Building robot boats

Discover the steps I have taken pretty awesome ...

Advance warning after 1st June, website might be down whilst moving to a new server.

Proboat Ragazza

Arduino Mega, compass, GPS & SD.


Depth, Speed, Temperature

Birdy II

robotic yacht

Duplex 575, Pluto

With Teensy 3.6

Proboat Westward

With Teensy 3.6

Dragon Force 65 V6

With Teensy 3.6

Micro Magic

With Teensy 3.6

Atlantic 3837

Being upgraded


Being built

This website I share my experience building robotic boats. I starting using a Windows 7 8" tablet onboard Birdy II. Because of the weight and size of the tablet the model boat has to be sufficiently larger. I could plug in a USB compass, USB GPS and a USB Servo Controller. All was ok until tried to receive signals from a Radio Control receiver. Because RC receivers communicate using PWM, I discovered the Arduino Uno.

It wasn't long before I upgraded to the Arduino Mega, which became my work horse for a while. I soon discovered that the Mega could run the boat logic and thus a tablet was not required. This meant, rather than build a model yacht, I could convert existing models.

As I now getting smaller model boats, I discovered the Teensy 3.6. More powerful than the Arduino Mega and the GUI (Graphical User Interface) was the same. I switched work horse to the Teensy.

Some code is available here

Arduino Uno

Click picture for sketches

Arduino Mega

Click picture for sketches

Arduino Due

Click picture for sketches

Arduino Nano

Click picture for sketches

Intel Edison

Click picture for sketches

Teensy 3.6

Click picture for sketches

Arduino Yun Mini

Click picture for sketches


Click picture for sketches

Recent Posts

DragonForce 65 at Bluewater getting hit.

Micro Magic planting bows in water in strong gust at Bluewater.

Robot sailing 40 meters down wind at Bluewater. In the subtitles I've made it clearer when the Robot is in control. Cross track is the distance of the boat from an imaginary line between its starting position and its target waypoint. Although the boat appears not to be moving, you can see the along track increasing.

Disappointing to find out that the angle of the boom (measured by the difference in bearing to the boat heading) is not a good indicator of a good beating tack. Easier to see than looking down Excel columns. Under Radio Control. The robot can not sail upwind yet. And this is what I do as a hobby.

Robot in a death roll (the act of broaching to windward), carrying too much sail. I think the software did a good job until then. The robot is moving the rudder back and forward to compensate.

Experimenting with the subtitles of the readings. The editor is accurate to 1 second only, so a slight offset. Compass and roll are in degrees. The compass is not completely level in the boat, so does not read zero when the boat is flat.

April 2017

Soldering techniques

Steps I have taken to do some soldering. Click photo to find out more.

March 2018

Voltage levels

I was surprised to find out that batteries don't necessary give the voltage they state. The solution is to use voltage regulators.

April 2017

Rudder Logic

Tricks and calculations to try and stay in a straight line.

April 2017

Wind Logic

Trick to find the direction of the wind.



Protocols to communicate with components

The Arduino boards communicate using different protocols to different components like a compass, GPS and LCD. Those that I have documented include PWM, Serial, I2C and SPI.

Bread board

Making a circuit

The breadboard is a convient way to try different circits. The board has plenty of holes to connect wires without requiring soldering. The board has a structure of how the holes are connected.