos show the ROV on its deck platform with its dual robotic arms stowed.





The thin 1x3 liftarm running down the center lifts up to provide a grab for the deck crane. The ROV's twin props are way too large.

The ROV's forward floodlights and stereo video cameras are all mounted on 2-degree of freedom (DOF) gimbals to provide maximum coverage of the scene before it.



Downward-pointing floods are mounted on the bottom of the ROV as well.



The 4-DOF robotic arms can be configured to scare away even the largest crustaceans.



Here, the knuckle-boom crane hauls up the ROV over the starboard side.



This ROV model is still too large, but inclusion of characteristic functional features trumped fidelity to scale once more.

Now it's the AUV's turn to take a swim. The trans-yellow nose piece covers its forward sensors.



Despite their missile-like appearance, AUVs are highly sophisticated robotic underwater remote sensing platforms.

While ROVs are typically deployed a few hours at a time and remain tethered to the mother ship at all times, AUVs roam the oceans for months and thousands of kilometers at a time on their own, collecting and uplinking data to satellites all along the way.

The data AUVs gather is generally of more interest to oceanographers than to marine geologists or geophysicists, but AUVs sometimes hitch rides on vessels like Norma II.



The AUV's wheeled dockside carriage is seen here next to a larger dockside knuckle-boom crane. Thick liftarm construction and 3 friction cylinders allow this crane to hold its position against heavier loads than Norma II's deck crane can handle.

Original Norma's page includes much more info on AUVs here.




Deployable hydrophone stringer

Repeated underwater air-gun blasts "illuminate" the uppermost few kilometers of the ocean floor with man-made seismic waves. Hydrophone arrays collect the reflections, which are then processed into cross-sectional images.





My hydrophone stringer -- just a chain of 6 or more 21L LEGOŽ strings with end studs and climbing grips -- would look a lot more realistic if the floats (joined end studs) were red and white and actually floated.

This close-up of the starboard side of the winch reel shows the handle used to crank it manually.



The port side of the winch has a ratchet and pawl to hold its position.



The A-frame on the fantail is used mainly to let out and haul in the hydrophone stringer and to keep it away from the props while deployed.



The A-frame's orangle friction cylinders hold its position against the load of the hydrophone stringer fairly well, even when towed at full length in water.

The climbing holds representing the hydrophones run through the A-frame pulley smoothly, but the floats hang up frequently.




Propulsion system

I replaced Original Norma's twin M motors with twin Ls. To take full advantage of the added power, I swapped out her modified 44 mm LEGOŽ props for the much more efficient third-party 52 mm props seen here.



The sturdy low-drag struts of the twin stern drives hold the gears of the 1:5 overdrive transmissions solidly in mesh. The thinking behind our twin-stern drives and third-party props is discussed here.



The upgraded propulsion system gives Norma II a top speed of over 0.71 m/s, up from 0.56 m/s. Norma II's 1:120 scale corresponds to a medium-large research vessel with an overall length of 72 m. Her scaled top speed of ≥8 knots is rather slow for such a vessel but in the ballpark.

I have yet to put Norma II through our rather tedious motor/gearing/prop (MGP) optimization process, but the current twin L/5/52 (motor/overdrive/prop) combo is probably not too far off the mark.




Specifications
All measurements taken at rest in fresh water (density 1,000 kg m-3).


Dimensions and hull form coefficients
All measurements taken at rest in fresh water (density 1,000 kg m-3).

Overall dimensions:604 x 144 x 188 mm (LxWxH) excluding stern drives
Overall length scale:~1:120
Displacement:1.42 kg
Displacement volume:1.4 x 10 -3 m3
Depth:68, 58 mm (bow, midships)
Waterline length:~555 mm
Waterline breadth:142 mm (midships)
Draft at keel:22 mm (midships)
Freeboard:36 mm (midships)
Midship section area:~3.1 x 10 -3 m2
Waterplane area:~7.1 x 10 -2 m2
Block coefficient:0.82
Prismatic coefficient:0.82
Wetted surface area:n/a
Midship coefficient:~0.99
Waterplane area coefficient:0.90
Length-breadth ratio:3.9
Breadth-draft ratio:6.5
Slenderness (length/displacement) ratio:~4.9
Form factor:0.83




Performance measures

Hydrodynamic regime:High-speed displacement
Installed power:4.1 W at 7.2V
Installed power to displacement ratio:2.9 W/kg
Critical speed:0.93 m s -1
Trial distance:12.3 m
Average trial speed:0.71 m s-1 actual, ~8 knots scaled
Average trial Froude numbers:0.31 based on length, 0.68 based on displacement
Average trial Reynolds number:3.9 x 105
High-speed index:0.58




Design features

Construction:Mostly studded
Hull:74x18x7 LU City Lines hull (Set 7994)
Afterdeck equipment:ROV, AUV, knuckle-boom deck crane, hydrophone stringer and reel, fantail A-frame
Propulsion:Twin stern drives
Motors:2, 1 L on each prop
Propellers:Third-party counter-rotating 52 mm 3-blade
Gearing:2-stage 1:5 overdrive
Prop separation:210 mm
Steering:Differential power to props (no rudder)
Electrical power supply:7.2V from 6 NiMH AAAs
Lighting:None
IR receivers:One V1
IR receiver connections:2, 1 for each motor
Modified parts:Props and side-loading 2L friction pins in deck crane and A-frame
Non-LEGOŽ parts:Superglue (gasp) to secure the props to 3L Technic bush pins for torque-friendly mounting
Credits:Original MOC





