Tag Archives: sailboat

This sailboat autopilot has Atmel-Arduino under the hood

Recently, Bits & Pieces covered a story about a Maker by the name of Louis who designed an innovative kayak autopilot built around an Atmel-powered Arduino.

Today, we are going to be taking a closer look at an Arduino-based autopilot fitted into a large sailboat that is capable of keeping the vessel on a constant heading. According to the HackADay crew, Mike Holden uses a very cool digital compass equipped with LEDs to keep a steady course.

“Also included is an amazingly professional and very expensive 6 axis IMU. To actually steer the ship, Mike is using a linear actuator attached to the tiller powered by a huge 60 Amp motor controller,” explained HackADay’s Brian Benchoff.

“For control, [Mike] ended up using an [Atmel-powered] Arduino, 16-button keypad, and an LCD display. With this, he can put his autopilot into idle, calibration, and run modes, as well as changing the ship’s heading by 1, 10, and 100 degrees port or starboard. It’s able to keep a constant heading going downwind, and even has enough smarts to tack upwind.”

Interested in learning more about the Atmel-Arduino autopilot for sailboats? You can check out Mike Holden’s official project page here.