Well the maiden voyage of the computer controlled test vessel (now named the "VITAL BYTE" not "Flash, Bang, Wallop" - Phil) was a great success.
With engine oiled and the lead ballast loaded, the boat was lowered into the Wicksteed pond and the boat prepared for steaming up. The pumps were primed, steam system filled right through to the engine exhaust (its a flash system remember) and the raise steam sequence initialised on the computer system.
By this time a small crowd had developed and it was bit of a task answering all the questions as well as remembering how to start the sytem.
The steam started to issue from the exhausts, I closed the drain valves, set the steaming rate (both via the radio), and watched the pressure rise on the servo driven indicator. On going above 50kPa (sorry 7psi), I set the valve gear to forward and the prop started churning the water. Having ensured that the revs were stable, I gave the Vital Byte a push and off she went just like a kid on its first day at school (you're on your own now!).
I had planned for every version of failure, but not success - the craft just chugged off around the lake under complete control (the first, to my knowledge, of a remotely controlled flash steam model in the world , although corrections will be welcome!). I gradually increased the engine revs setting on the transmitter and the Vital Byte responded quiet well considering its displacement of 32kg (5 stone, 70lbs) and very primitive hull shape.
I'm afraid the sedate (compared with the high speed models) did not attract much attention and lacked totally the theatre and action of SteamBoatPhil's flash steam boats (including the foot high flames!).
The only problem I had was that, on ocassions, the engine didn't go into reverse on the first call and it took sometimes a couple of thows of the valve gear to achieve reverse - going forward was successful every time (obviously the mechanical engineer's problem and not the software guy's!).
Vital Byte chugged around for ages, only coming back to shore to have the oil separator emptied and off around the pond again. At no time did the boat stop because of high temperatures. etc. It maintained a steady speed and wasn't affected by any gas cylinder cooling. I noticed from the gas cylinder pressure display, that, although the pressure dropped under hard running, the pressure soon recovered when taken back to a slower speed.
I measured the gas consumption for the day by weighing the cylinder before and after - it was 333grams, which was 72% of the original 460 grams in the cylinder.
A lot more interrest was shown when the boat was ashore when fellow Mayhemers could see the computer controls (the full spectrum of remarks were made!) - Dave from Action Electronics initially described me as a Geek on first seeing the control system, but then, kindly, after I had described the system, changed this to SuperGeek!
With confidence (and because the car was already loaded up), I took the Vital Byte to my more local lake (30ft deep) the next day. I had trouble starting since the new gas cylinder pressure was 3.4bar (the cylinder had been in the car under the hot sun) , which was far higher than the control system had to adjust for in tests. The gas valve sensitivity is automatically changed by the software with respect to the gas supply pressure and had effectively shut itself down due to the high pressure (a software mod coming up I see). To get around the problem I manually (via the computer) opened the gas valve for a brief period and the gas pressure dropped enough for the auto system to take charge and steam was raised as normal.
Again off went Vital Byte around the lake (giving way to sail where necessary) and a good mornings steaming was achieved using 228 grams of gas (50%).
Well, I shall now start adjusting the controls to enhance the performance and subsequently make a new computer (1/4 of the orignal size) now I know what is required for COMPUTER CONTROLLED FLASH STEAM BOILERS!