ELSIUM — History: From Winches to Aria (English version)
Towed by a car: early winter of 2003
This early winter, frustrated that the clubs had just closed, we decided to river ride.
The experience was conclusive but short. Towed by a Jeep before the astonished eyes of fishermen, the joy was obvious. Around a drink (always the most creative time) and facing the hood of the Jeep, appeared to me the idea of using a car winch but the adaptation would have been too complicated and restricted to the Jeep.
The hint? We needed something autonomous. In my exchanges with some American riders we came to the same conclusion: an autonomous machine.
Yes but no clue on how to and no expertise in the field. Me, computer science was my thing…
Towed by the first autonomous Wake winch: Spring 2004
…the hint? My mom. She always told me, Lego is fun, do it. And she bought me a lot of it. An industrial Lego? ITEM. With ITEM bricks you can quietly prototype in his living room, armed with a screwdriver, a 3D software, chips and coke.
It worked on the first test, the only thing was that the clutch burned quickly when it was time to pull a person out of water. Archaic but just usable. Nevertheless forbidden to heavy people and with an approximate acceleration. So we needed a winch powerful like a lion and precise as a Swiss clock…
Towed by the first autonomous and hydraulic Wake winch: Spring 2005
…the key? The hydraulics. My consulting engineer, before the presentation of my problem, advised me to switch to a hydraulic system. Simple, robust but expensive and dangerous. The principle: the engine runs at its optimum speed and the hydraulic pump releases all its power from the first coil turn. Magic! Even by totally opposing the board one was snatched out of water as trout! The cherry on the cake: the hydraulics react in hundredths of a second.
This feature allowed us to consider the first events of Wakeboard in an urban environment and in small artificial pools and to meet the requirements of the Americans world best who wanted to be cruising after only 4m. Fantastic machine, it was exported and none has ever broke down. As said my consulting engineer, “you will break down before it does.” Everything was perfect except that during the events riders walked 90% of the time to return to the starting point, and the public had to wait. A driver was also needed for it to be profitable and a bank was mandatory to return to the starting point. From 1% of exploitable water expanses we reached 50 % with this approach but the dream was not complete…
Crossing the desert: 2006–2012
At that time craft winches began to bloom everywhere, the plans were circulating freely on the internet. After selling a dozen machines in six countries and two continents I left the scene for a few years to return to my Food job. The wake was and is still a very little-known sport and cableparks are uncommon.
We indeed conceptualized in 2007 a double body hydraulic winch operated by a Power command that can make it turn back and forth but the machine was becoming too heavy, complex and expensive- Moreover the prototyping was beyond my means and there were too many uncertainties. Even my consulting engineer frowned and said: “how do you want me to tell you if it will work, no one has ever done that …”
Towed by the first personnel electric cable: ArchéoAria, 2013–2014.
Sacha my neighbor motivated me to resume my adventure. He inspired me confidence one day by saying: “if nobody has done the machine of which you dreams Ernesto, maybe it is for you to do.” Touched. Destiny is joker. That same day I came across a Facebook post that said, “At the end everything will be OK. If it’s not OK, it’s not the end”
There we went again. The decade 2010–2020 marked the explosion of electric transportation. It lowered the costs of engines and the batteries, finally stable, didn’t explode anymore on contact with air (hugh). On the other hand the massive presence of smartphones has made it “simpler” to handle sensors and other programmable microcontrollers.
During my research, Sebastien, my other neighbor, entered in the move and through his profession of automation engineer he helped me identify and size the component families that might help. A second round with 3 engineering consulting offices had given a first hope of theoretical feasibility. Yes 3 offices because the new specifications required the expertise of champions in three different areas: artisanal era was definitely over. You should know that the offices requested to make me an offer even just an estimate for that level of innovation declined my proposal virtually from the beginning: “Mr. Aramburo it’s too uncertain …”.
Some months later, 3 engines changes, 2 batteries changes, power over-consumption and control problems, motors overheating, referral cage, coils crushed by the rope itself, etc., etc …
ArchéoAria finally saw the light, accompanied by its terrible little sister: a pack 100kilos batteries wired raw, a real electrons bomb that terrified us at every startup.
ArchéoAria vit enfin le jour, accompagnée de sa petite sœur terrible: un pack de 100kilos de batteries câblées à vif, une véritable bombe à électrons qui nous terrifiait lors de chaque mise en service.
When Sebastien succeeds the first back and forth all efforts were swept out at once. We felt alive (see article).
Towed by the first automated personnel electric cable: Aria, 2015.
Programming, testing, programming, testing, programming, retesting. A program that does not look like much at first but which knelt an electronics firm that yet assembled automated industrial production lines. Why this challenge? Because at the end of the cord which expands in function of the load, which unrolls more or less quicker depending on how it has been rolled, there is also a human, and a human is unpredictable. Unsolved problems such as radio reception, remote control battery, burning contactors, manufacturers who change some “details” from a lot of engines to another … in the end it is the first week with the first customer, Elsium that Aria began to make its days. Sebastien tested the final adjustments and coordinated eradication of remaining bugs in coordination with the engine manufacturers, engineers and controllers themselves. Sebastien was riding, and engineers monitored the machine from France and England in real time via the Internet. It was the last time Aria coughed (in technical jargon we speak of electric oscillation: the engine was doing wowowowowowow). Victory ultimate victory. We were all to the end, -really-.
Some things are still yet to be complete but the heart of the experience is there. The new traction means is now mature and marks the beginning of a new era.
We have some new ideas in our drawers but the history of winches and now of personal cables speaks for itself: initially individual, the development has become collective. Today we must embrace this logic and take it further, which is why we think it is with you all, with your experience with Aria, with what you will dream of that the new page will be written . A page that we will write together.
On behalf of Elysium thanks to all those who I mentioned and to those who contributed directly or indirectly, particularly our women, whose patience was infinite.
Allaman, the 29.10.2015 _ Ernesto Aramburo