Let's Make Robots!


Mapping water depths in lakes
whirligig.pdf2.66 MB

I might be breaking some LMR rules, but this robot was built on my spare time while funded by the University of Oslo  and my employer APPLY Sørco, covering the hardware cost.

This robot was built to make bathymetric charts of lakes in Norway. It was initiated by my brother who is a professor at UiO. Totally disregarding my lack of engineering skills, an over estimating my programming / electronic skills he commissioned me to build ‘Whirligig’.
The robot navigates according to GPS coordinates stored as waypoints on an onboard SD card. Logging GPS and water depths along its rout (every 10 sec.). The estimated runtime is 24 hour before it needs recharging of the 7 batteries.

As you can see from the attached PDF file (in Norwegian only, sorry) am I working on a second version of this robot. This time using solar panels and a catamaran hull for more flexibility on payload and stability.

This is a block diagram of the control system


The original plan was using an ardupilot, but I ended up with using a regular arduino and building my own navigation software.

Google sketchup of the design


Some images from the hull build





All the decks laid out showing the position of motor and instrumentation batteries


Testbed for instrumentation and navigation check.


Instrumentation mounted in top deck and lid.


Waterproof box enbeded in the lid. Holding SD cards for waypoint and log data, GPS and charging plugs.


My daughter doing water intrusion test :-)



I am currently building a Mark II version with a complete new hull. This version will be self-contained with power from solar cells and upload data and getting waypoints via a GPRS shield.
This version will also have a full-size  computer onboard, the fit PC2.


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awesome, thats so cool

That is terrific work, Mr Andersen! I want one! (Don't know what I'd do with it ...)

Is the yellow 'skin' fibreglass?

The hull was made up of 2 layers of yellow gelcoat and 4 layers of epoxy / fiberglass.
Mayby a bit overkill, but it Won't Sink :-)

I too want one! I also don't know what I'd do with it.

Looks like a great job! Thanks for pointing out the fit PC2, I've never heard of it before but it seems really cool. I'm kinda obsessed with small fanless computers...


Also, as a respectable alternative to the PC2 there is also the Beagleboard. (http://beagleboard.org/) It's open-source and everything, but you might find it more limiting because it's really only meant to run Linux. But then again, if you're used to Linux, thats great.

I’m used to program on the .NET platform so the fit PC2 with a full-blown Windows 7.0 would suit me fine. Whit the built in wireless I can control it (within range) by remote desktop. When it is on a mission, the communication will be based on GPRS.

Thanks for the Beagleboard link by the way.

How are you going to power the PC2? Like, with an inverter? Or will you take out the power supply and give it 12v directly?
The plan is to store the energy from the 120W solar panel into LiFePO4 batteries and draw the current from there.
The hull has room for 2 of these http://www.batteryspace.com/lifepo4battery128v20ah256wh60aratewopcm-replaceslawith10timeslongerlife.aspx (in each hull) batteries giving us 80Ah of power if the weather goes bad.

This is the kind of project that amazes me! Great looking and has cool features, the one I mostly like is the GPS navigation!
Will look for more developments!
Congrats ;)
I have no clue to why this should break any LMR rules! It is 100% cool, thank you so much for sharing with us!