I am developing an autopilot control unit {acu} for a 32 ft boat. The most important function is heading hold. I am looking at an arduino board with the appropriate sensors. The sensors package needs to detect change in heading more so than the actual heading although the latter is also nice.

My plan is to first develop a device which detects quantitative heading change first. When that is stable develop code to output on off instructions to a h bridge for the stearing drive.

I am looking for opinions on appropriate hardware for this project.

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I have created an autopilot for my 34 ft sailboat. It is road tested on a race and return trip from SF to Hawaii.

Appropriate hardware:
- developed H Drive using MOSFET drive + logic to handle approx 20 amps peak.
- developed hydraulic/electric drive system for tiller.
- computer (uProcessor) based control with 9 DOF sensors (magnetometer, rate gyros, accel.). An ATMEGA processor as found in Arduino Uno has been sufficient but is now out of room. Something with about 50K code space and 8K of RAM should be more than sufficient if compiling from C.
Do you have a pointer to more details on the project? I'd like to build/buy one.



Hi Brian.

what you did is exciting! I have a broken raymarine st2000 autopilot. Electornics is dead, but the motor and mechanics is working. I'd like to interface an arduino to the raymarine. I don't know where to start with the software. I mean that I do not want to write something too responsive (sensible) or the contrary.

Could you share some of your code?

Thank you so much



Hello Marco,

What I now have, with regards to code, is larger than what will fit in an UNO, Arduino. I use a larger processor. I will look at the code and see if there is a portion that can be shared.



Arduino UNO is limited, but ther is the Arduino Mega that has much more memory.

Thank you if you can share something. I'll share mine later.


Thanks for the response. Do you have any input on a sensor module. The mini imu 9 on pololu, or the um6 has been suggested.

Thanks Victor

I am using the ITG3200 3 axis gyro chip and an LSM303 magnetometer/accelerometer.

They are working quite well, and I believe Sparkfun and Pololu have implementations of both on carrier boards.



Hi Victor, I have two circuit boards developed. I am re releasing both. One is a motor driver for driving either linear or hydraulic systems. The other is a controller with sensors. If u hv interest in either let me know. Looking to defray board costs .
Yes I am interested. I am still working on the mechanical drive. Have a motor and looking now for a clutch. It will be a chain drive. H bridge to drive motor back and forth. Is there a way to exchange e mails?

Hi Victor,

I just sent you a Friend request, I think if you reply to that we can exchange email within the forum.  I know I have an inbox. I will see what the address is and send shortly.

HI Victor,

OK, EMAIL works once you have be friended someone.  An outline of this H Bridge, it is using a $5.00 control chip and 4 large NFETs. The control chip is for this application and has several failure mode protections. Once we establish an email path I can send you a schematic and we can discuss.


Ok I accepted the friend request.


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