Help understanding BlueBoat Hardware/Software Architecture for hydrography

Hello Everyone!

I am seeking help to gain a better understanding of the hardware and software architecture required for the BlueBoat. Specifically, I am interested in performing hydrography surveys with single-beam (SBE) or multibeam echosounders (MBE), such as Echotrac E20 (SBE) or Norbit iWBMS (MBE).

I would greatly appreciate it if anyone could provide insights into the following aspects:

  1. Hardware Components: What are the essential hardware components needed to set up the BlueBoat for hydrography surveys? Which complementary sensors, and communication modules are compatible and recommended for accurate data collection?

  2. Software Integration: I understand the BlueBoat as the BLueROV2 runs on the BlueOS, how does the BlueOS software integrate with third party hydrography equipment?

I am looking forward to learning from any experience anyone in the community could share. Any information, recommendations, or real-world examples related to hydrography surveys using the BlueBoat would be highly valuable.

Thank you in advance for your support and insights!

Best regards,
Sergio (DeepCo Team)

You will need to contact your sonar manufacturers for advice on the required sensors and for that hardware. The requirements are different depending on the application.

As for communication, I found that the easiest way to integrate everything on an autonomous boat was to keep the navigation and sonar systems and communication systems on separate hardware, and to link everything on a virtual network using Zerotier. It looked kind of like this:


  1. Intel NUC: Hydrography software, remote desktop server, Zerotier address
  2. Flight control Raspberry Pi: Ardupilot, video camera, SSH server, Zerotier Address
  3. Comunication Raspberry Pi: LTE modem, 800 Mhz radio, WiFi radio, Ship’s network router, Zerotier Address


  1. Laptop/Desktop: Remote Desktop Client, QGroundControl, internet connectivity, Zerotier address

Zerotier was installed on each device and set to run automatically on boot. I could control the boat from any computer with internet access, QGroundControl and a remote desktop client installed. I connected to the sonar computer using Windows Remote Desktop to control and monitor sonar data collection. I kept QGroundControl running in another window to monitor the boat’s navigation and make adjustments as necessary. The third RPi on board just controlled the ship’s physical network, and it was pretty transparent once it was configured.

Other people might have different approaches, but for me, Zerotier was really the special sauce that held everything together.

1 Like

Hello @StrikeLines,

Thank you for sharing your experience, it’s really insightful!

Hi @DeepCoTech,

Just jumping in here with some extra context,

BlueBoat is a new development, so we don’t have a built out set of compatible and recommended sensors and communication modules for it - a big portion of its value is in serving as a platform for different users to use it for their own niche applications, and we don’t know ahead of time what will be most useful for those.

That said, we are testing some different components for a variety of use-cases, and will be reporting on and releasing additional product integrations as the year progresses.

BlueOS is designed to be extensible, and we’ll be working on our own BlueOS Extensions as well as encouraging both device manufacturers and users to create and share their own Extensions for everyone to benefit from.

I’m not aware of existing Extensions for the specific sensors you mentioned, so you might want to contact the manufacturers to ask whether they’re planning to or interested in making them. If the devices have documented electrical details and communication protocols then an integration could also be developed independently by a company or members of the community.

In addition, BlueOS does already support our Ping2 Sonar Echosounder (SBE), and Cerulean have made an extension for their MBEs.

There are very few BlueBoats in the wild yet, because we’re currently in the first delivery wave from the pre-orders.

For what it’s worth @tony-white was one of our early testers, and has had some initial success using our Ping2 :slight_smile:

In case it’s of interest, there is already a ZeroTier Extension for BlueOS :slight_smile:

1 Like

That approach certainly works, but that’s a lot of hardware running! As Elliot alludes to, BlueOS may make more than one single board computer unnecessary. I’m working on turning a logging script into an extension for survey with ping2, and generally the navigator hat for the pi 4 gives an incredible amount of inputs to take data over. If a Windows machine is necessary for vendor sonar software, this can be your topside computer with data flowing to it via (existing) remote USB port extension software, over your communication link.

Zerotier combined with a cell data connection certainly makes the vehicle a powerful tool!!


True. We put the sonar computer onboard so that the survey data wouldn’t be compromised due to dropped communications. With the survey track uploaded to Ardupilot and the sonar computer onboard, the boat was truly autonomous while collecting survey data.

We could shut down the laptop on the dock and hand off control to someone back at the office seamlessly. It was very cool.

We built this before BlueOS was available, so we used a Navio controller. But here is a picture of the boat’s hardware stack.

The motors and speed controller were external to the electronics enclosure. The idea was to make a control box that could be easily swapped onto any catamaran boat with electric motors and differential steering.


We have setup a few boats for this purpose. I have preordered a BlueBoat, as we do work in some weed infested ponds that clog up and stop our other USV’s in their tracks. Hopefully they will work in water like this!

Both out our boats use the same architecture, and it has worked great for the past 2 field seasons. Our boats are the long range heavy duty Zissou:

And the shallow draft smaller Klaus:

Both these boats use multiple radios and communications for redundancy, as we work in mining pits, where we are not allowed to go on the water for any reason. If we loose connection or the boat has a problem it is a 100% loss. Here is our setup:

Echosounder: Teledyne E20 (33/200 KHz) on Zissou and Echologger ECT D24S (200/450kHz) on Klauss.

GPS: iG9 heads in RTK with 462 MHz correction

Telemetry Radio: RFD 900x, use this for telemetry and connection to Mission Planner or QGC for mission planning and monitoring the boat vitals. We can also connect a joystick to the ground station compuer to manually control the boat if needed.

RC Radio: HereLink 2.4 GHz this is used for RC control and a secondary telemetry read out. We need to launch the Zissou about 300 m away and 60 m down from our ground station. This allows us to launch the boat, and not need to haul the ground station around.

Companion Computer Radio: Mikrotik omnitik (on boat) and MantBox on ground station. This is a 5.8 network bridge that allows us to view the IP PTZ cameras on board, and to remote desktop onto a windows 10 companion computer onboard each boat.

Each boat is equipped with a windows companion computer that we have Hypack installed. This software is used to create a data matrix from the echosounder data, GPS, and a multiparameter SONDE we have installed. All data is recorded on the boats, and we can adjust parameters and start/stop logging through a remote desktop. We do not transmit the data back to the ground station, as there are latency issues, and potential loss of communications at long distances, although we do have full comms with the 5.8 GHz at 1.8 km distance in a large mining pit. This system works great for us and the redundancy definatly makes you feel better when pushing them off into the unknown…Here is a pic of the ground station we made, so we can view Mission Planner USV control and plan survey lines, PTZ camera view, and remote desktop to the computer on the boat to monitor the data collection…


Cool setup Ian! Interesting how similar the hardware architecture was to what we dreamed up.

An onboard computer running the sonar acquisition software is a must.

I’m impressed by your redundant coms!

We had really impressive results running these GE multi connect routers for communication. They are designed for installation at remote oilfield installations. With one installed at the command station and one installed onboard, they automatically extend the ship’s network over three radios: 800Mhz, 2.4Ghz, or LTE cellular.

They are extremely expensive to buy new, but they are on eBay dirt cheap in the states. Beware that you may need to send used routers back to GE for factory reset if the admin password was changed by the previous owner.