FishPi (via Raspberry Pi)
The single-board computer Raspberry-Pi see no end to its uses. This project is a perfect example of an out-of-the-ordinary use for the Linux-based Raspberry Pi (RPi) that could potentially mean endless voyages around the seas. Inventor Craig Holloway plans to eventually send his creation on a maiden voyage few humans would attempt. He is building prototypes for what will eventually be known as the FishPi. When finished, FishPi will be an autonomous boat that will be guided by GPS and compass to cross the oceans.
The long trip could require lots of energy but the size of the vessel will allow it to harness all the power it needs from a 130 watt solar panel. A small 40 mm rotating Kort Nozzle propeller will make most of the thrust, while turned by a 540 brush motor through a 2.5:1 reduction gear box. Six 1.2V NiMh rechargeable batteries collect and power all onboard components and also function as counterweights to balance the boat.
To complete the voyage, many onboard components are necessary to guide the FishPi. The water tight compartment that houses the precious cargo is made up of a top-of-the-line, super high-tech, upside down Tupperware sandwich box. The main components it will harbor include the RPi brain, an 8-channel servo controller board, Navigatron I2C GPS and a compass hooked up via an i2c bus.
A low drop-out (LDO) regulator will send 5V to the RPi, and 3.3V to the i2c components. The electronic speed controller (esc) will connect directly to the NiMh battery pack but the Raspberry Pi will regulate how much juice goes to the motor. FishPi also powers a USB webcam to record the voyage.
The prototype FishPi boat is only 20 in long. Holloway hopes to make FishPi kits for students, enthusiasts and professionals, but development is in its early stages. He says that project revisions and updates are happening continuously and can be tracked at the "fishpi.org" website. He also welcomes new ideas, questions and suggestions via twitter @thefishpi. Holloway will be at the Nottingham Hackspace Raspberry Jam event this Tuesday July 3rd, if you would like to ask something or pitch an idea in person.