Wow, long time since last entry. I spent the summer working like mad (gotta love those start-ups) and didn't have much time for anything, including sailing, FreeBSD, or OpenSail. Now that nasty weather is here again, maybe I'll get more time for hacking.
One of my contributors got me hooked on itty bitty CPUs this summer, so I've been playing with PICs and AVRs, and have decided to use AVRs for the OpenSail instruments. Rather than put dumb counter/sensor devices from DalSemi at the masthead, I'll stuff a small CPU up there and just return cooked data via serial line. The power consumption, especially on the low-power AVRs, is quite good and the circuitry is actually simpler than using multiple 1-wire devices.
We have managed to create part of the physical hardware for the wind instruments as well. We found a great supply of simple nylon bushings at a local hardware store and have experimented with a brass shaft passing through said nylon bushing. The brass seems stiffer than aluminum, and is certainly easier to work. Soldering brass to brass is quite simple, compared to the inert gas welding required for aluminum. Brass should stand up to the harsh saline environment of the Great Salt Lake better than aluminum, which tends to pit over time if unprotected.
So anyhow, we have rotating shafts and an enclosure that can be waterproofed; the enclosure is made of two female PVC pipe caps and a short segment of 2.5" OD PVC sprinkler pipe. As we perfect the sensor wheels we'll probably be able to shrink down to 2" OD pipe, and perhaps someday a custom enclosure.
I'll post more when we have some working code for the AVR. One of my co-contributors is going to do a PIC version of the wind sensor when he has time.