Building a compass guided kayak autopilot

A Maker named Louis recently bought a used kayak on Craigslist. The pedal-powered craft is equipped with a hand-operated rudder, which makes it somewhat difficult for Louis to maintain a steady course while fishing.

The solution? An Atmel-powered Arduino autopilot that allows him to peacefully fish for salmon while remaining on course.

“In [Louis]‘ system, a motor is attached to the steering lever along with a few limit switches. This motor is powered by an Arduino controlled with an LSM303 compass module from Sparkfun,” explained Brian Benchoff of HackADay.

“When the autopilot module is started up, it first checks to see if the compass module is enabled. If not, the system relies on two tact switches to change the position of the rudder. Enabling the compass requires a short calibration of spinning the kayak around in a circle, but after that the steering is dead on.”

Louis isn’t finished with the Arduino-powered autopilot, though. Indeed, the Maker plans on adding a heading display along with a Bluetooth module for remote control at some point in the near future.

2 thoughts on “Building a compass guided kayak autopilot

  1. Pingback: This sailboat autopilot has Atmel-Arduino under the hood | Bits & Pieces from the Embedded Design World

  2. Pingback: Building an Arduino-controlled autopiloted sailboat | Bits & Pieces from the Embedded Design World

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