Rugged ArduBoat for Mapping Applications

After the successful completion of my Mid-Sized Observation Class OpenROV, it's time to move on to other projects. The AUV project is still a ways as we work on some of the sensors required, namely an altimeter and a better Inertial Navigation System, but it is still on my to-do list and I'll probably get to it in about 4-6 months.

In the mean time, I thought I would get a handle on how ArduPilot works and build something that can do meaningful work on the surface of the water. A few people has approached me about building a low cost ASV that can take sonar recordings for later processing in the Reefmaster software. 

I really liked @AntimatterCrusader 's hull, comprised of a Sun Dolphin Bali 6. It is cheaper than a fiberglass model boat hull and pretty rugged. Instead of a trolling motor, I'll be using 2x BlueRobotics T-200's with integrated Blue ESC's. I know it won't be as efficient as a vehicle with a rudder, but I needed something portable enough to fit in the back of my truck, so about 6ft was my limit. I'll also be using skid steering on my AUV, so it will be good practice for handling.

I intend to put all the electronics in removable Pelican cases and have three oriented in the boat. One in the back for navigation and power distribution to the thrusters, one in the middle for a large battery (still deciding on the chemistry), and one up forward for the Garmin chartplotter/sonar.

I design and order parts as I go, so updates will be a little on the slow side. First few steps will be getting the thrusters mounted and things situated in the navigation case. The cases I have right now are not final, they were just what I had laying around for the concept. I have quite a bit of room to work with.


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  • Kevin - Awesome project! Looking forward to following along.


  • Great project, subscribed also. It is also in my list of Robotic Mapping Tools.

  • This has been on my "to-do" list as well.  I'll be following your progress, good luck!

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