This project is in the very early stage of development. I've got a couple ideas that I want to explore and need a suitable platform to work with. The following are some of the components I hope to use to assemble this platform.Objective
The objective of this project is to design a very small boat ( roughly 1 meter LOA ) that will be capable of autonomously traveling a preset survey grid to produce a sonar bottom scan. For this first iteration of the project I hope to use all off the shelf components, the only customization will be some custom code I will need to write.Components
:CPUHP Mini 311
- The brains of the boat. Probably over kill for the task, but I happen to have one.Operating System
Windows XP - Mostly because of the wide range of free tools and info available for it.Control SoftwareRoboRealm
- This very cool software is really a key element to the whole system. It supports a wide variety of hardware (servo controllers, GPS sensors, serial interface, etc.) and provides a simple interface for making them work together.Motor / Servo ControlParallax USB Servo Controller
- This will be used to control the boat's propulsion motor(s) and rudder(s).SensorsGlobalSat BU-353 USB GPS
- The GPS will be used primarily to provide position, course to steer and distance to waypoint. It will not be used for heading information as GPS heading is almost completely worthless at slow vessel speeds.
Silicon Labs USB tilt compensated compass - A very inexpensive, tilt compensated, USB interfaced compass that I just happen to have.Route planningPolar View
- A free chart viewer, route planning application. A track can be marked on a chart and then saved as an ASCII CSV file, which will then be used by the autopilot software I hope to write.Remote monitoring / Control
Wifi + VNC - My plan is to use a 1 watt router connected to my shore based computer, and then a 1 watt USB dongle network adapter on the afloat computer. The goal will be to be able to monitor the boat's position and sensor data as well as being able to update/change the autopilot's route. I have no idea what the potential range is for Wifi over water, but hopefully 1 watt will give me at least a couple hundred meters.Boat
I'm still sorting this out. I'd prefer to use something off the shelf (ie. a large RC boat) but most don't have the weight carrying and stability capabilities I will need. The hull will likely be a catamaran or trimaran and propulsion will be by electric motor. The final system will need to be hand carried by one person, so the size will likely stay at roughly 1 meter LOA.