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Maker Boat Basic Shake Down on a Windy, Wavy Day

Hi there everybody- I want to post my progress with the Maker Boat Basic. It’s designed as a modular system that can turn just about any (small) thing that floats (think- surfboard, SUP, kayak, etc.) into an autonomous surface vehicle.

I am using 2 Blue Robotics T200 thrusters and mounting brackets with basic ESCs, a Pixhawk 2.4.8 + GPS and Sik Radios, FrSky x9 lite and x8r for TX/RX, all powered by a single 4S 5000 mAh Lipo. All the electronics are housed in an IP68 junction box with IP68 cable glands for the motor cables. In this first build I have mounted everything to an old body board that a buddy was going to throw out. I 3D printed mounts for the junction box, two small fins to protect the motors, and of course a plate for my GoPro up on the “bow.”

It’s running ArduRover skid steer. Configured/monitored through QGC.

This is an open source build. Docs and BOM will be posted soon. I plan to upgrade to dual batteries in an external battery box so the batteries can be hot-swapped without exposing the rest of the electronics to the elements.

Any feedback is welcome. Check out the pic and video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_-jTp1Bfso


Hey @nuballawalla, thanks for sharing! I love the versatility of the system. Do you have any specific applications you’re planning on using it for? :grin:

This is a wicked cool project! What kind of micro controller are you using?


very simple and strong design.

Before I can say something, I would like to know what kind of application are you looking for:

  • Bathymetries
  • Sidescan
  • Flowmeter.

I have built something similar, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iB7xys7lklc

I really recommend to include fins and keels on the stern, so will help you with steering control.
If you are planning a survey grade, need to have a nice GPS (RTK or PPK)

Luis Chavez

Hi @emiller! Thanks for your interest, and apologies for the delay. The Maker Boat Basic was conceived to make autonomous boats available to educators/students, researchers, and those who want an affordable and reliable platform, but without the military contractor price tag. The boogie board offers a fair amount of space and flotation so it can be customized pretty easily for shallow bathymetric surveys, surface water surveys (perhaps by mounting an open CTD, or just plain fun!

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Hi @Slarskey! Thanks for the kind words. I am using a Radiolink Pixhawk. I will upgrade that in the future

Hi @luis.chavez! Thanks- your build looks very similar. Great minds! I printed some basic fins and they work well. I don’t have a specific application in mind, and that’s deliberate. I wanted to create something that others could customize easily. I have used the emlid reach and Navio2 on a quadcopter before, and I thought of using that in version 2.0

All the Maker Boat Basic Build Docs are now freely available at https://squirm.tech/

Please let me know what you think!