3D Robotics

Lake and sea bottom scanning with ArduBoat

From Hackaday. Reminds me of work Harold Molle was doing five years ago here!

[Geir] has created a pretty neat device, it’s actually his second version of an autonomous boat that maps the depths of lakes and ponds. He calls it the Sea Rendering. The project is pretty serious as the hull was specially made of fiberglass. The propulsion is a simple DC motor and the rudder is powered by an RC servo. A light and flag adorn the top deck making the small craft visible to other larger boats that may be passing by. Seven batteries are responsible for all of the power requirements.

Sea Rendering

The craft’s course is pre-programmed in Mission Planner and uses ArduPilot loaded on an Arduino to steer to the defined way points. An onboard GPS module determines the position of the boat while a transducer measures the depth of the water. Both position and depth values are then saved to an SD card. Those values can later be imported into a software called Dr Depth that generates a topographic map of the water-covered floor.

[Geir] has sent this bad boy out on an 18 km journey passing through 337 way points. That’s pretty impressive! He estimates that the expected run time is 24 hours at a top speed of 3 km/h, meaning it could potentially travel 72 km on a single charge while taking 700 depth measurements during the voyage.

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  • I've thought about Reefmaster but it is not cheap and I think it only works with Lowrance and Hummingbird equipment.  72 km is an impressive range if it is true.


    David R. Boulanger

  • @Thomas - Dr Depth is no longer available.  The rights and technology were sold to Humminbird.  Reef Master is the way to go IMO.

  • It seams we are leading something new here! I don't think I can share what I am doing as it is company property, But if I get time to go to a lake I will!

  • Moderator

    I'm playing this game as well, using reefmaster.


  • I am doing this same thing and for a company,. I am using a commercial fishing sonar to map the bottom of a lake to get depths and make a somewhat 3d looking map under water! But my boat is gas powered so we will see how this works out! I will post about it once I get everything in line which will be in about a week or so!

  • Admin


    Nice project!

    I was thinking about using Reef Master but I might give Dr Depth a look. Neither are Open Source nor cheap. 

    Similar to my RSV but with longer range. If I put in bigger NMHi batteries I might approach his range.



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