Comments

 I made it 
  August 31, 2015
Quoting Seaman SPb Excellent work!
Thanks, Seaman! I'll take that as a professional opinion.
 I like it 
  August 30, 2015
Excellent work!
 I made it 
  August 26, 2015
Quoting David Roberts An impressive ship! I've just been given my first ever floating Lego hull, as a birthday present. It's the small orange powerboat, from the current City range. Inspired by your work, I'm going to see if can make a rubber band engine for it (which will be lighter and more water resistant than Power Functions, for when things go wrong!).
Couldn't resist following up on your excellent idea of a rubber band boat with some small hulls I happened to have laying around. Just posted the page, which gives you credit for the idea. I'm sure you'll be able to improve on it. Hope you don't mind.
 I made it 
  August 23, 2015
Quoting David Roberts I think that a planing Lego boat, using exclusively Lego parts (even with some custom propellers) could be tricky. I imagine that you'd run into the same power to weight problems as flying Lego aeroplanes. I wonder if attaching two big Lego hulls, stern to stern, could produce a very buoyant, high aspect ratio hull, with relatively low drag? Using a motor with a long, straight, angled prop shaft (like outboard motors in SE Asia) could reduce the weight of the drive train. Just some thoughts!
Excellent! If you could get power into the water as you suggested, you could make a pretty darned fast boat with 2 City Lines hulls stern to stern. (Length/breadth ratio would be a destroyer-like 8 or so!) Haven't given up on planing in the LEGO realm. However, if there's a pure or nearly pure LEGO solution, it's gonna be =way= outside the box -- like your rubber band motors.
  August 23, 2015
I think that a planing Lego boat, using exclusively Lego parts (even with some custom propellers) could be tricky. I imagine that you'd run into the same power to weight problems as flying Lego aeroplanes. I wonder if attaching two big Lego hulls, stern to stern, could produce a very buoyant, high aspect ratio hull, with relatively low drag? Using a motor with a long, straight, angled prop shaft (like outboard motors in SE Asia) could reduce the weight of the drive train. Just some thoughts!
 I made it 
  August 22, 2015
Quoting David Roberts An impressive ship! I've just been given my first ever floating Lego hull, as a birthday present. It's the small orange powerboat, from the current City range. Inspired by your work, I'm going to see if can make a rubber band engine for it (which will be lighter and more water resistant than Power Functions, for when things go wrong!).
Thanks, David. Not sure exactly which hull you have in mind, but I'm looking forward to seeing what you come up with! Hmmm, rubber band power might be just the thing for the 28x8 unitary hull. Nearly drowned $90 worth of LEGO electricals proving to myself that it's too small for any electric propulsion system. However, it's very light and has the cleanest bottom of any LEGO unitary hull. Better yet, it has a planing hull form. My goal in life is to get a LEGO boat up on plane.
 I like it 
  August 22, 2015
An impressive ship! I've just been given my first ever floating Lego hull, as a birthday present. It's the small orange powerboat, from the current City range. Inspired by your work, I'm going to see if can make a rubber band engine for it (which will be lighter and more water resistant than Power Functions, for when things go wrong!).
 I made it 
  August 22, 2015
Quoting Gabor Pauler That was a nice engineering job. But where are the pretty female naval research scientists???? In any Hollywood movie, they are compulsory accessory for such a ship.
Thanks for the compliment, Gabor. I was deeply troubled by that omission as well, but there turns out to be a loophole in the applicable Hollywood regulations. I'm already persona non grata among many purists for my unapologetic use of non-LEGO props in nearly all my boats -- not to mention my flagrant modification of various pins and axles. But imagine the uproar if I were to shrink even one of those recently introduced pretty female scientist minifigs down to the 1:120 scale of this ship! After many sleepless nights, I decided to see what the regulations actually required and was greatly relieved to find Regulation 567c, paragraph (iii), which clearly states that pretty female scientists are required only when the research vessel will be imperiled by an utterly unbelievable danger like a magnitude 25 earthquake, a killer asteroid, or a vengeful kraken. The only danger this vessel faces comes in the form of ill-behaved little boys in swimming pools, and there's nothing unbelievable about that.
 I like it 
  August 22, 2015
That was a nice engineering job. But where are the pretty female naval research scientists???? In any Hollywood movie, they are compulsory accessory for such a ship.
 I made it 
  August 21, 2015
Quoting Yann (XY EZ) That's some really fascinating stuff. Thanks for the descriptions as well ;-)
Thanks, Yann.
 I like it 
  August 21, 2015
That's some really fascinating stuff. Thanks for the descriptions as well ;-)
 I made it 
  August 21, 2015
Quoting Nick Barrett Highly seaworthy! Fascinating stuff, as always, and Norma is definitely a winner.
Thanks, Nick. I always enjoy your comments.
 I like it 
  August 21, 2015
Highly seaworthy! Fascinating stuff, as always, and Norma is definitely a winner.
 
By Jeremy McCreary
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LEGO models my own creation MOCpages toys shop R/V Stormin' Norma IITechnic


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