Going digital

Introducing a prototype rig gauge for dinghies and keelboats
When it comes to electronics, the dinghy and small keelboat world really have had little to shout about compared to what is now available for the leadmine sailor. With electronic analysis on yachts commonly now being handled by computer, tasks such as navigation, weather and performance analysis are regularly undertaken. Now, however, it may be the turn of the small boater to get some envious glances from the Dubarry-booted hordes: Introducing the RigTune - a prototype digital rig tension gauge. The unit has been designed to measure the loads on 3-7mm diameter standing rigging, very much Loo’s Gauge territory. Two years ago the specialist yacht electronics company Diverse Yacht Services were approached by the RYA to see if it was possible to put a strain gauge into a device small enough for what was needed for the Olympic classes. The company has extensive experience with load cells for every conceivable application for the Grand Prix racing yacht, but this project was a departure for them. The Diverse RigTune has since been picked out by Harken UK and they are looking into the possibility of taking the device to the mass market. It will require serious investment to get a finished product produced. The production run needs to big enough so that the end user retail price is in the right ballpark. So it is still early days although feedback so far has been very positive. In principle, the unit establishes the load in a length of wire or rod by forcing it to deflect by a fixed amount over a fixed length. On the reverse of the bar are three pins and a levered cam. The wire fits onto guide pins at the top and bottom while a lever is brought down to push the wire into contact with the central pin. This then