I have a thought experiment. What is the feasibility of a small craft that tows an inflated 18" balloon that is to sit on the surface of the water and loiter against wind loads? Here are some preliminary requirements.
- the craft must be launched from shore and motor out to station.
- the craft must return to shore on command
- maintain balloon position on station within a circle of radius 0.5 m against wind speeds up to 4.5 m/s (10 mph). There would be no water flow (i.e. ponds not rivers).
- transit speed to and from shore must be >0.5 m/s against a headwind of 4.5 m/s.
- Once on station the towing craft itself must submerge. There will be high-speed race boats running close to and sometimes over top of these balloons. They have razor-sharp propellers, rudders, and turn fins that slice through the water. Nothing except the balloon is permitted within 200 mm of the surface.In particular this means no antennae either.
- The towing craft or antenna can optionally surface between racing heats. A typical heat is 3.5 minutes, with 5 minutes or more between heats.
- Stations would be up to 100 m from any base station.
- We would need six to eight of these on station plus two to three more on standby.
- Total cost target for a six-unit system including base station is <$1000. Total for 10-unit system would be <$1500.